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Early 1968 Gibson Les Pauls...tell me about them!

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by GAT, May 22, 2011.

  1. GAT

    GAT Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm thinking about getting a 1968 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. Ever since I got a real 1965 Strat I've wondered if the same magic is in the Les Pauls. I know they hold their value, so that's a plus, but I'll be playing and gigging one if I get it. I owned many great strats, Masterbuilts, etc., but my 1965 is SO much better as far as the tone. I'm mainly interested in the tone of the Les Paul.

    I like P90 pickups and I have some great sounding humbucker guitars, a couple Gustavssons and a killer Collings I35 LC, so I have that sound covered.

    Anyway, let me know what you think!
     
  2. Franktone

    Franktone Member

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    Well 1968 was the return of the single cutaway Les Paul P90 gold Top and the Black beauty Les Paul Custom. So being 1968 meant that this was sort of a last hurrah because the late sixties is the end of an erra of Gibsons finest guitars. I know that many will say Gibsons best guitars came out of the late fifties. And perhaps the early sixties came next, and then the late sixties were perhaps stage 3 in the evolution of Gibson with perhaps their greatest craftsmen.

    Now doubt, 68 Les Pauls had to be well crafted in order to live up to the Les Pauls from the late fifties. The 68 Gold top generally had one piece necks and one piece mahogany bodies with a 2-piece maple cap on top of the mahogany. Not long after the pickups were switched for the mini humbuckers because P90's were not recieved too well on a Les Paul gold top at the time, and after that the necks became 3 piece necks and the bodies eventually had more than one peice. So P90 Les Paul from 1968 are in low numbers. It seemed that the Les Paul Custom black beauty was better recieved even though it had a maple top and was called the "fretless wonder". No doubt some 68 Les Paul goldtops were routed and converted to large humbucking guitars. I bought one such humbucking, sunburst, conversion back in 1971 and I should have kept that guitar.

    I rented a 1971 gold top Les Paul Deluxe with mini-humbuckers and a 3-piece neck and could have bought it for about $600. It was a lot of money back then, but also an extremely well crafted instrument.
     
  3. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

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  4. GAT

    GAT Gold Supporting Member

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    I've seen that, I'm mainly talking about tone. Like I said, I have owned tons of great strats, but my '65 strat just sounds so much better (to me) than any Masterbuilt I've owned. Even Hogy from Komet amps started a thread about my guitar and similar '64-'65 strats on how great they sound.

    I'm mainly wondering about the tone of the early reissues, if any one has played one and if it had a great tone, as compared to "normal" Les Pauls. I know its an esoteric question, but there it is!
     
  5. norska

    norska Supporting Member

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    I love them!! I played one back to back with a 1956 through one of my friends old vox ac30's and the 1968 was just as wonderful in the tone department, however, I also thought it played better than the '56. Its the next gibson I will buy, money providing. Just make sure you play it before you buy it.
     
  6. jads57

    jads57 Supporting Member

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    Well being 54 years old , I remember when they came out. I actually have owned both models Std and Custom from '68. I've also owned Std's and Customs from '52,"56,'58,'61(last sgl cutaway Custom w/ Bigsby) and asst Historic models as well. I have to say the newer Gibsons are better as far as being consistent.
    Not all old guitars are 10's and some newer ones are actually better than most old ones. You need to go somewhere like Daves Guitar LaCrosse, Wisconsin and you can try a bunch of new Gibsons and maybe even compare them to his old collection . If you're buying to play it, I suggest buying a used Historic over an old one. If you're buying to invest than I understand the interest. Being a musician I always bought what was the best instrument available new or old. It's a great time for guitars right now! Best of luck!
     
  7. SteveGaines

    SteveGaines Member

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    Tom Keckler down in Memphis told me that Gibson never intended on making another Les Paul after 1960. He and Mike Ladd went to Gibson and had them build 10 for Ladd's Guitar World down in Memphis. Some had plain tops. "TK" said he painted one purple and it ended up in the hands of Jimmy Page. That being said, he told me "I've owned 3 or 4 58 or 59 Les Pauls in my life time, worked on lots of them and those 68 model Gibsons were as fine as anything Gibson ever built.
     
