Monday, December 5, 2011

Giving Birth to The Gillbillies || 1978 Les Paul Custom || Old Guitars

Isn't she a beauty?  I mean who has ever seen a custom colored orange Les Paul?  Not I.  There is some really history behind this babe.  If you have ever seen or heard The Gillbillies you know that they are an instrumental act that focuses on the melodic rhythms often found in the 60s era surf music...but with a twist.  They are heavy.  They have a sound all to their own.  And this guitar played a vital role in shaping the way of The Gillbillies ever so sweet tone.

Seeing The Gillbillies "live & in person" is an experience in itself.  When talking Gillbillies and guitars you would think that I would writing about one of the Flying V's with Bigsby's (a la Lonnie Mack) that many have seen Jimbo playing out and about the Bay Area.  But as Jimbo put it, this is the guitar that gave birth to the Gillbillie sound.  "We decided to try an instrumental surf guitar sound and this was the only guitar I had with a tremolo."  Hence, the Gillbillies were born.

But there is a lot more to this story.  I had seen and admired this guitar being played for quite some time.  One day after a jam with Jimbo and Nick I got the real story behind the Orange Custom Les Paul.  He had spotted this unique instrument while perusing through the online auction house, eBay (as many of us do who are addicted to the instrument known as the guitar).  He checked on the end date and made a mental note to check on it before the auction ended.  Life got busy and the auction slipped his mind.  Luckily it had ended with out a sale.  He sent an email to the seller and asked if he could buy it.  A week later he got a reply, "If they don't sell, I get rid of them write away."  Jimbo inquired if he could have the dealer's contact info that the guitar was sold to because he really wanted it.  "I'll see what I can do." Another week goes by and he finally gets the contact info of the dealer.  He calls the dealer and he is told that he sold it a few weeks ago to a music shop in Hollywood (the town of flashy guitars).  He asks for the shops info....and the wait continues.  On a Sunday night an email comes with the name, address and phone number of the Hollywood shop.  Jimbo sets his alarm to call the shop first thing when it opens on Monday morning.  11:05am monday morning rolls around...

Ring, ring...
Music shop employee: How can I help you?
Jimbo:  I was wondering if you have a certain guitar in your shop.  You will know if right away once I described it to you.  It is a 1978 Orange Gibson Les Paul Custom with Bigsby tailpiece.
Music shop employee: Are you shitting me?  I literally just hung that guitar on the wall right before we opened.
Jimbo: Please take it off the wall and run this credit card number.  I want it.
Music shop employee:  Ah man, one of my co-workers is going to be soooo pissed!  He loves that guitar.  Unfortunately he is over-extended on his store credit and the owner won't let him have any more.  He is going to be pissed.

Soon after it was shipped up to Jimbo.  The only change that the shop made on it was removing the floating wooden bridge and replacing with the current adjustable one.  He did find out that this Les Paul Custom originally came out of the factory polaris white with all nickel hardware (tuners have been updated).  Soon after it's first birthday it was painted the beautiful color orange it now possesses along with the addition of the bigsby.  The the sound is to die for.  But for now just feast your eyes of a few pictures of this rare gem.

And here is a little taste of that tone she puts out....

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