Since the 1950’s sales of the electric guitar, in popular music, have largely been dominated by two American Companies – Yet for one of the most famous guitars, the Les Paul, it was somewhat of a false start regarding sales and popularity – However it is fair to say that we can attribute the birth of a new style of blues and certainly a new voice, to August 1966, when Clapton plugged his Les Paul into a Marshall ‘Bluesbreakers’ Combo – From that moment on wards, the fat warm overdriven tones of a Les Paul has been heard around the world on a regular basis – As such, for many guitar players a wish list might start with the following criteria :- Gibson – Les Paul – 1959 – And today we can now add a forth key ingredient to that wish list :- Tom Murphy, or should I say Tom Murphy Aged – It was around 1999 when Gibson and Tom effectively introduced the aged Les Paul to the market place and it has been a good relationship ever since – Yes they command a serious price tag, but they deliver a premium performance, with all the boxes ticked in the desirable aesthetics chart – So after a small build up can I introduce you to this Gibson Les Paul Aged 1959 Les Paul R9 Historic Reissue – Yes a used model from 2005 that is complete with vintage leather strap, tags and certificate (signed by Rick Gember, Ed Wilson and of course Tom) as well as the vintage style brown Lifton case
I would like to add at this stage that my pics do not do justice to the aesthetic qualities of this 59 Reissue – The figured maple top is more subtle than wow, but it still possesses plenty of character, with a 3 dimensional vibe about it – As such it moves and flickers as you look at it from different angles – I don’t mean the top is plain, as it is far from that – It is more mysterious with hidden qualities – Maybe I should just say it is attractive without been over the top
Let me update you on a few key details following my evaluation :-
- Whole guitar weighs 8lbs and 9oz – So totally credible LP weight – more important is the guitars natural vibrant acoustic character
- Dark even grained rosewood fingerboard with an almost Brazilian rosewood ‘wax pours’ character
- Gibson humbuckers with paf labels on the base – measure 7.75K neck and 8K bridge
- All vintage spec and lightly aged hardware, including the ABR bridge, plus wire retainer and the lightweight aluminium tailpiece
- Neck measures .940″ around the top nut end and gently fattens out to 1.02″ around the 12th fret – More of a comfortable D profile with fat shoulders
- Aged from tip to toe by Tom Murphy – Less dings, dints and wear, but plenty of lacquer checking, with a smokey faded vibe about the burst finish that captures the character of good old ‘un
- Over spill on the body and fingerboard vintage cream binding
- The usual bumble bee tone capacitors with vintage 50’s style wiring
- Square shouldered pick guard
Restrung and set up with 10’s and a sensible action that allows you to dig in and bend as well as handle a few cascading melodic licks – As always I can fine tune the set-up to suit individual taste – The neck profile has some meat on it, yet not overly clubby – More of a D profile with ‘fatter shoulders’ so a touch more bulk than a C profile – Yet with an easy playing action it still responds to a light touch – As such it is certainly not a handful to handle – Maybe this approach allows you to dig in and savour each and every note as there is no shortage of soul and sustain in this LP
Tonal character :- For many the first experience is to judge it unplugged – Played acoustically, you may wish to check out how it feels, handles and how it rings and in doing so, you’ll find there is no negative experience at this stage – You can both feel and hear it resonate, whilst a chunky neck obviously assists with its overall vibrant character, further assisted by a select one piece mahogany body – But I dare say you are in a hurry to hook it up to your amp – Initially, you’ll maybe rush through a few chosen licks, as you switch from clean to overdriven amp settings and again no complaints so far – So now a more thorough sound check is required and I start off with a clean amp setting – It possesses enough natural character that it does not sound bland – Rich, smooth and warm with almost a single coil clarity from both pick-ups, so neither thin nor mushy – Clear lows with just enough mids that add body, but do not over power – The paf replicas are on the lower output side of life, but the tone is lush and musical – Chilled out moody blues chords and licks, or country twang possess plenty of character, with good depth, body and articulation – Whilst many will play such a guitar in some form of rock/blues environment with a decent level of gain on the amp – But it is nice to know that you have such a lush clean tone to fall back on as required – Lush texture from the neck pick-up and more of musical throaty bite and bark from the bridge pick-up
To me playing this R9, through an overdriven amp setting, is when you’ll find out how it will respond with subtle variations on the volume and indeed the tone pots – This is generally when you discover how much soul, emotion and expression that it possesses and again this LP does not let you down – On lower gain amp settings, with the LP turned up, or hi-gain amp levels, with the volume pots rolled off, produce distinctively different and use able voices, so instantly both options have there place, be it for chord work, riffs, shuffle patterns or lead licks – It is this expression that allows you to get fully infatuated with such a guitar – With everything on 10 you’ll experience a big tone, with clear lows, clear highs and just enough fat mids, but not to the extent that they overpower – Roll off the volume pot a touch for subtle but effective variations, so as to discover a softer voice, that is more sultry but not muddy, as the guitar still retains its articulation and sparkling clarity – With the amp on moderate distortion levels, this approach allows you to morph from Pete Green style blues licks, with the volume pot around 6 or 7, through to Bonamassa rock blues licks with the volume pot approaching 10 – On hi-gain amp settings, the same approach allows for subtle but effective levels of gain to be controlled by you and the volume pot – From the full on ‘Still Got The Blues’ to a more tender approach – Hence so much emotion available to you, so enjoy and explore – Try Less gain, a boost pedal and the guitar on 8 through to 10, or hi-gain and the guitar now around 6 and both produce different voices that are totally use able – As I said so much emotional control at your fingertips – Overall this LP always sounds more melodic and tender, so in control, as against pushed to its limits
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Every guitar in stock at Guitars4You has been personally selected, inspected and approved by me, with particular attention paid to the set-up and playing performance – Every sale, phone call, mail order transaction or e-mail is handled my me – Mark Hopkin, the owner, Managing Director, cleaner and coffee maker (Jo, my wife helps with the coffee) – A 35 year journey has fuelled my knowledge, experience, love, devotion and passion for exceptionally fine guitars – This reflects in every aspect of our business.
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