NEWS: Gibson releases Jimmy Page ‘Number 2’ Les Paul

Ooh, another Gibson Jimmy Page Les Paul, and I still haven’t fulfilled my promise to myself to become rich enough to buy all the previous ones. I’ll get to the Gibson press release in a second, but first let’s reflect on one of the greatest guitars I’ve never played:

This 3-pickup Les Paul Custom with Bigsby was released in 2008 and quickly zoomed to the top of my Want List. Three humbuckers. Gold Bigsby. Specially designed pickup selector switch with extra settings to incorporate the middle pickup. And did I mention the gold Bigsby? Oh well, let me mention it again. Gold Bigsby.

Ok, enough of this japery. Here’s the press release about the new Jimmy Page model. I’ll meet you again after the press release for my commentary.

Every musician knows that late ’50s Sunburst Les Paul Standards are hard enough to come by as it is. Obtaining a pristine and exemplary ‘59 ‘Burst and modifying it for heightened performance and vastly expanded tonal options? Unheard of… unless, of course, you’re Jimmy Page.

That’s exactly what the legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist, perhaps the world’s most iconic Les Paul player, did with his own ‘59 Les Paul Standard, and now, thanks to the extreme efforts of Gibson’s Custom Shop and the intimate cooperation of Jimmy Page himself–the artist’s hallowed “Number Two” Les Paul is available to mere mortals, in the form of the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul.

Produced in strictly limited numbers, with two levels of aging, this guitar captures the look, feel, sound, and versatility of one of the greatest artist-owned Les Pauls of all time, and it is likely to disappear from authorized Gibson dealers in record time.

The 1959 Les Paul that has come to be known as “Number Two” was purchased by Page in 1973 after trying for some time to acquire an exceptional second Les Paul.

This was several years after having acquired his other legendary Les Paul–”Number One”, a ‘59 ‘Burst with shaved-down neck profile and no serial number–from Joe Walsh. “Number Two” was essentially all original when he acquired it. Jimmy did have some modifications done to the neck shape so that it would more nearly match the feel of his “Number One”. The neck is certainly slim but not to such extremes as the now-ultra-slim neck on “Number One”. It had a strong, beautiful sunburst finish with a red element that had faded to a dusky amber-brown, along with a clear serial number dating it to 1959. Page played this Les Paul frequently through his days with Led Zeppelin, and in the early ’80s decided to make it an even more versatile instrument.

Page also added that he wanted to “explore the full range of what the two humbuckers have to offer”. He designed a switching system for coil splitting, series/parallel, and phase-reverse options for both pickups, and employed a skilled electronics technician to devise a working schematic and make his sonic vision a reality.

The result comprised a push/pull pot on each of the guitar’s four standard controls, plus two push-button switches hidden beneath the pickguard, all mounted on a ‘59 Les Paul Standard that is otherwise a superb example of the breed, both in tone and playability.

The Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul was recreated with intense, inch-by-inch examination of Page’s original guitar, inside and out. The process of getting it right involved the production of a number of hand-built prototypes, each of which was checked and critiqued in detail by Page himself. Approval of the final iteration was only offered after the legendary artist had intricately examined and extensively played this last prototype in his London home, after which it was given the thumbs-up, worthy of being the template for the Custom Shop Jimmy Page “Number Two” Les Paul.

Only 325 examples will be produced in total: The first 25 instruments are to be aged by vintage-reproduction master Tom Murphy then inspected, played and hand signed and numbered by Jimmy Page personally. An additional 100 guitars will be given the extensive aging treatment and 200 will be finished to Gibson’s VOS specs.

Got that? Cool, huh? Now, these guitars certainly aren’t cheap – the aged/signed version is $25,882; the aged version is $15,294 and the VOS version is $11,176. Be that as it may, I think it’s really cool that Gibson and Page are teaming up to do these reproductions of his iconic axes, and that they’re doing it right. Would I pay that much for one? Well, no, because once upon a time I didn’t even MAKE $25,882 in a year. But it would have been all too easy to just throw the Page custom wiring into an existing model and be done with it. At least Gibson’s going to the effort to get this stuff exact – even though I might have to trudge down to my local Cash 4 Kidneys to afford one.

