Gibson reveals signature Les Paul Junior for Neil Young guitarist Lukas Nelson

Lukas Nelson has emerged as one of the leading band players of the last ten years – through his work with Promise Of The Real over six albums and four EPs, and their role as Neil Young's frequent backing band. Now Gibson have recognised that status with a USA signature Les Paul Junior electric guitar.

(Image credit: Gibson)

It's inspired by Nelson’s own 1956 Junior - the guitar that has been his main instrument for several years, and although some players not familiar with the Junior may view the iconic one-pickup guitar as limited by design, he doesn't see it that way at all.

“The beauty of this guitar is that it is very versatile with the sound," Nelson explains. "In fact, I can get a lot of different tones just from the P-90 and the way that I attack the strings and through the intonation and the vibrato that I give.” 

(Image credit: Gibson)

“If I hit it lighter, it doesn’t break up as much. If I get into it, it gets a lot of grit and dirt and breaks up. It’s a versatile tone, which I’m pretty grateful for. Frankly, Gibson has been nothing but incredible to us – to me – since I’ve met them. And this guitar has taken me on a long journey. It’s taken me to some amazing places, and I hope that a lot of other people get the same opportunity with their version of my guitar.”

(Image credit: Gibson)

Nelson's signature model took time to evolve - and it did so in the right way, being played out on the road. Several prototypes were tested by him on tour over this past year.

Like his original '56, it's the traditional resonant formula of mahogany slab single cutaway body with mahogany neck. There's a fat 50's-style neck for stability and sustain.

The guitar is finished in a deluxe satin Vintage Sunburst to capture the same vintage patina of Nelson's original. And of course there's a single, dog-ear P-90 pickup. The pickup's Alnico III magnets have been voiced to Lukas Nelson's preferences.

(Image credit: Gibson)

The Junior's single volume and tone controls have gold speed knobs like the '56 original and are hand-wired featuring an orange drop capacitor and original spec 500k vintage audio taper pots. 

The guitar's aged nickel-plated hardware includes Vintage Deluxe strip-style tuners w/ white buttons like the originals but now feature a higher gear ratio for enhanced precision. 

(Image credit: Gibson)

The new Junior's '50s style wraparound bridge provides is made with a subtle compensation contour to improve intonation. 

The Gibson USA Lukas Nelson ’56 Les Paul Junior is available from authorised Gibson dealers priced at $1,299 / $1,599.

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Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.