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Year-by-Year History of the Historic Les Paul Collection

77CUSTOM

Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2003
Messages
478
Hey, just throwing this out there. Are these changes for all historic guitars or for the Les Paul only?

I have a 65ri Pelham blue Firebird that has the rounded inlays and the small orange ceramic caps of a 2002, the serial # is 020385. (original solder on pots). So I would believe it to be a 2002. I do not have the C.O.A.

Gibson has done some weird things with the F.birds. I have found a 2010 and 2012 with the serial numbers starting with 010xxx and 020xxx. Both with the black book C.O.A. So that is why I ask about the changes.

Thanks,

Ed
 

Morgan24

Active member
Joined
Nov 1, 2020
Messages
138
At a time when Custom Shop Les Paul guitars are constructed as well as ever, and the proof is in tone that I have never heard as good (and I've tried many over the years), I'm surprised the information of these monumental changes has not been updated here since 2014 when hide glue was used on fretboards. Danelectro did a fantastic job of updating the changes up to a point the original post would no longer take characters, but no one continued the narrative.

So there were those mixed up years where short tenons were made on something called Historic. What years were those made, and when did they stop doing that (IMO never should have done that)?

What year did they start using hide glue on the tops?

I have to say that my 2018 '59 reissue Murphy finished monster flametop Factory Burst Les Paul is the best chunk of reissue Les Paul I have ever heard. Resonance is outstanding, and that is evident by the touch dynamics from soft strumming / picking to hard strumming / picking. Note definition is also miles ahead of everything else. And out of about 13 2018 and 2019 examples I played (into my own amp setup), they all had similar characteristics...especially acoustically. The Alnico 3 magnets have that harmonic growl and excitation that I have experienced in old PAF pickups. Some of the wood had a bit more top/mids/bottom variation, but nothing too different. But compared to 2011 and back, which I always thought sounded dull with shrill pickups used to try and brighten them (Burstbuckers), the hide glue changed everything to sound truely open and transparent. The glue, along with the correct truss rod change made these Les Paul guitars worth having. I'm just sad they wasted all the tone wood over the years on tone turds due to bad glue that dulled the sound. Sure, some of them "made the cut" with a solid connection, but many didn't. That is why finding a bad one today is almost impossible, while finding a good one before the major change to hide glue was almost impossible (for me anyway).

Something else I noticed was a change for the better on USA Les Paul guitars, as well. Did they start using hide glue? If so, when? I have a 2012 Trad Pro II with Classic 57 and Super 57 pickups that just nails golden era LP tone. Not quite as resonant as my 2018 Custom Shop LP, but tone is similar with a bit more (good) mids. It's a keeper! But I wonder if it was constructed with that new Traditional tenon that was introduced back around 2012. I really want to know when they started that, what they used it on, and if they still use it. I also want to know if any USA models are using hide glue, and when that may have started. And since I heard the harmonic improvement in A3 magnets, I'm looking to score a '57 A3T and A3R pickup set to try in either LP. That may be the perfect balance for me with the best of both worlds of woody mids and harmonic highs.

One thing I would like to add is recognition to a certain tone capacitor Gibson used around 2012 (maybe before) up to 2016 (maybe shortly after) in some USA Les Paul guitars (no circuit board models). The little blue epoxy dipped teardrop caps absolutely nail the golden era Les Paul tone. I am looking to get some in my my Custom Shop '59 (If anyone has some source information, please let me know). No "orange drop" or "Lux Bees" (or Gibson "fake bees"...God help us) do what these little blue buggers do. The frequency and cutoff slope are perfect for old LP tone. Hearing is believing!

I wish I had more to offer, but I am no expert on year to year changes. We need Dano back! I miss ya, brother. :eek:la

Phil
Petty sure they began to use hide glue in 2013 on fretboard and neck joint. Not sure if the top was hide glued too?
 

