1960 Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
Jimmy Page performing Bring It On Home,
Royal Albert Hall, London, England,
January 9, 1970. Photo: Warner Strategic Marketing
General Specs
Serial Number: 06130
Body: Carved mahogany top, sides and back
Finish: Ebony
Neck: One-piece mahogany neck
Fingerboard: Ebony with pearl block inlays
Frets: 22
Bridge: ABR-1 Tunematic Guitar Bridge / Bigsby B7 Tremolo
Headstock: 'Gibson' logo and split diamond pearl inlay, 'Les Paul Custom' on truss rod cover
Tuners: Grover Roto-matic
Hardware: Gold-plated
Pickguard: Multi-Ply Black
Pickups: (3) PAF Humbuckers
Controls: (2) Volume, (2), 3-way selector, (3) toggle switches were added in mid-March 1970
Years in use: 1962-1970
Website: http://www.gibson.com/ 
The Les Paul Custom was first introduced in 1954 and was the deluxe version of the Les Paul regular. It is also known as the 'Fretless Wonder' and of course as the 'Black Beauty'. The 'Fretless Wonder' name came about because of the advertising which stated that the frets where low and smooth and give the guitar fast playing action. So it didn't mean that it had no frets. This guitar has a bit of history to it which is pretty interesting. In 1961 (4 years after this reissue model) the single cut-away LP body was actually replaced with the SG double cut-away ultra-thin body. In 1963 it appears that Gibson and Les himself had a disagreement which was temporary. It resulted in this double cut-away model being renamed the Gibson SG Custom. So there are some variations in this guitar that would normally go unnoticed because of the two distinctly different body shapes being used.

The '52 version had an LP body shape (single cut-away) and was made of mahogany with a carved arched top. There was a 7-ply binding around the top and body edges. The bridge was a Tune-O-Matic with a stud tailpiece. There were other models that included the Bigsby tremolo (some nickel plated). The LP regular had a carved maple top while this version had an all-mahogany body.

The 24.75-inch scale length neck was made of a single piece of mahogany with an ebony fretboard. The fretboard had 'block' (rectangular) pearl inlays as position markers and 22 frets. The neck joined the body at the 16th fret. On the headstock was a split diamond inlay that slightly larger than usual. The words 'Les Paul Custom' were inscribed in the bell-shaped truss rod cover. The original tuners used where Kluson Super tuners which were replaced with Grover Roto-matics in 1958. The hardware was gold plated with a few excerpts where nickel-plated were used. One thing about the '52 version is it used two single-coil pickups, an Alnico in the neck position and a P-90 at the bridge. Both had black covers with the Alnico pickup having famous rectangular pole pieces while the P90 had the adjustable pole pieces. There were a few guitars made with three P-90 pickups in place of the humbuckers. The wiring on this three pickup model is also different in that it had three volume controls with a single tone control. The tone control was placed where the toggle switch normally was located (this version didn't have a toggle switch). Another thing about the 52 version was that it didn't have a serial number. They weren't added until 1954 and where found on the top edge of the headstock.

The Black Beauty offers a variety of tones not found on other LPs. This was done by adding a third humbucker. In 1957 one of the main changes was the introduction of the PAF humbucker pickup. Three of these were put on the LP Custom with most pickups be wired differently than other LPs of the time. Instead of having the middle position of the 3-way pickup selector activating the center pickup it had both the bridge and middle pickups on with the middle pickup out of phase with the neck pickup. The result is a unique yet vintage sound. There are some that have only two humbuckers while there are also others that have the three humbuckers but with different wiring and control setup. It had three volume controls that were lined up in a straight line with a tone control located where the toggle switch was located.

In 1961 the body of the custom was changed to the ultra-thin SG double cut-away body and was painted white. This marked a significant change so much so that in 1963 they changed the name to the SG/Les Paul Custom. Also, there is a non-historic version of the Black Beauty which called the Les Paul Custom.

Page's 1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty' was purchased new in 1962 for £185. It was used for most of Jimmy's session work (1963-1966) and was taken on tour, starting on October 17, 1969, at New York City's Carnegie Hall, through Apr. 1970, when it was stolen at the airport between Apr. 12 or 13, 1970. Jimmy Page placed an ad in Rolling Stone with reward, but it was never recovered.

