2009 Gibson Custom Jeff Beck 1954 Les Paul Oxblood VOS
Many great off-the-shelf electric guitars have had their reputations elevated by the legendary artists who have played them. Once in a while, however, a heavily modified instrument is used to make such groundbreaking music that the erstwhile “one-off” becomes iconic in and of itself. The best known and most revered of these is arguably Gibson Jeff Beck’s Oxblood Les Paul from the VOS (Vintage Original Spec) series, a high end guitar from the heart of tone history. Now, Gibson Custom unveils the most accurate re-creation of the Jeff Beck Oxblood Les Paul ever produced, from its Oxblood finish to the custom-tailored neck profile modeled precisely from Beck’s original guitar to the blistering and powerful sounds produced by Gibson’s legendary BurstBucker humbucking pickups.
The limited run of 100 guitars will be prepared with Gibson Custom’s pioneering VOS finish, Each one also comes with a specially produced Gibson Custom case, a custom care kit and a certificate of authenticity.
British guitarist Jeff Beck made a big name for himself right from the start. After stepping into very big shoes in The Yardbirds as Eric Clapton’s replacement, he left to form The Jeff Beck Group with Ron Wood and Rod Stewart in 1967, all before the age of 25. Moving into the 1970s, Beck began forging his reputation as a solo artist—and one of the hottest guitarists of his generation—with a Gibson Les Paul as his leading instrument of choice. And like so many legendary guitars, the Gibson Les Paul in question made its way into Beck’s hands not through an endorsement deal, or a gift from the manufacturer, but through the lucky happenstance of some downtime being killed with a little browsing at a local music shop. While recording in Memphis, Beck paid a visit to the popular Strings and Things guitar store to check out the stock. Beck’s attention was immediately drawn to a 1954 Gibson Les Paul (occasionally reported to be an early 1955 model), which was to receive some very specific modifications.
Body & Neck
The first request was to replace the guitar’s original Goldtop finish with a deep chocolate-brown color that turned out to exhibit some oxblood tints in certain light. Other mods to the Jeff Beck 1954 Oxblood included the installation of full-size humbucking pickups in place of the original P-90s, altering the full and rounded early ’50s neck shape to a slightly thinner profile, and swapping the original tuners for modern replacements. Legend has it that the customer didn’t like the results… but Jeff Beck did. He purchased the modified Les Paul from Strings and Things and played it extensively on the road and in the studio. It would go on to be etched into the minds of millions as Beck’s guitar as seen on his milestone 1975 album, Blow By Blow. A tone legend was born.
The Jeff Beck Les Paul is a detail-precise reissue, from the one-piece light mahogany back to the accurately arched, carved maple top to the light aluminum wraparound bridge to the one-piece Beck-profile mahogany neck with long-tenon neck joint. The Gibson guitar exudes the vibe of the original, with a feel, sound, and finish match that pay homage to Beck’s original modified Les Paul.
- Carved maple top
- Mahogany back
- Single-ply cream binding on top
- VOS finish
- 1-piece set mahogany ’50s rounded profile
- 19th fret neck join
- 22-fret rosewood fingerboard
- 24-3/4″ scale length
- 1-11/16″ nut width
- Aged acrylic trapezoid fretboard inlays
Hardware & Electronics
Gibson’s BurstBucker 2 and BurstBucker 3 (neck and bridge) are among the most accurate vintage “PAF” reproductions that Gibson has ever conceived, right down to the irregular windings from coil to coil and their lack of potting, two ingredients that contribute to an authentic late-’50s and early ’60s humbucker tone. This guitar spoke to Jeff Beck throughout the ’70s, and it defined his throaty, emotive tone and encouraged his extreme use of sustain and harmonic feedback. Along the way it also helped define the cornerstone sound of the Gibson Les Paul in the hands of a superlative artist.
- Aged nickel hardware One-piece aluminum wraparound stopbar tailpiece
- Schaller tuners
- BurstBucker 2 (neck) BurstBucker 3 (bridge)
- Two volume, Two tone, 3-way toggle pickup selector
Applying a nitrocellulose finish is one of the most labor-intensive elements of the guitar-making process. A properly applied nitro finish requires many hours, several evenly applied coats, and an exorbitant amount of drying time. This time-tested method has been employed ever since the first Gibson guitar was swathed with lacquer back in 1894. Why? For starters, a nitro finish dries to a much thinner coat than a polyurethane finish, which means there is less interference with the natural vibration of the instrument, allowing for a purer tone. A nitro finish is also a softer finish, which makes it easily repairable. You can touch up a scratch or ding on a nitro finish, but you can’t do the same on a poly finish. In addition, a nitro finish is very porous in nature, and actually gets thinner over time. It does not seal wood in an airtight shell—as a poly finish does—and allows the wood to breathe and age properly.
All VOS (Vintage Original Spec) series Gibson guitars use a proprietary process that includes unique steps for staining, wet-sanding, and hand-rubbing; imparting the look of a well cared-for 40-year-old instrument. The result is a remarkable patina that will delight even the most discriminating enthusiast.