Old gold: 1972 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe

The devisive mini-humbucker'd 'Paul

Old gold 1972 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe
The mini-humbuckers alienated many Gibson purists at the time of the Deluxe's release

The chequered history of the Les Paul Deluxe model began with the demise of what is today regarded as the Holy Grail for collectors: the '58 to '60 Sunburst Les Paul Standard.

"These days we can perhaps enjoy the Deluxe on its own merits as an often formidable-sounding variant of the breed, with abundant bite"

Ironically, it wasn't a commercial hit at the time, and was discontinued in favour of the SG-shaped Les Paul model. Yet by the mid-1960s, Eric Clapton and other notable players started praising the quality of the original 'Bursts, causing demand for 'old' examples to shoot up.

By 1969, faced with declining sales, Norlin-era execs decided to capitalise on this demand by resurrecting the Les Paul. With a surplus stock of Epiphone mini-humbuckers to use up, Gibson elected to fit its new Sunburst LP, dubbed the 'Deluxe', with these pickups, changing both the visual identity of the guitar and its tone and alienating many of the purists it had no doubt hoped to entice.

A four-piece maple/mahogany laminate 'pancake' body further distanced the Deluxe from its heritage, while the optional 'Standard' version with two full-sized humbuckers, offered from '72 to '76, was too little, too late.

These days, however, we can perhaps enjoy the Deluxe on its own merits as an often formidable-sounding variant of the breed, with abundant bite.

Scott Gorham was a notable player of the model, and it's hard to imagine Thin Lizzy's steely, harmonised lead lines without the wiry presence of his Deluxe in the mix.

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