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Les Paul classic-how it started

mca

New member
Joined
Apr 9, 2007
Messages
330
I would like to know a little more about the history of the LP classic.
Maybe you guys can jump in, or correct

It started in 1990
was very much a re issue of a 1960, but not entirely.
the original classics were more expensive/better than the standard of
that time.
it featured vintage appointments such as ABR bridge, thin binding
deep dished 2 piece tops and small headstock.
The "model" description on the head stock make these more collectable?

what happened after 1993?

please continue:salude
 

Hetfieldinn

Les Paul Froum Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2004
Messages
1,234
They got snot green, rounded inlays, and 'Classic' added to the headstock instead of 'Model', for starters.
 

AlexVDL

Member
Joined
May 29, 2003
Messages
267
I would like to know the story behind the classic too.

My '94 has no snot green inlays and it has the ABR bridge, but it does have a wide binding in the cutaway and classic on the headstock. I love it though! Great guitar!!!
 
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DANELECTRO

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 24, 2003
Messages
6,210
Here's an excerpt regarding the Classic model from Walter Carter's article about the history of Gibson Les Paul reissues "Keeping the Flame Alive"



At the same time, Riboloff designed a new Les Paul model using the 1960 sunburst Standard as a starting point. The new model had the thin binding in the cutaway, the small headstock, various shades of sunburst finish and the inked-on serial number of the Reissue. But it had a slim, 1960style neck profile, hot ceramic-magnet pickups with no pickup covers and “1960” stamped on the pickguard. It is clearly not a reissue of the classic Les Paul Standard, although it was named, ironically, the Les Paul Classic.

In 1991 Juszkiewicz distanced the Reissue from the Classic, Standard and other regular production models by listing it in the Historic Collection. The collectible status of Historic models was underscored by the Les Paul Reissue's list price of $4,199, almost three times that of the Standard ($1,499) and more than double that of the Classic ($1,699). The problem was that the differences between the Reissue and the Classic were on paper. In reality, the Classic was actually closer to the original sunburst Les Paul than the Reissue was. The Classic headstock was correct (the Reissue was smaller than that of the Standard, but not small enough). The Classic had push-in tuner bushings (again, the correct vintage style) where the Reissue had standard screw-in bushings. And the Classic had aged (yellowed) fingerboard inlays, which looked like those of an original Standard.

To further blur the line between the Classic and the Reissue, Gibson introduced the Classic Plus in the spring of 1991. It had a curlier top than the Classic but not as curly as the Reissue. Late in 1991, Gibson offered the Reissue with the thin 1960-style neck of the Classic, naming it the '60 Flametop Reissue. At that point the thick-neck version then became the '59 Flametop eissue.

For dealers, and ultimately for buyers, the Reissue was separated from the Standard and Classic at the January 1992 NAMM trade show when Juszkiewicz inaugurated a new Historic program for dealers. In an audacious stroke of creative financing, he convinced dealers to help him with his startup costs by ponying up $10,000 (which Gibson would return in one year, with interest). The headliners of the new program were korina reissues of the Flying V and Explorer, priced at $10,000. A dealer had to be a Historic dealer to be able to sell a Les Paul Reissue.

There was still the problem of accuracy, however. With increasingly curlier tops on Classics (the Classic Premium Plus was soon to come), it was still a more attractive reissue-style guitar than the Reissue. Some Classic tops were flamed enough that “enterprising” dealers changed out the pickguard and truss rod cover and added a pair of pickup covers. Voila! A Reissue. A $2,000 upgrade (in list price). So in early 1992, the Reissue was changed to incorporate the more accurate features of the Classic.

