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Help Identifying a 1970's LP DC Model


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I've been playing this guitar for about 2 years now, and absolutely love it! It's one of those pairings (the guitar and me) which is so seamless ... I've never had a guitar feel so transparent before. It had major repair work done back in 2008, when it fell out of the back of a truck. we're talking $900+ worth of body and neck repairs. Recently, one of the neck breaks, down by the body, started opening up, so I loosened the strings and am using one of my other guitars in the meantime.


So now I'm trying to determine if this is worth repairing, value wise. It's certainly worth repairing to me, just due to the fact how it fits me, but I'd really like to know specifically what model it is.


I have a subscription to "The Blue Book of Electric Guitars" and cannot find a good match for what I have here. Due to the repairs in 2008, I believe the serial number decal was removed, so I don't have the serial number for this. I looked up the POT number here, and it tells me the pots were made in 1976.


The BlueBook shows lots of LP DCs, but none in the 1976-77 range ... so I'm not sure how to identify the model and value of it.


Any help would be greatly appreciated!









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Hey, a lot of mystery with this one! My books show the Les Paul Standard DC beginning in 1998. That being the case, the guitar should have a serial# impressed into the back of the headstock and not a decal as in the mid-70's.

Since you say that there was extensive repairs done in 2008, we can only assume that the electronics were replaced at some time with older potentiometers...!? The orange drop capacitors suggest a newer rewiring. Those are code-dated also(check it out).

Also check the pickups and cavities for clues!

In excellant condition it is not of great vintage value and with the damage/repairs described it would lower the value even more.

It looks very nice in the pics.

It would be your call on having it repaired again.


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The repair invoice from '08 shows:


  • Repair cracks in neck and heel
  • Fill missing pieces of wood in neck
  • replace missing fretboard binding
  • refinish back of neck
  • refit brass nut
  • replace missing bridge and tailpiece
  • clean electronics
  • clean & polish overall
  • restring and setup


so I don't think the electronics were replaced during this, and all of the POTs show the same codes too.


The DC Standard I see in the Blue Book only shows 2 knobs as well with dating starting in 1997. Although it also has a Double Cut model from 1958 - 1961, but that's too early for this one and the features don't match.


The only thing I can find in this year range, is a Les Paul Special Double Cutaway First Reissue, although there's no image of it in the book. There is an image of the original 1959 version though, and it doesn't look like mine.



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Your guitar has no relationship to the one you supplied info of!(other than general shape)....The LP juniors and specials are flat mahogany bodies with P-90's. Yours has a carved flame maple top and humbuckers! Did you check the Pickups for dates/numbers? What are the numbers on the orange capacitors in the control cavity? IF this was a 70's guitar with a decal-ed serial # it would most certainly have a volute and Made in USA stamp.(does it have a volute?) Did not look like it from the pics!

I give[confused]

And the brass nut would be 'history' if it were mine[laugh]


You might try posting it on the My Les Paul Forum and see what they come up with....



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That's why I'm confused on what it is ... it doesn't seem to match up to anything, so maybe it was put together with parts?


Here's what the neck looks like at the headstock:




I'm going to take it to Musical Exchange in Austin sometime this weekend, and they agreed to look at the crack in the neck (down near the body), and if it can't be fixed, they'll take full measurements of the guitar so I can look for something similar to replace it with.

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A bit of a mystery.


Perhaps it will be a lot easier if you accept that the pots are not origonal to the guitar. They clearly indicate '76, but no Gibby from anywhere near '76 had a neck that looked like that.


Don't recall ever seeing or reading about a carved top LP double cut in the 70's, either.


Pots are never 100% reliable for dating a guitar, because they can be replaced. This is the perfect example of such a thing.

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I agree Stein, it would make sense to assume the electronics were swapped out with some vintage parts. I'm just trying to piece together what I'm finding, with what the current owner of this collection is telling me.


This particular guitar was apparently the 'primary player' for the original owner of most of this collection, and he died ~30 years ago. His brother, who now owns the collection, tells me this was his late brother's favorite guitar, and he may have had extensive finish work done to it because he was a big fan of the carved flame top. I don't know though, seems like an awful lot of work to change the finish instead of buying something different?


The tuners were definitely replaced with Schaller's at some point prior to the repairs in '08, so who knows what else has been done to it.


Either way, it's a real joy to play for me, and if I can fix it for a reasonable price, I'll do it. It would be nice to know the history of it, in terms of build date, model, etc ... but it's probably been too long and too many variables at work to try and figure it out.



Here's a good look at the break in the neck. The lines in the body are old, and have been refinished over, only the one in the neck is opening up. I'm hoping a good luthier can repair this, but I honestly don't know what is feasible when it comes to neck breaks.



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The orange drop capacitors suggest a newer rewiring. Those are code-dated also(check it out).

Also check the pickups and cavities for clues!


I was finally able to look into these questions.


Here are the pickup cavities:




and here are the back of the pickups:





and here is the capacitor. It might be hard to make out, so here are the markings


6PS-S22 +/- 10%



Is the 6PS a date code of some kind?




Thanks for all your help guys, I really appreciate it!

