When London Declared Clapton “God,” This Was His Guitar
The tonewoods used to construct a great Les Paul Standard have always been at the core of this legendary electric guitar’s voice, and the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul is no different. Gibson Custom selects from its lightest stocks of mahogany to craft each guitar’s solid, one-piece back, and marries it to a two-piece top of lightly figured maple, seeking wood that accurately reflects Clapton’s memory and existing photos of the grain patterns of Clapton’s original 1960 Les Paul as seen through an aged nitrocellulose Antiquity Burst finish.
Often considered a match made in tone heaven, mahogany lends lots of depth, warmth and dimension to the instrument, while maple contributes outstanding crispness and clarity, helping notes “pop” right out of the guitar. A one-piece neck made from quarter-sawn mahogany is glued in with the long-tenon joint of the period, for outstanding resonance and sustain. It is carved to a Clapton-approved thinner profile that reflects the evolution of the Les Paul neck of 1960 after the chunkier necks of the ’50s. The neck is pitched at the historically correct 4 degrees, with a 17-degree headstock pitch for superior sustain and excellent string pressure through the slots of the authentic Nylon 6/6 nut, cut on the PLEK for supreme accuracy.
Hardware includes accurate nickel-plated ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic bridge and lightweight aluminum stopbar tailpiece, along with the nickel Grover kidney button tuners that Clapton added to his original 1960 Les Paul, a common “upgrade” of the day. All of these carefully wrought details are just “specs”, however, without the right pair of pickups to translate your tone. Gibson’s PAF (“Patent Applied For”) humbuckers of the late ’50s and early ’60s are the most hallowed and highly sought after pickups of all time, and Gibson Custom has pulled out all the stops to recreate them on the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul. The pickups in these Limited Edition guitars—dubbed Custom Buckers—have been created with direct reference to Clapton’s own recollection of the correct tone and coil winds (output strengths), as determined by him through the testing of several prototypes during the build process. They include slightly mismatched coils wound with accurate turns of 42 AWG enamel-coated wire, just like original PAFs from the era, and are made with genuine Alnico III magnets for an outstanding blend of smoothness and clarity. Finally, the pickups are routed through quality CTS potentiometers with reproduction “bumble bee” tone capacitors.
Fire it up through a cranked vintage amp, and the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul gives you all the warm bite and chewy dynamics of those “Beano” album performances, in a way that no guitar has managed for 45 years. From the VOS examples (350 guitars), to the immaculately hand-aged versions (150 guitars, 55 of which have been signed by Eric Clapton, who will keep the first 5) which painstakingly recreate the look of the original instrument, these guitars are the legend incarnate, and the closest means of attaining the look, feel and tone of Eric Clapton’s loved—and lost—Les Paul.
Each Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul includes a Custom Shop hardshell case with Clapton’s signature silk-screened on the exterior, an engraved leather Certificate of Authenticity, a vintage replica guitar strap, and full owner’s and adjustment literature, along with Gibson’s Limited Lifetime warranty and 247/365 Customer Support.
Aged and signed examples also include an engraved wood plaque with the May 7, 1966 Beano comic cover, while aged examples include a poster of the Beano cover. All 150 aged guitars come with a limited 180mg vinyl LP of John Mayall Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, while VOS guitars include John Mayall Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton on CD.
Body and Finish
Neck, Fingerboard and Headstock
Pickups and Electronics
Just like the original Burst on which it is based, the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul carries a classic hardware set that includes a nickel-plated ABR-1 Tune-o-matic bridge and lightweight aluminum stopbar tailpiece, along with the efficient nickel-plated Grover tuners that were added to Clapton’s own guitar to replace the original Klusons, a popular “upgrade” of the day.
The body of each Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul is crafted from a two-piece carved maple top with unique figured grain attached to a solid, one-piece lightweight mahogany back.
The Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul precisely follows the body lines and dimensions of the original ’60 Les Paul Standard, with a gently arched carved top and rounded lower bout, and combines the classic tonewood combination of mahogany back and carved maple top. The body’s back is cut from a single piece of solid, high-grade, lightweight clear mahogany, and capped with a two-piece top of figured maple that is carved into a period-correct “dish”, or arch.
Weights vary slightly, according to wood supplies, but Gibson’s Custom Shop seeks out the lightest, most tonally advantageous mahogany for the one-piece bodies of the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul.
The top of the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul sports a gorgeous thin nitrocellulose Antiquity Burst finish, which accurately replicates the soft cherry sunburst finish of Eric Clapton’s original guitar and beautifully shows of the subtly flamed maple top. Aged VOS
The Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul is hand-finished in nitrocellulose in a process that closely replicates the finishing process applied to original Les Paul Standards of 1958-1960. Like the great Les Pauls made 50 years ago, this instrument is finished with minimum build-up, in an effort to produce a finish that breathes with the guitar and enhances natural resonance. To replicate the appearance of Clapton’s own 1960 Les Paul Standard, 150 examples of the guitar will be carefully hand-aged by Tom Murphy and the remaining 350 guitars will be given Gibson’s VOS treatment to replicate the look of a gently aged but well cared for instrument.Pickups
The guitar is fitted with custom-made Custom Bucker units with slightly mismatched coils wound with accurate turns of 42 AWG enamel-coated wire, just like original PAFs, to attain output readings comparable to pickups from that era. They are made with genuine Alnico III magnets for an outstanding blend of smoothness and clarity, and represent some of the fines PAF reproductions ever released by Gibson.
