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LongMan

Modifying an Inspired by 1955 Les Paul Custom

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Guitar with case:

 

GuitarCase_s_zpseww6h8c1.jpg

 

Body:

 

Body_s_zpsreomqjmr.jpg

 

Headstock front:

 

Headstock_Front_s_zpsrun0txj6.jpg

 

Headstock back:

 

Headstock_Back_s_zpsc84am1hs.jpg

 

Pickups, bridge and tailpiece

 

BridgePU_s_zpseacioamx.jpg

 

Knobs, bridge and tailpiece

 

BridgeKnobs_s_zps6wxveuup.jpg

 

Buffed:

 

Buffed_s_zpsmrbgyvuv.jpg

 

"Rolling" the fretboard edges:

 

Fretboard_Roll_s_zpstgdknllu.jpg

 

PU switch wiring:

 

PU_Switch_s_zpsw4joolyy.jpg

 

Pot wiring:

 

Wiring_s_zpssv85xqaf.jpg

 

Here's a great story about the original Black Beauties:

https://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/showthread.php?190622-Beauty-of-The-Black-Beauty-The-quot-Alnico-quot-Custom-thread

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Black is beautiful... I was looking at these Inspired 55's when I got my non-flamed photo Red 56 LP St Pro, which I love playing, that has very similar specs excluding the multi layer binding and USA hardware etc. So anyway my main question is how's it sound and play.. [thumbup]

 

sXbRUsb.jpg

Edited by mihcmac

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Nice looking guitar and a neat wiring job. Nice job with rhe fretboard, too. Did you also polish the body? The one's I have seen appear more matte.

 

Red 333

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So anyway my main question is how's it sound and play.

 

How does it play? It plays great! Well, but what does that mean in particular?

 

When you pick up and play that guitar, it feels like a comfortable well broken in old shoe. That mostly comes from "rolling" the fretboard edges, and smoothing some sharp edges. For example I smoothed the bridge saddle edges and fret ends, so they feel like they would after decades of playing (as a guide I have 2 guitars I actually did play for the last almost 40 years). The knobs are nicely worn as well. Another thing that contributes a lot to that great feel is the full fret dress and the hand crafted bone nut my luthier applied to the instrument. One word about the neck: You should have a certain preference for fat necks to feel comfortable with it. Fortunately I love chunky necks, so I'm happy with it.

 

How does it sound? A lot different from an Inspired by 1955 in original condition I guess (I played the guitar for 2 weeks in original condition before I modified it).

 

Firstly it has a better, i.e. snappier response. That's probably caused by the bone nut, the Duesenberg steel saddle bridge and the Duesenberg aluminum tailpiece. The bridge posts to adopt from the M8 bushings to the 4mm bridge posts are from ABM. The M8 threaded end that goes into the body, the thumbwheel and the 4mm bridge post are actually machined from one single piece of brass. This seems to result in better contact between bridge and body.

 

Second thing: It is much quieter than in original condition. I shielded all cavities from the pickup switch down to the pot cavity. Also the braided wires contribute to proper shielding I think.

 

The wiring is all new, but I doubt it significantly enhances the sound, maybe apart from the paper in oil tone condensers. I did that mostly for the look and feel, and because it was big fun to set up a vintage style harness myself from individual parts.

 

The most part of the sound comes from the pickups of course. I left the Gibson P90 in the bridge position. It sounds different from real 50s P90, much more output, more edgy. However I like a good rock'n'roll brick for the bridge position. In the neck position the Gibson P90 was far over the top for my taste. I already have other guitars with 50s spec P90 in the neck position, and a P90 wouldn't be the right match for a 1955 Black Beauty anyway. So I went with a Lollar Staple pickup for the neck position. This pickup is absolutely great! How does it sound? Well, think of a 50s Stratocaster neck pickup, the ones with nice sparkly, but not exaggerated high end, good bottom and some overall sweetness. Now think that sound XXL output wise, with a big bottom, I mean BIG :-) That's what the Lollar Staple is. Look at the pickup height, how remarkable low that Staple is set. Well, the pickups are well balanced from the output, the neck PU is just a tad quieter than the P90 on the bridge, so you get that nice jingly sound in the middle position. Now if you compare the pickup heights, and consider they are almost equally loud, you can imagine what output signal the Lollar Staple pickup delivers.