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Dang Stoop! You are giving me a headache[cursing] .....No date definitive date code on the capacitor. ....I don,t know squat about dating Dimarzio's....I GIVE!

A dead man's mystery to me....Sorry!

Good luck in your search.


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Yesterday I received some information which may explain the origins of this guitar.


The owner of this collection brought 4 more of the guitars over yesterday. One is a 1956 Gibson J-200 (I'll start a new thread with some pics .. this thing is cool!), one which looks like a homemade luthier built, and 2 Gibson Les Pauls with no serial numbers.


I dated one of the Les Pauls with the POT code and it came back as 1978. I told the owner that's a bit strange, and there should be serial numbers on these. He then told me the original owner (his late brother) had some guitars made by a friend of his, Mark Erlewine :o I was a bit skeptical about it, but he said he hasn't spoken to Mark in a while and should probably give him a call. I then asked if he could bring these 3 guitars (the 2 traditional Les Pauls, and this double cut) to Mark and see if he can authenticate them as being custom builds by him in the late 70s.


So the owner took them with him and is going to go see Mark sometime this week. If they are Erlewine guitars made back in late 70's, I have no idea how to value them ... but it would explain why the DC is such a joy to play!

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I went to junior high with Mark Erlewine. I read your posts last night and emailed Mark. He remembers building a few '59 reproductions for this fellow as well as the double cutaway model. Mark has been an authorized Gibson repair shop since mid 70s and got the necks from the factory. He built the bodies and did the electronics, tuning machines etc himself. They don't have serial numbers because they are not factory Gibsons - but reproductions.


I would say if anything this increases the value of them because they are unique - just don't represent them as Gibson guitars, but Erlewine reproductions of same, and also explains why the one you cherish plays so well. Mark is looking forward to seeing these guitars again after so many years.

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Thanks Twang! I heard from the collection owner, and he spoke to Mark last week. We're going to try and get down to his shop sometime this week so he can check them out. I'm hoping he's up for repairing the neck break in the double cut ... I'm really excited at the possibility of this guitar becoming playable again :D


I'm fairly confident now the 2 traditional Les Pauls without serial #s and this DC (and maybe even the homemade looking guitar?) were all built by Mark. I'm hoping he can provide some sort of authenticity certificate to say this, so when the traditionals go up for sale people can be confident about it. The Double cut I plan to buy myself


Thanks again, really appreciate you emailing him and posting up your findings

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Just glad we were able to solve the mystery - and gave me an opportunity to get in touch with an old pal. I am not a luthier by any means, but since the neck on the double cut has been repaired once before and material added to it etc I think maybe what you need is just a new neck. Then you wouldn't have to worry about repairs opening up again. But Mark will give you the best advice on that and he could make sure it gets set properly to maintain the great action and feel that you enjoyed with it so much.


Let me know when you get ready to sell the '59 reproductions I might be interested in one. (jameshintz@att.net).

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Will do James. It's taking some time to get all the guitars cataloged and ready for sale. Still not sure if we'll put each guitar up separately, or try to sell as an entire collection; But I'll be sure to post on here when we're ready to start listing them (and I'll try to remember to email you as well).


I agree with your neck assessment too. If it needs a new neck, then that's what we'll do ... but another luthier looked at it and said replacing necks on a Les Paul is hardly ever done, due to needing to sweat the joint which can swell the wood of the body. I'm sure Mark will be able to tell me if it can be fixed though (and I'm hoping it can!)


Thanks again

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Well, I went and visited with Mark on Friday and he confirmed the 4 guitars (including this 1976 DC) were built by him. He also said he can fix the neck break easily :)


What a really nice guy, very humble and friendly. I asked if he would authenticate the 4 guitars, and he said no problem. So we'll have letters of authentication when they go up for sale.


I'm just thrilled the DC can be fixed, and be fixed by the guy who built it! :D


Mystery solved!!

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Thanks stoop, for getting to the bottom of this......only after making us Gibson nuts pull our hair out and give us a headache.....](*,)

This is a cool story! I am familiar with Dan Erlewine(Stewart MacDonald) and books. I have recently seen stuff on his younger bro'....Mark. But I am not as familiar with him!

He is obviously an accomplished luthier. Did he work with Gibson during the 70's?.....and maybe this was a prototype for them to consider?

I guess my confusion is rooted in the fact that this guitar is branded as a Gibson....but it is a Mark Erlewine?

Explanation please, when you get one.

Otherwise, it is very cool that this guitar(and 3 others?) are going to visit "their maker"!


PS: After re-reading twanggangs post.....I 'get it"......not a mystery.....[crying]

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Actually, Mark is Dan's cousin, and I think they worked together for a period of time? Mark talked about Dan a bit when I met with him.


and Yes, Mark worked with Gibson in the 70's, and is still an authorized repair center for them. He made custom guitars back then using Gibson factory necks, but his own bodies and electronics. I'm fairly certain they advised him to stop at some point, but I don't know when.


For example, I have two 1978 Mark Erlewine guitars here, which are '59 Les Paul reproductions. When I asked him about them, and he said he asked Gibson in the mid 70's if they would make a '59 reissue, but they told him no. So he started making them himself.


