Woody's (Original-Series) Les Paul Recording guitar page


Offered in three editions: 
The First Edition
The Second Edition and
The 2014 Second Second Edition
(see below for additional on this)

You can play what everyone else plays -- any shiny new ho-hum Les Paul Custom off the shelf or 
perhaps a custom Les Paul stamped out by a 21st century computer-based program. 

Remember, though,  this hand-made jewel is no longer in production.
Have you ever run your hands over soft velvet?  
That's what it's like to play this instrument.

We have seen the collector value of the original-series LPR climb significantly over the past few years.

Originally built in the 1970s by Gibson before they abandoned their roots in Kalamazoo, Michigan
those built in that era had true old-world Gibson craftsmanship throughout.

By the way - in 1984 Gibson left the city of it's birth
and moved their business from Kalamazoo, Michigan to Nashville, Tennessee.
Some of the original craftsmen stayed right in the same 1917-era building 
at 225 Parsons Street and continued building hand-made "custom shop quality" guitars.
A significant collection of the original guitar-making equipment was bought 
by those luthiers from Gibson when it moved away. 
Most of those vintage tools are still in use today.
Those guitars, known as
The Heritage of Kalamazoo, are some of the best in the business.
Heritage employs, trains and mentors some of the finest luthiers anywhere.

The original
Les Paul Recording

A cherished tool

Made With Pride In 
Kalamazoo, Michigan   USA

To those who claim the LPR is not truly a Les Paul I would say "hogwash" and cite that, 
not only was the Recording a Les Paul creation, 
but it is the model he personally preferred for his own use. 
In some ways it really is the "preferred" Les Paul as he continued to play 
his own Les Paul Recording model guitar at New York's Iridium Jazz Club 
up to the time of his death in 2009 at the age of 94 
(see pictures below) .

The Les Paul Recording (LPR), apparently manufactured between 1971 and 1980, 
came in two versions (1971 through 1977) 
and the even rarer second edition (1977 through 1980).

In early 2014, Gibson reintroduced the LPR in limited numbers.
Retailers apparently sold out fairly quickly of what will likely become, in short order, a new collectable.
It even came with an AMERICAN-MADE Bigsby.
Had I not owned an original I believe I would have made it a priority to buy the 2014-edition.
While not an Exact Copy it appeared to be a well-thought-out updated release.
In my humble opinion, Gibson earned some back-pats on this one.

Either way - The LPR is back into the "no longer in production" mode.

1971- 1977 LPR 
First Edition
1978-1980 LPR 
Second Edition
2014 Limited Edition LPR ii 
The Second Second Edition
In 2014 the Sweetwater Music Company ran this photo of the Gibson Les Paul Recording ii


From a now defunct web page at   http://www.modernguitars.com/archives/000818.html 
Q: Les Paul guitars have been around since 1952, with countless sold -- 
if you could have only one, which one would you choose?

Les: The one I'm playing. 
It happens to be a Les Paul Recording and it's not the most popular one of the Les Paul line for many reasons. 
But that particular guitar is the type of guitar that gives me the sound that I want without any equalization and all the problems you have with all the other guitars 
-- with all the voodoo stuff on them. 
I don't have any of that. 
I just go right into the port and do my thing and we just make the album. 
There's no equalization at all. Nothing.

It's a 1971, a brown one. 
I also have a black one that was one of the first prototypes made of what they call the recording guitar due to its low impedance device. 
The black one's so good that I'm afraid to take it down to the club because if I leave it on that stool it would be gone in a minute.


Some find the extra switches intimidating but I find them to be tools, available to enhance musical range and creativity.

The Recording was the most expensive Les Paul model shown in the 1972 Gibson catalog ($675 plus $90 for the case) as compared to the cheaper Les Paul Custom ($615.00 plus $80 for the case) or the Les Paul Deluxe ($495 plus $80 for the case).

Notice that the headstock carries the famous Gibson split diamond traditionally reserved for Gibson's high end instruments.

