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Need Advice - Modded '59-'60(?) Les Paul Special

sbrollins76

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
552
Hi everyone,

A shop near me recently posted what appears to be a modded '59 or '60 Les Paul Special Double Cut on their Instagram, for what seems to be a fair price ($3K). I'm planning to go down there today to check it out, but want to get some advice first on whether the value is fair and anything I should look for.

First, here are the pics I've been able to get:

Obviously, the first thing that jumped out at me besides the refin is the bridge has been replaced with a TOM. The control cavity shows the original finish was cherry, which seems correct, and the pots/caps/wiring look correct from what I could tell. The shop owner thinks the neck pickup is original. I don't have pot codes or anything yet, but I plan to look for that when I'm at the shop. I also haven't seen the back of the headstock yet, so no idea if there's been a repair or anything like that. The shop isn't totally sure on the date, so I assume the serial number was lost with the refin. The body seems to be clean from what I can tell. The neck pickup placement is definitely correct for a '59/60 Special and as far as I've been able to tell none of the reissues or later models have that neck joint.

Any red flags jumping out at anyone? Does this seem like a reasonable deal for a player's guitar? I don't care about the mods as long as the value is right and it plays well since I intend to use the guitar.

Thanks everyone!
 

67blackcherry

Member
Messages
11,867
This is just me but a large part of the magic on those old Specials is the wraparound tailpiece, which, along with the P90s and solid slab of mahogany, really contributes to “that sound”.

But I’m biased, cause I love Specials and I love wraparound bridges.

I’ve youre willing to drop $3K, have you checked out a Custom Shop Special or even a used R4?
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,621
It sounds reasonable to me although I'm in the UK so any US prices sound good to me!

The bridge pickup looks like a 70s Gibson one, neck pickup looks right to me. 50s P90s are findable at reasonable prices if you wanted to put it closer to stock.

Other than that I'm no expert on Specials but I'd be looking very closely at that neck join. It's a shame about the tunomatic - I'm with the previous poster that the wrap is a big part of the Special magic but I guess if you were taking it on as a project it could be plugged and the whole thing refinished again - an aged refin would help blend over the plugs.
 

sbrollins76

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
552
Thanks, guys. I'd obviously prefer a wraparound as well. This is exactly what I was thinking about possibly doing long-term:

I guess if you were taking it on as a project it could be plugged and the whole thing refinished again - an aged refin would help blend over the plugs
Short-term, I'd likely just replace the TOM with a wraparound and leave the tailpiece studs in place. I did look quickly at Custom Shop and other reissues on Reverb, but to be honest $3K is more than I'd typically want to pay for a guitar that isn't vintage. If I did decide to go for a newer guitar, I'd probably look for a good deal on a used Collings 290 rather than a Gibson.
 

WornFrets

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,774
Other than that I'm no expert on Specials but I'd be looking very closely at that neck join.
I was thinking this too - isn't this era of Specials prone to neck joint issues because of the pickup placement?
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,621
I was thinking this too - isn't this era of Specials prone to neck joint issues because of the pickup placement?
It's a horrendous design from a woodworking point of view - looking at that photo of the tenon area you can see pretty clearly why so many have been damaged over the years.
 

paulg

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,850
The TOM/ stopper along with the refin are value killers. Doesn’t mean its not a good guitar that rocks! If you like it, give them a low offer and walk away. Odds are they will call you back. If it was mine, I’d consider a Vibramate and Bigsby, leaving the TOM.
 

pepedede

Member
Messages
1,797
Thanks, guys. I'd obviously prefer a wraparound as well. This is exactly what I was thinking about possibly doing long-term:



Short-term, I'd likely just replace the TOM with a wraparound and leave the tailpiece studs in place. I did look quickly at Custom Shop and other reissues on Reverb, but to be honest $3K is more than I'd typically want to pay for a guitar that isn't vintage. If I did decide to go for a newer guitar, I'd probably look for a good deal on a used Collings 290 rather than a Gibson.

You will need to put tailpiece studs back in under the TOM to put a wraparound on.
 

sbrollins76

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
552
You will need to put tailpiece studs back in under the TOM to put a wraparound on.
Good call, I didn't think of that earlier.

If it was mine, I’d consider a Vibramate and Bigsby, leaving the TOM.
I was thinking of that too. :dude

I went and played the guitar, but didn't walk out with it. For those who are interested, here's a few more photos I grabbed with it in hand:





The headstock and heel are intact with no evidence I can see of any breaks or repairs. You can see there's still a strap button on the back, in addition to the one on the upper horn, with a piece of black plastic underneath that I'm definitely curious about. The guitar is stripped and feels like a current Gibson satin/faded finish. There's still some of the original cherry in the wood grain that's more obvious up close. There was a chip in the binding on the bass side of the neck around the 14th fret and a ding in the back of the neck around the 5th fret, but otherwise it was in good shape. The frets didn't have much wear and there wasn't an obvious re-fret. The guitar sounded good and played well, although the TOM and the tailpiece were pretty low, so the match to the neck angle probably isn't great. The bridge was an ABR-1 style with the retainer wire and looked pretty old; I'm wondering if it was installed at the same time as the bridge pickup.

I decided to leave without making an offer so I could think about it a bit more. Also, the owner of the shop was off today and the guys there weren't sure if this was on consignment or something that they could deal on. They were nice enough to let me A/B it with my 2018 LP Classic that I brought with me. Both guitars sounded good through a reissue Bassman they had there and the tone was similar, although the Classic had a bit more bottom end. They also had a 2007 SG Classic in the shop, which I played as well. That one almost followed me home....
 

Drak

Member
Messages
5,060
I decided to leave without making an offer so I could think about it a bit more.
Well done, sir, well done inDeed.
My motto is always be capable of just walking away, no matter what it is, there is always another one out there.
 

Flogger59

Member
Messages
10,873
They also had a 2007 SG Classic in the shop, which I played as well. That one almost followed me home....
That one there is your guitar. You'll spend at least double, if not triple on the Les Paul before the fun even starts with bridge and pickup replacement, and a possible refin. The body edges are boogered, so that's gone.

The SG has already spoken to you, so far the Special is just expensive potential.

This is from the point of view of a guy who offed a 58 singlecut a few months back. Had it 25 years, barely ever played it. But it was cool and vintage. I wised up, sold it, and bought a new guitar that I liked a whole lot better.
 

sbrollins76

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
552
That one there is your guitar. You'll spend at least double, if not triple on the Les Paul before the fun even starts with bridge and pickup replacement, and a possible refin. The body edges are boogered, so that's gone.

The SG has already spoken to you, so far the Special is just expensive potential.

This is from the point of view of a guy who offed a 58 singlecut a few months back. Had it 25 years, barely ever played it. But it was cool and vintage. I wised up, sold it, and bought a new guitar that I liked a whole lot better.
That's what I'm starting to think having slept on it now. I'm going to touch base with the shop owner today and see if he's willing to work out a deal on the SG. The Special was cool and vintage, like you said, but I don't think it's for me.

Thanks all for the help and replies!
 

skydog

Member
Messages
12,323
When was the pot layout and switch location changed on specials, between ‘58 and ‘59?
 

RBH

Member
Messages
532
My younger brother has a 59 - Cherry and all original except for changing out the tuners. Still have the originals though. Unfortunately they were reamed out for more modern tuners. Plays like a champ.
 

stilwel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,537
Arrrgh...why did they have to refinish the headstock? The body is easy enough to refinish (but not cheap), but that headstock with the LP logo an everything being gone is a bummer.

$3k for that seems high given all of the changes and questionable pickups.
 




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