Gibson Guitar Presents

Historic Collection
Introduction 1993 marked a significant milestone in the history of solid body electric guitars. It was in that year that Gibson Custom began its very ambitious quest to recapture the craftsmanship, performance and quality of an era that had passed more than forty years ago.

When the Gibson Historic Collection was presented to the world, it was met with excitement, as well as skepticism. At the time, we knew that we had created the most accurate replicas of Gibson’s most sought after guitars from the 1950s, the decade in which Gibson cemented its place in guitar history. We also knew we had a long way to go.

Time moves on, and with it, materials become scarcer, the march of efficiency towards bigger, faster and better can take the place of extreme quality. Meanwhile, costs become prohibitive, and unique human skills become so niche as to be outdated. To move back in the past and recapture the essence of the most exquisite guitars ever made, there would be a continual headwind that would never give in or cease. Every day would see increasing scarcity of materials, increased pressure to keep very specialized skills and techniques alive and to accept that someday, no matter how intensely we may fight to keep this flame alive, it will end.

Today, we celebrate 20 years of our continued commitment as the torchbearers of, not only Gibson’s legacy, but also American craftsmanship and the value of human ingenuity. We believe today, as we did 20 years ago, that there remains a place in this world for the best of the best and that there is a beauty that extends far beyond the glossy sheen and gratifying weight of a finely crafted Les Paul. We believe that efficiency-propelled manufacturing has a place as well. That place is not Gibson Custom.

In 2013, we bring the most discerning players and collectors in the World, the most refined collection of Historic Reissue guitars we have ever had the pleasure to craft. Through milestone achievements that reflect 20 years of a passionate commitment by Gibson Custom’s craftspeople, engineers and players and collectors from around the globe, the 2013 Historic Series of Les Paul guitars is the most "evolved" yet.

Aniline Dye Early in the 19th Century, using natural dyes made from organic materials such as roots, berries and even insects, was the popular choice for fine wood finishes. The primary benefit of these materials was that they allowed the beauty of the wood’s grain to show through with striking clarity. However, these natural color agents were prone to fade quickly and were difficult to produce with consistency.

In the 1850s, a British chemist accidentally produced a strong purple dye while working with aniline, a clear, oily, poisonous liquid. Of its unique characteristics, aniline based dye produced superior clarity of wood grain and color. Gibson adopted the use of aniline dye to insure that its finishes were the highest quality and most visually appealing. However, aniline dye was also prone to fade when exposed to light, an attribute that would inadvertently create a legacy of much sought after variations of Gibson "sunburst" finishes of the 1950s. Many of Gibson Custom’s current finishes, such as Iced Teaburst, BourbonBurst and Faded Cherry are representative of various stages of color fade from the original Heritage Cherry Sunburst and Tobaccoburst finishes from the 1950’s.

Because of the manual nature of their application and their tendency to create fine, airborne dust in a woodworking environment, aniline dyes were abandoned for pigmented dyes, which result in a cloudier grain presentation but were not prone to substantial color fade over time and exposure to light. Today, Gibson Custom has invested in its manufacturing environment and training to facilitate the use of superior aniline dye finishes. The result is the same extravagant presentation of the natural grain of fine wood as was the standard for Gibson many years ago.


Custombucker For decades, Gibson Custom has been studying the performance specifications of the original Gibson Humbuckers, consulting with vintage specialists, testing original examples and pouring through the limited amount of historical data from our company’s own manufacturing history of processes and materials that shifted over time.

As a result, we recreated the most accurate reproduction of Gibson’s original pickup materials, average performance specifications from the 1950s, and the techniques used to create what eventually became the most sought after guitar tone across multiple genres and generations of music; The Custombucker.

Among the details to capture the original tone of our legendary Les Paul is the proper length alnico 3 magnets as well as its exact materials composition. We’ve also studied the minutia to recapture nearly fanatical detail including the original wire material, thickness and covering. All the way down to the shape of the pickup covers that had drifted over time as tooling became older and worn, The Custombucker represents a patient, untiring dedication to bringing vintage Les Paul tone to the Historic series of the Gibson Les Paul.

In 2013, as part of our 20th anniversary of the Historic Series, all Pre 1962 Historic Reissues in the collection now feature Custombucker pickups in both the neck and bridge positions.


