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1961 Gibson Les Paul Custom SG Polaris White w/ PAF Pickups, Lifton Case


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Up for sale, a 1961 Gibson Les Paul Custom SG in excellent condition and in perfect working order, loaded with the original trio of PAF humbuckers and complete with the original brown Lifton hardshell case. A very early iteration of the Les Paul SG Custom from the model's first year of production, this vintage Gibson has been oversprayed in Polaris White nitro lacquer.

Weighing 7lbs 13oz, this Les Paul Custom SG features a Honduran mahogany body and one-piece neck capped with a bound ebony fingerboard, delivering glassy treble detail balanced by the inherent warmth and bark of mahogany as a tonewood. The three-way pickup selector works as follows: Bridge, Middle + Neck (out of phase), Neck. The bridge pickup has a distinctive bounce and midrange forward authority, offering round, clear trebles and spongy lows, taking gain extremely well for thick overdriven howl. The out-of-phase middle position is delightfully thinned-out, percussive and spanky, while the neck pickup is very smooth, with a gutsy low end and a subtle wooly quality when digging in, all while retaining a certain detail and dynamic responsiveness. Professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar, this Les Paul Custom SG features 10-46 strings, slinky action and accurate intonation.

The one-piece mahogany neck has a slender C shape with round shoulders and just a hair more heft in the higher registers, offering both ideal substance and a fast, effortless feel, measuring .770" deep at the 1st fret and .875" at the 12th. The ebony fretboard retains the original slender banjo frets which have been leveled and crowned, firmly in “fretless wonder” territory and currently showing no wear. The guitar plays cleanly up the 24 3/4" scale with a straight neck and responsive, optimally adjusted truss rod. The original nylon nut measures 1 11/16" in width, and on the headstock, the original truss rod cover is intact, along with the original Pat. Pending gold-plated Grover Rotomatic tuners that offer excellent tuning stability.

All of the electronics work as they should, with CentraLab pots, ceramic disc tone caps and a Switchcraft three-way toggle and 1/4" output jack. The PAF humbuckers retain their original gold-plated covers and PAF waterslide decals on their baseplates. The solder is untouched on the bridge pickup cover, with extremely clean touched-up solder on the neck and middle position humbuckers covers. The neck cover was removed to further inspect the humbucker, which retains its original windings and sports all the correct materials and factory tooling marks. The pickups meter at 7.85k ohms in the bridge position and 7.78k at the neck.

Hardware includes the original no-wire ABR-1 bridge with a curved base, seen only on vibrato-equipped Gibsons and designed to rock back and forth when the vibrato was engaged. The bridge has the correct "ABR-1" text and foundry stamp on the base, working in concert with the original Maestro Sideways Vibrola. The Vibrola is more effective than most SGs with this design, both in terms of pitch reliability and response. Warbles and modestly deep bends are achievable with a smooth return to the target pitch, and the combination of Grover tuners for added stability and nylon saddles to limit the friction of the string travel aid in this performance. Plastics include a quartet of (later, but not reissue) reflector cap knobs, and the original pickup rings, switch surround, pickguard, and “Les Paul Custom” neck spacer are present.

The nitro lacquer Polaris White finish has been fully oversprayed, save for a couple tiny areas of exposed original exposed finish (like on the headstock wing) that fluoresce properly under blacklight. There is no evidence that the original finish was stripped, and the headstock face retains its original lacquer too. Cosmetic wear is limited to some pinhead-sized marks central to the back, and just a few additional minor nicks and scuffs on the body as a whole. The neck profile retains a smooth gloss, with one small, shallow mark central to the carve behind fret 7 and a couple exceedingly faint marks beneath the finish on the bass side of the carve from frets 15-17, further supporting that no stripping occurred prior to the application of the current finish.

The original Lifton hardshell case is included with a pink plush interior. The case was at one time painted black, subsequently stripped back to reveal the majority of its original brown covering. The case retains its original latches, handle and Gibson badge.