Morgan24

Active member
Joined
Nov 1, 2020
Messages
138
2013: Hide glue on neck joint and fretboard. (Hide glue for the top only on True Historic) In 2013, Gibson Custom re-introduced the use of hide glue neck construction in its Historic Reissue guitars
2015: True Historic with hide glue neck, fretboard and “True Historic” Plastics, Double-Carved Top, Neck Carve: Like the new top carve process, the necks on all True Historic guitars are double carved, “Broken” Peghead Edges, Smoother Edges Throughout, Original thinner Holly Peghead Veneer: , A Complete Finish Overhaul: All True Historic guitars from Gibson Custom are sprayed with thinner finishes,dry and wet sanding by hand, Hide Glue Top Construction. The original fretwire on ’59s was about 0.046-0.050” tall and 0.094-0.096” wide. For many years, that’s the size that we used on reissues. But on True Historic, we changed the height.Now we start out with 0.036”-tall fretwire, then the guitars get Plekked and they get finished out, so some of them are 0.034”, some are 0.036”.
2016: Historic, Long Neck Tenon
2017: The Carmelita top carve profile, All ’54, ’56, ’57, and ’58 Historic Reissues have ’59 neck profiles, All hide-glue construction and nitrocellulose lacquer finishes with aniline dye, True Historic parts including pickguard, pickup rings, switch washer, tip, knobs, pickup covers, and jack plate.– Historic accurate serial numbers (no “R” at the beginning of the serial)
– Rolled Fretboard Binding
– Solid Indian rosewood fretboard
– Solid one-piece mahogany neck with Historic long neck tenon
– Holly Headstock Veneer
– Custombucker Pickups

<body id="cke_pastebin" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; width: 1px; height: 1px; overflow: hidden; left: -1000px;">– The Carmelita top carve profile
- All ’54, ’56, ’57, and ’58 Historic Reissues have ’59 neck profiles
– All hide-glue construction and nitrocellulose lacquer finishes with aniline dye
– True Historic parts including pickguard, pickup rings, switch washer, tip, knobs, pickup covers, and jack plate.
– Historic accurate serial numbers (no “R” at the beginning of the serial)
– Rolled Fretboard Binding
– Solid Indian rosewood fretboard
– Solid one-piece mahogany neck with Historic long neck tenon
– Holly Headstock Veneer
– Custombucker Pickups
– The Carmelita top carve profile
- All ’54, ’56, ’57, and ’58 Historic Reissues have ’59 neck profiles
– All hide-glue construction and nitrocellulose lacquer finishes with aniline dye
– True Historic parts including pickguard, pickup rings, switch washer, tip, knobs, pickup covers, and jack plate.
– Historic accurate serial numbers (no “R” at the beginning of the serial)
– Rolled Fretboard Binding
– Solid Indian rosewood fretboard
– Solid one-piece mahogany neck with Historic long neck tenon
– Holly Headstock Veneer
– Custombucker Pickups

– The Carmelita top carve profile
- All ’54, ’56, ’57, and ’58 Historic Reissues have ’59 neck profiles
– All hide-glue construction and nitrocellulose lacquer finishes with aniline dye
– True Historic parts including pickguard, pickup rings, switch washer, tip, knobs, pickup covers, and jack plate.
– Historic accurate serial numbers (no “R” at the beginning of the serial)
– Rolled Fretboard Binding
– Solid Indian rosewood fretboard
– Solid one-piece mahogany neck with Historic long neck tenon
– Holly Headstock Veneer
– Custombucker Pickups– The Carmelita top carve profile
- All ’54, ’56, ’57, and ’58 Historic Reissues have ’59 neck profiles
– All hide-glue construction and nitrocellulose lacquer finishes with aniline dye
– True Historic parts including pickguard, pickup rings, switch washer, tip, knobs, pickup covers, and jack plate.
– Historic accurate serial numbers (no “R” at the beginning of the serial)
– Rolled Fretboard Binding
– Solid Indian rosewood fretboard
– Solid one-piece mahogany neck with Historic long neck tenon
– Holly Headstock Veneer
– Custombucker Pickups
</body>
 

Todd Louis

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 7, 2002
Messages
14,526
did we ever fix this list? Gibson has played some more market games in recent years.
 

tom wu

Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2003
Messages
984
A forum member had asked in another thread if there was a definitive list of the year-to-year changes to the Historic line. I'm sure the information is scattered about amongst numerous threads here on the forum, but finding it can be a chore. I thought it would be a good idea to try to collect the history of all changes into one thread. Once the list is complete, it can be organized into a single chart and posted on the web or possibly posted as a sticky in the Historic District.

I am going to maintain a chronological history in post #2 of this thread with milestones for each year. To contribute, just reply to the thread with whatever information you have and I will paste that data into post #2. Sometimes it may be a day or so before I get around to updating the chart with the latest posts, but I'll try to keep up on it. This chronical will only be as good as the information submitted, so try to be accurate with your information. Bear in mind that often times the changes occur mid-year, so there may be some overlap. Corrections are welcome.

I'll get things started with a few pieces of information that I know and then I'll rely on the group to help fill in the blanks.
I am looking for info on the V1, V2 and V3 neck shape versions of the Historic R0, In particular, I have played several early 50s LPs, and a couple of bursts, so I think the V1 and V2 copy versions are based on those models. What I am curious about is whether the historic R0 "v3" neck , by comparison, shaped anything like the early LP/SGs from 1961
 

konrad gibson

Active member
Joined
Mar 30, 2006
Messages
383
2009 changes
from my archive...

