1996 Gibson Les Paul Classic Goldtop
No collection complete without a Goldtop. Hardly neglected, but definitely beautiful, this Classic carries all the hallmarks and tone of one of Gibson's most iconic guitars.
The Gibson Les Paul Classic, launched in 1990, was a reissue based on the 1960 Les Paul - recreating the slim neck profile, narrow headstock, thin cutaway binding, aged yellowish fingerboard inlays, inked-on serial number, nickel hardware, vintage-style logo and aged binding on the body & neck - and loading it with ceramic magnet pick-ups.
In many ways, it was too good a reissue - and some felt a closer match to the original Les Paul than the Historic Collection '59 Reissue, marketed at nearly double the price of the Classic.
Following a few iterations of the Reissue, and further differentiations with Classic Plus and Classic Premium Plus models, in 1993 Gibson changed the decal on the headstock of all Classics from "Les Paul Model" to "Les Paul Classic." With a widening of the binding in the cutaway later that year, this finally differentiated the Classic from other Les Paul models in a way which would avoid confusion or exploitation.
This guitar has always sounded sweet, with all the tones of early-day Les Pauls. The spec maintained that the 90s Classics came with Gibson's 496R Ceramic Humbuckers. Those clearly didn't hit the right tone and sound for the previous owner, who replaced them with some very special Seymour Duncan SH-55s, jointly built and hand-signed in the 90s by Seymour Duncan and Seth Lover. Seth Lover is the man. In 1955, while working with Gibson, he invented something that would change the world for every guitarist thereafter: the humbucking pick-up. The very one that for 5 years bore the sticker with the now-mythical words "PATENT APPLIED FOR" - the original PAFs. He died in 1997. But his impact on modern music lives on. On behalf of every guitarist on the planet, past, present and future, "We are not worthy!"
So, we think it's fair to throw another name into the reissue pot: the very unique Les Paul Classic Lover, in recognition of those wonderful pick-ups. We don't want to confuse the story any further. But we think it's the right thing to do. A massive-sounding guitar that's almost impossible to put down once you plug it in!
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