Up for sale, a 1983 Gibson Pre-Historic Les Paul Standard 1959 reissue in near mint condition and in perfect working order. This extremely early Pre-Historic example is most closely tied to the Guitar Trader and Leo's short run models, notably produced at Gibson's original Kalamazoo factory, with a 9-prefix headstock serial and an additional eight digit serial that matched the serial format for the era stamped on the inside edge of the control cavity. Sparingly few of the Pre-Historic models were produced in Kalamazoo, as production shifted to Nashville after '83 (Nashville was also responsible for the entire Heritage 80 line).
Featuring a stunning, heavily figured bookmatched flame maple top, one-piece mahogany body, and one-piece mahogany neck with flawless original fretwire on the rosewood fretboard, this Les Paul offers a rich, resonant platform for the original Tim Shaw PAF humbuckers. Save for a replaced wiring harness, this Gibson is a 100% original example of the guitar that would later be dubbed the "R9" after Gibson's Custom Shop division was established. Additional '59-centric features include nickel hardware, a slightly deeper carve on the maple top, a vintage-correct headstock shape, more correctly shaped amber bonnet knobs, and a thinner strip of binding in the treble-side cutaway.
At the heart of this R9 Les Paul are a pair of original Gibson "Tim Shaw" PAF humbuckers, and these celebrated pickups were Gibsons first and arguably best stab at reverse engineering the vital, complex PAF tonal properties. Designed with unoriented, rough cast Alnico V magnets, plastic spacers, and poly-coated wire to achieve the tonal clarity and harmonic richness of the original PAF design, these Tim Shaws both have their original ink stamps on the baseplates, with untouched solder on the nickel covers. The guitar positively sings with Gibson's near endless sustain, and while the bridge pickup has a tone both big and clear with a touch of growl, the neck pickup can deliver a throaty wail with plenty of low end oomph. This Les Paul weighs 9lbs 6oz, professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar with 10-46 strings, low action, and accurate intonation.
The one-piece mahogany neck has a big 50s-style C-shaped neck profile carve with generous shoulder and plenty of substance while being slightly less massive than many of the R7-R8 carves seen in recent decades. The profile measures .870" deep at the 1st fret and .985" at the 12th. The bound rosewood fretboard retains the original flawless fretwire, and the guitar plays easily in every register up the straight neck with a responsive, optimally adjusted truss rod. The headstock has the open "b" and "o" on the inlaid Gibson logo, with the small inked 9-prefix serial number style rarely seen beyond the Guitar Trader reissues (of which only roughly 50 were made). The original Kluson-style tuning machines with slightly greened keystone buttons are intact and turn smoothly.
The electronics feature a genuine Gibson harness installed in 1992 fitted with separately sourced vintage reissue Bumblebee capacitors manufactured in the traditional fashion (i.e. much more vintage-correct than Gibson's modern Bumblebees). The eight digit serial number consistent with 1983 production is stamped inside the control cavity, a feature exclusive to the Kalamazoo-made Pre-Historic models. All of the original hardware is intact, with a patent number nickel ABR-1 bridge and corresponding stopbar. The nickel plating is extremely clean, with just a touch of patina on the neck pickup cover and stopbar. All of the original plastic parts are intact, with cream plastic pickup rings and deeply ambered bonnet knobs with the slightly more conical shape seen on the earliest Pre-Historic reissues. This Les Paul is also notable for never having a pickguard installed, surely to highlight the premium maple used for the top.
Cosmetically, this is an exceedingly well-kept instrument, and the Heritage Cherry Sunburst nitro lacquer gloss is a hair less saturated than many iterations of this burst, highlighting the deep, consistent ripples of three-dimensional flame extending tightly across every inch of the bookmatched top. The tight grain of the maple and light mineral streaking run perpendicular to the figuring, and it's a particularly lovely top. The top is contrasted by a saturated brick red back and neck, with wear limited to some minor finish nicks on the back edge at the waist and a few additional faint finish scratches and tiny nicks on the body as a whole. The neck profile is flawless.
A vintage black tolex Gibson hardshell case with silver "Gibson" silkscreen on the exterior and purple plush interior is included.
A note on shipping: Shipping in the continental USA will be $250, fully insured and shipped via FedEx Two-Day Air. Overnight shipping available for an additional fee at buyer's request. We happily ship worldwide.