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Spotlight on the Michael Bloomfield 1959 Les Paul from Gibson Custom

02.05.2009

Thanks in large measure to the fiery and adventurous playing of Michael Bloomfield, the Gibson Les Paul Standard became one of the most revered electric blues guitars of the late 1960s and early ’70s, and Bloomfield’s own Les Paul became an iconic example of this seminal instrument in the process. Hankering after that sweet, fat, sustaining tone and the look of a classic late-’50s burst, Bloomfield fans have long called out for a signature model from Gibson, and the payback is finally here. Gibson Custom is proud to release the Michael Bloomfield 1959 Les Paul Standard, which will be produced in two very limited runs: 100 will be custom aged by the master craftsmen of Gibson Custom, while a further 200 will be given the popular V.O.S. (Vintage Original Specs) treatment.

An American Blues Legend is Born

After soaking up the work of countless blues originators in his hometown of Chicago – Muddy Waters, Magic Sam and Howlin’ Wolf among them – Michael Bloomfield made his mark with The Butterfield Blues Band, The Electric Flag, Bob Dylan (most notably on Dylan’s classic Highway 61 Revisited) and the Super Sessions album with Al Kooper and Stephen Stills, which is probably the most successful recording of Bloomfield’s career. Along the way, a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard became the key to his signature sound.

Having played other guitars during the early part of his career — including a 1954 Les Paul Gold Top — Bloomfield acquired his sunburst 1959 Les Paul Standard with original “Patent Applied For” humbuckers in 1966 in a deal made with acclaimed guitar technician Dan Erlewine, then an aspiring musician himself. Erlewine got Bloomfield’s Gold Top plus $100 cash, Bloomfield got the ’59 Les Paul. The rest, of course, is history.

Unfortunately, Bloomfield lost his Les Paul in 1974 or ’75, and it is believed that a venue owner in Vancouver retained it as compensation for an abandoned performance date. Its current whereabouts are unknown.

Recreating a Legend

After careful study of existing records and photographs of Bloomfield’s original guitar, and extensive consultation with the Bloomfield estate, Gibson Custom has produced an intricately crafted recreation of this hallowed ’59 Les Paul. Constructional details of note include its carved figured maple top, solid non-weight relieved mahogany back, thin toggle-switch washer and jack plate, one-piece mahogany neck with long neck tenon, rounded period-correct ’59 neck profile and Grover kidney-button tuners – a modification that was made to the Les Paul by Dan Erlewine before Bloomfield acquired it.

The electronics, too, seek to capture all the vibe and tone of Bloomfield’s original guitar, as well as the Les Paul’s greatest era, with a Gibson Burstbucker 1 in the neck position, a Burstbucker 2 in the bridge position, CTS potentiometers and “bumble bee” tone capacitors. Gibson’s Burstbuckers are considered the most accurate reproductions of the original “Patent Applied For” pickups that the company has ever produced. By reproducing some of the inconsistencies that are credited with contributing some of the magic to original Gibson humbuckers made between 1957-’62, they capture an authentic vintage-PAF tone previously unavailable to the contemporary guitarist.

Gibson Burstbuckers are made with unpolished Alnico II magnets and unpotted coils that are wound to slightly different numbers of turns – just like the originals – to give the pickups a little more edge and bite. All of this helps the Michael Bloomfield 1959 Les Paul Standard to attain that legendary blend of warmth and sting the guitars are so noted for.

The Bloomfield Burst

Naturally, every example of this very limited run of Michael Bloomfield 1959 Les Paul Standards comes dressed in a finish dubbed the “Bloomfield Burst,” which faithfully captures the beauty of the blues artist’s own legendary guitar. Other standard appointments include single-ply crème binding around the body and the fingerboard, all nickel hardware, an ABR-1 bridge and lightweight stopbar tailpiece and original holly headstock veneer. Each guitar also comes with a standard Gibson Custom reissue case, a certificate of authenticity and a custom care kit.


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