THE R9

The upgraded Reissue of 1992 was still essentially a Classic with different pickups and a better top. By delineating tops into various grades (Classic, Plus and Reissue), Gibson had established a value on a curly top. In late 1991 the difference between a Classic and a Classic Plus was $400, and in early 1992, a price reduction on the Plus narrowed the difference to only $200. The difference in price between the Classic Plus and the Flametop Reissue was $2,200. Obviously it would take more than a nicer top on a Reissue to justify the huge price differential. It would take nothing short of a replica of an original sunburst Les Paul, and Gibson put together a team to take the Reissue “all the way” back to 1959.
 

mca

New member
Joined
Apr 9, 2007
Messages
330
thanks for that, that was what I was looking for,

what year did the standard model rival the classic?
what that be in 1994?
 

DonP

Active member
Joined
Feb 21, 2003
Messages
3,020
what year did the standard model rival the classic?
what that be in 1994?

No.

It was in 2002 the Standard got the thin binding in the cutaway (vs thick), nickel hardware (vs chrome), Burstbucker Pros (vs 490R/498T), push in tuner bushings and Kluson keystone tuners (vs Grovers?), correct volume and tone knobs (vs speed knobs), an AA top (vs plain top).

At this point, the Standard exceded the Classic (in being more traditionally correct) except for the bridge (ABR-1 vs Nashville) and the inlays (sharp vs rounded).
 

Left Paw

New member
Joined
Sep 8, 2006
Messages
39
From Vintage Guitar magazine, May 1998, Eric Shoaf's definitive article on the evolution of the Les Paul Classic:

"Late in the decade, Gibson's head of research and development, J.T. Riboloff, designed a reissue Les Paul based on the popular and collectible 1960 model. The key difference between this guitar and other Les Pauls in production at the time was the slim neck profile. In addition, Riboloff added other features to make the instrument faithful to the original such as a narrow headstock, thin cutaway binding, aged fingerboard inlays, inked-on serial number, nickel hardware, vintage-style logo and aged binding on body and neck.

The Les Paul Classic, as it was to be called, did have a couple of concessions to marketing such as a truss rod cover with "Classic" and pickguard marked "1960." The pickups came with no covers so the coils were exposed, another characteristic to differentiate it from other Les Pauls, though this was fairly realistic and a tip of the hat to those who traditionally removed covers to get a better tone on their old Pauls.

The Classic was introduced in 1990 with a retail price of $1,529. The least expensive Les Paul Standard at the time was the ebony finished version costing $1,169 while the sunburst model was $1,399. The Classic's higher price was justified by its reissue-yet-modern vibe and was further enhanced by availability in several sunburst finishes, and in bullion gold on the top, sides, back and neck. Most of the tops on sunburst models were plain and no extra effort was made to use fancy wood on these.

An immediate hit for Gibson, the Classic was tweaked further as time passed. The first change was the addition of a curly or "Plus" top in April 1991. Using maple which was deemed lacking in figure for the vaunted '59 reissue line, the Classic received nicely flamed tops and the designation Les Paul Classic Plus. Pricing was also adjusted as the Classic rose to $1,699 and the Classic Plus debuted at 2,099. By way of comparison, the '59 Reissue listed for $4,199 at the time. The Classic line continued to be a popular seller.

The success of the Classic and its new brother, the flamed top Classic Plus presented some difficult marketing problems for Gibson. The fact was that in many ways, the Classic was more of an accurate reissue than the '59 Les Paul of the early 1990s which still had a wide headstock, bright fingerboard and inlays, and wrong tuner bushings. The '59 did have a beefier neck and a highly flamed top, but the issue was further clouded when some highly figured Classic Plus models came to market. Wood grading is not an exact science, and some of the tops rejected for '59 reissues were in fact quite highly figured. Others had only mild flame. But with just a few easily obtainable parts, a blank truss rod cover, pickup covers, and a new pick guard, the owner of a particularly flamey Classic Plus could have a guitar that appeared to be just as nice as a '59 reissue while saving over $2,000 in the process.