Large headstock allows for long sustain  Click on this for a closer look at the original pricing

Sales flyer for Gibson Les Paul Recording



There is some information about the era's 
Gibson Triumph Bass 
there as well

Click on a picture to enlarge it for a closer view


Les Paul Recording custom Low-Impedance pickups

These guitars are comparatively rare - many musicians didn't understand the low-impedance pickups nor that the Recording had a built-in Hi/Lo switchable impedance transformer. 

Notice that when you see Les Paul playing a "Gibson Les Paul" series guitar on You Tube (see below), most of the time it's either a Les Paul Recording or some customized project guitar also with the Low-Impedance Pickups.

According to David Schwab:
The passive (non-active) LPR pickups were designed by Les Paul
were based on units that Les himself had made from the coils of an electric clock!
Gibson always made their own pickups, even with the Bill Lawrence designed stuff in the 70s guitars like the L6-S, S1, etc.
The LP Lo-Z pickups use 28 gauge wire, and have about 600 turns on each coil 
(its a stacked humbucker).


These dual-purpose pickups were really slick: 

* When recording in a studio (plugged into the sound board), the low-impedance mode gave much cleaner tracks (less noise and hum) and broader frequency bandwidth (a flat line frequency performance output that the mixing board operator could tweak as desired).

* During live performances, the custom designed "Les Paul Low-Hi Impedance Tonal Circuitry" was switched to high impedance, allowing the guitar to be played directly through standard guitar amplifiers.   


More pickup related information might be found at: 

Hi Woody,
Heres something interesting I just found here:
I thought maybe it was time for me to get in touch with you about some of the low impedance stuff. 
My name is Charles Tracy Burge, I am the guitar designer who designed all that new stuff that came out of Gibson from the mid seventies to the early eighties.
I am personal friends with Les Paul, Les still is building prototype pickups and a while back he asked me about covers for the LP Recording's/Personal's, etc. When Gibson moved, they left the mold for these at the mold shop and it got tossed. This mold was originally made to run on the pre-WW2 injection molding machines and would NOT work on the newer machines. I got this information first hand from the two guys who went to the mold shop at the time and collected the molds that were useable. So I had a mold maker make a new mold to injection mold these covers, not cheap !  I have so far just run off a little over 300 of them. They have plain flat tops (NO script Gibson), they have the same brass threaded inserts molded in to the feet. They are black. I sent some samples to Les, he likes them, and now I am milling out some bobbins like the originals, from Les measuring an old bobbin he has.
So you can clearly see that Gibson made those pickups in house.

All of their pickups have been active.
They use standard high impedance coils wired to op amp circuits. The LP recording pickups are passive.
The pickups in the LP recording guitars were based on the units that Les himself had in the log that were made from the coils of an electric clock!
Gibson always made their own pickups, even with the Bill Lawrence designed stuff in the 70s guitars like the L6-S, S1, etc.
Cheers   David

Shure A95U XLRM/Lo-Z - Hi-Z 1/4" Female/Male Transformer

During 2010 there has been much discussion about always leaving the LPR switched to low impedance and running it through a low-to-high impedance transformer such as a Shure A95U XLRM/Lo-Z - Hi-Z 1/4" Female/Male Transformer.
Apparently the enhanced musical range and tonal responses is significant.
These transformers are available off the Internet from various sources, including eBay.
Although, to date, I have yet personally tried it, those that have seem to be really pumped about it.

Shure A95U XLRM/Lo-Z - Hi-Z 1/4" Female/Male Transformer

Click on a picture to enlarge it for a closer view


The Paul Bigsby vibrato was a vintage addition long ago.

Les Paul signed this guitar years before his death in 2009

The necks were three piece laminated Mahogany - quarter sawn with 
bound ebony rosewood fingerboards offering a classic LP feel. 
They had mother-of-pearl block inlays.

   1973 Gibson Les Paul Recording 1973 Gibson Les Paul Recording 1973 Gibson Les Paul Recording

Click on a picture to enlarge it for a closer view


Guitars between 1968 and 1973 apparently did not have a dotted "i" in the Gibson logo. 

