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Rare 1980 Gibson Les Paul S.M.

#1 User is offline   metalguitarjames 

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 07:07 PM

So I ended up with this guitar back in February. An older gentleman was selling it for $800 and I figured "Why not"? I've been able to find some information on it from different forums. Some have said that it could possibly be a prototype for the Studio Series. I found an old thread in this forum as well from 2008 but it didn't yield very good results and it didn't have any decent pictures. I emailed gibson customer service to authenticate it but haven't heard much back yet. The specs from other forums are as follows:

- The S.M. stands for "Solid Mahogany".
-It's got LP custom-style front body multi binding
-a coil tap and large control cavity like a 25/50
-a slight but useful TUMMY CUT! (I think that some LP artists featured tummy cuts too), so no back of body binding
-chrome hardware, except nickel plated grover tuners w/ tulip shaped buttons
- Gibson photo shows a TP-6; spec sheet specifies series Vll pickups (they're 14 K ohms each!)
-ebony fingerboard with real pearl DOT inlays
-factory brass nut
-truss rod cover says "Les Paul S.M."
-largish peghead, no peghead binding, and face of peghead is BLANK - no LP custom diamond, no silkscreen - it's blank! -- volute & made in USA stamp on back

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#2 User is offline   rocketman 

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 08:02 PM

That is a great find! Congrats. Looks like it's in very good condition too.
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#3 User is offline   StijnV 

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 07:11 AM

In our archive I can find back the LP SM, please find attached the specs from the Gruhns Guide to Vintage Guitars.
This model was made in silverburst and wine red.

Attached File(s)



#4 User is offline   metalguitarjames 

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 02:30 PM

View PostStijnV, on 10 July 2012 - 07:11 AM, said:

In our archive I can find back the LP SM, please find attached the specs from the Gruhns Guide to Vintage Guitars.
This model was made in silverburst and wine red.


Just got an email back from another gibson rep as well stating the same. What I do know without a doubt is that it plays like a dream. For a 32 year old guitar it's in really decent shape. Does re-fretting the guitar affect the value at all. I really dig this wine red color by the way :)

#5 User is offline   rd_artist 

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 04:12 PM

as good of condition this guitar is in, does it really need a refret?

#6 User is offline   metalguitarjames 

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 04:43 PM

Was merely inquiring for the future. I do play it quite often. I had a fret dressing done on it already and my luthier said that it would require one next time.

#7 User is offline   pippy 

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 02:50 AM

Lovely looking guitar. Great find.

As far as the frets go; it might sound funny but what type of strings do you use?
I'm guessing you probably already know this but, just in case you don't, Gibson fretwire is relatively soft and the use of Pure Nickel strings is recommended to help reduce fret-wear.

P.

#8 User is offline   btoth76 

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 03:29 AM

View Postpippy, on 11 July 2012 - 02:50 AM, said:

Lovely looking guitar. Great find.

As far as the frets go; it might sound funny but what type of strings do you use?
I'm guessing you probably already know this but, just in case you don't, Gibson fretwire is relatively soft and the use of Pure Nickel strings is recommended to help reduce fret-wear.

P.


Hello Philip! Thanks for sharing this information! I've also noticed that frets wear much quicker than they should on my LP Studio... Cheers... Bence
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#9 User is offline   Texasbluezman 

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 08:33 AM

Sounds like I'm already on the right path. I use Pure Nickel strings on all my guitars. Love the sound. But I'm a little confused. In the welding world, nickel is a much harder metal than steel. Much harder to weld, and does not flow, and takes more heat to melt and tie in to the base metal. But pure nickel strings are softer than nickel plated steel strings? I'm probably trying to put too much logic in this, but I'm sure someone here can help clarify.

By the way, nice axe!

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#10 User is offline   pippy 

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 09:05 AM

View PostTexasbluezman, on 11 July 2012 - 08:33 AM, said:

...In the welding world, nickel is a much harder metal than steel. Much harder to weld, and does not flow, and takes more heat to melt and tie in to the base metal. But pure nickel strings are softer than nickel plated steel strings?...

Firstly I'd like to make it clear I have no idea about the world of welding.

