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Some Gibson Custom guitars are better than others


If you're going to spend big money on a Gibson Custom guitar, some have certain things about them that are better than other models.

At the Dallas International Guitar Festival I attended earlier this year, I did see some high-end Gibson Custom builds. All of them were nice, obviously.

However, were I to spend the big cash to get something such as seen above, a Gibson Custom 1957 Les Paul Standard Natural Back VOS in Antique Metallic Teal, it's good to know what you're getting into when buying one of these things.

The big deal with the model seen above is that it's a True Historic model. This takes a little explanation to describe what that exactly is.

Generally speaking, you have three types of yesteryear new builds. Reissue build, spec build and historic correct build. Guitar companies use various names to describe each, but they all fall into one of those three categories.

A reissue is a model of guitar that looks like the model it's made to emulate, but doesn't exactly follow how it was made originally. Things will be different, such as finishing, woods used, electronics used, and so on.

A spec build is a reissue that follows all the same dimensions as the original, but again does not necessarily use all the same materials or electronics the original did.

A historic correct build is when every single last little thing on the guitar is built exactly like it was originally in the past. Same measurements and dimensions, same finishing, same woods, same electronics, same wiring, and oftentimes the same tooling. The only things not correct will be due to lack of availability. An example of this is when a guitar company uses synthetic ivory (called ivoroid) instead of real ivory. No guitar company will go club a seal or shoot down an elephant to get real ivory for a guitar build regardless of how much money is offered, so synthetic will be used instead.

The Gibson seen above is an example of a historic correct build, and that's a reason for the high price tag. It's not just another reissue or spec build. This is meant to be a guitar that would be exactly (as much as possible) the same thing you would have bought in '57.

The Big Question: Does this build style make it a better playing instrument?

No. It will have the same quirks the original '57 did, which is in fact what buyers of this guitar want.

The reason you buy one of these is because it's a far smarter choice than buying the actual genuine article.

If you bought an actual '57 Les Paul, that's a 62-year-old instrument and absolutely unplayable due to age. You can look at it, admire the instrument and such, but you can't play it. Even the lightest play on that guitar can result in breaking something which instantly devalues it by thousands of dollars.

I can assure you that you don't want a valuable vintage guitar where bakelite plastic was used for pick guards or tuner buttons, or used thin little screws to hold things in either. That plastic and metal after 62 years is so brittle that even the slightest pressure will cause it to crack, or in worst case disintegrate. Yes, disintegrate. As in turn to dust to where it can never be repaired.

A guitar is a machine. It's not like a 1940's era Philco radio that just sits on a table and doesn't move. Guitars are moved every time they get played, and again, when I say a 62-year-old electric guitar is unplayable, I'm not kidding. You can't play it. Well, not unless you destroy the value of it by replacing all the brittle parts with new...

...which is why you buy the new historic correct build. That's absolutely playable. It has everything the original had, and you can pick it up any time you want, strum away happily and not worry about it.

Yeah, it's expensive. But if you want that "real '57", the smarter money is spent on the new build. It's everything the original '57 was, with one big difference. You can admire and play this one whenever you want.

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