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Pete’s Gear: Gibson Les Paul Deluxe

Pete Townshend’s Gibson Les Paul Deluxes: 1972–1979

Other Gibson Les Pauls

Introduction

In August 1972, Pete Townshend began using Gibson Les Paul Deluxe guitars — primarily cherry sunburst at first — as his main stage guitar, replacing the Gibson SG Special, of which the model Pete preferred had been discontinued and were no longer available in mass quantities. The Les Paul Deluxe eventually became Pete’s longest used stage guitar of the Who’s initial touring career, used almost exclusively between 1973 and 1979. This despite the relative heavy weight of this guitar model, especially in comparison to the SG Special.

1972, cherry sunburst model

9 Sept. 1972, cherry sunburst model.

Pete’s initial use began in late 1971, where he began using Les Paul Deluxes occasionally, intermixing with SG Specials. In late 1972 to the lone March 1973 gig, he briefly used Polaris White pre-1965 Gibson SG Special guitars intermixed with the Les Paul Deluxes, switching permanently to the Les Paul Deluxe by the proper 1973 tours that began in October (though he flitted briefly with a ’60s Gretsch 6128 Duo-Jet for some late-1973 European shows).

Later, Pete eventually made significant modifications to the stock Deluxes, and began his now “infamous” numbering system on the guitars.

In September 1979, at the Madison Square Garden shows, he began using a Schecter ‘Telecaster’-type guitar on stage. And by the end of 1979, Pete stopped using the Les Paul Deluxes altogether, finding them “too ’eavy.” The Dec. 28, 1979, Hammersmith Odeon “Kampuchea” show is the last known stage use of the Les Paul Deluxe.

Signature model

In 2005, Gibson issued three Pete Townshend-signature edition Les Paul Deluxe guitars, based on the “#1” Wine Red 1976 Les Paul Deluxe, the #3 Gold top 1976 and the #9 Cherry Sunburst 1976.

Specification

The general Les Paul Deluxe model, introduced by Gibson in 1969, had the following features:

  • Dual Gibson mini- (“New York”) humbuckers, with adjustable pole pieces and Alnico II magnets.
  • Three-piece mahogany and maple “pancake” body, with bound carved maple top.
  • Mahogany neck, with bound rosewood fingerboard.
  • Gibson pearl trapezoid inlays.
  • Nickel hardware.
  • Tune-o-Matic bridge/tailpiece.

Pete’s Gibson Les Paul Deluxes featured:

Timeline of modifications

1972

1972, cherry sunburst model.

9 Sept. 1972, detail of guitar strap pin placement.

At least one Les Paul Deluxe used in 1972 had a strap pin fitted to the rear body joint of the neck rather than the traditional upper bout of the body. (h/t “A French Fan”)

1973

Pete switched permanently to the Les Paul Deluxe by the proper 1973 tours that began in October, using stock models, though with Grover machine heads.

1974

In 1974, he began using the now infamous numbering system on the guitars — at first, just handwritten stickers, done by his guitar tech, Alan Smith — to differentiate between guitars for different capo settings, an identification system he uses to this day.

1975

In 1975, he settled on a fixed collection of Deluxes rotated for the stage, mostly Gold Top and cherry sunburst. They were as above, but with the Letraset block white stickers, again to identify different capo settings. Also used was a custom straplock system by Alan Rogan, who began working with Pete in early 1975.

1975, #6, two-pickup Gold top model.

1975, #6, two-pickup Gold top model.

1976–1979

In 1976, he began using Deluxes with the following modifications (Note: early-1976 models are prototypes, most unnumbered, but some with Letraset stickers and some with handwritten stickers; the final collection, with numbered stickers and white surrounds on the middle-position pickup, began use around August 1976):

  • DiMarzio Dual Sound humbucker pickup in middle position:
    • Early 1976, prototype models, with black surrounds.
    • Beginning August 1976, with white surrounds.
  • Two additional switches (only one on most prototype models): a two-way coil-tap for the Dual Sound, the other a three-way pickup selector (Dual Sound on/off or all three pickups on).
  • Control cavities enlarged to house extra switches with a larger custom-made backplate.
  • Neck at body joint shaved down.
  • Alan Rogan’s custom straplock system.
  • Specially built metal jack plates replace the stock plastic jack plate.
  • Grover tuners.
  • Gibson 340 Sonomatic .012 strings (.012, .016, .016 or .018 for G, .032, .044, .056).
  • Truss rod cover usually removed.
  • At least one guitar in 1976 had its pickups disassembled and the parts coated and sealed in resin to reduce hum and undesirable microphonics.