 

All the rest, from buffing the finish, over the Kluson waffle back tuners down to the used look is just for the look&feel, and for the fun getting it there. I really adore the original mid 50s Black Beauties, and was curious how close you can get with a modern guitar that specifically refers to that great heritage.

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Nice looking guitar and a neat wiring job. Nice job with rhe fretboard, too. Did you also polish the body? The one's I have seen appear more matte.

 

Red 333

 

Thanks! And yes, I did wet sand and polish the body. Originally it is matte indeed, not even close to an original Black Beauty.

I didn't do a high gloss job though, just enough to get the look of an old, well maintained, clean and shiny guitar, that lost the high gloss over the years (again my trusty old well played guitars gave the inspiration). That's what many of the originals look like. Not exactly like my Epiphone of course, but shiny, clean and well maintained. I did not find a single image of an original 1955 Black Beauty that went matte.

 

Fun fact: On the original advertising photo the finish looks more glossy than the actual shipped guitars were:

http://www.epiphone.com/Products/Electrics/Les-Paul/Ltd-Ed-Inspired-by-1955-LP-Custom-Outfit.aspx

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Black is beautiful... I was looking at these Inspired 55's when I got my non-flamed photo Red 56 LP St Pro, which I love playing, that has very similar specs excluding the multi layer binding and USA hardware etc.

 

Just a question: Is that a Duesenberg Les Trem on your 1956 Standard Pro? How does it work? I thought about a Bigsby B7 or B70 on a Vibramate base plate, but I'm a bit scared by reports of people that had serious difficulties to get it to work on an Epiphone Les Paul. The Les Trem looks like a neat and clean solution. I love the vibratos on my Duesenberg Starplayer TV and Paloma anyway. Did you change the bridge? On a Riviera I use a roller bridge with a B7, that works really well. On the other hand Duesenberg uses tilting bridges with an excentric support on the bridge posts. So on a Duesenberg the entire bridge is tilting forth and back when you operate the vibrato.

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Just a question: Is that a Duesenberg Les Trem on your 1956 Standard Pro? How does it work? I thought about a Bigsby B7 or B70 on a Vibramate base plate, but I'm a bit scared by reports of people that had serious difficulties to get it to work on an Epiphone Les Paul. The Les Trem looks like a neat and clean solution. I love the vibratos on my Duesenberg Starplayer TV and Paloma anyway. Did you change the bridge? On a Riviera I use a roller bridge with a B7, that works really well. On the other hand Duesenberg uses tilting bridges with an excentric support on the bridge posts. So on a Duesenberg the entire bridge is tilting forth and back when you operate the vibrato.

Yes it is a Duesenberg Les Trem II, works really well, installs easy just replacing the stop bar, the main thing I like about Dusenbergs is the adjustable dive bar which can be positioned for very extreme or minimal response. I also installed TOM roller bridge and using the stock nut, stays in tune really well. I am currently also using these on a G400 and Explorer. I just ordered a Duesenberg Tremola Short (B5 style) for my Epi Blueshawk.. I addition I installed a Stetsbar that directly replaces the wraparound bridge on my Epi 61 SG Special.

 

Oh... by the way, your 55 looks really good with the finish polished out...

GuitarCase_s_zpseww6h8c1.jpg

Edited by mihcmac

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Thanks for the additional description of all the work you put in. Very impressive effort and results in what is obviously a very personal project. Well done, truly. I hope you enjoy playing it for years to come.

 

Red 333

Edited by Red 333

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Nice to see your mods. My local Guitar Center has one of these beauties and I've played on it a lot. At first I didn't think I'd like the neck, cuz I like the Slim 60s profile, but actually I didn't mind it at all. It felt quite comfortable, in fact. I've thought long and hard about buying one of these but I haven't pulled the trigger yet. However, what I have planned for it is same as you've done and dump the neck P90 for a Lollar Staple. I found your report of its tonal qualities to be very illuminating. Sounds like just the ticket for that guitar.