What do you think? Can you put the cost aside and geek out over this new axe, or is that hefty price tag just too much of a hurdle?


REVIEW: Taylor T3/B

If you’re a frequent reader of I Heart Guitar you’ve no doubt seen my gushing praise for the Taylor SolidBody Custom, a guitar I dug so much it inspired me to hunt out similarly-voiced pickups for one of my own guitars. I was blown away by the SolidBody’s build quality, playability and above all its unique tone. Taylor’s newest electric model is the T3. The T3 is available in two versions, identical except one has a stop tailpiece and the other has a Bigsby (the B in T3/B). Being a Bigsby geek myself, I was thrilled to get my hands on the Bigbsy version. Either way, the bridge itself is of the roller variety, ensuring frictionless tuning stability whether you’re going for a wild wiggle on the Bigsby or bending a note into the stratosphere and back on the fixed bridge version.

The sapele body is hollowed out like the venerable T5 with the exception of a solid block of wood that runs down the length of the center with the quilted maple top laid directly on top. The neck joint is Taylor’s unique T-Lock system, which uses a single bolt yet secures the neck as well as any set neck instrument I’ve played. Check out the photo below to see just why the T-Lock system provides such stability. The larger frets of the T3 helped me feel more at home with it – I’m used to fat-fretted 80s shredders after all – and the neck shape is comfortable without being too fat or too thin. In fact it’s bound to please Fender fans and those who dig Gibson’s 50s profile, and maybe even a few Ernie Ball Music Man fans.

Electronics consist of a pair of Taylor pickups (the same Style 2 model featured in the SolidBody Standard), a three-way pickup selector, and volume and tone controls, each of which has a secondary feature accessed via push-pull pots. Pull up on the volume control for three coil-split sounds. Pull up on the tone to change the character of the tone pot. More on that later.

So let’s plug the T3/B in. My first thought about playability is that at no point did I feel I had to fight the guitar when playing at full speed, yet when playing at slower tempos I felt like the guitar was with me for every phrase and beat. Some guitar designs aim to get out of your way completely so you can pretty much just move your fingers in the right direction and come off sounding more or less okay. Others challenge you with unfriendly string tension, unforgiving frets and pickups that leave out no detail of your playing, good or bad. The T3/B is right in the middle: it plays quite easily but you have to put some work in to get the most out of it. Upper fret access is a little impeded on the bass strings but you should be able to quite comfortably work your way up to the widdly end of the neck without hindrance.

The setup of the Bigsby was absolutely flawless – the best factory-setup Bigsby system I’ve ever tried. It had the perfect amount of wobble, warble and waver, integrating quite smoothly and naturally with the sustain of the note rather than boldly announcing ‘now he’s reached for the Bigsby!’

Taylor describes the T3 as souping up a semi-hollowbody’s essential sound, and it’s true: the classic semi-hollowbody traits are there. Sustain, that vocal upper midrange, the steely yet compressed treble, and the interactivity which invites you to really explore the dynamic range with picking and phrasing variations… yet there’s something firmer and more self-assured about the T3 compared to other semi-hollowbody designs. The T3’s pickups have the ability to handle everything from soft, delicate strumming to full-on metal. If you don’t believe me, check out the video below, where I use the bridge humbucker for an all-out thrash riff. Granted you might look a little out of place if you show up with this guitar for a gig with your Megadeth tribute band, but sonically it can sure do the job. And these same qualities – tight but full bass, bright treble and solid but not honky midrange – make the T3/B excel at lower-gain tones in blues, country and rock settings. Pop up the volume knob to split the humbuckers into single coils and the tones become brighter, zingier and even better suited to bluesy riffs. Here the sound kind of reminded me of a cleaner, more refined P90 rather than a Strat or Telecaster single coil, or maybe a more robust Rickenbacker or Gretsch single.

In its standard mode the tone control works like a regular tone control for most of its travel, but as you get towards the end of its range it boosts the mids, somewhat emulating the sound of a stationary wah wah pedal. This is a great way to add complexity to a lead tone without having to step on any pedals or change amp channels, and it’s especially effective with higher levels of overdrive or distortion. If you’re into the T3/B for its lighter, cleaner tones, pull the tone control up to engage a second capacitor which mellows out the sound for smooth jazzy voices.

