Guitar of the day

by claesgellerbrink

Peter Green 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard
Peter Green 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard

One of the most famous and highly collectable vintage guitars of all time, the infamous Peter Green Les Paul. Most Blues fans will know that as well as being revered for his amazing tone and unmistakeable vibrato, B.B. King once remarked “He has the sweetest tone I ever heard. He’s the only one who gave me the cold sweats.”, over the years Peter’s Les Paul has built up a similar legend in guitar folklore. Now in the hands of a private collector, it made it’s journey through Peter Greens hands and into the arms of Gary Moore who put it to good use on a number of his albums and live shows. Earlier on in his career, Peter Green played a  Harmony Meteor, a cheap hollow-body guitar, but quickly started playing a  Gibson Les Paul with  The Bluesbreakers after he replaced Eric Clapton in the band. Green’s guitar was often referred to as his “magic guitar”. “I never had a magic one. Mine wasn’t magic…It just barely worked” said Green in 2000. “I stumbled across one when I was looking for something more powerful than my Harmony Meteor. I went into Selmer’s in Charing Cross Road [central London] and tried one. It was only £110 and it sounded lovely and the color was really good. But the neck was like a tree trunk… It was very different from Eric’s Les Paul, which was slim with a very fast action.”

In part, his unique tone derived from a modification to the neck  pickup which was reversed and rewired, a modification made after 1967. For anyone looking to modify their guitar in the same way, we found a link to a nice blog here on how to perform the tone mod in detailed steps http://www.geetarz.org/axes/green.htm

It was in the early 70’s when Green passed the guitar over to Gary Moore. Peter was suffering from mental health problems and would put his guitar down for the best part of 8 years. At the time, the Irishman was a friend and close neighbor of Green’s in London. Green initially tried to give the Les Paul to him on the understanding that he could ask for it back when he was well enough to play again but Moore insisted on paying the £110 that it originally cost and Peter Green never did ask for it to be returned. Once in the hands of Gary Moore, the guitar went on to be used on a number of recordings, most notably the ‘Blues For Greeny’ album of Fleetwood Mac covers dedicated to the orginal owner. Green used it extensively until he sold the guitar in 2006.

Peter Green and Gary Moore with the 1959 Les Paul Standard
Peter Green and Gary Moore with the 1959 Les Paul Standard

Gary Moore explained why he parted ways with the iconic instrument: “It’s a long story. The instrument itself was a very special instrument, obviously. But it got to the point where I couldn’t take it anywhere. I didn’t want to sell it. I had to sell it for various reasons because I injured my hand a few years ago and the insurance didn’t pay up, and I had to cover the tour costs for canceled shows with my own money, and I didn’t get paid for any of the shows, obviously, or for anything. I ended up with debt. So it was kind of a financial thing, really, and that was the quickest way to do anything about it. So I never wanted to sell it. I mean, why would I? I kept the other ’59 Les Paul and I sold that one. That guitar was played by Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher played it, and I’ve played it. It was a very special instrument. Les Pauls are all so different. That one is a big old battle axe. Peter Green never really liked that guitar because the neck was too big. He wanted me to have it because he said he wanted it to go to a good home.” Taken from Interactive Guitar

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