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  1. #1

    1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    Hey, all, 1st post from new member, I own a 59 Les Paul Special and 2014 Les Paul Classic; thanks for the join; can anyone tell me what the neck radius is on my 59 LP?
    It's all original except Grover keys added in 74 and a compensated saddle added a few years ago...by the way, the compensated saddle allowed this guitar to intonate for the first time in it's life!
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  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    Welcome... I'll guess that there is a 12" radius on the fretboard. I have seen some 10" radii on some vintage Gibsons, but they were all acoustics, iirc.
    "As soon as man does not take his existence for granted, but beholds it as something unfathomably mysterious, thought begins." Albert Schweitzer

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    All Les Pauls have 12" radius. 10" was listed in some Gibson literature but do not exist.
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  4. #4
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al View Post
    All Les Pauls have 12" radius. 10" was listed in some Gibson literature but do not exist.
    Big Al, I understand that this is a vintage 'burst forum, so your info is correct for the vintage eras. However, there are Les Pauls that have 14" radius 'boards. Quite a few modern Gibsons do....ES-335's, L.P.'s, SG's.... A lot of them have out of phase pickup relationship in the middle position, too.
    "As soon as man does not take his existence for granted, but beholds it as something unfathomably mysterious, thought begins." Albert Schweitzer

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    Quote Originally Posted by Wally View Post
    Big Al, I understand that this is a vintage 'burst forum, so your info is correct for the vintage eras. However, there are Les Pauls that have 14" radius 'boards. Quite a few modern Gibsons do....ES-335's, L.P.'s, SG's.... A lot of them have out of phase pickup relationship in the middle position, too.
    Which models, Wally? Is it the ones with the wider fretboard and adjustable nut dealybob?
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  6. #6
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    No, Big Al. I have been seeing 14" radii on various Gibson electrics for some years now....all types of models in the regular production....L.P.'s, SG's, 335's.... I set up a lot of guitars, so I take notice of these things since I do radius bridge saddles to match fretboard radii. It is not restricted to those 'zero nut' guitars with the side necks and narrow string spacing.


    re: those zero nut,wide neck, narrow string spacing guitars.....What in the world was Gibson thinking when they put that stuff out?
    "As soon as man does not take his existence for granted, but beholds it as something unfathomably mysterious, thought begins." Albert Schweitzer

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    Quote Originally Posted by Wally View Post

    re: those zero nut,wide neck, narrow string spacing guitars.....What in the world was Gibson thinking when they put that stuff out?
    Not sure about the zero nut, but the neck change was apparently Henry's idea, when he pointed out that it was too easy to push a string off the edge of the fingerboard.
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  8. #8
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wittrock View Post
    Not sure about the zero nut, but the neck change was apparently Henry's idea, when he pointed out that it was too easy to push a string off the edge of the fingerboard.
    And there wasn't a guitar player around who had the balls to tell the boss that pulling the strings off of the end of the fret was an indication of poor playing technique?? I would not give more than the hardware is worth for one of those guitars....and I have experience setting them up. they are some of the worst guitars Gibson has ever produced in that price category....or any price point, perhaps, imho.
    "As soon as man does not take his existence for granted, but beholds it as something unfathomably mysterious, thought begins." Albert Schweitzer

  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Member Tarcisioo's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    There was somebody here who once said he believes that the secret sauce to vintage necks were that they had 10-ish radiuses. He said he personally measured it

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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    ^^^^ Was his name Paul Reed Smith? PRS uses 10" radii on his electrics.
    "As soon as man does not take his existence for granted, but beholds it as something unfathomably mysterious, thought begins." Albert Schweitzer

  11. #11
    Les Paul Forum Member Tarcisioo's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    Found it

    Quote Originally Posted by hogy View Post
    For what it's worth, I've refretted (and measured) 100s of old Gibsons. The boards are 10" or close to it, not 12". The bridge is 12", that slight mis-match is a big part of the vintage Gibson feel.
    From this thread https://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/showthread.php?198879-Bavarian-Makeover-initiated-!-2016-Gibson-1958-ES-335/page3&highlight=10"

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member sws1's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    I always read that the magic was that the bridge radius didn’t match the neck radius. I.e., the g and d strings are closer to the board than the others.

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    Quote Originally Posted by Wally View Post
    And there wasn't a guitar player around who had the balls to tell the boss that pulling the strings off of the end of the fret was an indication of poor playing technique??
    I think he was told, but rejected their opinion[s].
    Pauls to the walls!

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  14. #14
    Les Paul Forum Member deytookerjaabs's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    The guitar wasn't designed initially for UP/DOWN vibrato thus keeping traditional string spacing when solid bodies came to be, which there's nothing wrong with, but having the additional equivalent space for vibrato on the high e string means you don't have to scoop the pitch a hair sharp (which is what we're used to playing and hearing by now) when you're using even vibrato but not bending on the high E.

    At the shop I worked at we had a few custom orders for gibson-esque solid bodies with extra wide nut widths too so I always thought there was a small market for it though not enough to warrant a total re-vamp of the guitar line. As for the other 2015 changes, they're easy to swap out.


  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    Quote Originally Posted by deytookerjaabs View Post
    As for the other 2015 changes, they're easy to swap out.
    I don't think it is easy to swap out the wider neck, for one with a more "normal" width.
    Pauls to the walls!

    Hüter der Flammen!

    PLEASE SUPPORT www.burstserial.com !!
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  16. #16
    Les Paul Forum Member deytookerjaabs's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wittrock View Post
    I don't think it is easy to swap out the wider neck, for one with a more "normal" width.





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  17. #17
    Les Paul Forum Member renderit's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    Use the right tool for the right job there bucko! Chain saw, stat!


  18. #18
    Les Paul Forum Member hogy's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Les Paul Special neck radius

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al View Post
    All Les Pauls have 12" radius. 10" was listed in some Gibson literature but do not exist.
    I have refretted hundreds of original vintage Gibson electrics. They were all close to 10" fingerboard radius, and none were ever 12". This is not some conjecture on my part, but something I have measured every time I refretted a guitar, over decades.

    The bridge radius on vintage Gibsons, however, is 12". That is actually a big part of "that feel", a 12" string radius over a 10" fingerboard radius. It puts the center strings closer to the board, making the action feel lower, while giving the outside strings a bit more clearance needed for bends and better excursion on the low e.

    I don't know if Gibson did this consciously or not, but a 12" radius on a Gibson does not feel "vintage correct".

    Those fingerboards are 10". Always.

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