Gibson’s Custom Buckers use Alnico III bar magnets, just like some of the most prized original PAF humbuckers of the late ’50s and early ’60s.
The humbucker in the neck position offers outstanding clarity mixed with vowel-like tone, with the bonus of good volume balance when paired with the bridge position. The custom unit in the bridge position has a slightly hotter output for more grind and sustain from the bridge position. Between them, they accurately translate all the warmth, depth, and clarity of the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul’s woods into a tone that is rich yet crisp and can range from an aggressive wail to a mellow moan, in short, producing all the “Beano Album” tones you could hope to achieve.
Just like the original, the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul uses an independent Volume control for each pickup, which consists of a quality CTS 500k audio-taper potentiometer for a smooth, natural volume roll-off.
Individual CTS 500k audio-taper potentiometers with accurate .022mF “bumble bee” tone capacitors provide independent tone controls for each pickup.
The Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul features the classic three-way Switchcraft toggle switch with vintage-style plastic tip. In the down position, this selects the bridge pickup, in the up position the neck pickup, and in the middle it selects both pickups.
The guitar features a 1/4″ output jack made by Switchcraft, for years of trouble-free service.Neck and Headstock
The neck of the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul is constructed from one solid piece of quarter-sawn, lightweight mahogany for improved strength and resonance. The luthiers in Gibson’s Custom Shop carefully match the grains and weights of these guitars’ bodies and necks to optimize tone and sustain.
The neck on the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul is carved to a thinner profile to accurately match Clapton’s own memories of the profile on his original guitar.Tonal Characteristics
Every detail counts in the effort of bringing the classic Les Paul tone to the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul, and the angled, classical-style peg head and mahogany neck work together to provide exceptional tonal richness and resonance from the neck, with a good string definition and sustain.Tolerance
When fitting the neck and body together, we take advantage of our precise measuring equipment so that all angles, pitches and alignments maintain a tolerance within .005 of an inch. Not only does this help to keep your guitar in tune but it also maintains proper string alignment relative to the fingerboard.Joint
Just like the original Les Pauls of the late ’50s, and many classic Gibson models, the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul’s headstock is carefully angled at Gibson’s traditional 17 degrees, which increases pressure on the strings and helps them stay in the nut slots. An increase in string pressure also means there is no loss of string vibration between the nut and the tuners, which equals better sustain.Truss Rod
Gibson’s traditional truss rod, found in most all of our guitars, is highly responsive to the individual adjustments you’ll want to make to personalize and optimize string action and sustain
The traditional, period-correct Gibson logo is inlaid in mother of pearl across the top of a holly headstock veneer, with “Les Paul Model” silkscreened in gold along the center of the headstock face.
The Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul carries a rosewood fingerboard, the traditional fingerboard of the original Les Paul Standard, which is bound in period-correct .04″ binding with tortoise side dot markers. Rosewood is both hardwearing and sonically superlative, adding sweetness and depth to the guitar’s overall sound.Frets
To replicate one of the small but significant changes brought to the Les Paul in 1959-1960, the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul’s fingerboard carries 22 medium-jumbo frets, all immaculately crowned and leveled with Gibson’s PLEK system.
Rosewood fingerboards are known for their rich, round tone.
Just like that of the original ‘Burst, the 12-inch radius of the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul fingerboard provides smooth note bending capabilities and eliminates “dead” or “choked out” notes, common occurrences on fingerboards with lesser radiuses.
The Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul’s fingerboard carries acrylic trapezoid position-marker inlays, echoing the traditional look of the original Les Paul Standard.
The nut on the 1960 Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul is made from Nylon 6/6 in the image of the original Les Paul Standards of 1952-1960. It is installed into the top surface of the neck, butting up to the end of the fingerboard to ensure proper tone and sustain transfer, and its nut slots are cut with Gibson’s PLEK system to ensure precise fit, break angle, and string spacing.
The headstock of the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul is equipped with nickel-plated Grover kidney button tuners, representing an upgrade undertaken during Clapton’s ownership of the guitar.
Truss Rod Cover
The Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul is fitted with genuine Gibson strings, sizes .010 – .046.
In the image of its predecessor, the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul carries an ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic bridge that is made from zinc and plated in polished nickel. This bridge provides a firm seating for the strings, allowing the player to adjust and fine-tune the intonation and string height in a matter of minutes. It also yields excellent coupling between strings and body, maximizing resonance, tone, and sustain.
Every Tune-O-Matic bridge is combined with a separate “stopbar” tailpiece, which is essentially a modified version of the earlier wraparound bridge that’s designed to further enhance the connection between the strings and the body. The Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul’s stopbar tailpiece is made from lightweight aluminum just like the original.
The Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul’s Volume and Tone controls carry gold top-hat knobs (w/no inserts), and metal pointer rings.
The guitar carries a vintage-cream plastic pickguard.
The guitar carries a Limited Lifetime Warranty, and Gibson’s 24/7/365 Customer Support.Extras
Each Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul comes with documentation for the guitar’s limited lifetime warranty.