The new Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul True Historic models are a perfect representation of Gibson’s pursuit of achieving a precise reissue of the original Les Paul. The builders at Gibson Custom Shop scrutinized the original specs of the instrument, all in efforts of creating the most period-correct Les Paul to date. So, what makes the True Historic so historically accurate? We’ve put together a series of side-by-side comparisons to showcase exactly what separates the True Historic from previous reissue models. Scroll below to view the pictures identifying the meticulous differences between a 2014 Gibson Benchmark’59 Les Paul 10th Anniversary model in Washed Cherry, and a 2015 Gibson Custom Shop True Historic 1959 Les Paul in Vintage Cherry Sunburst, both of which are now available on our site.
In 2013, Gibson Custom re-introduced the use of hide glue neck construction in its Historic Reissue guitars – a very old-school technique and material that had long since been replaced by synthetic glue for its faster set time and ease of use. While it may sound simple, it represented a major learning curve and reset of the neck fit area and team. In 2015, Gibson Custom extends the use of hide glue to join the back and top of every True Historic guitar, just as it was done in the 1950’s.
Gibson pickup covers from the 1950’s had many unique subtleties due to the manufacturing process used to create the cover. The pole piece holes were punched from the underside, the pickup covers were sanded from the top before plating. This process was a contributing factor in the final look of the cover. True Vintage pickups covers capture these “imperfections” and inconsistencies in their entirety. The 2015 True Historic also receives the original recessed pickguard screws as well as a re-positioned pickguard to match it’s original specs.
The re-engineered True Vintage knobs were designed so the spines from the knob line up properly to fit the shaft of the CTS potentiometers. All of this required completely new engineering and tooling.
Based on lab analysis of original Gibson plastics from the 1950’s, the plastics on the True Historic range, including the Toggle Washer, Cream Jackplate, Cream Pickguard, Pickup Mounting Rings, Toggle switch Cap, and Switch font, have been re-formulated and re-engineered to the original specifications of their vintage counterparts. Even the tool marks, where applicable, have been recreated in exceptional detail. Turn over one of the pickup mounting rings from a True Historic Les Paul, and you’ll see the part numbers, tooling marks, and manufacturer mark just as you would find on an original mounting ring from a 1950’s Gibson.
A vintage Gibson’s body binding will typically have a deeper scraping line. For True Historic guitars, Gibson Custom has made sure that both of these distinguishing features are recreated in the precise detail so that the experience of owning a vintage Gibson les Paul is complete, even in the tiniest details. Antiquing added to the lacquer coats also aids in the yellowing of the binding.
Like a vintage Gibson, True Historic Les Pauls have a soft roll to the binding edge, making the feel of the neck exceptionally comfortable, with no sharp edges. To make the neck feel complete and authentic, the fret wire has just the right amount of height for a distinctively smooth touch.
The peghead profile of an original 1959 Les Paul has a nearly imperceptible rounding to its outer edges. You’ll notice the same characteristic throughout the fine edges of the True Historic range, including the pickup cavities, neck, and body. The True Historic Les Pauls also feature the original 50’s thin peghead veneer and, of course, the inlaid pearl “Gibson” logo that stands for the price and authenticity of the World’s Finest Guitars.
Like the new top carve process, the necks on all True Historic guitars are double carved and then hand-sanded to achieve that legendary vintage Gibson neck profile; the ”beefy”, solid feel of a beautifully hand-crafted Les Paul that rests in the player’s hand like no other guitar.
Another distinct change is the shape and position of the back-plate, featuring a much thinner shape. In addition, the very prevalent difference in color of the backs of the True Historics is due to the use aniline dye on the backs and necks. This is a different color of aniline dye which was used on previous models. The Aniline dye is also the filler, as it works as both filler and stain.
Lastly, the True Historic sports a unique switch plate cover.
All Of The New True Historic Parts:
Gold and Black Top Hat Knobs
Black Toggle Washer (’57 Custom Only)
Cream Toggle Washer (’57, ’58, ’59 and ’60 Les Paul)
Cream Backplate (’57, ’58, ’59 and ’60 Les Paul)
Cream Pickguard (’57, ’58, ’59, and ’60 Les Paul)
Cream Toggle Cap
True Historic Pegged Veneer
Thinner Lacquer, Wet-Sanded by Hand
Softer Vintage Edge Profiles Throughout
Double Carved and Hand Sanded Top
New Neck Carving Process
Hand Filed Rolled Fingerboard Binding
New Scraping Process
All Of The New True Historic Processes:
-Thinner Lacquer, Wet-Sanded by Hand
-Softer Vintage Edge Profiles Throughout
-Double Carved and Hand Sanded Top
-New Neck Carving Process
-Hand Filed Rolled Fingerboard Binding
-New Scraping Process
-New, Multi-Step Set Up Process”
Photography by Walter Bryant