  8. 27sauce

    27sauce Supporting Member

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    Are you confusing the '68's with the Strings N Things RI's?
     
  9. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

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    Well, I played one a few years ago. It was ratty, in terrible shape, but the tone was amazing. I could see how they get compared to the '50s Les Pauls. Very resonant, with a low gutteral growl that you don't get from new wood. You don't get that growl from a '50s Gibson either, they're much brighter, but it was certainly something you could work with. It would make me give up pedals and channel switching and buy a JTM45.

    A friend bought a goldtop in '68, and we compared it to the '57 our lead player been using. No comparison at all. There's no substitute for PAFs and old growth wood, but if you don't like pancakes then a good '68 is likely the next best thing. Guess what? That "dead" wood Gibson bought after the old growth stuff was gone has aged in 50 years, and most of it sounds pretty good now.
     
  10. Mark Robinson

    Mark Robinson Member

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    I have a 68, re-finned and modded with buckers. It has a
    VERY large neck for a Les Paul, single piece body, one piece neck, but not the longer headstock of the fifties guitars. But it is the smaller shape, and does have the correct angle. It's got a two piece maple top, 1/2 of which is birdseye, so it was always earmarked for goldtop[​IMG].I

    It was already routed and missing the original finish with the exception of about 2/3 of the neck when I found it.

    The sound off the body is loud and brite for a solidbody guitar. It took me a while to find the right pickups for it, but I did. Jason Lollar regular wind Imperials. The guitar is really great and I hope to never sell it.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
    Icedstevo likes this.
  11. smcgov

    smcgov Member

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    Isn't also rumored that the original 68's were built from leftover 50's stock, the really early ones are worth quite a bit ($10k+)
     
  12. Bobby D

    Bobby D Member

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    i was GIVEN a '68 goldtop with factory humbuckers back in the 80s. it belonged to the soundman from our band, and he never played it, so he brought it on the road with us, and gave it to me.

    i had never been a les paul guy (still am not one) -- but that '68 goldtop had a real magic to it. it sounded AMAZING......but it was at least 11 pounds.

    after two weeks of playing it 90% of the time at our gigs.....i gave it back to him. i was already starting to have back pain from wearing it, and even though it sounded so good, i went back to playing my 7 pound charvel strat :YinYang

    i truly DO believe that those 68 and 69 goldtops were made with leftover 50s parts. i know that's just a rumour......but i believe it to be true.

    a good friend/fellow guitar slinger had a '69 black custom that was a guitar of the GODS too.....
     
  13. amc

    amc Member

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    my very 1st electric was a new, early issue '68 les paul standard gold top (literally the 1st one to be delivered to dearango music in cleveland)
    bill dearango surprised me with it as i originally was waiting for a maple neck tele.
    i was 14 years old and already was totally consumed by all things relating to guitars.

    whether or not the story regarding these early '68s being built from leftover 50's parts is correct i cannot answer with certainty, but............with the wide binding in the cutaway that was not a '50s feature, most likely the bodies were built in '68...............

    just my 2 cents from the vivid memories of my own personal experience with my '68 lp gt (though it's a full 43 years ago already)

    in 1969, at age 15, i was plugging my p90s gold top into a marshall bluesbreaker combo and the 60 cycle hum was more than i could put up with. i used a dremel from the ski shop next to the music store to rout-out the guitar to install a set of patent # humbuckers.

    i was a kid with too little cash available to acquire guitars, so when i played a '62 335 that i just had to have, my gold top was sold to my childhood friend/neighbor who disappeared after joining the the hare krishnas and becoming blissful.............
     
  14. 27sauce

    27sauce Supporting Member

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    They were not made from left over '50's bodies.
     
