When Gibson Met Hagstrom
A see-through cherry factory-finish 1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom? You bet your meatballs!
Ted McCarty, the man most responsible for the creation of the Gibson Les Paul and the president of the company during its golden era, never spared his criticism of the competition at Fender. He sniped to guitar writer Tony Bacon that Fender didn’t even own a carving machine, adding, “they joined their neck with a plate in the back of the guitar!” In another interview, he told author Tom Wheeler, “It didn’t take a great deal of skill to build a plank guitar”—an insult that, for some, still carries a barb all these decades later.
So, when McCarty and the Gibson team deigned to make their first solidbody Spanish-style electric, they pulled out all the stops, creating the carved maple top, famous gold finish, expert binding, and trapezoid inlays of 1952’s debut Les Paul. But, lo and behold, the Les Paul Custom model that was unveiled one year later was even fancier. McCarty, with input from Les himself, outfitted the Custom with more intricate binding, gold hardware, a split-diamond headstock inlay, an ebony fretboard, and a tuxedo-like finish that inspired a lasting nickname: the Black Beauty.
In profile, this 1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom’s see-through finish seemingly makes its solid mahogany glow.
What, then, is this month’s find from the vault? It’s a bona fide 1960 Les Paul Custom in a factory-sprayed, see-though cherry finish. There’s a story here, and it goes: This all-original Custom is the same as others of its era except for that transparent color. It has the same Grover tuners and extra low “fretless wonder” rails of its genus. It sports the same 3-humbucker setup. (The move away from two pickups began in ’57 and continued through the SG-body Customs of the early ’60s.) The 3-way switch selects between the neck pickup, middle plus bridge, and the bridge pickup alone, and there’s Gibson’s typical two volume and two tone knobs.
In 1960, a regular Black Beauty would have retailed for $395 in the U.S., and this custom-finish import likely had an extra charge.
But what about that clear cherry red finish that lets the mahogany wood grain talk to the eyes? It almost looks like something the Sweden-based guitar company Hagstrom might’ve offered back then. And that’s the tip-off. According to GuitarPoint, the vintage German guitar store that has listed this instrument for sale on Reverb, this is one of six Les Paul Customs specially ordered by Hagstrom for import between ’59 and ’60. Cool, right?
The back of this guitar’s neck shows its age in nicks and scuff, but according to its seller, it plays like a pup.
On this 6-string, there’s a “Made in the USA” imprint above the serial number. All official export models had this back then, for customs purposes. The finish shows the all-mahogany 1-piece body construction. There are some small, repaired cracks on the right wing of the headstock between the 100-percent-stable machine heads. This axe shows some wear, especially on the back of the neck, but in general, it’s nice and clean and stock. The pots have untouched solder joints and read 134.59.47, meaning they’re from the 47th week of 1959. The original PAFs had never had the covers off and measure 7.94k (neck), 8.29k (middle), and 8.34k (bridge). The weight of nearly 10 pounds is typical for a Custom, and this one even comes with its original black Gibson case.
In 1960, a regular Black Beauty would have retailed for $395 in the U.S., and this custom-finish import likely had an extra charge. For reference, a common factory upgrade like a gold-plated Bigsby would have cost another $75.
For all the elite trappings McCarty bestowed on the Custom, history has offered a funny twist. Wealthy players and collectors have decided that the Standard Bursts of 1958 to 1960—those with simply two PAFs, a flamed-maple top, and a sunburst finish—are the pinnacle of Les Paul design and collectability. Because of this, vintage Customs from this period do not command the same stratospheric prices. While an excellent-condition, 3-pickup Black Beauty could hit $80,000, Bursts start at around $160,000 and go up—way up—from there. However, this rarity in its original, spectacular finish is listed at roughly $133,500.
The small cracks between the OEM Grover tuners have been so expertly repaired as to be invisible.
Sources include “Former Gibson Chief Ted McCarty on Tonewoods and the Problems of ‘Top-Heavy’ Management” by Tony Bacon, published on Reverb News; American Guitars: An Illustrated History by Tom Wheeler; The Birth of Loud: Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock ’n’ Roll by Ian S. Port; Gruhn’s Guide to Vintage Guitars: An Identification Guide for American Fretted Instruments by George Gruhn and Walter Carter; and Reverb sales data.
- Gibson Les Paul Standard Electric Guitar Review - Premier Guitar ›
- Gibson Releases 1961 Les Paul Tribute - Premier Guitar ›
- Vintage Vault: 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard - Premier Guitar ›
Guitar Center Presents: Holiday Gift Guide
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Les Paul Desert Burst Satin
Fender Classic Series 5 Guitar Case Stand Tweed
Fender Holiday Guitar Cable Keychain
Fender Limited Edition Holiday Sweater
Harbinger MLS1000 Personal Line Array Speaker System
Sterling Audio P10 Dynamic Instrument Microphone
Sterling Audio Harmony H224 USB Audio Interface
Apogee BOOM 2x2 Audio Interface
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Origin Effects Announces the M-EQ Driver
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.
Lava Music Introduces All-New Golden-Hour Finish
The new finish, according to Lava Music, is “inspired by the beauty of the golden hour,” a shining time just before sunset and after sunrise when photographers covet to capture stunning pictures.
With bright and warm golden hues, the new finish adds a brilliant metallic glow to the surface of Lava ME 3, complementing its AirSonic 2 carbon fiber unibody which features L3 Preamp with FreeBoost 2.0, delivers industry-leading sounds by breakthrough acoustic technologies, and houses a multi-touch display powered by Lava-developed HILAVA system.
Speaking of the HILAVA system, Lava Music also added four new effects: Nebula, Desert Rose, Cassette, and Edge of Breakup. As unique as their names sound, they are very much different from what we normally know about effects. Programmed into the HILAVA system, each of the four is powered by the company’s latest ArctanDrive algorithm and incorporates effects like Pitch Shift, Delay, and Reverb. And every one of those incorporated sub-effects comes with various parameters that players can adjust to design unique, overdriven sounds by just tapping on the multi-touch display. That said, those effects enable users to play with overdriven tone on an acoustic-electric guitar without even plugging in any external gear.
LAVA ME 3 | Now in Golden Hour | LAVA MUSIC
Lava Me 3 in Golden Hour is now available starting from $999 on LAVA MUSIC, Amazon, and local guitar dealerships near you.
For more information, please visit store.lavamusic.com.