Gibson Les Paul Personal.
Listed on Gibsons own website as one of their ‘5 Freakiest Designs of the 70’s and 80’s’, this lovely guitar is, to me, the embodiment of Les Paul the man. He was never happy to leave things as they were and so many of his ideas in the recording studio or on the workbench came about because he was always asking “What if…”. “What if I put this here?” “What if I changed this here”. It’s this attitude that gave us the Gibson Les Paul, tape delay, sound-on-sound recording, and helped develop multi-track recording and contributed many other building bricks to music history that we just take for granted now.
It also gave us this, the Les Paul Personal. He was a fan of low-impedance pickups and so in the late ‘60’s developed this model alongside the Professional and, latterly, the Recording to utilise them. He also loved to add as many whistles and bells as he thought musicians might need or just plain want, including a microphone socket and an 11 setting Decade Control that, according to Gibson catalogue from that time; “‘tunes’ or alters the treble harmonics. Position 0 will peak the highest frequency and graduates accordingly down the spectrum in steps through position 10. This control is most effective when the tone selector is in position 2 and the bass response has been reduced. You will experience innumerous tonalities when used with the phase, treble and pickup selector toggle switch”
Despite the love and attention that went in to this guitar it was a disaster, with between 146 and 370 being made (sources disagree) before being discontinued in 1972. Les still liked the ideas he’d put forward in the Personal though and used them to a more focused effect in the Recording.