He said he was trying to make "Fantasy guitars" ... Basically, the perfect guitar he and his friends would want if they could have anything. This is where the DC I like so much came from, and also why he made the '59 Les Paul reproductions.


He calls one of them an 'Unburst', becausue he tried to make a 'Sunburst' which would look 20 years aged ... hence the 'Unburst' name vs. the 'Sunburst' name, LOL. He even commented on how long it took him to get the colors to look faded and how hard it was to get the binding to appear aged. You can clearly see the difference in the two guitars, even though they were made at the same time. One looks well aged and the other looks brand new.


Keep in mind, they've been sitting in cases since the original owner died in 1980.


I have another interesting Erlewine guitar here, which looks sort of like a Gibson Special. Mark looked at it, and confirmed it as one of his, but it was a one-off project and he wasn't sure why he made it like he did (ie: neck through design, natural finish, early Erlewine inlays, etc ...). He did remember where he got the wood to make it though! I wrote the story down ..... well, because it gives the guitar personality and a story to tell.


He said some guy in Austin cut down a black walnut tree pre world war II, cut it into planks, and stored it in his garage. This guy died in the 70's, and his widow sold the wood to Mark. He said he made Albert King's flying-V, Gerry Garcia's Strat clone, and Otis Rush's Tele clone out of the same slab of wood he made this one out of.


I just thought that was a really cool story, and important to document it so it stays with this guitar when it finds a new owner.


Here a pic of the black walnut guitar:



Here is the 1978 Erlewine Fantasy Unburst ('59 Les Paul clone)





And here is the other 1978 Erlewine Fantasy '59 Les Paul clone



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Hey stoop....this is reading better than a good mystery novel. I have a bunch of questions and comments.

So these Erlewine '59 repros actually pre-date the Gibson-built "GUITAR TRADER '59 RI's" that were a special run in '80 or so!

Were they built off of Gibson necks also?

Whats under 'the hood'? How do the control cavities compare to the DC?

What type of pickups were used?

Sorry if I am 'jumping the gun'....


What a cool thing to be the curator/documentor of such a nice collection...[thumbup]

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I know what you mean, I am truly enjoying finding all the pieces and building the story out on these guitars :)


The original collection owner did hang out with Keith Richards, Billy Gibbons ... among other professional musicians in the 70's, so I really wonder who some of the original owners may be on some of these other guitars ... it sure would be nice if each one could talk to me ;) LOL


Yes, these Erlewine reproductions do pre-date Gibson coming out with the '59 reissue. Mark told me a story of him speaking with Gibson about the demand he was seeing for a '59 RI in the mid 70's, but they said they would never do it. Since Mark thought there was such a good demand for a reissue, and people were wanting it, he started making a few (ie: the 'Fantasy' guitar series).


He did use Gibson necks, although the peg head angle is not correct for a '59 RI due to him using '78 Gibson necks. This is one of the ways you can tell a Gibson '59 Les Paul RI from these Erlewine '59 LP Reproductions.


I haven't had a chance to check out the control cavities or pickups yet, but Mark did mention remembering something about PAFs, but he wasn't sure if it was related to one of these particular guitars. He said the original collection owner was a guitar fanatic (although he didn't play guitar ... LOL), and would come to him from time to time with parts he wanted integrated into guitars he would build for him ... so who knows what I'll find when I get around to pulling them for pictures.


I'll start a new thread for just the Erlewine '59 Repro's when I get some time to document them properly. I'm hoping to clean them up in a day or two, so when I go back to pick up the DC later this week (after being repaired) I can ask Mark if he'll allow me to take a picture of him with these 4 guitars :D

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Cool story about the walnut guitar - have you played that one? Wonder what it sounds like. I have a Taylor SB Custom with a walnut top and the tone is pretty unique, vey woody sounding. Glad you posted pictures of the '59s, I'm hoping the "Unburst" will one day be mine.

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Cool story about the walnut guitar - have you played that one? Wonder what it sounds like. I have a Taylor SB Custom with a walnut top and the tone is pretty unique, vey woody sounding. Glad you posted pictures of the '59s, I'm hoping the "Unburst" will one day be mine.


The Walnut guitar sounds really nice! The overtones are amazing on it. I don't know what pickups are in it, as I haven't taken them out to check. Even with the 30 yr old strings and a fairly dirty patch configured, each sustained note completes on a harmonic ... it's a really cool sound. Almost like the Gretsch 6121 I have here with Filtertron pickups, except the Walnut is warmer.


If your interested in the Unburst, send me a PM. I really have no idea how to value this thing, but will be going back to see Mark next week and am going to pick his brain a bit. Also going to have him pose for a picture with these guitars, so the new owner will have a certificate of authenticity signed by Mark on Erlewine Guitars letterhead, as well as a picture of Mark with the guitar :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally was able to get down to Mark's shop to pick up the double cut after he repaired it. He also provided 4 authenticity certificates, one for each of the guitars, and was kind enough to pose for a picture with them!


I know I said it before, but Mark is a really nice guy, and it was a joy to meet and chat with him about these long lost guitars :)





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