Steel has a higher rating on the Mohs scale (of relative hardnesses) - typically 4.5 as opposed to nickel's 4 - so it would seem to be 'harder' for most definitions of the word. Steels vary, of course, depending on the proportion of, say, Manganese and Molybdenum to Iron in each compound.

As the Mohs scale only goes from 1 - 10 and the range covers every substance from talcum powder to diamond even 0.5 in the rating represents a considerable difference in relative hardness.

I could easily believe that Nickel's more difficult to use in welding applications but it's not as hard, in absolute terms, as Steel.

P.

#11 User is offline   Texasbluezman 

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 11:01 AM

Thanks Pippy, I can live with that, cause that's about as technical as I want to get about this subject. But I'm going to look into it a little deeper. I know we should have book here at work about metallurgy somewhere around this office.

2011 Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro 50's
2000 Fender Stratocaster American Deluxe
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Visual Sound Jekyll & Hyde Version 1 Silver box
Dunlop Crybaby JH-1B (Jimi Hendrix)
Boss TR-2, NS-2, PH-2
Korg Pitchblack
Diamond Cornerstone

Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue w/NOS tubes in V1(12AY7),a ECC803S in V2,stock in V3 & stock power tubes for now!

Stock Peavey Ultra 60 4X10

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Don't argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience!

#12 User is offline   metalguitarjames 

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 02:51 PM

View Postpippy, on 11 July 2012 - 02:50 AM, said:

Lovely looking guitar. Great find.

As far as the frets go; it might sound funny but what type of strings do you use?
I'm guessing you probably already know this but, just in case you don't, Gibson fretwire is relatively soft and the use of Pure Nickel strings is recommended to help reduce fret-wear.

P.


Actually I was unaware of that to be honest. This is my first Gibson. I normally use Ernie Ball Standard Slinky's on my guitars. Suppose nickel wound won't cut it then eh? Looks like I'll be buying new strings lol!

There's just something about playing a 32 year old guitar......I've never heard tone like this in any of my other guitars. Though, my other guitars aren't this nice! It's heavy as hell but it just feels so right.

#13 User is offline   brantobrien 

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 03:38 PM

View Postmetalguitarjames, on 11 July 2012 - 02:51 PM, said:

There's just something about playing a 32 year old guitar......I've never heard tone like this in any of my other guitars. Though, my other guitars aren't this nice! It's heavy as hell but it just feels so right.


+1 about old guitars. Found that out myself...now if my bank account could just agree with my ears....
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#14 User is offline   Vega1 

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 11:00 AM

View Postmetalguitarjames, on 09 July 2012 - 07:07 PM, said:

So I ended up with this guitar back in February. An older gentleman was selling it for $800 and I figured "Why not"?


I hate you so much right now.... [tongue]


Beautiful, what a great find. [thumbup]
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#15 User is offline   Rock&RollJoe 

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:56 PM

I too have an S.M. model that I bought with my graduation money in 1983. I have tried for years to find info on it. It must be very rare. Mine is a 1979 (judging by the s/n). I have never heard of a '79 before.

Mine also has the "Custom Made" label.


Attached Image: LesPaul (5).JPG

Take a look

#16 User is online   Farnsbarns 

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 07:40 PM

View Postpippy, on 11 July 2012 - 09:05 AM, said:

Firstly I'd like to make it clear I have no idea about the world of welding.

Steel has a higher rating on the Mohs scale (of relative hardnesses) - typically 4.5 as opposed to nickel's 4 - so it would seem to be 'harder' for most definitions of the word. Steels vary, of course, depending on the proportion of, say, Manganese and Molybdenum to Iron in each compound.

As the Mohs scale only goes from 1 - 10 and the range covers every substance from talcum powder to diamond even 0.5 in the rating represents a considerable difference in relative hardness.

I could easily believe that Nickel's more difficult to use in welding applications but it's not as hard, in absolute terms, as Steel.

P.


Ahh, metallurgy, a tricky subject.

Mohs scale is based on firing a ball at a surface and measuring deformation. Fret ware, on the other hand, is dependant on a phenomenon known as 'wipe' which deals with a metals tendency to ware due to lateral friction with another given substance. This gets weird but here's an example of how it can be counter intuitive, in gearboxes where nylon gears are used in contact with steel ones, the steel wares out, the nylon doesn't. It is more to do with molecular geometry than hardness.

