1989 Gibson Les Paul Custom
This used to be one of my personal guitars that I lent to a friend for recording one day and I never got it back, except to periodically set up and do regular maintainence work on and every time I do I remember just how great this guitar is.
Its well known that I'm a huge fan of '88 to '92 period Gibsons and this one is no exception. I have an unconfirmed and mysterious theory about why these Gibsons are so good that makes total sense to me, even if no-one else sees it. My theory is confirmed by ALL the Les Paul's I've played from this period which is A LOT as over the years I have saught them out and owned many.
My theory goes like this. In the mid eighties when Gibson was solid to three hardcore fans for a steal they decided to clean up the number of models and failures Gibson was having and go back to making what Gibson was famous for.
What their amazing and brilliant leader through their golden period Ted Mcarty had aimed for and achieved before moving on, and over the next few decades the company lost .......... Quality guitars.
So after these guys took over and cleared out the crap, they decided to show the world that Gibson was back and they were making truly great versions of their "classic" guitars again. They hit the ground running in 1988 with a bunch of great "almost" right versions of their flagship guitars.
These Les Pauls, while not being entirely vintage correct, were and are GREAT. They were trying to say to collectors, players and their competition that they could once again make absolutely great Les Pauls, and they said it loud and clear.
The timber was great, the construction was great, the overall feel was great. They were actually trying to make great guitars rather than just money. Of course this was never going to last.
Gibson noticed that People noticed that they had a great team of enthusiasts developing and building guitars and quality was at its highest in twenty five years so what would you do if you owned Gibson ? You'd open a Custom Shop, right ?
By '93 the Custom Shop was starting up and all the good people (and timber) started to be syphoned off to make the same guitars, with all the right angles and carves (and veneers) but at twice or three times the price.
This also meant that the standard line of guitars once again started down that long, slightly sloping ride to where we are today.
Back at 1984 all over again.