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The “R8” Reissue Issue

Marshal

Member
Messages
21
An “R8” is a Gibson Custom Shop 1958 Reissue. However, the “R8” term has become so popular that it is often used for any Gibson that has 58 in the name, Custom Shop or not. There are so many posts that mention the “R8” you would think it was Gibson’s best-selling guitar. However, these reissue guitars fill a niche market: people who want a vintage Gibson but can no longer find one in reasonable condition that doesn’t cost as much as a new car.

An “R8” is an excellent guitar, no question, but it’s also a heavy, thick necked one trick pony. If that’s your thing, then an “R8” may indeed be for you. But for many, it’s not. In 50 Years of the Gibson Les Paul: Half a Century of the Greatest Electric Guitars (2002), Tony Bacon notes that Gibson stopped making the Les Paul in 61 because they were too heavy and old fashioned. It was guitarists like Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page among others playing 1950’s LPs that caused the renaissance of the late 60’s. It’s also why the 57-60 reissues are so popular. However, most of those iconic 50’s LPs were not stock, but rather luthier modified with carved down necks, rewired pickups, and lightened bodies. So, a reissue might be a good choice for the traditional blues player, but a more modern guitar is perhaps the better choice for rock.

What do you think?
 

SgtThump

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,160
Also, I don't think there's a single comment I agree with. Not one.

EDIT - Found only 1 comment I agree with. " It was guitarists like Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page among others playing 1950’s LPs that caused the renaissance of the late 60’s."
 

Tag

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
42,455
An “R8” is a Gibson Custom Shop 1958 Reissue. However, the “R8” term has become so popular that it is often used for any Gibson that has 58 in the name, Custom Shop or not. There are so many posts that mention the “R8” you would think it was Gibson’s best-selling guitar. However, these reissue guitars fill a niche market: people who want a vintage Gibson but can no longer find one in reasonable condition that doesn’t cost as much as a new car.

An “R8” is an excellent guitar, no question, but it’s also a heavy, thick necked one trick pony. If that’s your thing, then an “R8” may indeed be for you. But for many, it’s not. In 50 Years of the Gibson Les Paul: Half a Century of the Greatest Electric Guitars (2002), Tony Bacon notes that Gibson stopped making the Les Paul in 61 because they were too heavy and old fashioned. It was guitarists like Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page among others playing 1950’s LPs that caused the renaissance of the late 60’s. It’s also why the 57-60 reissues are so popular. However, most of those iconic 50’s LPs were not stock, but rather luthier modified with carved down necks, rewired pickups, and lightened bodies. So, a reissue might be a good choice for the traditional blues player, but a more modern guitar is perhaps the better choice for rock.

What do you think?
Agree. The better Custom shops sound better than all the vintage Gibson LPS I have played. Some were over 200k for a guitar that sounded decent. Not only LPS, but Fenders too. I have owned some of the most prestigious vintage Archtops as well, and played what's considered the finest. Never heard anything special at all.
Glad to have sold them all.

:dunno
 

tiktok

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
23,514
An “R8” is a Gibson Custom Shop 1958 Reissue. However, the “R8” term has become so popular that it is often used for any Gibson that has 58 in the name, Custom Shop or not. There are so many posts that mention the “R8” you would think it was Gibson’s best-selling guitar. However, these reissue guitars fill a niche market: people who want a vintage Gibson but can no longer find one in reasonable condition that doesn’t cost as much as a new car.

An “R8” is an excellent guitar, no question, but it’s also a heavy, thick necked one trick pony. If that’s your thing, then an “R8” may indeed be for you. But for many, it’s not. In 50 Years of the Gibson Les Paul: Half a Century of the Greatest Electric Guitars (2002), Tony Bacon notes that Gibson stopped making the Les Paul in 61 because they were too heavy and old fashioned. It was guitarists like Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page among others playing 1950’s LPs that caused the renaissance of the late 60’s. It’s also why the 57-60 reissues are so popular. However, most of those iconic 50’s LPs were not stock, but rather luthier modified with carved down necks, rewired pickups, and lightened bodies. So, a reissue might be a good choice for the traditional blues player, but a more modern guitar is perhaps the better choice for rock.