For 1976, Pete had nine guitars for roadwork, maintained by Alan Rogan and set up for each performance. Pete would select six guitars for the main instruments, with the others for backup. The Gibson 340 Sonomatic strings were changed every set on the primary stage instrument.

Gallery of Pete Townshend-once-owned Les Paul Deluxes

#3 1973 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, ca. 1973/74

www.rockstarsguitars.com – 1973 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe – #3 – front www.rockstarsguitars.com – 1973 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe – #3 – rear  www.rockstarsguitars.com – 1973 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe – #3 – rear

Click images to view larger versions. Courtesy Rock Stars Guitars.

From the 1973/74 era, a hand-numbered #3, a 1973 cherry sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, serial no. 135581, courtesy Rock Stars Guitars, rockstarsguitars.com. Headstock and neck joint were broken in concert and repaired. Guitar still shows number sticker residue.

Many thanks to David Brewis. For more on this guitar, see rockstarsguitars.com.

Flood damage, 2010

Note: This guitar was heavily damaged in the Nashville floods in 2010. Photos of the damage can be seen in Premier Guitar, July 2010.

1973 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe

www.rockstarsguitars.com – 1973 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe – #3

Click image to view larger version. Courtesy Rock Stars Guitars.

From the 1973/74 era, a hand-numbered 1973 gold top Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, serial no. 133625, courtesy Rock Stars Guitars, rockstarsguitars.com. Bought by the Who late November 1973 in Illinois. Subsequently given to a family member by Pete. It had Grover tuners fitted by the crew, and a gaffa tape number, since removed.

Many thanks to David Brewis. For more on this guitar, see rockstarsguitars.com.

Unnumbered 1973 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, ca. 1974

Pete Townshend’s 1973 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, courtesy Rock Stars Guitars – Front  Pete Townshend’s 1973 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, courtesy Rock Stars Guitars – Back

Click image to view larger versions. Courtesy Rock Stars Guitars.

Pete’s 1973 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, serial no. 185993, courtesy Rock Stars Guitars, rockstarsguitars.com. Head broken off during the 1974 tour and original headstock was restored. Owned by private collector.

Many thanks to David Brewis. For more on this guitar, see rockstarsguitars.com.

#6 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79 era

#6 1975 Les Paul Deluxe – front, courtesy Brad Rodgers.   #6 1975 Les Paul Deluxe – rear, courtesy Brad Rodgers.

Click image to view larger versions. #6 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79 era. Courtesy Brad Rodgers, whocollection.com.

From the 1976–79 collection, #6, serial no. 99222939, cherry sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, courtesy Brad Rodgers, whocollection.com. Currently in private collection.

#5 Wine Red Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79

From the 1976–79 collection, #5, 1976 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe in Wine Red, serial no. 00129875, courtesy Brad Rodgers, whocollection.com. On display at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio, from 1998–2007.

#5 Wine Red Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79, courtesy Brad Rodgers

Click image to view larger version. (281kb) #5, 1976 Wine Red Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, serial no. 00129875, courtesy Brad Rodgers, whocollection.com.

#5 Wine Red Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79 – body. #5 Wine Red Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79, courtesy Brad Rodgers – back.

Click image to view larger versions. (828kb and 1,008kb) Front and rear closeups of #5, 1976 Wine Red Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, serial no. 00129875, courtesy Brad Rodgers, whocollection.com.

#5 Wine Red Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79, courtesy Brad Rodgers. #5 Wine Red Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79, courtesy Brad Rodgers – front.

Click image to view larger versions. #5, 1976 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, serial no. 00129875, courtesy Brad Rodgers, whocollection.com. On display at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio, from 1998–2007.

