1961 Gibson Les Paul/SG Standard, Cherry

By Gibson

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Early 1961 Gibson Les Paul/SG Standard in excellent players condition. We are big fans of the early sixties Les Paul/SG models and this guitar is no exception. The Sideways Vibrola fitted is one cool piece of art-deco design and the finish has washed to the perfect aged cherry. The guitar features two of the best sounding PAF pickups we’ve had the pleasure of playing for a little while. The wear to the back of the neck is testament to how hard it is to put this guitar down.

Released in 1961 as the successor design to the fifties single cut Les Paul Model, the newly designed beveled edge, double cutaway Les Paul/SG Standard Model would go through a few changes in line with the rest of the SG range throughout the sixties. The guitar was still listed in the catlaog as the Les Paul Standard until 1963 when it would simply become the SG Standard and in 1966 when the larger “Batwing” pickguard was introduced with the pickups suspended within the pickguard giving the guitar a different cosmetic appearance and changing the guitar tonally.

This guitar is one of the earlier examples from 1961 featuring the smooth neck heel joint often seen and low 5 digit serial number. The original Cherry Nitrocellulose finish has aged as many examples have. Much like the earlier Les Pauls, the Cherry finish is highly susceptible to fading. The overall hue of this guitar is very pleasant with the back of the guitar retaining a little more of the cherry than the front. The neck shows extensive play wear with areas of played through lacquer. The neck feels supremely smooth and very comfortable to play. The finish despite being desaturated is in good condition, there are the odd marks and bumps but ultimately nothing out of the ordinary for a guitar with this many miles under it’s belt. There are the ever common achilles heel repairs to the neck heel and to the input jack that these early Les Paul/SG’s often suffer and the body has previously been converted to stoptail spec with stud inserts added. The stud inserts are still there should the next owner decide to remove the Sideways Vibrola. The Sideways Vibrola, despite being the coolest looking Vibrato unit sadly isn’t the most effective in use for more than a gentle shimmer. Were the next owner to decide to retain the Vibrato, the excellent MojoAxe VibroStop Conversion Kit is available. On arrival the guitars ABR-1 post screws had stripped in the body, a quick trip to our tech and the adjustment screws function with a nice tidy repair. There are additional holes by the strap button possibly from the addition of a alternative tailpiece previously.

The neck has the profile expected of a guitar billed as having the fastest neck in the world. Although slight in comparison to the Gibson necks of the fifties the early ‘60s neck depth suit the Les Paul/SG well and feel more in proportion than on larger, archtop and acoustic instruments. The neck measures 19.65mm at the 1st fret filling out to 22.10 at the 12th fret. The nut width is 42.93mm.

The guitar features two original PAF pickups, the pickups have both previously had their covers removed and subsequently resoldered. The neck pickup has a resistance if 7.7K with the bridge pickup hitting 7.72K. The guitar has 2 pot replaced, two are correct Stackpole potentiometers with one dating to the 43rd week of 1960 from the source code with the other consistent but undateable. There is an added earth to the bridge post necessary to ground when the guitar was set up with the stoptail. The tuners are the correct Single-Line/ Double Ring Kluson the nut has been replaced and the guitar has been refretted with era sympathetic fret wire. The Truss Rod cover is a later replacement. The bridge is a chrome post-’64 ABR-1 Tune-O-matic.

The guitar plays very well, the neck is smooth and silky. The frets, despite loosing some height, feel good. Acoustically, the guitar is very lively with a percussive zing and plenty of volume. Plugged in the two PAF pickups sound glorious with all the detail, sparkle and harmonic overtones they are known for. The bridge pickup has a presence and clarity that sits somewhere between a good P-90 and a Les Paul with the neck pickup retaining the classic Les Paul warmth but with added articulation.

The guitar weighs a featherweight 7lbs and comes with a modern hard shell case.

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