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
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 which 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 carved arched top. There was a 7-ply binding around the top and body edges. The bridge was a Tune-O-Matic with stud tail piece. 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 24.7 5 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 16 fret. On the headstock was a split diamond inlay that slightly larger than usual. The words '' Les Paul Custom' was 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 excepts 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 humbuckers. 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 actually 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.

The 1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom 'Black Beauty' was purchased new in 1962 for £185. It was used for most of Jimmy's sessionwork (1963-1966), and was taken on tour, starting on January 7, 1970 at Birmingham, England's Town Hall through Apr. 1970, when it was stolen at the airport between Apr. 13 or 14, 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 tremlo 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.

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
 
ADVERTISEMENTS

Rick's Cool Collectibles

Rick's Cool Collectibles is a memorabilia mail order company serving collectors worldwide! Since 1979 the name Rick Barrett has been associated with quality collectibles including rare concert & event tickets and stubs, Led Zeppelin memorabilia, select music & sports memorabilia, stamps, coins, old postcards, and more!

This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

September 07, 1968 - The band fulfills some old Yardbirds dates in Scandanavia
September xx, 1969 - Jimmy Page is reported saying the second album will be harder than the first
September 19, 1970 - Led Zeppelin gross over $100,000 for two performances at Madison Square Gardens on the same day
September xx, 1971 - Jimmy Page is furious over a live Yardbirds release. It was forced off the shelves
September xx, 1971 - The band vacations in Hawaii
September xx, 1972 - Discussions to play various countries ends with a decision to play Japan again
September xx, 1973 - Jimmy Page considers a live release of material before releasing a new album
September 14, 1974 - Led Zeppelin and CSN&Y jam at an after party
September xx, 1975 - Jimmy meets up with Robert in Malibu, where he is staying on a tax exile
September 12, 1976 - Page and Bonham return to Switzerland and record a drum piece title Bonzo’s Montreux
September 08, 1977 - Page takes to the stage with other well knowns at a WEA records sales conference
September 15, 1978 - Zep road manager Richard Cole and Bad Company’s Simon Kirke get married in a double ceremony
September 17, 1979 - Promoter Fred Bannister forced into liquidation over Knebworth Sales with Led Zeppelin
September 18, 1980 - Jimmy reviews a new stage set up and technical details for the Eighties Part One tour at Swan Song offices
September 25, 1980 - John Bonham is found dead in Jimmy Page’s Windsor mansion by sound technician Benji Le Fevre
September 12, 2007 - It was announced at a press conference by Harvey Goldsmith that the remaining members of Led Zeppelin would reunite with Jason Bonham on drums.
© 1996 - 2020 Led Zeppelin: Achilles Last Stand - All Rights Reserved
Advertise | Disclaimer | Site Map