The introduction of the Les Paul Model in 1952 provided the fundamental template for the design of what would event—ually become the most revered stringed instrument in the world. Yet Gibson president Ted McCarty and the guitar’s namesake, Les Paul, also sought to introduce a “deluxe” version of the soon-to-be iconic model. The final design for the new Les Paul Custom was completed in early 1954, and the guitar made its official debut at the Chicago NAMM show in July 1954.
Today’s Les Paul Custom is based on the model from the mid-1950s, but with several modern appointments. The body of the guitar is crafted with a hand-carved maple top, which is then fitted to a body made from a solid piece of mahogany with strategically routed holes to lessen the weight of the guitar, resulting in a Les Paul with enhanced acoustic qualities and improved resonance. The 24 ¾-inch scale length neck is also made from one solid piece of mahogany then topped by a 22-fret Richlite® fingerboard outfitted with pearl block inlays, and given Gibson’s traditional rounded profile. The pickups are Gibson’s 490R in the neck position, which offers the tonal characteristics of the original PAFs, and the 498T in the bridge position, which swaps the 490R’s Alnico II magnet for an Alnico V, thus making it slightly hotter with emphasis on mid-ranges and highs.