Its not that long ago (Sept 2009) that I commissioned a review of the Jimmy Page Les Paul for the CCEMagazine. Vintage guitar historian Laurie Sellers gave us a review of one of his favorites, the Jimmy Page Les Paul from 1995. (Click here to read this story). Now at the beginning of 2010, it’s rather coincidental that the Gibson Custom shop has announced the Jimmy Page “Number Two”. Now I’m unashamedly bias towards the Gibson Les Paul, as it is my own personal favorite solid body electric, ever since the days of watching Ace Frehley with Kiss in the 70’s (Yes, I’m more than happy to admit it). Read on for the official announcement from Gibson giving a detailed list of the guitar specifications.
GIBSON CUSTOM SHOP ANNOUNCES THE JIMMY PAGE “NUMBER TWO” LES PAUL – A LEGENDARY LES PAUL MODIFIED BY THE WORLD’S MOST LEGENDARY PLAYER
Nashville, Tennessee…. Gibson Custom announces the Gibson Custom Jimmy Page Number Two Les Paul Limited Edition guitar modified by the legendary Jimmy Page himself.
Every musician knows that late ’50s Sunburst Les Paul Standards are hard enough to come by as it is. Obtaining a pristine and exemplary ’59 ’Burst and modifying it for heightened performance and vastly expanded tonal options? Unheard of… unless, of course, you’re Jimmy Page. That’s exactly what the legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist, perhaps the world’s most iconic Les Paul player, did with his own ’59 Les Paul Standard, and now—thanks to the extreme efforts of Gibson’s Custom Shop and the intimate cooperation of Jimmy Page himself—the artist’s hallowed “Number Two” Les Paul is available to mere mortals, in the form of the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul. Produced in strictly limited numbers, with two levels of ageing, this guitar captures the look, feel, sound, and versatility of one of the greatest artist-owned Les Pauls of all time, and it is likely to disappear from authorized Gibson dealers in record time.
The 1959 Les Paul that has come to be known as “Number Two” was purchased by Page in 1973 after trying for some time to acquire an exceptional second Les Paul. This was several years after having acquired his other legendary Les Paul—“Number One”, a ’59 ’Burst with shaved-down neck profile and no serial number—from Joe Walsh. “Number Two” was essentailly all original when he aquired it. Jimmy did have some modifications done to the neck shape so that it would more nearly match the feel of his “Number One”. The neck is certainly slim but not to such extremes as the now-ultra-slim neck on “Number One”. It had a strong, beautiful sunburst finish with a red element that had faded to a dusky amber-brown, along with a clear serial number dating it to 1959. Page played this Les Paul frequently through his days with Led Zeppelin, and in the early ’80s decided to make it an even more versatile instrument. Page also added that he wanted to “explore the full range of what the two humbuckers have to offer” . He designed a switching system for coil splitting, series/parallel, and phase-reverse options for both pickups, and employed a skilled electronics technician to devise a working schematic and make his sonic vision a reality. The result comprised a push/pull pot on each of the guitar’s four standard controls, plus two push-button switches hidden beneath the pickguard, all mounted on a ’59 Les Paul Standard that is otherwise a superb example of the breed, both in tone and playability.
The Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul was recreated with intense, inch-by-inch examination of Page’s original guitar, inside and out. The process of getting it right involved the production of a number of hand-built prototypes, each of which was checked and critiqued in detail by Page himself. Approval of the final iteration was only offered after the legendary artist had intricately examined and extensively played this last prototype in his London home—after which it was given the thumbs-up, worthy of being the template for the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul. Only 325 examples will be produced in total: The first 25 instruments are to be aged by vintage-reproduction master Tom Murphy then inspected, played and hand signed and numbered by Jimmy Page personally. An additional 100 guitars will be given the extensive aging treatment and 200 will be finished to Gibson’s VOS specs.
Each Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul is crafted from a uniquely figured two-piece Eastern maple top attached to a one-piece, solid, lightweight, genuine mahogany back. The figured maple used for each guitar has been carefully hand selected to closely match the distinctive figuring of Jimmy Page’s original “Number Two” Les Paul.
The Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul precisely follows the body lines and dimensions of the original ’59 Les Paul Standard, with a gently arched carved top and rounded lower bout, and combines the classic tonewood combination of mahogany back and carved maple top. The body’s back is cut from a single piece of solid, lightweight clear mahogany, and capped with a two-piece top of figured Eastern maple that is carved into a period-correct “dish”, or arch.
Wood weights always vary slightly, but Gibson’s Custom Shop seeks out the lightest, most resonant mahogany for the one-piece backs of the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul.
The Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul’s body woods present the classic combination that helped to make the Les Paul Standard a legendary instrument in the first place. The marriage of these tonewoods offers good clarity, definition and treble bite from the maple, and excellent depth and richness from the mahogany, all of which are elements that are found in the legendary tone of the original ’59 Les Paul Standard. This is one of the most revered wood combinations of all time, and truly offers a “best of both worlds” design in the way that mahogany and maple complement each other to offer superior resonance, sustain, depth, clarity, and definition.
The Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul is finished in the Gibson Custom Shop’s painstakingly devised “Page Burst Version Two”, a sunburst finish that accurately replicates the deep, rich, reddish-brown to amber appearance of the original guitar, and which has been approved by Page himself.
This intricate finishing process involves several stages of applying proprietary toner and shading to accurately replicate the fading of a 50-year-old Sunburst Les Paul with the distinctive characteristics of this particular guitar. Like the great Les Pauls of the late ’50s, the Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul is finished in nitrocellulose lacquer with minimum build-up, in an effort to produce a finish that breathes with the guitar and enhances natural resonance, and will age elegantly and naturally to continually enhance the appearance of this reborn classic.
Once the finishing process is complete, 125 examples of the Limited Run Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul will be hand-aged in the image of Page’s original 1959 Les Paul. A further 200 guitars will receive Gibson’s much-admired VOS (Vintage Original Spec) treatment, which gives an “antiqued” patina to the guitar’s finish and hardware, replicating the look of a gently aged, 50-year-old instrument.
NECK AND HEADSTOCK:
The neck of the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul is constructed from one piece, quarter-sawn, lightweight mahogany for improved strength and resonance. The Luthiers in Gibson’s Custom Shop carefully match the grains and weights of these guitars’ bodies and necks to optimize tone and sustain.
Gibson invented the truss rod in the 1920s, and the company’s traditional truss rod, as used in all late-’50s Les Pauls, is installed in the neck of the Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul. Found in most all of our guitars, this truss rod is highly responsive to the individual adjustments you’ll want to make to personalize and optimize string action and sustain.
The neck on the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul is carved to replicate the slim, C profile of the guitarist’s own “Number Two”, a 1959 Les Paul Standard with a slightly modified neck.
Joint Angle (Pitch)
4° (+/- 15 seconds)
Headstock Angle (Pitch)
Just like the original Les Pauls of the late ’50s, and many classic Gibson models, the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul headstock is carefully angled at Gibson’s traditional 17 degrees, which increases pressure on the strings and helps them stay in the nut slots. An increase in string pressure also means there is no loss of string vibration between the nut and the tuners, which equals better sustain.
The traditional, period-correct Gibson logo is inlaid in mother of pearl across the top of a holly headstock veneer, with “Les Paul Model” silkscreened in gold along the headstock face.
In order to recreate “Number Two” to Jimmy Page’s standards, ever tone-enhancing detail used in the original 1959 Les Paul was vital to the picture. The angled, classical-style peg head and mahogany neck are part of this, and they work together to provide exceptional tonal richness and resonance from the neck, with a good string definition and sustain.
Gibson uses what is known as the Mortise & Tenon joint to bind neck to body so that the two pieces form one solid unit. On the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul, this technique incorporates the lauded “long neck tenon” which extends further into the body than the tenon on the necks of many other, later guitars, greatly enhancing resonance and sustain, as well as neck strength in general.
The Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul carries a rosewood fingerboard, the traditional fingerboard of the original Les Paul Standard. Rosewood is both hardwearing and sonically superlative, adding sweetness and depth to the guitar’s overall sound.
Just like that of the original ’59 ’Burst, the 12-inch radius of the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul’s fingerboard provides smooth note bending capabilities and eliminates “dead” or “choked out” notes, common occurrences on fingerboards with lesser radii.
The Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul’s fingerboard carries 22 frets, all immaculately dressed and polished, which ease bending and fingering while also enhancing resonance and sustain.
The Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul fingerboard carries aged acrylic trapezoid position-marker inlays, in the image of the original Les Paul Standard.
Rosewood fingerboards are known for their rich, round tone.
The nut on the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul is made from nylon in the image of the original ’59 Les Paul. It is installed into the top surface of the neck, butting up to the end of the fingerboard to ensure proper tone and sustain transfer, and its nut slots are cut with Gibson’s PLEK system to ensure precise fit, break angle, and string spacing.
The width of the nut on the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul is 1-11/16”, the width of the nut on an original ’59 Burst as well as Page’s own Number Two.
The Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul is equipped with a pair of humbucking pickups, a covered Gibson Page Version 1 in the neck (rhythm) position and an uncovered Page Version 2 in the bridge (lead) position, both of which are wax potted to enable them to withstand high-gain playing without succumbing to annoying microphonic feedback. The designs of these two pickups have been chosen to accurately replicate the pickups in Jimmy Page’s own 1959 Les Paul, and the final results have been tested and approved by him.
The Page Version 1 contains an Alnico III magnet for a smooth yet well-defined response, while the Page Version 2 contains an Alnico V magnet for added punch and clarity.