Large headstock allows for long sustain
With the peghead as large as it is (standard LP), 
the guitar maintains a long sustain when required 
(the larger the headstock the longer the sustain). 

The Gibson ads (see below) said that the original tuners were Schaller with sealed gears and winged grips
(although there is now some indication that sometimes other brand tuners were used)

According to a now defunct webpage that used to be at http://www.guitarmag.com/issues/gs9711/questions.html - The VOLUTE is that little "hump" or "heel" found behind the headstock on many Gibson guitars manufactured after 1969 and up to 1981. The volute was added to certain Gibson models, beginning in early '70, in order to strengthen the pitch point of the headstock. That particular spot on the neck had always been a structural weak point, especially if the guitar were to fall or take a shot to the headstock. By 1974, all Gibson models sported the new "heel," but aesthetically, that feature was unpopular, so by '81 it was removed entirely from the guitar's design. Although most of Gibson's standard production models made during that time included a volute, many of Gibson's vintage reissues and custom shop guitars released during those years did not.

1973 Gibson Les Paul Recording - The VOLUTE 1973 Gibson Les Paul Recording - The VOLUTE 1973 Gibson Les Paul Recording - NOTE: No "Made In USA" stamp!

Gibson claims that all guitars built after 1970 had the words "Made in USA" stamped on the back of the peg head. 
In my case, this unit does not bear that mark. 
Apparently it did occur that the factory workers missed this step from time-to-time.

The 1970s LPR series guitars had a body slightly larger and heavier than a conventional Les Paul meaning that a standard LP case is too small for it.

Woods used in the construction of these guitars were some of the best available during production.  
LPRs are heavier than most other Les Paul models.
Gibson built the Les Paul Recording using fine-grained clear British Honduras Mahogany wood with a center cross band. 
Models were also available in a Walnut finish between 1970 and 1973, also in 1979.
In the second LPR version, the guitar could also be ordered in sunburst, brown, and black. 
In 1979 the LPR could be ordered with a white finish.
Customization orders were accepted.

The 2014 LPRii apparently had a reduced weight body.


In the Recording, Gibson built-in the required transformer and added the Hi/Lo impedance switch making it a good all around musical tool
It may be possible to further estimate the year of your guitar by looking at the bottom of the controls (volume, tone, etc.). In the one pictured here, the numbers read: 70-982 and 1377314. Using the longer number (1377314), the inference is that this part was made during the 14th week on 1973. The "137" indicates the manufacturer of the potentiometer (aka: "pot"). This, along with the guitar's serial number, infer it is indeed a 1973 Gibson Les Paul Recording. CLICK HERE to read more about this issue.

Click on a picture to enlarge it for a closer view

1973 Gibson Les Paul Recording - You can see the "Sandwich Board" construction along the outside wood 1973 Gibson Les Paul Recording - The Electronics Les Paul Recording - Amplifier Jack
Les Paul Recording - Front/Rear pickup switch Les Paul Recording - Three position tone switch Les Paul Recording - Three position tone switch and phase circuitry
Les Paul Recording - Phase circuitry Les Paul Recording - Hi/Lo and Phase switches Les Paul Recording - Bass
Les Paul Recording - Treble Les Paul Recording - Decade Switch Les Paul Recording - Top volume

Click on a picture to enlarge it for a closer view

Below are pictures Woody took showing Les Paul (onstage with his "Trio" and guest musician John Sebastian) playing a Monday evening show (December 8, 2003) using his Les Paul Recording. Plugged directly into the sound board, the low-impedance pickups give a broader tonal response. Les Paul died in August, 2009 at the age of 94 and continued to prefer his LPR for live performances right up to the end.

CLICK TO ENLARGE - Here Les Paul plays his LP Recording onstage.

Guitarist LES PAUL

CLICK TO ENLARGE - John "Bucky" Pizzarelli appears to be playing a Benedetto "Manhattan 7" seven-string guitar.