The T3/B is one of those rare guitars that can pretty much be all things to all players: a jazz box, a bluesman’s muse, a rocker’s main squeeze, an indie player’s canvas, or even a shredder’s secret weapon. Like the SolidBody Custom, what I dig most about the T3/B is that it has its own sound – it doesn’t need to sound like any other brands’ instrument – yet that sound has a certain classic quality to it without directly recalling any particular other design.

Here’s my video demo, where I present my favourite sounds from the T3/B. I could have gone on and on if I had the time to do more.

There’s a huge range of tones achievable with the tone control and coil split settings too, and you can hear a lot more of the T3’s variety in this video by Taylor’s Andy Lund:

Thanks to Taylor and Electric Factory.

NEW BOOK DAY: The Story of Paul Bigsby

Yesterday Mrs I Heart Guitar gave me this awesome book, The Story Of Paul Bigsby – Father Of The Modern Electric Solidbody Guitar, by Andy Babiuk. It was a birthday present from my wish list, but sometimes one has to wait a while for stuff to make it from Amazon headquarters to Australia.

I only flipped through the book last night so I’m not ready to publish a review of it, but here’s some info from the publisher:

The Story of Paul Bigsby
Father of the Modern Electric Solidbody Guitar
By Andy Babiuk

“The history of the solidbody electric guitar has been documented many times, and important early innovators include George Beauchamp, Adolph Rickenbacker, Doc Kauffman, Lloyd Loar, and Paul Tutmarc. It’s widely accepted that Les Paul and Leo Fender were responsible for sparking the electric guitar revolution and making invaluable contributions. However, their work might not have been possible without the man who had designed and built the first modern solidbody electric guitar.”

“That man was Paul Adelbert Bigsby. He made the first modern solidbody electric for musician Merle Travis, completing the instrument in May 1948. Nothing like it had been seen before. Every electric guitarist today should be grateful that Paul Bisgby did what he did back then. He changed the look and sound of the guitar forever.”

This untold story of Paul Bigsby is documented for the first time and will also tell how Bigsby, using his engineering mind and problem-solving skills, designed and developed a revolutinary guitar vibrato that is still considered by many as the best type ever built-the Bigsby True Vibrato.

Book features include:
Deluxe, well-illustrated coffee table book with over 300 color and black-and-white photos
Many unpublished photos of over 50 actual Bigsby instrument photos
An audio CD of Paul Bigsby himself, recorded in the late 1950s, telling stories about his business

NEWS: PRS Starla Stoptail

Although I’ve always loved the quality, sound and playability of PRS guitars, I never really thought about buying one just because I’ve been more into other design types. That kinda changed with the Bigsby-loaded Starla, one of the guitars on my “I’ll buy it when I’m rich some day” list. Aand now PRS is releasing a Stoptail version of the Starla for folks who aren’t as into the Bigsby as I am. Everyone wins!

PRS Guitars Debuts the Starla Stoptail Electric Guitar

The Starla Stoptail has the same retro-inspired vibe as its predecessor with one noticeable difference: it features a two-piece, adjustable stoptail bridge that dramatically alters the look and feel of the original Bigsby fitted Starla model while bringing out more of a mid-range woodiness in the tone. Exclusive double-screw Starla Treble and Bass Pickups are currently standard on all models in the Starla series and offer a bright high-end bark that allows these guitars to cut through the mix.

The Starla Stoptail’s solid mahogany body is accented with a 24 ½” scale rosewood fingerboard, a solid mahogany neck and dot inlays or optional bird inlays. Proprietary Alnico magnets incorporated into the pickup design contribute to the guitar’s unique clean and crisp sound but are also capable of rich harmonic overtones when driven.

Other features include a uniquely shaped black plastic pick guard, tone and volume pots and a three-way pickup selector. Color options include Vintage Cherry, Vintage Mahogany, Vintage Orange and Black as well as the new metallic colors including Gold Sparkle, Silver Sparkle and the new metallic Hot Hues colors Twilight, Catalina Dream, and Sinful Cinnamon. Starla Stoptail models are currently shipping to authorized PRS dealers around the world.