Any more than that would require a conversation with my father or brother first.

Beautiful guitar btw!
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#17 User is offline   Ryan H 

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 08:19 PM

View PostRock&RollJoe, on 08 January 2013 - 03:56 PM, said:

I too have an S.M. model that I bought with my graduation money in 1983. I have tried for years to find info on it. It must be very rare. Mine is a 1979 (judging by the s/n). I have never heard of a '79 before.

Mine also has the "Custom Made" label.


Attachment LesPaul (5).JPG

Take a look


That does not appear to be an S.M. at all. None of the SM's specs match your guitar remotely, except the truss rod cover.

The "Les Paul Model" script is not present on the SM; yours has it. The nut on the SM is brass; yours is standard Corian. The fretboard position markers on the SM are dots; yours are trapezoids. The binding on the SM is 5-ply; yours is the standard 1-ply. The control knobs on the SM are black Speed knobs; yours are amber Bell knobs. The tailpiece on the SM is a TP-6; yours is the standard stopbar. The SM has a coil tap; yours does not. The SM has a belly contour; yours does not appear to. The SM has an Ebony fretboard; yours appears to be Rosewood. Obviously the pickups have been changed or covers removed (unless this is a different model). The knobs, tailpiece and nut could also have been changed. But the Les Paul Model script, fretboard markers, binding and coil tap could not have been changed so easily, and most would not attempt to. The coil tap at the very least would be visible.

Unless this "Custom Made" plaque means that this was a one-off or something, which wouldn't make sense because this guitar just looks like a regular plain-top Les Paul standard or whatever with double cream pickups, and has absolutely no relation to the "S.M." Model, this is a different model you have. Perhaps you should send the serial number to Gibson to confirm what model you have.

-Ryan

#18 User is online   Farnsbarns 

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 08:43 PM

Posted in error. Sorry.
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#19 User is offline   pippy 

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 04:07 AM

View PostRock&RollJoe, on 08 January 2013 - 03:56 PM, said:

I too have an S.M. model that I bought with my graduation money in 1983. I have tried for years to find info on it. It must be very rare. Mine is a 1979 (judging by the s/n). I have never heard of a '79 before.

View PostCaroline64, on 08 January 2013 - 08:19 PM, said:

That does not appear to be an S.M. at all. None of the SM's specs match your guitar remotely...
-Ryan

I agree 100% with everything Ryan has said in his comprehensive post. It's almost certainly a regular Standard with a swapped TRC and an added 'Custom Made' plaque.

And as far as the latter goes, every 'Custom Made' plaque I've ever seen from that period fixed on to a Gibson by Gibson has looked like these two (one from the '60s and one from the '80s);
Posted Image

I'm not going to claim with 100% certainty that Gibson never, ever, used a cursive font for the CM plaque in the '70s, because stranger things have happened, but still......

The only other thing I can add to Ryans list is that (according to Gibson themselves when asked about the S.M. over on MLP) they were only available in Wine Red, SilverBurst or Black.
Yours, obviously, is neither of these.

Not looking for a bunfight, Rock&RollJoe, but other than the TRC - which is easily swapped-out - what makes you think it IS an S.M.? Nothing matches spec-wise; surely you can see that?
Other than the TRC what makes you believe it isn't a regular 1979 Standard? Anything at all?

Here's an exercise for you to try when you have a minute;
Make a list of things which differentiate your guitar from a Strandard.
Now make a list of the unique features your guitar shares with an S.M.

If the only thing on both lists is 'Truss Rod Cover"...

P.

#20 User is offline   Eracer_Team 

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:30 AM

for a Norlin era guitar that's +30 years old I think it looks pretty good no matter what it turns out to be (custom vs standard)

Interesting it looks like a brass nut and that stop tail is an interesting change, almost looks like it should have had a floyd-rose on it.
and I see a belly scraf on the back too.
All interesting.

bottom like as long as you like the looks, feel and playing doesn't matter which Gibson it is.

(p.s. I like that old wine red colour too)

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