Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Most Overlooked Les Paul - The Les Paul Jumbo Guitar

The Gibson Les Paul, as we know it, was introduced in 1952 and manufactured through 1960.

The demand for the instruments in the mid 1960’s became an issue for Gibson grew due to quite a few popular guitarists were showing up in public playing old Les Pauls. In 1968 Gibson saw the light re-released the Les Paul. The guitar has been in production, in various conceptions, ever since.

If you did not know it, Les Paul was the inventor of multi-track recording. Les first used a method called Sound-on-sound.

The knob on the left is sound on sound
Although the results were similar to the multi-track method where separate recording heads were assigned to each track, Sound-on-sound uses only two tracks, with the signal going through one track at a time.

By recording the first track and then playing the second track along with the first the result is two recordings. These are then played along with additional tracks, so the engineer/musician/player is bouncing the signal between the tracks.

The trouble with this method was the signal degradation of the previous tracks. Les was able to solve this by using Low Impedence guitar pickups and microphones, which in essence provided less signal and less degradation.

Les’ personal Les Pauls were mostly equipped with two low impedence pickups. We’ve discussed the Les Paul Recording guitar, which was much like Les’ own instrument, but could be switched to hi-impedence by a flip of a switch.
Les said no to this one

In 1968 Gibson issued or re-issued several Les Paul Models and wanted Mr. Paul to put his name on an acoustic guitar. Interestingly, the J-160e that the Beatles are seen playing early in their career was originally designated to be a Les Paul acoustic model. However Les would not put his name on the J-160e.

Les Paul Jumbo

Therefore, in 1969 Gibson came up with a brand new model to bear the Les Paul name, The Les Paul Jumbo.

The sales were dismal to say the least. Gibson records state that 43 were sold in 1971, 3 were sold in 1972 and 3 were shipped in 1973, the guitars final year.

The guitar sold for $610 and came with a deluxe black Gibson case lined in red velveteen.

The guitar was and extremely well made instrument. The top was book matched spruce, the back and sides were book matched Brazilian rosewood.

The neck was made from 3 pieces of mahogany. The headstock was likewise mahogany and had no veneer covering. The Gibson logo was silk-screened on the top of the headstock and a 6 digit serial number was stamped in the back of the headstock.

The truss rod cover on many units announced this is the Les Paul Jumbo.

The saddle was adjustable by two small wheels on either side of the rosewood bridge. The tuners were custom Schallers made for Gibson. Most L.P. Jumbo’s came with a tortoise-shell pickguard.

1969 Les Paul Jumbo

On the bottom of the neck was a low-impedence pickup that was surrounded by a chrome ring. This pickup was designed to be clean and have little or no noise.

The guitar also came with a Gibson style toggle switch, which was strange because it had but a single pickup. This switched bypassed the two bass and treble controls.

The bass and treble are third and fouth knobs mounted on the guitar tops lower bout.

The other two switches are a standard volume control, the first knob and an eleven position decade control that emphasizes either high, mid or low end and points in between, which was the second knob.

If you recall the decade control was also utilized on the Les Paul Recording guitar.

The sound of the Les Paul Jumbo is much different than the piezo sound that is associated with most modern guitars. It is a more mellow sound and can be mixed with sounds generated from the guitar by use of a microphone.

1969 Les Paul Jumbo
Les recorded directly into the mixing console and was striving for a clean, natural sound. Most popular artists at the time were running through large Marshall amplifiers and looking for breakup and distortion. Hence the the result was low sales for the Les Paul Jumbo.

The Les Paul Recording Guitar is a fine instrument and due to low production, it is quite scarce.

There are no videos of the Les Paul Jumbo being played, but this is well worth watching.



Dirty Roger said...

I love the Gibson guitars with the volume knob on the front!

Anonymous said...

I have one of these. My dad bought in 1970, and it's been in the family ever since.

Anonymous said...

The sales numbers they quote don't have any mention of 1970. With my dad's Les Paul Jumbo he has the original 1970 Gibson price guide that has the LP Jumbo listed.

mal said...

I have a les Paul jumbo for sale. It's in reasonable condition with original case

Anonymous said...

Did you ever sell your jumbo? I'd be interested in it if it's still around.


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