Vintage Vault

Gibson 1960 Les Paul 0 8145 is from the final year of the model’s original-production era, and likely from one of the later runs.

The story of 1960 Gibson Les Paul 0 8145—a ’burst with a nameplate and, now, a reputation.

These days it’s difficult to imagine any vintage Gibson Les Paul being a tough sell, but there was a time when 1960 ’bursts were considered less desirable than the ’58s and ’59s of legend—even though Clapton played a ’60 cherry sunburst in his Bluesbreakers days. Such was the case in the mid 1990s, when the family of a local musician who was the original owner of one of these guitars walked into Rumble Seat Music’s original Ithaca, New York, store with this column’s featured instrument.

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Classic to-the-bone Fender: a 1952 blackguard Tele and a ’53 Pro amp.

Found during a house renovation, this guitar is a classic example of Fender’s prized blackguard gems.

Leo Fender’s efforts to create a professional solidbody guitar began in the late 1940s and resulted in the one-pickup Esquire and the two-pickup Broadcaster in 1950. By the end of 1951, the two-pickup guitar was renamed the Telecaster, due to a name conflict with Gretsch’s Broadkaster drum set. As we all know, today the Telecaster continues to be a versatile tool for amateur and professional musicians.

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This late-’50s solidbody is elegant yet practical, with its 1-piece, bolt-on rosewood neck, deep pickup controls, and classy gold hardware.

Photo by Lynn Wheelwright

This rare native New Yorker blends old-world craftsmanship with rock ’n’ roll design.

There’s an oft-told tale about solidbody guitars in the early 1950s. It relates how California upstart Fender sparked the public’s fervor with its Broadcaster and Telecaster models, and how the established East Coast builders first denied that they had to respond, but then relented. The rest, and even that alone, is history.

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This trio from 1964, accompanied by a 1969 Super Bass head and 8x10 cab, projects a ready-to-rock attitude.

This pair of Firebird I guitars and a Thunderbird II bass, from 1964, were tucked in a closet for decades. Now, they're ready to rock again.

With help from noted automobile designer Raymond Dietrich, Gibson introduced the Firebird and Thunderbird lines in the spring of 1963. They were an effort to compete with Fender's offset body instruments: the Jazzmaster, the Jaguar, and the Jazz Bass. Dietrich, who was famed for his work with Chrysler, Packard, and Lincoln, created the contours of four guitars—the Firebird I, Firebird III, Firebird V, and Firebird VII—and the Thunderbird II and Thunderbird IV basses.

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