1979, #5, Wine Red three-pickup model.

1979

#9 Cherry Sunburst 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79

From the 1976–79 collection, #9, 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe in Wine Red, serial no. 9921766. On display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada.

This guitar was used as the model for the Gibson Custom Shop’s third (in a series of three) Pete Townshend Signature Les Paul Deluxe in 2005.

#9 Cherry Sunburst 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79 series, on display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Lorne Mitchell.

Click image to view larger version. (1.1mb) #9, 1975 Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, serial no. 9921766. On display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Lorne Mitchell.

#9 Cherry Sunburst 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79 series, on display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Lorne Mitchell.

Click image to view larger version. (1.5mb) #9, 1975 Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, serial no. 9921766. On display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Lorne Mitchell.

#9 Cherry Sunburst 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79 series, on display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Lorne Mitchell.

Click image to view larger version. (1.3mb) #9, 1975 Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, serial no. 9921766. On display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Lorne Mitchell.

#9 Cherry Sunburst 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79 series, on display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Lorne Mitchell.

Click image to view larger version. (1.3mb) #9, 1975 Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, serial no. 9921766. On display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Lorne Mitchell.

#9 Cherry Sunburst 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79 series, on display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Lorne Mitchell.

Click image to view larger version. (1.3mb) #9, 1975 Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, serial no. 9921766. On display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Lorne Mitchell.

1979, #9, Cherry Sunburst three-pickup model.

1979

#9 Cherry Sunburst 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79 series, on display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Brad Rodgers.

Click image to view larger version. #9, 1975 Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, serial no. 9921766. On display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Brad Rodgers, whocollection.com.

#9 Cherry Sunburst 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from 1976–79 series, on display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Brad Rodgers.

Click image to view larger version. #9, 1975 Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, serial no. 9921766. On display at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy Brad Rodgers, whocollection.com.

1976–1979-era models and whereabouts

The mid-1976- to 1979-era collection, with modifications as noted, above. Courtesy whocollection.com. Many thanks to Brad Rodgers. For more, see whocollection.com.

The mid-1976- to 1979-era Gibson Les Paul Deluxe collection
# Color Year Whereabouts Serial No.
* Model had black pickup surround on middle pickup, a la prototype three-pickup models.
1 Wine Red Retained by Pete. Now on display at Hard Rock Café, Dallas, Texas, USA, as of 2007.
2 Cherry Sunburst* Whereabouts unknown
3 Gold Top 1976 Hard Rock Vault, Orlando, Fla. 00129732
4 Wine Red Broken 1976 (Toronto) and not replaced
5 Wine Red 1976 Owned by Brad Rodgers; on display at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio, from 1998–2007. 00129875
6 Cherry Sunburst 1975 In private collection 99222939
7 Wine Red* 1975 Owned by Ricky Byrd
8 Cherry Sunburst * Retained by Pete
9 Cherry Sunburst 1975 Hard Rock Hotel – Las Vegas 9921766

Additional guitars

#6 Gold Top Gibson Les Paul Deluxe – serial no. 133592

23 December 1975 Hammersmith Odeon show – headstock owned by Chris Parry (courtesy Joe G’s site, thewho.org); In 2002, the headstock and body were reunited. See repair story.

Unnumbered three-pickup (prototype) Gold Top Gibson Les Paul Deluxe

Likely used (and destroyed) early 1976, owned by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. See photo, courtesy whocollection.com.

Selected quotes from Pete Townshend

All quotes and references are copyright their original owners and are included for reference only.

From the May/June 1972 issue of Guitar Player:

My favorite guitar now for the stage is the Les Paul Deluxe with the small epiphone pickups that you can buy on the shelf for $50.00. They’re like Humbucking, but they’re small, like what you have on Epiphones, and they’re really loud. I like those. I think that’s what I’ll probably end up using, either that or I quite like those Dan Armstrong pickups.

1979, #1, Wine Red three pickup model

1979

1979, #3, Gold top, three pickup.

1979

From April 1980 issue of Sound International article, courtesy Joe G’s site.

SI: What is your main stage equipment now?