Binding Color
The fretboard of the original 1950s Les Paul has a very distinct cream binding and binding thickness that were displaced over the years, eventually drifting to a slightly thicker material and darker color.

To recapture the original look and feel across the entirety of the neck, Gibson has worked to recreate a proprietary binding formulated to our original specifications. While the change seems subtle, there is a noticeable difference in both the aesthetic of the guitar and the feel of the fingerboard. This level of accuracy exemplifies our dedication to recreating the most legendary guitar ever crafted, and our quest to capture even the smallest detail possible for the sake of putting the look and feel of an original Les Paul into the hands of players and collectors around the world.


GoldTop The 2013 Historic Reissue Les Paul Goldtop collection now features the most accurate recreation of the original finish on both the top and back of each guitar that has ever been offered.

Through a very long search of company records, conversations with collectors and players who have the good fortune to own an original, Gibson Custom has reformulated its Goldtop finish to match the original’s deep, dark, gold luster. The Goldtop’s back is also reformulated to match the original from the 1950s.

In the case of the updated Gold, you will notice a deeper, richer finish with a slightly “greener” caste. On the guitar’s back, you will see a noticeable increase in the visibility of mahogany grain and a more severe effect on final color that comes from the wood’s individual personality. As it was in the 1950s, each guitar back results in a very individual "look," based on the use of vintage finish formulations and application techniques, and the characteristics of each individual piece of wood.


Hide Glue
The vast majority of modern guitar joinery techniques employ PVA (polyvinyl acetate), an "advance" of science from the 20th century, that was created to minimize manufacturing time and limit skill requirements, effectively increasing manufacturing efficiencies. Prior to its advent, and for a period dating back thousands of years, animal or "hide" glue was the preferred material for joining wood in furniture, art and industry.

In 2013, Gibson Custom is ushering back the use of hide glue in its crafting of Historic Series instruments. This truly ancient process requires more time to be taken in the crafting of each guitar as well as more curing time to allow proper drying and adhesion. The result is a better join of hardwoods that prepares each guitar for a lifetime of use, care and recuperation from damage. The 2013 Gibson Custom Historic series now feature authentic hide glue at the neck joint, applied by hand by the world's finest craftspeople.


Kluson Updates to the 2013 Historic Reissue Les Paul series include the accurate reproduction of vintage Kluson machine heads as were used on the original 1950s Les Pauls.

With proper profiles, performance specifications and quality of materials, these recreations mark significant attention to detail. The original Kluson “Deluxe” machine heads are coveted for their smooth performance, vintage aesthetic and rugged reliability. Only one manufacturer in the world has earned the right to proudly label their tuners as “Kluson”. In 2013, Gibson Custom is equally proud to offer them on all 2013 Historic Reissue guitars.


Single Layer Rosewood
In 2013, Gibson Custom re-introduces the use of single layer rosewood fingerboards into its Historic series of Les Paul guitars. Following the challenge of meeting global standards for the legal harvesting and processing of fine hardwoods from outside of the USA, Gibson Custom returns to its traditional use of single layer fingerboards featuring the finest available materials, sourced, not only in accordance with US and international law, but also Gibson Guitar Corporations even stricter standards.

All 2013 Historic Les Paul Reissues now come standard with historically accurate fingerboard dimensions that compliment updated binding and color.


Truss Rod One of the many improvements to the original Les Paul design, was the addition of a "sock"; a flexible tubing that surrounded the truss rod cover to prevent rattling within the truss rod channel and allow for an easier installation of the neck spline.

In addition, the specification of the truss rod’s washer, which secures the passage of the rod into the neck and provides a brace for the adjustment nut, was changed over the course of years. Finally, the anchor on the end of the truss rod, deep in the interior of the neck, was changed to a flat anchor. All these changes basically allowed the guitars to be built in a more efficient manner. In 2013, Gibson Custom returns to the original specifications of the 1950s era Les Paul by removing the truss rod tubing and re-engineering the truss rod, truss rod washer and anchor to its original form.

While it’s not a detail you’ll see easily, our goal is to capture the original Les Paul down to incredible detail as much as is possible. It also helps us return to that "Original Recipe" that resulted in the world’s finest guitars.

Custom Historic Collection