CLICK TO ENLARGE - Here Frank Vignola appears to be playing a Benedetto "La Venezia" archtop guitar






CLICK TO ENLARGE - Guest guitarist JOHN SEBASTIAN plays his top end Heritage "Golden Eagle" guitar

(playing his Heritage guitar)

Although not playing the Iridium the night the above photos were taken was commonly Lou Paullo.
( http://www.loupallo.com )

So for you non-believer's... 
what model of Gibson Les Paul guitar was Les Paul himself playing 
live on stage (above) and for his 2008 AARP Magazine press shoot ? 

Click on a picture to enlarge it for a closer view
On most every Monday night for many years Les Paul 
had played at a New York jazz club called the Iridium  
where he signed the back of my guitar some time ago between sets 
(only the front of my guitar was refinished... the back, sides, and neck are all original walnut)

Below left and center: The back of Woody's Les Paul-signed LPR

He would sign guitars between sets when playing at the Iridium Jazz Club (New York City).

Below right: Les Paul signing (what else?) a Les Paul Recording guitar. 

1973 Gibson Les Paul Recording - Signed on the back by Les Paul

    (Above: Picture by MIKE at Celebrity Gems of NJ)


The switches allow for built-in special effects. This guitar can emulate various guitars from a standard LP to even a Fender Strat. 

Besides the Recording model, Gibson offered the Les Paul Personal (available 1969-1972), the Les Paul Professional (available 1969 through 1971) and the Les Paul Signature (available 1973 through 1978)  that were also equipped with the low-impedance pickups.

The "Personal" and "Professional" guitars did not have internal impedance matching circuits and did not work well when directly plugged into most standard high-impedance guitar amplifiers. A special inline impedance-conversion transformer was sold to make the adjustment (they were designed to plug directly into a studio sound board). The Hi/Lo conversion circuitry was added into the Recording model allowing studio or live stage use.

The following was found at: http://www.gibson.com/downloads/bluebook/GibsonElectrics.pdf 

LES PAUL Personal - single cutaway multi-bound mahogany body, carved top, raised bound pickguard, mahogany neck, 22 fret bound ebony fingerboard with pearl block inlay, tune-o-matic bridge/stop tailpiece, multi-bound blackface peghead with pearl diamond/logo inlay, 3 per side tuners with plastic buttons, gold hardware, 2 low impedance pickups, mic volume control on upper bass bout, volume/decade/treble/bass controls, two 3 position switches, phase slide switch. Available in Walnut finish. Mfd. 1969 to 1971.

LES PAUL Professional - single cutaway bound mahogany body, raised black pickguard, mahogany neck, 22 fret rosewood fingerboard with pearl trapezoid inlay, tune-o-matic bridge/stop tailpiece, blackface peghead with pearl logo inlay, 3 per side tuners, nickel hardware, 2 low impedance pickups, volume/decade/treble/bass controls, two 3 position switches, phase slide switch. Available in Walnut finish. Mfd. 1969 to 1971.

LES PAUL Recording - single cutaway bound mahogany body, carved top, raised multi-layer pickguard, mahogany neck, 22 fret bound rosewood fingerboard with pearl block inlay, tune-o-matic bridge/stop tailpiece, multi-bound peghead with pearl split diamond/logo inlay, 2 covered low impedance pickups, "Gibson" formed on pickup covers, volume/decade/treble/bass controls, two 3 position switches, impedance/phase slide switches, built-in transformer. Available in Walnut finish. Mfd. 1971 to 1980.

LES PAUL SIGNATURE - offset double cutaway, arched maple top, raised cream pickguard, f-holes, maple back/sides, mahogany neck, 22 fret bound rosewood fingerboard with pearl trapezoid inlay, tune-o-matic bridge/stop tailpiece, blackface peghead with pearl logo inlay, 3 per side tuners with plastic buttons, chrome hardware, 2 low impedance humbucker pickups, plastic pickup covers with stamped logo, volume/tone control, 3 position/phase/level switches. Available in Gold Top and Sunburst finishes. Mfd. 1973 to 1978.

