Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Mary Ford's Les Paul SG Custom Sells on an eBay Auction

The television show Pawn Stars is about the Harrison family, and their business, the “World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop” that is located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I always heard if you wanted something to be well-know, use the words World Famous. It seems to have worked out pretty well for Rick Harrison, his father Richard, his son Corey aka Big Hoss and their employee Chumlee.

Les Paul and Mary Ford
In 2011 the nephew of Mary Ford offered Mary’s Gibson SG Les Paul Custom guitar to the Pawn Stars and came away with a cool $90,000 USD. After filming, the Harrison’s then put it up for auction on eBay where it sold for $110,000 USD.

Earlier this year I featured Les Paul’s personal 1954 Gibson Les Paul Black Beauty which was auctioned in February and was sold for $335,000. Both of these instruments are not just wonderful guitars, but come with some special provenance.

However the SG was not Les’ favorite instrument. In fact he detested it and made Gibson take his name off of it after seeing one displayed in a music store window.I have read that Gibson never mentioned this guitar to him and that made him angry. In fact Gibson came up with the iconic design during a period of time when sales of Les Paul guitars were slumping.

Despite Mr. Pauls aversion to the guitar we find several publicity photos of Les and Mary holding matching white Gibson “Les Paul” Custom SG’s.

The White Gibson SG Custom has always been a stunning instrument. Gibson actually called the colour, Polaris White. I recall being enamoured of one that was in a glass case at my favorite music store back in 1965.

The entire guitar including the neck was done in white gloss paint. It sported three Gibson humbucking pickups, an ebony neck and matching ebony headstock. All the metal parts were gold-plated, including the Gibson Gibson Maestro Vibrola, which pulled side-to-side and the pickup covers.

The bound neck included large mother-of-pearl block markers on its ebony neck and the headstock featured the Gibson split-diamond inlay.

This guitar used a very unique switching system. The neck and bridge pickup and individual volume and tone controls. The middle pick had no controls as it was designed to work with the bridge pickup. The thee way toggle switch controlled the neck pickup alone in the up position. In the middle position it controlled the bridge and middle pickup out of phase and in the lower position it controlled the bridge and middle pickup in phase.

It was a beautiful instrument and may not be as desirable to a collector as some other Gibson guitars of that vintage. Unfortunately someone removed the pickup covers on this guitar.

Mary Ford's White Gibson Les Paul SG Custom - $124,999

For those of you that were late to the party; Rejoice! Mary Ford's Gibson SG Custom is back on eBay. This time the seller is asking $124,999 USD. For those of you with deep pockets, you get another shot at owning this classic. It even comes with Mary's original strap.  For the rest of us, go back to playing your Strat copies.

Les Paul's 1954 Black Beauty
Les Paul designed the Black Beauty Les Paul to be a matching guitar for his original gold top. He like the color black since most musicians of the day wore tuxedoes to their gigs and the black guitar match the tuxes.

Though the guitar appears to have single coil pickups, they are stacked humbuckers that Les designed and probably wound himself. In Les Paul's era he made his recordings using Ampex analog tape machines. To get sound-on-sound he would record a passage and then record another along with the first passage. On a guitar that has normal pickups with high impedance, the sound of the original passage would dissipate as each new passage was recorded when using this "sound-on-sound" technique.

Les solved this problem by utilizing Lo-Z output on his guitar pickups. This enabled him to play all those guitar parts himself on the recordings he made with his then wife, Mary Ford.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)


Peter said...

What an excellent site, thanks! Will keep this blog in my faves. I came here trying to hunt down the type of axe used by Pete Shelley in the Buzzcocks' 1978 song "Ever Fallen In Love".

marcus ohara said...

Thank you Peter for stopping by. Don't be a stranger.


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Wizard said...

I remember meeting Les Paul at the NYC club the Iridium. He signed my 1979 special Edition LP in 2002. What a clever and gentle man he was. Wonderful experience