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Gibson Custom Shop – We’ve Only Just Begun

Posted by John Blanco on

Over the years Gibson have upheld their integrity of fine craftsmanship and it couldn’t be more evident than in their reproduction of some of the most important guitars in music history crafted by the very best, select luthiers. The Custom Shop has grown extensively over the last decade with the introduction of the Collectors Choice range; flawlessly recreating historic pieces owned by discerning collectors from around the globe, and the Vintage Original Spec (VOS) line which launched in 2006. They also continue their long tradition of working collaboratively with artists by reproducing guitars owned and played by the likes of Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Peter Green, to name a few.

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The first ever artist endorsed Gibson was made in the Kalamazoo, Michigan factory in the late 1920’s, a small but deep bodied, flat top acoustic inspired by musician and performer Nick Lucas.

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1928 Gibson catalog advertising the first generation of the 1927 Nick Lucas Special guitar (picture courtesy of http://home.provide.net/~cfh/nick.html).
Check out the text in the ad: “You love the feel as it comes to life with the touch of your fingers. Your regard grows like a rare flower watered by the crystal drops of purest melody.” Some of the early Gibson copywriting is exquisitely ludicrous. We love it.

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The 1928 Nick Lucas Custom, featured in Gruhn and Carter, “Acoustic Guitars, a Photographic History” (courtesy of www.oldgibson.com). The intricate detailing on the fretboard and peg head was inspired by the florentine model banjo introduced in 1927.

This was followed by the Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe in the 1930′s, the Les Paul and Byrdland in the 1950′s, and during the 1960′s Gibson worked with artists such as Barney Kessel, Trini Lopez, and Tal Farlow. The Trini Lopez was the first slim, semi-hollow, electric artist endorsed model made by Gibson in 1964, they also released a Trini Deluxe model which was regularly used on TV appearances by the man himself. We found this fabulous ‘La Bamba’ live video below, we’d like to say our favourite bit of this video is seeing that excellent guitar in action, however, the woman in the audience vigorously shaking a dead stuffed owl is also quite delightful (see 02:52, and then from 03:02 for the close up).

A custom shop Trini Lopez standard is available today as a custom signature ES-335 and is closely likened to the Trini Standard which was available from 1964-1970.

 

 

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Left: 1967 Trini Lopez Custom. Right: 1965 Trini Lopez Standard

If you love the distinctive look of the Trini Standard, then come check out our Custom Shop Candy Apple Red CS-336 in stock now, this guitar is one of just six available in Europe. It features a reverse firebird headstock, which interestingly was introduced on the Trini a full year before the release of the first Firebird line. It keeps the diamond shaped f-holes (minus binding), and it has the same body lines as a 335 but the 336 is made from a single piece of solid mahogany, hollowed out and scaled down to offer the same rich tone and playability as a solid body. It also features a stop bar instead of the trapeze tailpiece, this gained popularity when Gibson released the Dave Grohl model in 2007, another close relative of the Trini Standard. Feel free to drop by the store and try out the new CS-336.

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It was the introduction of artist endorsed models and the growing popularity of special custom orders that paved way for Henry Juskiewicz and Dave Berryman, who took control of Gibson in the late 1980′s, to invest in creating a separate Custom Shop division in Nashville, Tennessee.
So what separates Gibson Custom Shop from it’s Nashville USA counterparts? In the simplest terms, it’s an increase of personal attention to each guitar, the level of accuracy that you’ll find in the historical ranges such as Collectors Choice, VOS, and the Historic Reissues, Gibson has a strict limited run approach which ensures your guitar remains a valuable investment for years to come, and finally the ingenuity and innovation of the makers creating artist signature models; these guys are continuously redefining guitar design and technology. Watch this space for our next blog which will cover design and construction of these very seductive, highly collectible guitars.

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