2009 Gibson Custom Shop Billy Gibbons "Pearly Gates" 1959 Les Paul Standard, Aged/Signed
Released in 2009 as an exacting replica of the legendary ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons 1959 Les Paul Standard “Pearly Gates”, a guitar owned by Gibbons since 1968 and purchased from a farmer in Houston it has featured on every ZZ Top track to date.
Renowned for their recreations of legendary guitars the team at Gibson Custom set out to create the best historic replica to date with the Pearly Gates Limited edition model. Offered in three options and produced in a limited quantity of only 350 guitars – 250 receiving Gibson Custom’s patented V.O.S. finish, 50 aged to look exactly like the original Pearly Gates, and a further 50 were aged and personally signed and played by Gibbons himself.
Having been given unrivalled access to the original instrument, every detail was scrutinised from the carefully matched highly figured maple top to the accurately faded sunburst finish. The guitars original Pickups are a matched set of Seymour Duncan Custom shop Billy Gibbons PAF replicas, based upon the original guitars PAF pickups.
Arguably one of the most sought after and highly prized Artist instruments Gibson Custom has ever produced the Pearly Gates 1959 Les Paul Standard is a highly desirable and modern day classic that rarely comes to market, especially the Aged and Signed version.
Number 38 of the original 50 aged and signed instruments the guitar is in the same condition as it left the Gibson factory and comes with its original Gibson Custom Les Paul hardshell case with Billy Gibbons’ signature silkscreened on the front, suede covered Certificate of authenticity, Custom guitar shroud, hang tags and Signed photograph. The guitar still retains its original strings and shipping box!
From the original Gibson listing,
“The new Billy Gibbons ‘Pearly Gates’ Les Paul is as close as it gets to owning the real thing. And it all starts with the traditional marriage of select tonewoods that make up Pearly Gates’ body – a solid, non-weight relieved mahogany back topped with a hand-carved figured maple top that was carefully selected especially for Gibbons’ Pearly Gates model. The maple tops from the late 1950s and early 1960s remain one of the Les Paul’s most distinguishing features, and the tops selected for the Billy Gibbons ‘Pearly Gates’ are as beautiful and figured as the one that adorns the original. Single-ply cream binding surrounds the top of each guitar, helping to protect its edges but also adding a touch of elegance that remains a fundamental part of Gibson’s rich guitar-making history.”
“One of the more storied aspects of Gibson’s legendary Les Pauls of the late 1950s were the variations of the initial Billy Gibbons Burst finishes applied to them. Because of an inconsistency in the initial batch of red paint, the finished color had a tendency to fade when exposed to the elements. Of course, the amount of fading was determined by each guitar’s exposure to the elements, resulting in several improbable variations of the same finish. On Billy Gibbons’ celebrated Pearly Gates, the finish has darkened somewhat around the edges, but the beautiful grain of the figured maple top comes through prominently all the way around the guitar. The master craftsmen at Gibson Custom have successfully recreated this subtle variation on the new Billy Gibbons ‘Pearly Gates’ Les Paul, even down to the original’s distinct red mahogany back. Granted, no two guitars can ever possibly have exactly the same top and finish. But this may be as close as it gets.”
The story of how Gibbons acquired ‘Pearly Gates’ is almost as famous as the guitar itself. As told by the Reverend Willie G. himself, the story begins in the late 1960s with an old, beat up Packard automobile that used to be ZZ Top’s main ride – all three of them and their entourage. “That automobile served us well,” Gibbons said. “It was huge, flashy and lowered, but not intentionally – it was just, plain old.” Not long after getting the Packard, one of band’s “girlfriends” decided to head to California to try out for a part in a movie, and the band was kind enough to let her use the Packard to get there. According to legend, she landed the part, and the band christened the car with the name "Pearly Gates" because they thought “it must have had divine connections.” At some point, the girlfriend sold the car and sent the money back to the band. “The very day the money arrived, a guy called me up wanting to sell me a ’59 Sunburst Les Paul,” Gibbons reflected. “I bought the guitar and called the girlfriend to thank her for being so kind. She said, ‘It looks like the car went for a good cause. Since the money that put the guitar in our lap came from selling the Packard, we'll lay claim to the name Pearly Gates. Now you can go make divine music.’ Try as I may, I haven't been able to find another guitar that sounds as heavenly.” And that’s the legend of Gibbons’ storied ‘Pearly Gates’ Les Paul. Gibson’s 1959 Les Paul Standards may be the Holy Grail of electric solid body guitars, but Gibbons’ ‘Pearly Gates’ may be the most desirable of all.