IN PRAISE OF: Gibson Les Paul Junior

Posted May 27, 2013 at 7:00am
Read more about IN PRAISE OF: Gibson Les Paul Junior at MusicRadar.com

There's no way Gibson Guitars could have known it was creating future classics in the 1950s.

It was just catering to an increasing demand for solid-bodied electric guitars with its various Les Paul models. But, when the company decided to snag young and less well-heeled customers with the budget
Les Paul Junior model, it quietly created a timeless and now highly sought-after guitar.

At the drawing-board stage, the premise of the new Les Paul Junior model was brilliantly simple: Gibson just removed all the stuff that made a regular Les Paul expensive. There was no carved maple top on the mahogany body. There was one P-90 pickup instead of two – which also cut down the cost of the pots, wiring and knobs. There was no fancy body or neck binding, either.

What was left was a slab-bodied, single- cutaway rock machine with a fat neck and one of the greatest-sounding pickups ever created. Sure, it was noisy – classic P-90s hum like hell – but something magical happens when you run a mahogany-bodied guitar with a P-90 pup through a great valve amp. The tone cuts through a mix like no other guitar, except maybe a Telecaster.

The single-cut Junior was unveiled in 1954, while the two-pickup Special was launched a year later. The Junior body shape later switched to a twin-cutaway format in mid-1958 before being rebooted in the SG profile in 1961. However, it took the Les Paul Junior – and its more well-endowed brother, the Special – years to achieve legend status. In the meantime, guitarists such as New York Doll Johnny Thunders, who played a double-cut Junior, and many of his fellow punks picked up 50s and 60s Juniors and Specials for next to nothing.

The ones that didn't end up trashed are now worth upwards of £5,000. Probably the highest-profile user of Gibson Les Paul Juniors these days is Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. After using his vintage Junior, 'Floyd', on the American Idiot album and subsequent world tour, the guitarist was rewarded with his own Gibson signature model. Launched in 2007, Billie Joe's axe was available in Vintage Sunburst, White and Ebony finishes, but more importantly, it had that unmistakable Junior roar – and that's something every guitarist should experience.

Gibson Les Paul Junior Timeline

1954

Gibson unvieils the now classic Les Paul Junior

1958

The Junior is relaunched as a double-cutaway guitar

1961

The body shape shifts again to the new SG format

2007

Billie Joe Armstrong gets his own signature LP Junior

Read more about

Add a Comment
0 Comments

Similar Guitar News

‘World On Fire’: Slash Discusses New Solo Album, Gibson Les Pauls and Guns N’ Roses (9/2/2014)
Over the course of his illustrious career—one that includes time in Guns N’ Roses, Slash’s Snakepit and Velvet Revolver—Slash has amassed album sales of more than 100 million, garnered a Grammy (to go with his seven nominations) and was recently...
Buckcherry Guitarist Keith Nelson Talks New EP, 'F---,' and His Gibson Collector’s Choice Les Paul (8/12/2014)
Never a band to play by the rules, Buckcherry have made a career out of pushing the boundaries — and buttons — of conventional rock while doing things their own way. It’s a strategy that has paid off with successful studio albums and singles ove...
Gig Review: Richie Sambora Pays Tribute to Les Paul at the Iridium (7/23/2014)
Back in the late Eighties, Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora was considered to be one of the true guitar heroes of the day. While less flashy than, say, Jake E. Lee or George Lynch, Sambo was generally acknowledged to be one of rock’s most tasteful and ...
Richie Sambora Honors Les Paul with Three Special Live Shows at New York's Iridium (7/18/2014)
While in Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora saw a million faces and rocked them all. But nothing will quite compare to three very intimate live performances he has planned to mark the anniversary of the birth of the great Les Paul, who would’ve...
Gibson unleashes a pair of new Flying Vs (6/25/2014)
Read more about Gibson unleashes a pair of new Flying Vs at MusicRadar.com Gibson has launched two new Flying V models, the Flying V History and the Flying V 120.The Flying V History ($1,999) has been launched as part of Gibson's 120th anniversa...
Led Vault: Jimmy Page Talks First Three Led Zeppelin Albums, Gibson and Harmony Guitars and More (6/11/2014)
This is an excerpt from the July 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus features on Ace Frehley, Albert Lee, "The Album that Changed My Life," the history of Taylor Guitars, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, columns, tabs and reviews o...
Gibson Introduces ES-Les Paul Guitar: "The Ultimate Marriage of Solid and Semi" (6/11/2014)
Gibson has introduced its new ES-Les Paul guitar. From the company: The solidbody Les Paul Standard and semi-acoustic ES-335 are the two most influential electric guitars ever to hit their respective genres. Now Gibson brings them together in t...
Gibson unveils ES-Les Paul (6/11/2014)
Read more about Gibson unveils ES-Les Paul at MusicRadar.com Gibson has combined the ES and Les Paul designs to create a new model, the ES-Les Paul. Featuring ES-style laminated maple tops, semi-acoustic contruction including a mahogany central ...
Gibson celebrates 65 years of Lucille (6/4/2014)
Read more about Gibson celebrates 65 years of Lucille at MusicRadar.com Gibson is celebrating the 65th birthday of BB King's Lucille with a new anniversary signature guitar. The legendary bluesman's Lucille, the luxurient black semi acoustic tha...
Gibson unveils two new Les Pauls (5/20/2014)
Read more about Gibson unveils two new Les Pauls at MusicRadar.com Gibson has announced two new Les Paul models, the Les Paul Supreme and the Southern Rock Tribute 1959 Les Paul. The Supreme is about as ostentatious a Les Paul as we've ever seen...
Gibson Introduces Memory Cable with Built-in Recorder (5/12/2014)
Gibson has introduced the Memory Cable, a 16-foot cable with a built-in, solid-state recorder designed by TASCAM’s engineers. From the company, courtesy of Craig Anderton: Inspiration is fragile. Remember those songs you lost when
Recovered: Zakk Wylde's Stolen Pelham Blue Bullseye Les Paul Custom Guitar Found in Chicago Pawn Shop (5/5/2014)
Black Label Society's Zakk Wylde got some good news over the weekend. His Pelham Blue Bullseye Gibson Les Paul Custom guitar — which was stolen March 14 from his tour bus in Chicago — has been found. The guitar, which was valued at $10,000, turn...
Gibson unveils Joe Bonamassa "Skinnerburst" 1959 Les Paul (4/17/2014)
Read more about Gibson unveils Joe Bonamassa "Skinnerburst" 1959 Les Paul at MusicRadar.com Gibson has unveiled the Joe Bonamassa "Skinnerburst" 1959 Les Paul.The latest signature to bear the Bonamassa name is a replica of his favoured '59 Les P...
Gibson to auction Guthrie guitars (4/17/2014)
Read more about Gibson to auction Guthrie guitars at MusicRadar.com Gibson is to auction off eight guitars built from timbers taken from Woody Guthrie's childhood home.The eight instruments were handbuilt by Gibson utilising woods from London Ho...
Former Korn touring guitarist Shane Gibson dies aged 35 (4/15/2014)
Read more about Former Korn touring guitarist Shane Gibson dies aged 35 at MusicRadar.com Shane Gibson, who from 2007 to 2010 was a touring guitarist with Korn, died today from complications due to a blood clotting disorder. He was 35 years old....