gibson les paul custom

Black Duck are drummer Charles Rumback and guitarists Douglas McCombs and Bill MacKay.

Photo by Evan Jenkins

The members of the Chicago-based super trio spent decades pioneering improvised and instrumental rock music. Together, they’ve caught lightning in a bottle with their debut album.

Chicago trio Black Duck’s self-titled debut album is an absorbing collection of atmospheric, even cinematic, Midwestern-noir. The band’s three linchpin instrumentalists—guitarist Bill MacKay, guitarist/bassist Douglas McCombs, and drummer Charles Rumback—conjured the bulk of the music out of studio improvisations, played with a relaxed, nuanced flair that fans of each of these notable free-ranging musicians will recognize.

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Rig Rundown - My Chemical Romance's Frank Iero

A gift from Gary Holt, a bastardized Jazzmaster, a Squier baritone, bountiful boards, and stacks of amps litter the rocker’s tone bunker.

The 2000s were an odd period for music sales. The decade was a tale of polar opposites. Songs and albums never exchanged hands faster (thanks to file-sharing services like Napster and LimeWire), and thus the industry's sales plummeted.

During the aughts, one of the few acts growing through the free-streaming floodwaters, were the dark, theatrical rockers My Chemical Romance who melded punk, post-hardcore, indie, and glam. Singer Gerard Way started the band in late 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. He recruited drummer Matt Pelissier (replaced by Bob Bryar in 2004), lead guitarist Ray Toro, his brother Mikey Way for bass, and in early 2002 Frank Iero joined.

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Gibson's so-called "fretless wonder" got a bit more futuristic with the arrival of the silverburst finish in 1978. This example is in very good shape, with minimal wear and the greening that often occurs on vintage models.

A 1979 Gibson Les Paul Custom gets caught in the collectability zeitgeist.

In the vast galaxy of used and vintage Gibson Les Paul models, no star is rising quite like that of the Les Paul Custom. The eternally slick variant—which debuted in its original Black Beauty form in 1954—has been in a certain vogue over the past several years, and prices on used and vintage examples have gone up. For context, average Reverb sale prices on used or vintage Gibson Les Paul Customs increased about 10 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 and have risen nearly 30 percent since 2017. This pattern plays out with Epiphones as well, where Les Paul Custom models have gone up by about 24 percent over the past four years. Comparatively, prices on all used and vintage Gibson Les Paul Standards remained more or less flat over this same time span.

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