The Page Version 1 in the neck position offers deep, vocal tones with outstanding warmth and richness; the Page Version 2 in the bridge position yields more sizzle and aggression, and a biting, cutting tone for brighter lead work. Between them, they provided the classic blend of Les Paul thickness and clarity. Modified through the custom switching arrangement (see below) on the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul, however, the sky’s the limit.
At a glance, or even from a slight distance, the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul appears exactly like a standard, unmodified Les Paul, with two Volume controls, two Tone controls, and a three-way pickup selector switch—and, essentially, that’s what it still is. But on this Les Paul each of the controls’ potentiometers has been replaced with a push-pull pot for individual pickup switching functions, while two miniature push-pull DPDT switches have been mounted under the pickguard to provide additional universal switching functions. This wiring scheme was recreated with detailed study of Jimmy Page’s original “Number Two”, and with hands-on consultation from Steve Hoyland, who originally rewired Page’s ’59 Les Paul to this configuration.
With both pickguard-mounted switches pushed in and all push-pull pots in the down (in) position the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul functions as a normal Les Paul, with the bridge, both, or neck pickup in standard humbucking mode selected by the three-way Switchcraft toggle switch. From this starting point, the functions of the push-pull pots include:
Bridge Pickup Volume Control
Pulling this knob out switches the bridge pickup’s coils from series (standard) to parallel.
Neck Pickup Volume Control
Pulling this knob out switches the neck pickup’s coils from series (standard) to parallel.
Bridge Pickup Tone Control
Pulling this knob out switches the bridge pickup from humbucking to single coil.
Neck Pickup Tone Control
Pulling this knob out switches the neck pickup from humbucking to single coil.
Pickguard-Mounted Push-Pull Switches
The two push-button DPDT switches mounted beneath the pickguard provide universal switching functions, regardless of the positions of the push-pull pots. With the switch mounted toward the bridge-end of the pickguard in the out position, the bridge pickup’s phase is reversed. With the switch mounted toward the neck-end of the pickguard in the out position, both pickups are wired in series and out of phase. With both switches out, both pickups are in series and in phase.
The Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul features the classic three-way Switchcraft toggle switch with vintage plastic tip.
The guitar features a 1⁄4” output jack made by Switchcraft, for years of trouble-free service.
The headstock of the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul is equipped with Grover tuners, a modification preferred by Jimmy Page, and used on the original guitar.
In the image of its predecessor, the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul carries a Tune-o-matic (ABR-1) bridge that is made from zinc and plated in polished nickel, then aged by Gibson’s own proprietary process to replicate the look of the bridge. This bridge provides a firm seating for the strings, allowing the player to adjust and fine-tune the intonation and string height in a matter of minutes. It also yields excellent coupling between strings and body, maximizing resonance, tone, and sustain.
This guitar’s Tune-o-matic (ABR) bridge is combined with a separate “stopbar” tailpiece, which is essentially a modified version of the earlier wraparound bridge that’s designed to further enhance the connection between the strings and the body. The Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul’s stopbar tailpiece is made from lightweight aluminum, like the original, plated in polished nickel, and aged like the bridge, above.
Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul carries Schaller straplocks, a modification preferred by Jimmy Page himself, and one undertaken on his own 1959 Les Paul.
The guitar carries an accurate reissue cream pickguard, made in the image of the ’guard on the original 1959 Les Paul Standard, with two push-button switches added underneath (see Electronics, above).
Truss Rod Cover
The truss rod cover on the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul follows the period-correct black and white plastic, “antique bell” shape of the originals.
The Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul’s Volume and Tone controls carry period correct gold top-hat knobs.
The Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul is fitted with vintage strings, sizes .009 – .042
Your Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul comes protected in black Gibson hardshell case with “Gibson Custom” silkscreened in gold on the black pleather covering.
Each Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul comes with a leather-bound Certificate of Authenticity, owner’s manual, and adjustment literature, and documentation for the guitar’s limited lifetime warrantee
About Gibson Guitar
Gibson is known worldwide for producing classic models in every major style of fretted instrument, including acoustic and electric guitars, mandolins, and banjos. The Gibson Les Paul guitar is the best selling guitar of all time and bears the name of the late, great Les Paul. Gibson’s HD.6X-PRO Digital Guitar, the Gibson Robot Guitar and Gibson’s Dark Fire represent the biggest advances in electric guitar design in over 70 years. Founded in 1894 in Kalamazoo , Michigan , and headquartered in Nashville since 1984, Gibson Guitar Corp.’s family of brands now includes Epiphone, Dobro, Kramer, Steinberger, Tobias, Echoplex, Electar, Flatiron, Slingerland, Valley Arts, Maestro, Oberheim, Baldwin, Sunshine Piano, Take Anywhere Technology, J&C Fischer, Chickering, Hamilton, and Wurlitzer. Visit Gibson’s website at www.gibson.com