By Chris Swope

Without question, 2009 has been one of the most exciting years in Gibson production history. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Les Paul, Gibson has retooled many of their production processes in an unprecedented effort to tweak the specs of the historic Les Paul line even tighter to replicate the original guitars.
With over 30 spec changes, a few specific changes really stand out to me:
1. Neck shape.

New drafting technology allowed for the development of new 59 neck profile by digitally mapping original examples of this “holy grail” guitar. The neck retains the same thickness as previous years but there is now less “cheek” or “shoulder” on the necks. The result is a neck that really fits well in your hand. It is a substantial, yet graceful neck that gives has a slight hint of a soft V, especially when playing in first position.

2. Nylon nut. This is a change the vintage purists have requested for years. Gibson used different material for nuts over the years ranging from bone to nylon, plastic, and most recently, Corian. While Corian is an excellent nut material, nylon 6/6 was the material used in the 1950s and provides both a visual and mechanical difference. The blue/white color of nylon 6/6 is something that sends a thrill down the spine of the vintage guitar freak, (count me in). It also provides a natural lubrication factor which helps guard against strings binding up in the nut slots.

3. Mahogany to rosewood and maple ratio. Close examination of vintage examples reveal that while the overall dimensions of recent historic Les Pauls have been correct, the fingerboards and maple tops have been slightly too thick and the mahogany backs and necks slightly too thin. Fingerboards and maple tops are now thinner and the mahogany has been beefed up to make up the difference. We are not talking huge numbers here, maybe just the thickness of a couple of business cards. But when you think of the amount of surface area on a maple top, that is a lot of real estate!

4. Wireless abr-1 bridge. The return to the wireless abr-1 is further improved by a complete retooling of the bridge to much tighter tolerances. The saddles sit tight in the slots. This, coupled with the absence of the retaining wire, means there is less sympathetic vibration of these parts when the guitar is played and that results in better tone transference.

2009 R9 Changed Features:
Hardware changes –


  • Nylon 6/6 nut, the nut is now Nylon. Gibson had apparently had one analyzed and it is nylon 6/6.
  • Improved ABR-1 bridge, no-wire, tighter tolerances.
  • Historically correct nickel-plated brass bridge saddles
  • Correct alloy saddle adjustment screws, the material for the saddles and base screws is now correct.
  • Bridge height-adjusting thumbwheels are now thinner, thumbwheels are now steel, rather than brass. (???????)
  • Audio-taper CTS pots, the CTS pots are now audio-taper rather than linear)
  • The pickguard shape has changed slightly, the pickguard has been changed, it will now have a gap by the bridge pickup.
  • The pickguard bracket and screw have been changed (slotted screw on the face of the pickguard).
  • The angle of the bevel on the bottom of the backplates now reflects that of the original die-stamped backplates and the material is now the correct ABS plastic
  • Dial pointers are less sharp, the dial pointers are not as sharp as before.
  • The strap button screws are longer
  • The toggle switch nut has more correct knurled pattern, the knurl pattern on the knurled nut has been change to match that of the fifties.
  • The truss rod cover has been reshaped to be more accurate (The geometry now historically correct)
Production changes –

  • Neck profile changed - now has less "shoulders". There is less "cheek" or "shoulder" to the neck; this is much closer to a ’59 neck profile.
  • '50s wiring
  • Pickup routes adjusted so that pickups will be parallel to the strings (the pickup routes are now parallel to the string line. This should keep the pickups from jamming up against the wall of the route and tilting down at an angle)
  • Top carve changed to be closer to several original '59s that were scanned (carved top is much better)
  • Body perimeter change - slightly tighter in waist, cutaway area refined to be more like originals (BODY PERIMETER CHANGE most notable in cutaway and the waist, which is a bit slimmer)
  • The maple cap is very slightly thinner, the mahogany body is very slightly thicker
  • The strap button, as a result, is now centered on the mahogany section of the rim
  • The fingerboard is slightly thinner, The fingerboard thickness has been reduced.
  • The step from neck heel to back of body is taller and more correct. The "heel" and "wrist" sections of the neck are shaped differently. In the case of the heel, the step is a bit higher, or closer to the back.
  • The taper of the “maple window” under the binding in cutaway is more accurate. (The taper of the binding window in the cutaway is now correct)
  • The maple spline (filler strip) in the tenon is more accurate (The appearance of the spline in the neck pickup cavity has changed; taller and thinner).
  • The edge radius on the backside of the body is tighter, less rounded.
  • The “mustache curve” of the headstock top has been flattened slightly (scroll of the headstock has been changed slightly, in the moustache area).
  • The control cavity plate has been relocated, has the correct side taper, and now uses the correct ABS plastic
  • The Serial # location has changed, serial number location is slightly lower and more correct
  • The jack hole is now the correct 1” diameter
  • Neck pitch has changed. The range is now 4.5 – 5 degree neck angle
  • Bindings: Rolled
  • Burst Color: 50th cherry sunburst, just beautiful
 

