The Gibson Les Paul Custom was designed as the top-of-the-line in the Les Paul Series – and it is elegant, regal and stately beyond all expectations. It has, for example, a crème bound ebony fingerboard that measures 1 11/16th” at the nut, and that fingerboard is inlaid with 10 large mother of pearl rectangles, or blocks. The headstock and the back are each bordered in crème outermost and then four plies of black and white purfling; the top sports 6 plies of black-white and the sides are bordered in single ply. All of its hardware is gold plated including the tulip button striped-back large Kluson tuners, the pickup covers over the twin full-sized humbucking pickups, the tune-o-matic bridge and the stop tailpiece.
This particular example is stamped, sort of like Ms. Prynne, with a number “2” on the back of the headstock, above the serial number, which means that when it left the factory in 1974, there was some minor cosmetic flaw that caused Gibson to provide the retailer to whom they shipped it, a special discount which was passed along to the first owner. We observe some sinkage of the lacquer on the mother of pearl inlaid “Gibson” headstock logo and also on the massive five-piece inlaid headstock decoration. Its black, bell-shaped truss rod cover with the white border is etched (or stamped) “Les Paul” in script and “CUSTOM” in block white capital letters. The pot codes inside the guitar’s cavity read “137-7401” which indicates that this singular series of components was made, by the CTS factory, in January of 1974 and then a bit later the parts were used by Gibson, possibly in the spring or summer of that year. This guitar has a “volute” or hand stop carved behind the nut on the back of the neck. Cherry red is an uncommon finish for a Les Paul Custom and we can sort of understand why, since the red has bled (instead) into the crème binding on quite a few areas of the neck and the body. It happens to have a long (6 ½”) finish check on its pretty little back extending from the center of the cutaway downward.
This example was played (actually) and so it shows normal signs of use, wear and playing time including minor scratches, small nicks, dings, scuffs, scrapes, some areas along the binding where the fingers might feel a slight ledge, this shrinkage being due to exposure (over the past 38 years) to a dry environment. A purist might wish to note that there are disruptions in the binding at the top edge of the headstock where the purfling appears a bit crinkled. The finish alongside the bass side bottom of the fingerboard is likewise disrupted adjacent to the binding. Lastly, exposure to a dry environment has caused the “ears” (that is, the sections of wood added to the headstock to allow it to be 3 ½” wide at the top) to show small innocuous lines in the finish. All things considered, this guitar has survived the decades in rather nice condition, and it is, as expected, a player par excellence.