The ‘54s Left to Right: 2009 ’54 Jeff Beck Reissue, Original 1954 Goldtop, 2011 VOS ’54 R4.
The Heritage Series Left to Right: 1982 Heritage Standard 82, 1980 Heritage Elite Prototype, 2012 Custom Shop Standard.
The Burst Reissues Left to Right: 2011 VOS ’58 R8, 1993 Pre-historic R0, 2008 VOS ’59 R9.
The 1958, ’59 and ’60 Gibson Les Paul Standard are considered the “Holy Grail” of guitars, having become the most coveted and highest valued vintage guitars anywhere in the world.
Over the entire 3 year period when the burst finish was used by Gibson on their Les Paul Standards, only 1,500 guitars were produced. They would become the world’s most sought after guitar more than a decade later. As a result, many were not cared for or maintained in original condition, leaving the actual number of original Bursts at far less than 1,500.
Since the reintroduction of the Les Paul in 1968, Gibson has sought to recreate the magic of those magical 3 years. I particularly like the Heritage and VOS series reissues.
Best Alone, Better Together
The Heritage series marks a significant milestone in Gibson’s Les Paul history. It is the first production of an official “reissue” guitar whose intention was to produce a
high quality Les Paul that shared many of the characteristics of it’s Burst brotheren.
The Heritage series was created by Gibson master luthier, Jim Deurloo who would go on to form Heritage Guitars with 2 other Gibson employees, Marvin Lamb and JP Moats in 1984. But not before producing some of Gibson’s most beautiful reissues still to this day, over two decades later.
Truth be told, the Heritage series, although a wonderful Les Paul, is not particularly accurate as a re-issue, however, the inclusion of Tim Shaw Pickups, amazing Maple tops, and Kalamazoo craftsmanship, make the Heritage a Les Paul for the ages.
There’s something so special about a simple wrap around stoptail bridge with 2 P90s, that make the 1954 Les Paul one of my favorite guitars of all time.
Originally, only available in Goldtop, Jeff Beck modified a ’54 by replacing the P90s with Humbucker pickups (which weren’t available in 1954), and having the guitar refinished in what has now become a signature Oxblood finish.
In recent years, Gibson has produced sunburst finished VOS R4 Les Pauls that provide the same magic of the ’54 with tops that were never available back in the day.
No matter how you like yours, the ’54 Les Paul is a pinnacle in guitar design, and one that I am happy to call my favorite.