“The Starla is inspiring to customers and to PRS employees. We wanted to open the door to players who might shy away from the tremolo version,” said PRS Sales Manager Rick Hodgson.

The Starla model featuring the Bigsby tremolo bridge was originally unveiled as part of the Experience PRS 2008 open house event. Similar in spirit to the double cutaway Mira model introduced at Experience PRS 2007, the single cutaway Starla and Starla Stoptail have many vintage themed appointments.

NEWS: PRS releases new metallic DuPont Hot Hues finishes

Here’s a press release from Paul Reed Smith. Please note that PRS sales team member Rick Hodgson is no relation to me, unless he gives out free PRS Starlas at Christmas. Hehe.

PRS Guitars Releases New Metallic Finishes Featuring DuPont Hot Hues
May 22, 2009

Paul Reed Smith Guitars is once again teaming up with long-time partner DuPont and their Hot Hues™ palette of colors to present brilliant new metallic guitar offerings. “Twilight,” “Catalina Dream,” and “Sinful Cinnamon” make up the roster of new color options offered.

PRS Guitars has been using DuPont paints for more than ten years and has been using Hot Hues™ paint since its inception. Over the span of this partnership, the prominent guitar manufacturer has joined DuPont at two SEMA shows, providing guitars finished in Hot Hues™ colors for the DuPont booth display, and provided a custom guitar for The Jeff Gordon Foundation. This guitar, signed by Jeff Gordon, Chip Foose, and Carlos Santana, was finished in the same paint as the Hot Hues “Heat Wave and Flames” No. 24 DuPont racecar driven by Gordon. PRS also chose the Hot Hues™ line to reintroduce the CE Alder Bolt-on guitar in 2008 with exceptional results.

“We are very proud of our relationship with Paul Reed Smith Guitars and we’re very pleased that they have chosen our Hot Hues Custom Finishes for their new line of guitars. DuPont is a company powered by Science and Innovation and that is a great fit with the innovative spirit of PRS Guitars,” says Fred Wissemann, Brand Manager for DuPont Refinish and Hot Hues Custom Finishes.

The most recent application of the Hot Hues™ line will appear on some of PRS’ newest guitar models: the Mira and the Starla. Rick Hodgson of the PRS Sales Team said, “We are excited to offer these unique colors. They are brand new for us, and we think they will give these already retro-inspired guitars a customized, Hot Rod vibe.” These guitars began shipping to dealers in mid-April.

“DuPont Hot Hues products offer the most user friendly metallic paint system we have tried,” says Steve Sears, Topcoat Finish Manager of PRS Guitars. “The ease of application, quality of coverage and variety of colors make Hot Hues™ an astounding product line.”

Paul Reed Smith Guitars is a leading manufacturer of high-quality instruments in Stevensville, Maryland and has been providing some of the world’s most renowned guitarists with instruments since 1985. More than 260 highly skilled craftspeople produce more than 70 guitars each day for worldwide distribution. PRS Acoustics and PRS Amps were introduced as new product lines in 2009 with support from renowned artists Ricky Skaggs and Derek Trucks. Carlos Santana, Linkin Park, Chris Henderson of 3 Doors Down and Mark Tremonti of Creed are also among the artists currently playing PRS guitars.

NEWS: Limited Edition Gibson Les Paul Florentine with Bigsby

Yowza, yowza, yowza. Just saw this press release over at the very extremely excellent Guitarsite. It combines two of my favourite things: Bigbsy tremolos and guitars with points so sharp you can use them to bring down a rampaging wildebeast.

The new limited edition Les Paul Florentine with Bigsby Tailpiece

Using Gibson’s Les Paul Standard as its base design, the new 2009 Limited Run Series Les Paul Florentine with Bigsby Tailpiece combines the Les Paul’s iconic form with avant-garde features that keep it one step ahead of everything else. The standard Les Paul cutaway gives way to the wider and deeper Florentine Cutaway.