Hammerhead

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 16, 2003
Messages
1,144
I have a 2001 R4 that is Cherry Sunsburst and flametop, part of a special run for Wildwood, not sure if these should be included in this list or not...
 
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MattD1960

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 17, 2009
Messages
736
my question i think belongs here. in 2020 with the revamping of the specs on the USA models the 50s and 60s usa standards. how do these "new" USA line guitar stack up to some of the late 90s early 2000s historic reissue counterparts, as far as specs go.

they are getting burstbuckers, orange drops, nitro finish, no more swiss cheese weight relief, dial pointers, abr1, aluminum stop bars, alot of that list where much touted specs to some of those 90s 2000s reissues. curious if anyone has done a comparison of say a new 50s reissue and a 2001 r8
 

KangaBlue

New member
Joined
Jun 25, 2018
Messages
8
At a time when Custom Shop Les Paul guitars are constructed as well as ever, and the proof is in tone that I have never heard as good (and I've tried many over the years), I'm surprised the information of these monumental changes has not been updated here since 2014 when hide glue was used on fretboards. Danelectro did a fantastic job of updating the changes up to a point the original post would no longer take characters, but no one continued the narrative.

So there were those mixed up years where short tenons were made on something called Historic. What years were those made, and when did they stop doing that (IMO never should have done that)?

What year did they start using hide glue on the tops?

I have to say that my 2018 '59 reissue Murphy finished monster flametop Factory Burst Les Paul is the best chunk of reissue Les Paul I have ever heard. Resonance is outstanding, and that is evident by the touch dynamics from soft strumming / picking to hard strumming / picking. Note definition is also miles ahead of everything else. And out of about 13 2018 and 2019 examples I played (into my own amp setup), they all had similar characteristics...especially acoustically. The Alnico 3 magnets have that harmonic growl and excitation that I have experienced in old PAF pickups. Some of the wood had a bit more top/mids/bottom variation, but nothing too different. But compared to 2011 and back, which I always thought sounded dull with shrill pickups used to try and brighten them (Burstbuckers), the hide glue changed everything to sound truely open and transparent. The glue, along with the correct truss rod change made these Les Paul guitars worth having. I'm just sad they wasted all the tone wood over the years on tone turds due to bad glue that dulled the sound. Sure, some of them "made the cut" with a solid connection, but many didn't. That is why finding a bad one today is almost impossible, while finding a good one before the major change to hide glue was almost impossible (for me anyway).

Something else I noticed was a change for the better on USA Les Paul guitars, as well. Did they start using hide glue? If so, when? I have a 2012 Trad Pro II with Classic 57 and Super 57 pickups that just nails golden era LP tone. Not quite as resonant as my 2018 Custom Shop LP, but tone is similar with a bit more (good) mids. It's a keeper! But I wonder if it was constructed with that new Traditional tenon that was introduced back around 2012. I really want to know when they started that, what they used it on, and if they still use it. I also want to know if any USA models are using hide glue, and when that may have started. And since I heard the harmonic improvement in A3 magnets, I'm looking to score a '57 A3T and A3R pickup set to try in either LP. That may be the perfect balance for me with the best of both worlds of woody mids and harmonic highs.

One thing I would like to add is recognition to a certain tone capacitor Gibson used around 2012 (maybe before) up to 2016 (maybe shortly after) in some USA Les Paul guitars (no circuit board models). The little blue epoxy dipped teardrop caps absolutely nail the golden era Les Paul tone. I am looking to get some in my my Custom Shop '59 (If anyone has some source information, please let me know). No "orange drop" or "Lux Bees" (or Gibson "fake bees"...God help us) do what these little blue buggers do. The frequency and cutoff slope are perfect for old LP tone. Hearing is believing!

I wish I had more to offer, but I am no expert on year to year changes. We need Dano back! I miss ya, brother. :eek:la

Phil

Yeah, m8, my best ever have been my WW Select '17 R0 and '18 Braz R9 not perfect replicas but freaking killer guits!