PT: For the last couple of years it’s been Les Paul Deluxes and I think they’re probably what I’ll stick with; the standard guitar, and again I usually have to go through about 20 before I find a good one. I have about six or seven of them. I’ve tried Hamer and Alembics and Ibanez and Yamaha and these people make guitars that are much, much better than Gibsons. But I’ve gotten into the weight and the shape of the Deluxes. The pickup suits the amp. The higher level DiMarzios and things like that, which most of these guitar makers are now using, don’t seem to suit my amplifiers. What I need is a fairly clean sound and then the amp looks after the distortion. And a lot of these current model guitars are made with the possibilities to get a clean sound or a dirty sound out of a transistor amp. But I’m still using valve amps. They’re modified slightly: I put a DiMarzio pickup in the middle but I never use it. I don’t know why. I bloody bother doing it. I just like the way it looks. The DiMarzio is the one where you can switch between two sounds (Super Distortion). I sometimes use that in the studio; I have one Les Paul that has three of those on it and each is switchable so you can get some really interesting sounds out of that. The thing I’ve had the most trouble with on my Les Pauls is the quality of the wood in the neck. It’s kiln dried and a lot of the resin gets dried out with the moisture and under the rough treatment I give them they don’t seem to last very long. I remember once an old mate of mine who used to work for Sunn became a representative for Gibson and he came to see me and asked why I didn’t do a deal with Gibson. I said, ‘The day you can bring me a Gibson off the end of the production line like this kid is going to save up his money for and it’s good then I’ll put my name on it.’ And he said he’d make me anything I’d like and he’d get me special instruments and I said that’s not the point. If I’m putting my name on it I’m putting my name on something somebody is going to go out and buy. And if I pick up a guitar in a store and there are six there and every one of the six are good then maybe I’d consider putting my name on it. But I’ve never really done any deals on guitars. For a long time Gibson wouldn’t do it and when I could have afforded some help they didn’t want to give it. So now I’m very touchy about doing it. I endorse Boogie amps because they’re handmade and a lot of care goes into them and they’re good and the people who make them won’t compromise. At least they haven’t yet. They’re not entirely to my taste; they’re much more complicated than they look and they’re quite hard to get used to. I don’t get them for nothing. I wish I did. I have to put my name on them to get one at all.

Click to view larger version. No. 6 two-pickup Les Paul Deluxe, repaired.

Click to view larger version No. 6 two-pickup Les Paul Deluxe gold top, s/n 133592, repaired. The guitar was smashed 23 December 1975, Hammersmith Odeon.

From the October 1989 issue of Guitar Player:

GP: You went through a period in the ’70s when you were performing with Les Paul Deluxes almost exclusively, and your models were decorated with large numerals on their faces. What was the code, and what purpose did their two extra toggles serve?

PT: I had various versions: There was a three-pickup one that had three toggles to switch the pickups on and off, but I think the toggle on the others — these were Deluxes, with those small humbuckers — was an extra switch to double-boost the Seymour Duncan in the middle for feedback. They were numbered because I had 10 of them and they seemed to go in and out of action. I used to need four in good shape: I’d have one main guitar, one with a capo on it for “Baba O’Riley,” another one with a capo on it for “Drowned,” one spare for the capo guitars and another spare. I was carrying five, so another three on the road seemed logical. Alan Rogan, my guitar man, put the numbers on. I don’t have very much to do with my guitars — it’s absurd [laughs].

…those guitars went in and out of action with an unpatterned regularity. “Back then,” offers [Alan] Rogan, “there were five main guitars, although that basically meant one Les Paul and ten spares. However, Numbers One, Two, and Three at the beginning of a tour weren’t necessarily the main guitars at the end. The first three Pete would have arrived at after trying a number of guitars, and the rest would become spares. Working with the others at the soundcheck and the gig, he may change his preference; Number Three would become Number Five, and Number Five would become Number Two — whatever. It’s much simpler these days, thank goodness.”