First used in 1902 on Gibson’s O-style guitars, and traditionally found on legendary Gibson models such as the Byrdland, the ES-175 and the ES-295, the Florentine Cutaway comfortably enhances your reach to the higher register of notes. Like all the guitars from the Limited Run Series, only 350 of these unique Les Pauls will be produced and distributed. Each one comes with a black Gibson hardshell case and a special Limited Run Series certificate of authenticity.

The Les Paul Florentine’s most prominent feature is its chrome Bigsby vibrato tailpiece. Essentially the same design as when it was introduced in the mid 1940s, the Bigsby vibrato tailpiece model B7 allows you to bend the pitch of notes or entire chords for vintage-style vibrato. It has been a fixture on many Gibsons, and was named after its late inventor, Paul A. Bigsby, who sold his Bigsby Guitar company to former Gibson President Ted McCarty in 1966. This classic piece of guitar hardware performs flawlessly thanks to several added enhancements — including a white graphite nut for smooth string action, a set of locking Grover tuners to help keep the strings in tune, and a Schaller roller bridge to help the strings return to the original tuning after using the Bigsby vibrato.

The BurstBucker Pro features an Alnico V magnet (instead of the Alnico II), which offers slightly higher output and allows preamps to be driven a little harder to achieve a more natural break-up. Like all BurstBuckers, the BurstBucker Pro has asymmetrical coils — true to the original PAFs — which supply a more open sound. The BurstBucker Pro Neck is wound slightly less than the original PAFs, while the BurstBucker Pro Bridge is slightly overwound for increased output. The BurstBucker Pro pickups are also wax potted to allow loud volume pressures with minimal feedback.

The rest of the Les Paul Florentine with Bigsby Tailpiece is a traditional Les Paul. The body consists of a solid mahogany back topped by a AA-grade maple top with single-ply antique crème binding. The Florentine also sports the traditional Vintage Sunburst finish, and the neck is the standard Les Paul mahogany neck with a rounded profile and rosewood fingerboard. Other unique appointments include the new Quick-Connect control pocket assembly, which keeps your guitar cord securely connected to the guitar, and a set of Dunlop locking strap pins.

For more information, please visit

CLICK HERE to buy the Gibson Limited Run Les Paul Florentine with Bigsby Electric Guitar Vintage Sunburst from Guitar Center for $2,646.

NEWS: Guest post on Jemsite

I’ve just written another guest post for the Jemsite Community Blog. This post is about my awesome Ibanez Talman, named Candy. I’ve talked about Candy a little bit on I Heart Guitar but not in nearly as much depth as this new Jemsite article. Check it out here.

You can also see my first guest post on the Jemsite blog here.

NEWS: Gold Bigsby Vibramate mounting kit

The first whammy bar I was aware of was the Bigsby, when I was about 8, and it took me quite a few years to get one of my own (on an Ibanez Talman) but I love it to bits. I have dreams of an army of Bigsby-loaded Telecasters and Les Pauls with P90s. And this here solution is ideal for anyone who wants to do the latter, in snazzy gold. Come to think of it, one of these on a 3-humbucker Les Paul Custom would be a lot cheaper than buying the Jimmy Page model …

Vibramate Bigsby Mounting Kit now Available in Gold

Now you can get the new Vibramate mounting kit for Bigsby Vibratos in a Gold Anodized finish. The Vibramate V5 Model Quick Mount Kit is designed for installing a Bigsby B5 “Original” Vibrato on most traditional style guitars that have a Tune-a-Matic type bridge and a Stop-Tailpiece. The kit installs in minutes with the included hardware and eliminates the need for drilling permanent holes in your instrument. Converting back to stock is just as simple.

Vibramate automatically positions the Bigsby Vibrato in the proper orientation without any special tools or layout.
Vibramate comes with felt-pads for a soft touch to the top of your guitar.
Vibramate includes both Standard and Metric threaded mounting hardware for installation on either US or Import model guitars.
Vibramate fits most guitars with a Tune-a-Matic type bridge and a standard Stop-Tailpiece.
Vibramate installs in minutes with No Drilling Required
Vibramate is Made in the USA with Aircraft Grade Aluminum
Vibramate V5 Gold Retail Price: $79.95
(Bigsby Vibrato sold separately)

For more information, visit their web site at