What do you think?
The thick neck is a selling point. It's really the defining aspect of the R8--the vintage style humbucker equipped sunburst Les Paul with a thick neck. For many folks, the neck "is" the guitar, and you can make a thick neck thinner, but hard to go the other way on a Gibson. For a small number of folks, including myself, the thick neck is a selling point, for some it doesn't matter, and for many it's a negative--hence the thinner necks Gibson has favored since then.

In the old days, you could just buy a new Les Paul or an used one. There wasn't an option to buy a new one with the old specs--guitars were like cars in those days, each year or two you got a new spec for the model. So, necks and finishes change, pickups change in design and number, etc. If you wanted a "sunburst Les Paul" in the late 50's and 60's, you took what you could find, and if you could "only" find a fat necked model, then you'd get some guy to reshape it for you, because it was just a used guitar being used as a tool.

The idea that an R8 is a "one-trick pony" is impressively mistaken.

It'd certainly be interesting to see production totals for the various Gibson models in the modern era to get some idea of how popular the 50's neck is, but I'm pretty sure that Gibson knows that fat necked guitars are a tougher sell than thinner ones, and builds to cater to that market preference. Ditto on weight--some folks want a non-chambered body, some people actually prefer heavier guitars, but these days the average guitarist doesn't care about what's inside, they just look at it on the rack and say "Oh, nice...", plug it in, and if it connects, they buy it. They don't know or care about long tenons, 50's wiring, methods of weight relief, etc.
 

Flogger59

Member
Messages
11,733
There 8s the short tenon Custom Shop R8, then there is the Custom Shop long tenon Historic 1958 Reissue. That is all.
 

ozraves

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,041
Whether Gibson USA or Gibson Custom I think the better Les Paul guitars are being made today.
 

Marshal

Member
Messages
21
Also, I don't think there's a single comment I agree with. Not one.

EDIT - Found only 1 comment I agree with. " It was guitarists like Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page among others playing 1950’s LPs that caused the renaissance of the late 60’s."
Thanks for your reply. Just to be clear, you’re suggesting:

- the term “R8” is used correctly on the forums
- vintage 50s LPs are not very expensive
- Gibson did not stop making the Les Paul in 1961
- the LPs played by guitar heroes in the 60s were not modified
- 50’s LPs are not heavy and do not have thick necks
 

SgtThump

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,160
Thanks for your reply. Just to be clear, you’re suggesting:

- the term “R8” is used correctly on the forums
- vintage 50s LPs are not very expensive
- Gibson did not stop making the Les Paul in 1961
- the LPs played by guitar heroes in the 60s were not modified
- 50’s LPs are not heavy and do not have thick necks
no
 

Marshal

Member
Messages
21
The thick neck is a selling point. It's really the defining aspect of the R8--the vintage style humbucker equipped sunburst Les Paul with a thick neck. For many folks, the neck "is" the guitar, and you can make a thick neck thinner, but hard to go the other way on a Gibson. For a small number of folks, including myself, the thick neck is a selling point, for some it doesn't matter, and for many it's a negative--hence the thinner necks Gibson has favored since then.

In the old days, you could just buy a new Les Paul or an used one. There wasn't an option to buy a new one with the old specs--guitars were like cars in those days, each year or two you got a new spec for the model. So, necks and finishes change, pickups change in design and number, etc. If you wanted a "sunburst Les Paul" in the late 50's and 60's, you took what you could find, and if you could "only" find a fat necked model, then you'd get some guy to reshape it for you, because it was just a used guitar being used as a tool.

The idea that an R8 is a "one-trick pony" is impressively mistaken.

It'd certainly be interesting to see production totals for the various Gibson models in the modern era to get some idea of how popular the 50's neck is, but I'm pretty sure that Gibson knows that fat necked guitars are a tougher sell than thinner ones, and builds to cater to that market preference. Ditto on weight--some folks want a non-chambered body, some people actually prefer heavier guitars, but these days the average guitarist doesn't care about what's inside, they just look at it on the rack and say "Oh, nice...", plug it in, and if it connects, they buy it. They don't know or care about long tenons, 50's wiring, methods of weight relief, etc.
Thanks for your reply. By “one trick pony” I mean they do not have coil taps, reverse polarity, etc., but they do their “one thing” very well. I looked for production totals but couldn’t find any that were not opinion based. I agree with the fat neck being a harder sell: the ’59 neck is about as thick as I can play without sacrificing some speed. Cheers.
 






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