Opinions regarding '81 LP Custom

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by HunterNZ, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. HunterNZ

    HunterNZ Member

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    Hi all

    I've been offered a trade for a 1981 Les Paul Custom in Cherry burst (clown burst) on some gear I'm selling.

    I'm not going to be in a position to play it before committing to it, so I'm interested in some opinions of LP customs from around that era. It has the Tim Shaw Pafs in it, and is in original condition, except for the addition of sprague caps.

    I'm a little concerned about the frets as I thought the LPs from that era tended to have very low frets. The owner said they are reasonably low, but even and play cleanly without rattles.

    Thanks for any help.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. TattooedCarrot

    TattooedCarrot Supporting Member

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    I picked up an '81 custom in natural last year, I paid $2000 shipped for it. It already had a refret done (by Michael Tuttle of Bestfrets.com) so I can't comment on that. It did not have the Shaws, the rest was original.

    IMO they are nice guitars - heavy! I'd say in general they are worth $2,000-$2,200 fair, $1800 a steal, and over $2,200 is ok if you just gotta have it.

    The fact it still has the Shaws is a plus, they are worth between $200-$400 if you part them out, depending on the timing of the sale (stuff is pretty slow right now).

    They have solid bodies (no pancake) and a three-piece maple neck with the small volute (which I think is excellent, great stable necks). The neck profile is on the thinner side.

    These came with the plastic chainsaw cases.
     
  3. HunterNZ

    HunterNZ Member

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    Thanks for the answer.
    I'm in New Zealand so the prices are a bit different here.

    I'd be paying around $2600US for this. This equates to about $3000NZD.
    $3000NZD is about the average price that a LP custom sells for second hand here. Recently a mid 90's white LP Custom sold for $3000NZD. Should this 1981 model be worth less or more than that in your opinion?

    Sorry for the silly questions, I've not had a lot to do with LPs.
     
  4. TattooedCarrot

    TattooedCarrot Supporting Member

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    Should be in the same ballpark. While norlins are becoming more collectible, its the earlier 70's models that are fetching more right now. In another 10 years the 80's will be more in demand - naturally.

    The upside to yours is the condition and original Shaws, the downside is that God-awful clown!! :)

    [​IMG]
     
  5. HunterNZ

    HunterNZ Member

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    Haha, yes that is really the thing holding me back at the moment. :huh
    It's not the worst clown burst I've seen, but it still is pretty bad.
     
  6. elterrell

    elterrell Member

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    Is it a three piece top? The clownburst just kills it for me; I don't think I could do that kind of money for that piece, but that is just me.
     
  7. HunterNZ

    HunterNZ Member

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    Yeah I think it is 3 piece.
     
  8. Hard2Hear

    Hard2Hear Member

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    My '78 looks identical to that. I love it, its a really great guitar. I've always liked the bursts over the black customs, but that's just personal preference.
     
  9. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    First thing to do with these is lose the 300k volumes and 100k(!) tones, and install 500k audios all around.

    That and a pro refret with big wire and you'll have an absolute monster guitar.
     
  10. TattooedCarrot

    TattooedCarrot Supporting Member

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    Yea I forgot to mentioned, these all have the three-piece tops (although I've heard of a few rarer two-pieces out there somewhere).
     
  11. Jimishrine

    Jimishrine Member

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    I have a '79 I've owned since 1980. I love the neck profile (similar to a slim taper) and it is super stable. I have never had to adjust the truss rod. The frets are very low; easy to play, but harder to bend. Because of the low frets, it definitely feels way different than other Gibsons I've owned (a '69 LP Deluxe, '90s LP Classic, '97 Firebird and 2009 SG). The downside is that it has 3-piece maple neck (would really prefer mahogany) and a 3-piece top that does not have much of a carve. It also weighs a ton (typical of the era) so you'll need a wide strap. The one you're looking at is probably similar in features. I think the price is a bit high unless it is in pristine condition.

    http://i318.photobucket.com/albums/mm421/mikebasica/GibsonLesPaulCustom.jpg
     
  12. TattooedCarrot

    TattooedCarrot Supporting Member

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    ^^^ That three-piece neck is exactly why its so stable. Vintage correct? Nope. Solid as a rock? Yep.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  13. samdjr74

    samdjr74 Supporting Member

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    I had a wine red 81 years ago. Great guitar but heavy as hell. I traded it for some other guitar year ago. I shouldn't have as the custom sounded great and had a nice neck.

    I know a lot of the guys overseas have to pay a premium for used gear. I'd say for 2600US it's a tad high but if that's the average price in your neck of the world then it might be a good deal.

    I personally like the color but it comes down to what you like. If you hate the clown burst walk away, refinishing a LP is not cheap and kills any resale value if you plan to part with it down the road
     
  14. treeofpain

    treeofpain Silver Supporting Member

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    The 3 piece top would be a deal-killer for me. Also, check the weight - some of the LPs from this era are insanely heavy.
     
  15. MKB

    MKB Silver Supporting Member

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    Just a few observations from the many Norlin late 70's/early 80's Customs I've played over the years:

    I have never played a stock LP from those years that did not need a refret. The frets are the correct width, but Gibson just lowered them too much. It's a real shame as the lower cost guitars had the proper height frets, and a refret not only is expensive but wastes the nibs.

    Also, if you have in your mind 50's vintage LP tone, you usually cannot get those tones out of this era LP, no matter what you do to it. They are quite a bit brighter due to the maple neck and multiple piece body.

    OTOH, this era Custom is an unsurpassed metal shredding thick tone machine with high output pickups like Lawrence L-500's or EMG's (it's what Zakk uses). The increased brightness works well with the higher output pickups, but you still have the LP thickness in the mids. Yummy.

    But, as always, YMMV.

    On a semi-related note, is it just me, but do most sunburst LP's with non-figured tops look like clownbursts to some degree?
     
  16. HunterNZ

    HunterNZ Member

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    Thanks for all the info guys.
    I've decided I'll go with the trade. The more I've looked at the finish the more I like it. If it really came down to it, I have no doubts I could sell it and get my money back.

    To help you guys understand the price I'm paying (because prices here are so different) I'm trading a 1997 Ibanez Universe and $800USD for it
     
  17. killer blues

    killer blues Member

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    They are kick-ass lead guitars for rock, the heavier the rock, the better. They will cut through a mix like a hot knife through butter. Only problem is you may need a chiropractor after a couple of months of gigging with it. Mine weighed 13 lbs.
     
  18. HunterNZ

    HunterNZ Member

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    Haha, yeah I play sort of Rock/Punkrock so I'm hoping it'll be good for that.
    I'll have it by the end of this week. I have a good wide strap at home, so hopefully it won't kill my shoulder too much.
     
  19. DRS

    DRS Member

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    Add a third pickup and you're Ace.
     
  20. HunterNZ

    HunterNZ Member

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    I think I'd also need to add makeup, huge boots and a heap of additional talent.
    Then maybe I'd be Ace.
     

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