Customers weren't the only ones who noticed this. Dealers were equally aware and they had a further beef with Gibson. As previously mentioned, tops on the Classic Plus ran the gamut from fairly mild flame to highly figured. A dealer ordering four Classic Plus models from Gibson might receive two which were nicely figured and two which were much less flamey. But the price was the same for each and explaining the difference to customers wasn't easy. The dealer gripes became louder in 1992 when the Historic Collection was announced. Dealers receiving the Historic Collection franchise were required to place a cash deposit with Gibson in order to participate in the program. Included among designated Historic Collection instruments was the Les Paul '59 reissue which, at that time, had not yet been reconfigured to Historic Collection specifications. Some dealers felt that a premium was being charged for a guitar which wasn't as faithful to the original as lower priced offerings.

Further, in 1992 a 1960 style slim tapered neck was mated with a '59 reissue body to create a Les Paul 1960 reissue which some customers confused with the Classic Plus until they checked the price tag. Worse, some dealers may have felt compelled to pass off a tarted-up Classic Plus as a 1960 reissue in order to improve profitability.

To complicate things even more, the Classic line was extended again in early 1993 with the introduction of the Premium Plus model. Responding to complaints about top grading, Gibson set up yet another line of figured tops which were nicer than "plus" tops but not as nice (in most cases) as '59 reissue tops. For dealers, the basic concern still remained: these guitars were almost like reissues for a lot less money. The only real difference between the Plus and Premium Plus was the top and the fact that the Premium designated guitars had no pickguard installed. It was delivered in the case pocket. The buyer also paid a $500 premium for the Premium Plus compared to the Plus.

While having the appearance of corporate bumbling, Gibson was actually trying to work out the differences and, also in 1993, they managed to get it right. The Historic Collection '59 Les Paul introduced that year was the most accurate reissue of the model to date in details which went far beyond appearances. The '59 has become the most popular of Gibson's Historic line. Still, for those who wanted the look of a '59 without the cost there was the Classic Premium Plus with a few changed parts for a lot less money. But Gibson solved that problem as well in mid-1993 when the decal on the headstock of all Classics was changed from "Les Paul Model" to "Les Paul Classic." This finally differentiated the Classic from other Les Paul models in a way which couldn't be easily tampered. Late in 1993 the binding in the cutaway of the Classic was widened, a further distancing from the '59 reissue.
 
Last edited:

toxpert

Active member
Joined
Jul 2, 2005
Messages
3,068
With all the varied changes, two key differences between the Classic and any kind of 'reissue'.... was the construction of the neck-body joint and the headstock veneer. The Classic never got the long tenon version and the headstock veneer was not a holly wood overlay.

IMHO, the early Classics (before 1993) are really great guitars. You would have to want a slim neck and not care about long tenon/headstock stuff. Pickups and electronics can always be changed (although you may need to clean up the rough carved Classic control cavity to accomodate short shat potentiometers.)
 

mca

New member
Joined
Apr 9, 2007
Messages
330
From Vintage Guitar magazine, May 1998, Eric Shoaf's definitive article on the evolution of the Les Paul Classic:

"Late in the decade, Gibson's head of research and development, J.T. Riboloff, designed a reissue Les Paul based on the popular and collectible 1960 model. The key difference between this guitar and other Les Pauls in production at the time was the slim neck profile. In addition, Riboloff added other features to make the instrument faithful to the original such as a narrow headstock, thin cutaway binding, aged fingerboard inlays, inked-on serial number, nickel hardware, vintage-style logo and aged binding on body and neck.

The Les Paul Classic, as it was to be called, did have a couple of concessions to marketing such as a truss rod cover with "Classic" and pickguard marked "1960." The pickups came with no covers so the coils were exposed, another characteristic to differentiate it from other Les Pauls, though this was fairly realistic and a tip of the hat to those who traditionally removed covers to get a better tone on their old Pauls.

The Classic was introduced in 1990 with a retail price of $1,529. The least expensive Les Paul Standard at the time was the ebony finished version costing $1,169 while the sunburst model was $1,399. The Classic's higher price was justified by its reissue-yet-modern vibe and was further enhanced by availability in several sunburst finishes, and in bullion gold on the top, sides, back and neck. Most of the tops on sunburst models were plain and no extra effort was made to use fancy wood on these.