Photo Gallery

1972

17 Aug. 1972, Oude Rai, Amsterdam, a cherry sunburst model, with original tulip tuners.

17 Aug. 1972, Oude Rai, Amsterdam, a cherry sunburst model, with original tulip tuners.

17 Aug. 1972, Oude Rai, Amsterdam, a cherry sunburst model, with original tulip tuners.

1972, possibly 17 Aug. 1972, Oude Rai, Amsterdam, closeup detail of original tulip tuners.

17 Aug. 1972, Oude Rai, Amsterdam, a cherry sunburst model, with original tulip tuners.

17 Aug. 1972, Oude Rai, Amsterdam, a cherry sunburst model, with original tulip tuners. Courtesy The Who Netherlands Photo Gallery (offline). ©Henk Hulstkamp.

August 1972, cherry sunburst model, with Gold Top model on stand at right.

21 Aug. 1972, KB-Hallen, Denmark, playing cherry sunburst model, with Gold Top model on stand at right.

1972, cherry sunburst model

9 Sept. 1972, cherry sunburst model, with strap pin behind neck/body joint.

1972, cherry sunburst model.

9 Sept. 1972, cherry sunburst model, with strap pin behind neck/body joint.

1972, cherry sunburst model, with strap pin behind neck/body joint.

9 Sept., 1972, cherry sunburst model, with strap pin behind neck/body joint.

1972, cherry sunburst model, with strap pin behind neck/body joint.

9 Sept., 1972, cherry sunburst model, with strap pin behind neck/body joint.

1972, cherry sunburst model, with strap pin behind neck/body joint.

9 Sept., 1972, cherry sunburst model, with strap pin behind neck/body joint.

1972, cherry sunburst model, with strap pin behind neck/body joint.

Click to view larger version 9 Sept., 1972, cherry sunburst model, with strap pin behind neck/body joint.

1973

Click to view larger version: Nov. 20, 1973, Cow Palace, San Francisco, with cherry sunburst model. Photo courtesy Dennis McCoy and Brad Rodgers Click to view larger version: Nov. 20, 1973, Cow Palace, San Francisco, with cherry sunburst model. Photo courtesy Dennis McCoy and Brad Rodgers Click to view larger version: Nov. 20, 1973, Cow Palace, San Francisco, with gold top model. Photo courtesy Dennis McCoy and Brad Rodgers

Click to view larger versions 20 Nov., 1973, Cow Palace, San Francisco, with cherry sunburst and gold top models. Photos courtesy Dennis McCoy and Brad Rodgers (whocollection.com).

1973, unnumbered two-pickup cherry sunburst model.

20 Nov., 1973, Cow Palace, San Francisco, unnumbered two-pickup cherry sunburst model.

20 Nov., 1973, Cow Palace, San Francisco, three gold top and cherry sunburst spares on stands at stage left.

20 Nov., 1973, Cow Palace, San Francisco, three gold top and cherry sunburst spares on stands at stage left.

1973, unnumbered two-pickup Gold Top model.

11 Nov., 1973, Lyceum, unnumbered two-pickup gold top model (coloured by the stage lighting), with at least two gold top spares at stage left.

December 1973, Edmonton Sundown, with at three spares at stage left.

December 1973, Edmonton Sundown, with at three spares at stage left.

1974

1974, hand-numbered two-pickup cherry sunburst model.

1974, hand-numbered two-pickup cherry sunburst model.

1974, hand-numbered #2, two-pickup Gold top model.

1974, hand-numbered #2, two-pickup Gold top model.

Ca. 1974, backstage, tuning a capoed hand-numbered two-pickup cherry sunburst model, with gold and cherry sunburst models on stands.

Ca. 1974, backstage, tuning a capoed hand-numbered two-pickup cherry sunburst model, with gold and cherry sunburst models on stands.

1975

1975, Gold top, #1 of the two-pickup series.

1975, Gold top, #1 of the two-pickup series.

1975, #2 two-pickup Gold top model, with blue-face Gelf preamp visible on top of Hiwatt amp.

1975, #2 two-pickup Gold top model, with blue-face Gelf preamp visible on top of Hiwatt amp.

1975, Gold top, #2 of two-pickup series.

1975, Gold top, #2 of two-pickup series.

1976

Ca. August 1976, with unnumbered Gold top three-pickup model. Courtesy and © Mike Landskroner.

