1959 was a pivotal year for Gibson. The Les Paul Standards produced that year became perhaps the most consequential and influence electric guitars ever made. While collectors go ga-ga over a '59 Burst, it's well know that the Gibson electric line was particularly impressive from top to bottom in 1959. Something special was happening in Kalamazoo in 1959, and every electric guitar plays, sounds, and feels a cut above the rest.
The Les Paul Special rolled out in 1955, and it expanded from the single-pickup Junior/TV Model with an added neck pickup. The Special also sported the same iconic TV Yellow finish (which Gibson called "limed mahogany"), designed to stand out and get attention of '50s TV screens. With a simple slab mahogany body and two P90s, the Les Paul Special delivers a wide palette of tones—the bridge is gutsy, loud and, ballsy, while the neck pickup can be smooth and mellow.
In 1958, Gibson introduced the radical double-cutaway design, which offered unfettered access all the way down the fingerboard. Originally, the Special's neck pickup was almost directly next to the neck, so the rhythm position provides an extra-rich warmer tonality. Nevertheless, this removed a considerable amount of the neck tenon, creating a weaker neck-to-body joint. By late-'59 Gibson solved this by moving the pickup closer to the bridge, but that changed the sound considerably.
This 1959 Les Paul Special was made prior to the change (pot codes date to 35th week of '59), and its neck pickup adds layers of dimension and balance to the bite from the bridge pickup. Like other double-cut Specials, it has had the necessary heel repair/neck reset, and there is tasteful finish touch-ups to mask the repair. It also has a professionally repaired headstock break, which appears to have been done at the same time as the heel. The fingerboard has been refretted and the setup is excellent. Despite the repairs, it appears to have found us with all of its original parts and hardware. It includes a simple molded plastic case.
This 1959 Gibson Les Paul Special is a ripping rock n' roll machine. It is a comfortable, manageable size, and it weighs 7 lbs 2.3 oz. It feels balanced on your lap or on a strap, and the neck carve is pretty much perfect. The P90s sparkle and sizzle when you push them, but they're responsive and dynamic. With the volume and tone controls, you're able to dial a wide range of sounds. The neck pickup feels just a touch hotter than the bridge, which makes them balance nicely with overdrive. This Les Paul has some serious vibe! Such a formidable guitar—it has so many of the qualities and characteristics we love about vintage guitars.