2014 Gibson Aged Les Paul Dutchburst CC18 Collectors Choice #18
Here's one of the most droolsome guitars we've seen and one of the best relic jobs on a Gibson Les Paul ever done! It's just gorgeous...
The thing about any good vintage guitar is that it has a story to tell. The Dutchburst is no exception. Ordered into Holland in this beautiful dark Sunburst, it was bought by a professional guitarist (we know him only as 'Jan') who played jazz in his trio, mainly on cruise ships. You could say it worked it's passage! So what we have is a replica of a true and honest working instrument, with all the battle scars to prove it.
That said, it was clearly cared for - as any 'tool of the trade' should be - with wear marks coming from hands flying up and down the neck, over the body and around the controls.
The Dutchburst with original serial 0 2430 is about 'use' not 'abuse'; one can almost picture our jazz hero finishing a gig, wiping down the strings, cleaning the neck and polishing the top before placing it respectfully in its case for the night.
And that's one of the things that we like so much about Ol' Dutch: it has not been dulled down as so many VOS models are. Old guitars actually don't go dull. If anything, they get even more shiny where the lacquer remains and has been looked after.
Here, the mildly flamed maple ripples understatedly beneath its moody 'tobacco fading to burnt umber and caramel' finish, while the nutty-coloured mahogany back, sides and neck glow under a patina of simulated age.
It's interesting to assess each dent, ding and wear mark and imagine what went into creating it. What songs did Jan play? We presume it was the jazz/pop repertoire of the day. Did the lack of finish on the lower rim reveal that he played seated? Does the wear on the back of the neck mean he wrapped his thumb over the top? Or played mostly in the jazzy key of Bb?
"If you're a guitarist who gets the whole vintage thing - and we unashamedly do, especially that glorious tobacco hue - a guitar like this is a joy to behold"
Regarding the guitar's nuts and bolts it's as you would expect: twin Custom Buckers (scatterwound as per the original units), a lightweight aluminium stud tailpiece with ABR-1 bridge, aluminium strap buttons, Kluson-style 'green button' two-ring tuners and a stepped-edge black-on-white truss rod cover. The fingerboard is an attractively dark, single slab of Indian rosewood that suits the guitar perfectly. The pickups run through the standard Gibson complement of two volumes and two tones (the words suitably worn off the inserts of the gold top-hat knobs) and the vintage-style 'bumblebee' capacitors complete the picture.
As this is a recreation of a 1960 guitar, it boasts that era's shallow neck profile. While some prefer the meatier '59 shape, or the even beefier '58, others will relish this slinky sliver of mahogany. Several here who usually revel in the bigger neck experience have picked it up and remarked: "Actually this is really comfortable." What is most interesting is how the removal of a couple of millimeters of wood near the heel lets the fretting-hand thumb tuck further in, allowing the fingers slightly better access to the upper frets.
Playing 'blues box one' at the 17th fret is not quite the usual struggle, and may well be enough to turn the staunchest fat-neck fancier's head. Gibson's setup is impeccable, too, aided no doubt by the Plek system that optimizes nut-slot depth, fret profile and string height.
So what about the sound? We've tested many guitars loaded with Custom Buckers before and they never disappoint. The thing about vintage Les Pauls is that they were sweet-toned animals from which you could tickle tones, but then, with the crank of a volume control or the kick of a pedal, push them into beautiful, natural overdrive. While Dutchburst lacks the luxury of 50-odd years of natural 'tone ageing', Gibson's ongoing nips and tucks mean it's a lot closer to an original than those Standard 80s and Elites of 35 years ago. All the clichés apply: expressive, dynamic, woody, powerful-but-not-mushy, bright-but-not- piercing.
And if you've ever watched Gary Moore turning his neck pickup down to two or three and 'whispering' to you through his Les Paul, then flicking to the bridge and cranking it to 10... that's what you have here.
This Dutchburst really is a joy to behold, a thrill to play and exhilarating to hear.