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However, what I have planned for it is same as you've done and dump the neck P90 for a Lollar Staple. I found your report of its tonal qualities to be very illuminating. Sounds like just the ticket for that guitar.

 

I'm glad you found some useful info in my description. Changing the pickup is pretty simple, especially if you keep the original harness. Just two solder joints and two pickup screws, that's all. The Lollar Staple is a direct replacement for the P90, uses the same braided wire, and is even wound with the same polarity as the Gibson neck P90. Means in the PU switch middle position the Lollar Staple and the Gibson bridge P90 together are hum cancelling.

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I haven't come around here in a while, so I missed this thread

It's been about a year since a few changes took place in my '55 land:

41334973412_4ca17287b2_b.jpg

I was told waffleback tuners wouldn't work out on the guitar due to the size of the headstock..

simply not true I see.

41377055541_22f8c1ce28_b.jpg

26775534839_d3f3e705fb_b.jpg

 

Thorn GT-90 with Gold staples

Bourn's pots/OD caps

ABR-1 / and conversion posts

New Switch (oops, wrong color)

Truss Rod Cover

Jack/Jack plate

 

I really didn't do much else but a good set-up

but Yours looks The Deal.

Very nicely done

of course I had a bit of inspiration:

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXiMSnSUeY0&t=96s

Edited by 212West

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I haven't come around here in a while, so I missed this thread

It's been about a year since a few changes took place in my '55 land:

 

Great job! Looks awesome with the gold staple magnets and unworn gold plating. Like that look, maybe I should get a second one [biggrin]

 

I was told waffleback tuners wouldn't work out on the guitar due to the size of the headstock..

simply not true I see.

 

Well... actually you were told right. The Kluson wafflebacks are considerably larger than the Epiphone deluxe tuners. I had to "convince" them to drop in [laugh]

If you have a close look you'll see that I slightly "shaved" them. After all that was more a result of being stubborn than a technical masterstroke [biggrin] But it payed off from my point of view.

 

41377055541_22f8c1ce28_b.jpg

 

Thorn GT-90 with Gold staples

Bourn's pots/OD caps

ABR-1 / and conversion posts

New Switch (oops, wrong color)

Truss Rod Cover

Jack/Jack plate

 

I really didn't do much else but a good set-up

 

Seems we basically had the same idea [wink]

 

but Yours looks The Deal.

Very nicely done

 

Thanks!

 

of course I had a bit of inspiration:

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXiMSnSUeY0&t=96s

 

Me too:

https://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/showthread.php?190622-Beauty-of-The-Black-Beauty-The-quot-Alnico-quot-Custom-thread

 

History and nice images galore.

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Beautiful, both. Tastefully done. Im not an lp player at all, barely ever play mine but I always wanted one of these, even if to just look at.

I know they were top priced epiphones but it really is these model runs that puts the pricing of Gibson to shame, in my opinion of course.

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What I had planned to do was buy one of these beauties and do the same pickup swap that you guys did, but I kept balking over the price. And then I found out about the Gibson Limited Edition Les Paul BFG with P90s that was being clearance priced by Guitar Center and Musician's Friend. The BFG is an interesting looking guitar -- "rough" would be a good description. Not nearly as beautiful as the '55 Epi. But it's a Les Paul with P90s and it was priced such that it was very hard to resist. So I bought one. It's a great player -- has the Slim 60's neck profile and the P90s sound awesome. One interesting feature about the guitar is it has no fingerboard inlays. I really didn't care for the rather pale red look of the fingerboard, so I decided to use an old Luthier's trick for treating ebony fingerboards that aren't dark enough. I dyed my BFG's fingerboard black. Being a classical player from way back, I don't mind a fingerboard without inlays and the black fingerboard reminds me of a classical. Besides, it makes the guitar look much better with that black fingerboard.

 

My next mod on my BFG will be to replace the neck PU with a Lollar Staple. That should transform the guitar from being a very good player to an excellent one, or so is my hope. Thanks for the inspiration, guys. Mine may not be the '55 Epi, but it will have been inspired by it, truly enough.

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