An immediate hit for Gibson, the Classic was tweaked further as time passed. The first change was the addition of a curly or "Plus" top in April 1991. Using maple which was deemed lacking in figure for the vaunted '59 reissue line, the Classic received nicely flamed tops and the designation Les Paul Classic Plus. Pricing was also adjusted as the Classic rose to $1,699 and the Classic Plus debuted at 2,099. By way of comparison, the '59 Reissue listed for $4,199 at the time. The Classic line continued to be a popular seller.

The success of the Classic and its new brother, the flamed top Classic Plus presented some difficult marketing problems for Gibson. The fact was that in many ways, the Classic was more of an accurate reissue than the '59 Les Paul of the early 1990s which still had a wide headstock, bright fingerboard and inlays, and wrong tuner bushings. The '59 did have a beefier neck and a highly flamed top, but the issue was further clouded when some highly figured Classic Plus models came to market. Wood grading is not an exact science, and some of the tops rejected for '59 reissues were in fact quite highly figured. Others had only mild flame. But with just a few easily obtainable parts, a blank truss rod cover, pickup covers, and a new pick guard, the owner of a particularly flamey Classic Plus could have a guitar that appeared to be just as nice as a '59 reissue while saving over $2,000 in the process.

Customers weren't the only ones who noticed this. Dealers were equally aware and they had a further beef with Gibson. As previously mentioned, tops on the Classic Plus ran the gamut from fairly mild flame to highly figured. A dealer ordering four Classic Plus models from Gibson might receive two which were nicely figured and two which were much less flamey. But the price was the same for each and explaining the difference to customers wasn't easy. The dealer gripes became louder in 1992 when the Historic Collection was announced. Dealers receiving the Historic Collection franchise were required to place a cash deposit with Gibson in order to participate in the program. Included among designated Historic Collection instruments was the Les Paul '59 reissue which, at that time, had not yet been reconfigured to Historic Collection specifications. Some dealers felt that a premium was being charged for a guitar which wasn't as faithful to the original as lower priced offerings.

Further, in 1992 a 1960 style slim tapered neck was mated with a '59 reissue body to create a Les Paul 1960 reissue which some customers confused with the Classic Plus until they checked the price tag. Worse, some dealers may have felt compelled to pass off a tarted-up Classic Plus as a 1960 reissue in order to improve profitability.

To complicate things even more, the Classic line was extended again in early 1993 with the introduction of the Premium Plus model. Responding to complaints about top grading, Gibson set up yet another line of figured tops which were nicer than "plus" tops but not as nice (in most cases) as '59 reissue tops. For dealers, the basic concern still remained: these guitars were almost like reissues for a lot less money. The only real difference between the Plus and Premium Plus was the top and the fact that the Premium designated guitars had no pickguard installed. It was delivered in the case pocket. The buyer also paid a $500 premium for the Premium Plus compared to the Plus.

While having the appearance of corporate bumbling, Gibson was actually trying to work out the differences and, also in 1993, they managed to get it right. The Historic Collection '59 Les Paul introduced that year was the most accurate reissue of the model to date in details which went far beyond appearances. The '59 has become the most popular of Gibson's Historic line. Still, for those who wanted the look of a '59 without the cost there was the Classic Premium Plus with a few changed parts for a lot less money. But Gibson solved that problem as well in mid-1993 when the decal on the headstock of all Classics was changed from "Les Paul Model" to "Les Paul Classic." This finally differentiated the Classic from other Les Paul models in a way which couldn't be easily tampered. Late in 1993 the binding in the cutaway of the Classic was widened, a further distancing from the '59 reissue.


thanks Left Paw, that was a great read!!!

It just increased my love for the classic!!!:salude
 

city sirens

Member
Joined
May 28, 2008
Messages
131
My apologies for resurrecting a decade-old thread.

How do "guitar of the weeks" Classics of 2007-08 compare to earlier Classics?
 
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