I put on the Bigsby tremolo. Also, what I did, is, the Black Beauty originally had a single toggle switch. I took out the single switch and put in three on/off switches. You could have any combination of pickups on or off, even all pickups off!" (laugh) Yeah, Jimmy really liked that setup. - Joe Jammer

Then I got a Les Paul Custom which I stayed with until it was nicked in the States during the first 18 months of Zeppelin-the second or third tour. Usually,  I never took that on the road, because it was so precious. But things were going so well for us that I eventually took it over and it suddenly went.

It had a big tremolo arm and Joe Jammer custom wired it for me. I was starting to use it more than anything else. It got nicked off the truck at the airport-we were on our way to Canada. Somewhere there was a flight change and it disappeared. It just never arrived at the other end. I advertised for it in Rolling Stone. Just a photograph-no name-and a reward. No luck though, even though it was very recognizable for all the custom work that Joe Jammer done on it.
- Jimmy Page, CREEM Magazine, Winter 1980

Bigsby.com  reported in early April 2016 that the guitar was rumored to have been found and returned to Page with the help of guitar collector Perry Margouleff.

The report has not been verified by former Led Zeppelin roadie Henry 'The Horse' Smith, who confirmed the news on Facebook.

"Glad to announce the Black Beauty is now back in the hands of Jimmy thanks in part to Perry Margouleff," Smith wrote. "This happened just a few months ago. It was a happy day for me to see Jimmy get this back."

The guitar had been stolen at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, as previously thought, by a baggage handler, in April 1970. At some point, the three on/off switches were removed, the body was filled in and resprayed, leaving only the original 3-way toggle switch.

It sat under the baggage handlers' bed until about 1992 when it and a mystery man entered Willie's American Guitars in St. Paul, MN. He announced that this was Jimmy Page's guitar and that he had purchased it from the baggage handler's widow for $5,000. Willie's owner, Nate Westgor, bought it from the mystery man for the same price.

Under forensic examination by Westgor and St. Paul vintage-guitar dealer, Peter Alenov, Jr., decided that it was not Page's guitar. They had even reached out to Page's people. Instead, Westgor sold it to one of his employees, Paul 'Bleem' Claesgens, for $5,500.

Bleem, a working musician, then used the guitar only many gigs, leaving it overnight in clubs for multi-night performances, even using it as a shield against thrown beer bottles!!

In 2014, Bleem brought the guitar back into Willie's for repairs. Nate Westgor put the guitar under blacklight and saw traces of some work done around the pickup selector switch. Between that and the mother-of-pearl inlay on the 12th fret, made Westgor and Bleem realize that this was Jimmy Page's guitar after all. They decided that the best thing to do was to return it to Page.

Unfortunately, they did not have a contact who knew Page to contact him, so he reached out to a contact in the Rolling Stones. Perry Margouleff, a producer and musician and a friend of Jimmy Page was contacted and he and Westgor worked out the logistics of the return. In gratitude for being the steward of the guitar, Bleem was to receive a comparable 1959 Les Paul Custom, valued at $45,000. Westgor drove the guitar down to Dallas, Texas to Margouleff at the Arlington Guitar Show and Margouleff took the guitar to Page in London, on November 12, 2015.

Page lent the Black Beauty in 2019 for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock 'n' Roll from April 1, 2019 to October 1, 2019.

Photos:

1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
Jimmy Page, January 9, 1970, Royal Albert Hall, City Of Westminster, London, England
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
Jimmy Page, January 9, 1970, Royal Albert Hall, City Of Westminster, London, England
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
Jimmy Page, April 10, 1970, Backstage ant the Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami Beach, Florida
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
Black Beauty in Willie's American Guitars - Photo courtesy of Nate Westgor
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
Serial number 06130 - Photo courtesy of Nate Westgor
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
12th fret inlay - Photo courtesy of Nate Westgor
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
Front restorations
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
Rear restorations
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
Black Beauty at the Met - Photo courtesy of Jonathan Bayer
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
Black Beauty at the Met - Photo courtesy of Jonathan Bayer
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
Black Beauty at the Met - Photo courtesy of Jonathan Bayer
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
Black Beauty at the Met - Photo courtesy of Jonathan Bayer
1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty'
Black Beauty at the Met - Photo courtesy of Jonathan Bayer

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