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  15. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Member

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    A good friend bought a '68 Goldtop brand new. Two or three years later on he offered to sell it to me for $300 and I passed.:cry: Another guy I knew bought it and repainted it black...:nuts
     
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  16. Franktone

    Franktone Member

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    The 68 Les Paul hasn't always been revered as being in the same league as Gibsons from the early sixties. But even by 68 things were not quite the same.
    - the woods are most likely not quite in the same league as used on early 60's guitars
    - the chrome plated parts are'nt the same
    - the neck tilt-back angle is not the same as it was before 1965
    - operations were becoming more mechanized than done by hand
    - early sixties humbucking pickups are almost identical to paf's and late sixties T-top humbucker pickups are not as desirable, and it is most likely that the late sixties P90's are not quite the same as the earlier P90 pickups

    The prices people are asking for 68 Les Pauls has become very high, and they weren't always priced that high relatively, and of course, if that is what people are paying for them, then it can be said that that is their value in the market today.

    But, if you are looking for even better value, look at any of the early sixties guitars such as: SG Specials, SG Standards, 335 - 345 guitars, or double cutaway Les Paul Specials. These guitars were made out of the best woods, pickups, nickel hardware, and handmade by the finest craftsmen who did just about everything by hand and can be had for generally less than what these 68 Les Pauls are going for (early 60's SG-Les Paul Standards are the exception).

    In contrast, the late sixties Gibson guitar was in decline, especially when you look at the other guitars being made side by side along with the 68 Les Pauls, such as the late sixties SG's. These just weren't quite the same.

    But, in retrospect, if there is a guitar that does stand out in quality, sound, and playability, from the pack in the late sixties Gibsons, they are the 68 Les Paul Standard Gold Top and the 68 Les Paul Custom, and possibly a few others.
     
  17. amc

    amc Member

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    i disagree with your premise that the early '68 les pauls that were re-introduced into the marketplace were not in the same league as other gibson guitars from earlier in the '60s.
    the 1st reissue of the les paul standard goldtop with p90s in 1968 (one piece body, one piece neck with small headstock, no volute or made in usa stamp, brazilian rosewood fingerboard) was on par with gibson's offerings from the early '60s.

    i agree that the redesigned sg's of the late 60's and other gibson models were not on par with the original early '60s sg's and es 335's, but not so with the 1st goldtop reissues of 1968...................

    just my 2 cents from my own personal experiences having owned a 1st issue 1968 les paul goldtop when it was brand new in 1968.............

    i'll never forget the scent when opening the lp in it's case fresh from the gibson factory. what a wonderful memory indeed..........................
     
  18. Franktone

    Franktone Member

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    Sorry amc, if I came off a little harsh in the critique of late sixties Les Pauls. The Toronto Gibson price list at the time listed the Gold Standard at $550.00 and the Custom at 725.00, cases were extra. They were out of reach for my budget at the time. Two different 68 gold tops were seen hanging at two different guitar stores and they were incredible.

    The band played a battle of the bands and was playing that POS 63 Telecaster while one other guitar player had one of those Les Pauls. Back then, Lol, was called "country picker","Telecaster kid",and reminded "everyone starts out with one of those","nobody any good plays a Telecaster", "as soon as you get better, you will would grow out of that Telecaster and get a real guitar, a Gibson".

    Eventually that Telecaster was sold for $250 and the 63 Jazzmaster was sold for about the same and went out and bought that 68 converted Les Paul with large humbuckers, one piece neck, and one piece mahogany body, and was on top of the world, never to return to Fender, ever.

    By 1994 all of the Gibson guitars were sold and a resolution was made to never go back to them, and the more recently acquired Telecasters and Strats were kept.

    Last month another Gibson was bought, can't stop playing it. Go figure.

    May be wrong about the 68 Gibson Les Paul. It may be in with the best of the breed. After all, Joe Bonamassa recorded with the one that was listed as an ebay example in an earlier post. But consider this, he eventually let that guitar go too.
     
  19. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Member

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    Here's one. It has much evidence of a hard life, needs some love, and belongs to a non-player I know. I am preparing a campaign to make me the caretaker/player of this gtr. It sounds spectacular and could be a great player with a little help![​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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