1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard, "Sunny" Burst

By Gibson

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Every once in a while a guitar comes in to the shop that stops us in our tracks. Safe to say this was one of those moments. After many phone calls and correspondence with the family who inherited this guitar from their late Father, it finally arrived in store for appraisal. Upon opening the original Stone manufactured brown case we knew we had something special on our hands…

On first look, albeit a little dirty from years of storage I could see it had a beautifully figured top and that it had retained a lot of red in the sunburst finish which many will know is prone to fading due to the Analine dye used in this period. All six strings were present and fairly rusty, and the guitar was strung with a wound 3rd. There was some yellowing to the clear coat, the jack had almost pushed right through its original cream plate and the original tuner buttons had shrunk (both very common issues) but on the surface this was everything we’d have hoped to see on initial inspection, and more.

Discussions with the family revealed a rather wonderful history to this guitar. From what they can recall it was purchased new in 1959 from a shop called Barrie’s Music in Durban, South Africa. The original owner’s name was Henry Sylvester Andrew, or “Sunny” to people who knew him. A keen and accomplished musician and guitarist throughout his life Sunny would often visit his local music store to admire and demo the guitars on display. He was an ardent fan of Les Paul himself, and despite the store carrying a few Fender models at the time, it was this Les Paul Standard that really caught his eye during a visit to the store in 1959. Much time was spent thereafter gazing through the shop window at this guitar but it wasn’t until Sunny’s wife put down a deposit as a gift shortly after their wedding that year that Sunny could finally call the guitar his. He owned the guitar for the rest of his life, leaving it to his children when he sadly passed away in 2021.

Music was a huge part of Sunny’s life. Upon graduating he started his working career as a teacher of English and History.  Shortly afterwards, having become aware of his musical abilities the school assigned Sunny to the music teacher role where he would take great pleasure introducing music to his pupils and imbuing a love of music to the children he taught. A few years later in 1977 he took up a position at a school for children with medical, sensory and physical special needs where he would regularly involve the children in concerts for assemblies, parent days, Christmas and Easter events with the help of his beloved Les Paul. Sunny loved music and despite being a quiet, shy character he loved performing in the Church choir and at local dance clubs as lead guitarist with his band Moonglows. It is safe to say, music was Sunny’s overwhelming passion and his Les Paul was his pride and joy.

His children recall their Father’s love for his guitar; how he treasured and took care of it over the years and how everyone in the family knew not to touch it when he wasn’t around… especially the kids! The guitar’s condition today is testament to its careful ownership over the years. Close inspection tells us Sunny never tampered, altered or modified anything on the guitar, and according to his family he wouldn’t even risk taking it to a guitar tech as he wouldn’t want it to be out of his sight and in someone else’s hands. As a result what we have here today is a completely untouched, unmolested and untampered example. I believe we were one of the first to look under the pickups and in the pot cavity given the look and feel of the screws as we were removing them as well as the dust build up and cobwebs within the cavities themselves. This is a perfect scenario for any Burst aficionado; to discover an uncirculated, untouched, one owner example with flame, colour and documented history.

The guitar only required a couple of minor tweeks to make it playable. Importantly these are non-invasive, fully reversible changes needed to preserve the original parts. The input jack has been replaced with a matching repro part (original retained in the case.) Similarly the tuners have been changed to a slightly more stable, period correct set with the originals labelled and retained in the case. Apart from this the guitar is entirely stock. The original PAF pickups are unopened/solder intact. All pots and wiring is entirely stock as are all components down to the screws and solder joints. Besides the tuners, jack plate and a restring with 10 gauge strings we’ve left the guitar entirely as it came to us in order to present it in exactly the same condition. In partnership with the family we have decided to name this burst “Sunny” in memory of its former owner.

Rarely does an uncirculated ’59 Les Paul Standard come to market these days. Even rarer a one family owned instrument with photos/provenance. Rarer that it is 100% original, untouched with original case, and rarer still that it has retained a lot of its colour over what is a stunning flame Maple top. This was one of those days that we will remember and we couldn’t be happier to offer for sale what we believe to be one of the most stunning ’59 uncirculated Bursts to surface for quite some time.


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