According to: http://www.provide.net/~cfh/gibson.html

Also this web page author says:

Serial Numbers, early to mid 1970's.

All models, stamped in back top of headstock. "MADE IN U.S.A." stamped below the serial number in back top of peghead, in the same size type, and on two lines with "U.S.A." below the "MADE IN":

Number          Year
------          ----
6 digits + A    1970
000000's        1973
100000's        1970-1975
200000's        1973-1975   <-- Woody's 1973 SN: 203710 confirmed by Pot codes
300000's        1974-1975
400000's        1974-1975
500000's        1974-1975
600000's        1970-1972, 1974-1975
700000's        1970-1972
800000's        1973-1975
900000's        1970-1972
A + 6 digits    1973-1975
B + 6 digits    1974-1975
C + 6 digits    1974-1975
D + 6 digits    1974-1975
E + 6 digits    1974-1975
F + 6 digits    1974-1975

Click on a picture to enlarge it for a closer view

Factory "seconds"

Any time factories produce products, there are times when things just don't go as planned. 
Sometimes when the US Mint goofs up on making a coin, collectors pay lots of money to have the screw ups. Well, the Gibson luthiers sometimes made mistakes, too. 
When instruments weren't quite "up-to-snuff" they would stamp a number 2 on the rear of the headstock. 
This "2" indicated there was something just not up to spec in that product and it would be sold as a "second." 
A small surface or finish imperfection (probably not even noticeable to the average person) could cause this event to occur.
If the problem was not terribly noticeable, I suspect the current value of the guitar should not be terribly impacted.
To the left is a picture showing the back of a headstock on a guitar originally sold as a factory second. Apparently there were some minor "swirls" in the finish on the back of the guitar this was on (therefore, not noticeable during any performance). 

One concluding footnote

The 1/4-inch amplifier jack was originally mounted on the plastic control cover. 
As it ages it is getting fragile and, on many guitars, is cracking when the cord gets accidentally stuck on something and pulls the cable.
Many people have taken to adding a new 1/4-inch jack in the side (wood) in the same position where current model Les Paul's have their jacks.
Although a modification to the original construction, it is unobtrusive and, if anything, should ultimately add to the value of the guitar over the decades to come.
If you don't want to modify the guitar then you really should always run the cord around your strap to assure that any sudden strain on the cable doesn't crack your plastic.  
Train your grandkids that inherit it, too, as eventually these control plates may be impossible to get.

Below:  Woody's guitar was showing signs of cracks and deterioration around the jack.
1973 Gibson Les Paul Recording - Aging plastic plates are cracking under strain Note the crack in the plastic - This is a common but preventable problem - Be careful!

Below:  In late 2012 Woody added the jack modification. No regrets.
The original jack remains in place although it is electrically disconnected to discourage it's attempted use.

In late 2012, Woody added the external jack modification. No regrets.

In  2010, LPR player Steve Jackson of Bordeaux, France located a Connecticut-based company 
that makes a selection of replacement LPR Control Plates. 
As of the end of 2012, control plates are available for both the LPR and the era Triumph Bass.
CLICK HERE to see information on available options.
Click on the picture below to enlarge it.

LPR Control Plate replacements offered by Connecticut-based Little Brook Engraving Company

LITTLE BROOK ENGRAVING COMPANY   http://www.littlebrookengraving.com 
in Connecticut 


Excellent general info about vintage Gibsons

The Les Paul Recording Guitar Users Forum


Info about Orville H. Gibson

Led-Zeppelin's Jimmy Page plays an LPR 






NOTE that when you see Les Paul playing a "Gibson Les Paul" series guitar on You Tube, most of the time it's either a Les Paul Recording or some customized project with the Low-Impedance Pickups.

203710  1973    9/00 eB 700


Contact WOODY for questions or comments about this page via  email. 
All personal comments, pictures copyright 1996-2014 - R. Linwood (4L RANCH)

Since 16 Nov 2009:

free hit counters