Here's my update on 2107, 2018
Gibson dropped the True Historic name but said all historic guitars have True Historic specs through 2017 with the sole exception being the True Historic stepped truss rod covers being missing.
They dropped the double-speak terms "Double-carved neck" "Double-carved body" & "Thinner Wet-sanded by hand finish" though of course, those processes still occurred using a second CNC run after a rough cut and then hand sanded. Let's face it original bursts were not "double carved". What is that really but a marketing term?

What Gibson themselves promoted about the 2018 Historic guitars:

2018 Historic's have a "much more accurate" new top carve than anything that came before 2018 (of course which Burst they were copying would change what is accurate)
2018 Historic's receive all True Historic plastics and specs, including the TH stepped truss rod cover missing in 2017.
They offered Vintage Cherry, Dark Bourbon Fade, Royal Teaburst, Honey Lemon Fade colours & Faded Red Aniline Dye
Brazilian R9 & R0 run
narrower frets on R4-R8
Thinner necks that are more accurate to the 58, 59 & 60 necks they referenced that year.
(Arguably true that many previous Historic runs had bigger necks than most vintage Bursts and they can eternally say each year is a more accurate carve by changing the reference Burst)
 

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Son-of-a-Gib

New member
Joined
Nov 8, 2022
Messages
5
Yeah, m8 my best ever have been my WW Select '17 R0 and '18 Braz R9 mot perfect replicas but freaking killer guits!

Here's my update on 2107 2018
They dropped True Historic name but said all historic guitars has True Historic specs though 2017 were missing True Historic stepped truss rod covers
They dropped the double speak terms "Double-carved neck" "Double-carved body" & "Thinner Wet-sanded by hand finish" though of course those processes still occurred using a second CNC run after a rough cut and then a hand sand. Lets face it original bursts were not "double carved".

What Gibson themselves promoted about the 2018 Historic guitars:

2018 Historic's have a "much more accurate" new top carve than anything that came before 2018
all True Historic plastics and specs inc TH stepped truss rod cover
offered Vintage Cherry, Dark Bourbon Fade, Roya Teaburst, Honey Lemon Fade & Faded Red Aniline Dye
Brazilian R9 & R0 run
narrower frets on R4-R8
Thinner necks are more accurate than the 58, 59 & 60 necks that they were referencing that year. (Arguably true that many previous Historic runs had bigger necks than most vintage Bursts and they can eternally say each year is a more accurate carve by changing the reference Burst)
Thanks so much for posting this! I just bought a 2018 Historic '59 and was wondering what the difference was between True Historic vs Historic vs regular Custom Shop reissues. It's nice to see actual Gibson literature on it as I'm trying to learn more about what I got.
 

KangaBlue

New member
Joined
Jun 25, 2018
Messages
8
Thanks so much for posting this! I just bought a 2018 Historic '59 and was wondering what the difference was between True Historic vs Historic vs regular Custom Shop reissues. It's nice to see actual Gibson literature on it as I'm trying to learn more about what I got.
2018 is generally a great year, beyond True Historic specs from what actual evidence I have seen.
 

Son-of-a-Gib

New member
Joined
Nov 8, 2022
Messages
5
2018 is generally a great year, beyond True Historic specs from what actual evidence I have seen.
I believe it. The advice I kept seeing was to play them all before you buy. But it's not easy finding many of these Custom Shop reissues at local stores. So I had to take a leap of faith and buy this one online and I've got to say that it plays absolutely wonderfully. It resonates so well, incredible sustain, no dead frets, stays in tune, etc. My gamble paid off, thankfully.
 

Bluick

New member
Joined
Apr 26, 2023
Messages
7
1993, the very early ones still had a carryover of the "Custom Shop Edition" decal like often used on pre-Historics and other special edition Les Pauls since 1983, just before the "Historic Collection" decal took over later in 1993. Yes, this includes the R6, R7, R9 and R0. The early 1994s had the "Historic Collection" decal, but that was soon abandoned in early to mid 1994. Of course roughly the first half of 1993 Gibson was still making what was now called pre-Historic, which gave way to the Historics later in the year.

I have owned a few 1993 Reissues with either decal. The Historic Collection decal seems to be more common. Without having to look for the long neck tenon, the serial number will be a hint. If your 1993 starts with a "3" and has a large font, it is not a true Historic. But it is either a Reissue or a Classic, open the pickup cavities to be sure. If it starts with a 6, 7, 9, or 0, and has the smaller font, then you do. None of what I say applies to the Les Paul Custom, which, as far as I know, did not get the long tenon until 1999 anyway.

Versions of the Custom Shop decal carried on with non-Reissue style Les Pauls (and others) beyond 1993.
 
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