1979 Gibson Les Paul "Silverburst" Custom

This came into the shop a while ago and has been on my back burner for a while as I've been so snowed under and the owner said those fateful words no-one should ever say to me "I'm in no rush, whenever you get to it" ................. I've got "projects" that have been here for literally years because of those words.


These "Silverburst" Gibson Les Pauls were made from '79 to '82 and reissued by the Custom Shop a couple of years ago. They have become quite sort after even though they come from a relitively "bad" period in Gibsons illustrious history.

Ive had a few of these through my repair shop over the years but this is the first '79 I think ? It has the best neck of any I remember working on. I do prefer the late (and early) seventies necks as they were thinner than the mid seventies and early eighties necks generally speaking. I'm actually a big fan of the seventies three piece maple necks on Les Paul's as they are stronger, less likely to twist or move and add a little "clarity" to what is usually a fairly dark guitar.

Im also a big fan of the Custom as I think they have a nicer, more well rounded tone than a Standard but to be totally honest I personally think they ruined the LP when they jammed humbuckers in them, making the early P-90 loaded gold tops and Black Customs (and their mid nineties Custom Shop reissues) the pick of the bunch for me. Failing that, I'd take a good LP Deluxe with maple neck and mini humbuckers any day. Yeah, call me mad.


 


So, this Silverburst is in pretty good condition overall and played reasonably well when it turned up although the action was high and it buzzed everywhere, which isn't a good combination.

I did a fret dress on the original frets, which while being in pretty good condition were all over the place height wise, which was causing the buzzing. They dressed up well and then I polished them and oiled the fretboard.

The truss rod worked well (some aren't very responsive) and with the frets nice and level it was time to do a basic set up to get it close to playing so I could evaluate where to go from there.


 


The pots and switch were scratchy but when I looked inside EVERYTHING was original (except the obvious Seymour Duncan pick up in the bridge) so I was going to try and salvage what I could as long as it all worked.

All the pots date at around mid '79 and this guitar still has the "tin can" cover that Gibson used around this time to help shield the electronics.

After a quick clean out all the electrics worked as they should.


 


The nut was a bit low but it was original and call me crazy but I hate cutting that little bit of yellowed lacquer on the side of an old nut after this many years so I filled it and managed to save another original piece of this beauty.

With the slots in question filled and ready for a re-cutting it was time to put the strings back on and do the final set up.


With these shallow angle Gibson head stocks with these tall post tuners you have to put a few wraps around the posts to get a decent break angle over the nut.

The set up went really well which was no real surprise as I could tell early on, even in desperate need of some love that this was a great playing and sounding guitar. The neck is almost perfect for me, which I don't say often with Les Pauls and after a set up just played like a dream.

I usually string LP's with the wrap over the tailpiece method but the neck angle was a little too shallow for this method so I strung it from the back and raised the tail up slightly to clear the back of the bridge. These seventies (and even more so in the eighties) LP's had very shallow top carves and almost no concave "scoop" towards the outer edges which makes them look almost like a fake compared to early earlier (and later Custom Shop reissues)  Les Pauls but this type of Silverburst finish somehow seems to "save" the look a little and the five ply binding on the Custom always looks classy.


 


   


Im not a huge fan of the Silverburst finish as it reminds me of Onyx guitars from the eighties, of which I had lots of crazy Mosrite copies (there's another blog story) painted in this exact finish and it also reminds me of the Antigua finish Fender but it was much, much less uglier. They look even more like an Antigua after the lacquer yellows over the years and these guitars get a real green look to them.

I do like the way these have a real 3D look when you look closely at the grain on the back and from the edges looking in you see the black where it has caught on the grain as its sprayed inward but from the centre looking out, there's no black. This is from the openness of the mahogany and the light "burst" coat has been trapped in the deep grain.

That's it. Time to go home and get used. It's a been a pleasure Les. Until the next Silverburst.


    

Aug 06 2013 Written By: Tim Brennan