An Epiphone ’59 Les Paul? Epiphone seems to have all kinds of spectacular announcements this year. The most coveted of all Les Paul models is the 1959 Custom, and this year you can get the most affordable model ever.
The most sought-after Les Paul models on the planet are from the 1959 series. These guitars are collector’s items because they are a piece of history, but also because of their legendary design. These fetch for upwards of $100,000 for a “okay” condition model!
1959 marked the first year that we ever saw what we know as a modern Les Paul. So much so, that the 2020 models share 90% of their DNA and features with the original 1959 models! Your basic Gibson Les Paul in any store hasn’t changed much in 60 years.
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The 1959 models had a lot of “firsts” for Gibson. This was the first year that the company featured the stop-bar tailpiece, the “new” PAF pickups, the Tune-o-Matic bridge, and the Burst finish. Today, these things make up what we consider the “classic” Les Paul. But remember, everything was new once!
Epiphone has always made their version of the Les Paul, based on Gibson specs, with a bit of a twist. However, 2020 has seen the “Inspired By Gibson” lineup of guitars as a brand new offering to critical acclaim. This year, Epiphone takes a shot at recreating the original 1959 masterpiece, with a little help.
And when it comes to Gibson Les Paul alternatives, well, Epiphone’s are some of the best in the business.
Epiphone ’59 Les Paul: A First Collaboration With Gibson Custom Shop!
There have been rumors this year surrounding Epiphone and the possibility of a collaboration with it’s big brother, Gibson. Today Gibson/Epiphone announced the “Vintage For All” catchphrase, marking their first collaboration with the Gibson Custom Shop.
What does “Vintage For All” mean? It means that Gibson has designed these new Les Pauls to be up to spec with their custom shop ’59 editions for an affordable price. The features are straight from the Gibson workbench:
- AAA Flame Maple Top (Not a veneer)
- Mahogany Body and Neck
- Long Neck Tenon
- Indian Laurel Fretboard
- Vintage Spec Wiring
- Gibson USA Burstbucker PAF Pickups
- Switchcraft Input Jack
- CTS Pots
- Mallory Capacitors
- Vintage Tuning Machines
- MOP Inlays
- Vintage Styled Hard Case
Many of Epiphone’s models come with a Flame Maple top of some sort. Sometimes it is actually a full-size cap, sometimes it’s just a thin veneer. The new Epiphone ’59 Les Paul is REAL Flame Maple.
This collaboration with Gibson uses all premium parts, down to the wiring! The CTS Potentiometers and vintage wiring that includes Mallory capacitors is brand new to Epiphone. This will make your experience with the Volume/Tone knobs near perfect, without any loss of signal. This is a professional upgrade, usually reserved for luthiers and guitar techs.
Epiphone often comes with decent upgrades, but this is an absolute first. The wiring also includes the Switchcraft input jack, also usually a pro upgrade done by a tech. They even nailed some of the little details that you normally wouldn’t catch.
The new Epiphone ’59 Les Paul has many period-correct aesthetics that I noticed while looking at the promo pictures. Such as the cream binding around the entire guitar. The pickguard is also the original style, without a bevel. Top it all off with matching cream plastic parts, and you have the closest thing Epiphone has ever made to a historic Les Paul.
This of course makes me wonder if they will collaborate with Gibson on more of their models. With the way Epiphone is doing business this year, I can imagine that anything is possible. Will we see an SG model or a Flying V to custom shop specs?
Epiphone Takes Some Requests
This year has seen a huge change in the way Epiphone does business. They have been listening to their customers, and responding in kind. We talked to the folks over at Epiphone.com and they told us some pretty cool information:
“Our product development teams from Epiphone and Gibson Custom Shop are proud to have collaborated on these fantastic Les Paul models inspired by our iconic 1959 Les Paul Historic reissues,” says Mat Koehler, Head of Product Development of Gibson Custom Shop.
As one of many collaborations to come, we were able to incorporate many of the ‘guitar geek’ upgrades and features we celebrate at the Custom Shop and offer that to the Epiphone audience.”
The Gibson 1959 Custom Shop models Mat Koehler mentions are way out of most people’s price range at upwards of $4000. These are hand-made custom shop instruments, though. They are also the most requested of all Custom Shop guitars.
Epiphone seems to be making all the right moves this year, and have almost completely rebranded themselves. Maybe we can stop considering them as “Gibson’s Little Brothers” and start seeing them as their own entity! The affordable middle ground continues to expand this year.
The beautiful new Epiphone ’59 Les Paul comes in two different finishes for now; Aged Dark Burst, and Aged Dark Cherry Burst. The latter being the closest to the historic models. The original 1959 Les Paul had a finish that is pretty close to these two colors combined.
Epiphone ’59 Les Paul: Let’s Wrap This Up
After reading the initial press release with all of these features listed, I assumed this was going to be a pretty expensive model, especially including a hard case. I was very wrong!
The MSRP is $799. I honestly don’t even think you could swing the upgrades at this price, much less a whole guitar that is ready for the stage. It’s a literal steal.
There has been some chatter about Epiphone’s quality control with this year’s brand new lineup. I like to think they are working out the kinks in the production process. Plus, Epiphone stands by their products, proudly sporting a Lifetime-Limited Warranty with every guitar.
Epiphone has leveled the playing field this year across all of their offerings. I can’t wait to see what they continue to come out with! We already loved you Epiphone, no need to be so extra! Although, it may hurt my wallet pretty bad I am glad to see a company making the moves to improve and innovate.
Epiphone ’59 Les Paul FAQs…
How Much Does The Epiphone ’59 Les Paul Cost?
MSRP is $799.00
What Pickups Come In The Epiphone ’59 Les Paul?
Gibson Custom Shop Burstbucker 2 and 3
What Finishes Does The Epiphone ’59 Les Paul Come In?
Aged Dark Burst (Tobacco Burst) and Aged dark Cherry Burst (Heritage Cherry)
Does The Epiphone ’59 Les Paul Come With a Case?
Yes. It comes with a vintage styled hardshell case.
What Size Frets Does The Epiphone ’59 Les Paul Have?
Vintage Spec Medium Jumbo Frets
Is The Epiphone ’59 Les Paul a Limited Run/Edition?
No. It is a full production model, new for 2020.
Christoper HortonChristopher has been playing guitar and piano for 27 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. He has toured for years with several bands and music projects. He worked in LA as a studio musician and engineer working with bands like IAMSOUND, Baroness, Kylesa, Black Tusk, Reflux, and Tripping Daisy. In between giving private lessons, he is recording a solo album for 2022-2023. Christopher plays Schecter guitars, BOSS amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.
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