Ca. August 1976, with unnumbered Gold top three-pickup model. Courtesy and © Mike Landskroner.

Early ’76, cherry sunburst, hand-numbered three-pickup model, with prototype-era black surround of the middle-position pickup.

Early ’76, cherry sunburst, hand-numbered three-pickup model, with prototype-era black surround of the middle-position pickup.

Ca. late 1975 or early 1976, cherry sunburst, early three-pickup version with two-tone middle-position pickup with black surround, and no guitar number.

Ca. late 1975 or early 1976, cherry sunburst, early three-pickup version with two-tone middle-position pickup with black surround, and no guitar number.

Ca. late 1975 or early 1976, Gold top, early three-pickup version with black surround on middle-position pickup, and no guitar number. White-faced Gelf preamp visible below Hiwatt DR103W amplifier.

Ca. late 1975 or early 1976, Gold top, early three-pickup version with black surround on middle-position pickup, and no guitar number. White-faced Gelf preamp visible below Hiwatt DR103W amplifier.

12 June 1976, cherry or tobacco sunburst early three-pickup version with black surround on middle-position pickup, and no guitar number

12 June 1976, dark cherry or tobacco sunburst early three-pickup version with black surround on middle-position pickup, and no guitar number.

Pete’s Gold top: unnumbered prototype three-pickup model, destroyed. Owned by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Courtesy whocollection.com.

Click to view larger version. Pete’s Gold top: unnumbered prototype three-pickup model, destroyed. Owned by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Courtesy whocollection.com.

Pete’s Gold top: unnumbered prototype three-pickup model, destroyed. Owned by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Click to view larger version. Pete’s Gold top: unnumbered prototype three-pickup model, destroyed. Owned by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Courtesy Martin Forsbom.

Early ’76, Gold top, the “first” number 4 of the three-pickup series, still with prototype-era black surround of the middle-position pickup.

Early ’76, Gold top, the “first” number 4 of the three-pickup series, still with prototype-era black surround of the middle-position pickup.

1976, Wine Red model, the “second” number 4 of the three-pickup series.

1976, Wine Red model, the “second” number 4 of the three-pickup series.

Ca. 1976, Alan Rogan, Pete’s guitar tech, lugs the “second” number 4 of the three-pickup series.

Ca. October 1976, Alan Rogan, Pete’s guitar tech, lugs the “second” number 4 of the three-pickup series.

Click to view larger version. October 1976, backstage in Oakland, Calif., tuning up with a Conn strobe tuner. From left to right, nos. 6 (Cherry Sunburst), 4 (Wine Red), 5 (Wine Red), 3 (Gold Top), 1 (Wine Red).

Click to view larger version. October 1976, backstage in Oakland, Calif., tuning up with a Conn strobe tuner. From left to right, nos. 6 (Cherry Sunburst), 4 (Wine Red), 5 (Wine Red), 3 (Gold Top), 1 (Wine Red).

Smashed

Pete’s smashed No. 4 Gold Top Les Paul Deluxe featured in a January 1987 Guitar Player magazine poster.

The article claims it is from the Quad tour but it is more likely from from spring 1976 as it has the middle pickup routing and extra switch.

The guitar is featured in an interview with Gibson’s Buck Munger.

Thanks to Chris

Click to view larger version. 1987 Guitar Player magazine poster.

Click to view larger version. 1987 Guitar Player magazine poster.

Click to view larger version. 1987 Guitar Player magazine poster.

Click to view larger version. 1987 Guitar Player magazine poster.

Click to view larger version. 1987 Guitar Player magazine poster.

Click to view larger version. 1987 Guitar Player magazine poster.

1978

Click to view larger version.  Ca. 1978, in the studio, with no. 1.

Click to view larger version. Ca. 1978, in the studio, with no. 1. In the background, Gretsch Chet Atkins next to MESA/Boogie MkII combo.

Click to view larger version.  Ca. 1978, in the studio, with no. 1.

Click to view larger version. Ca. 1978, in the studio, with no. 1.

Ca. 1978, at the Who Exhibition in London, cherry sunburst, #2 three-pickup model, with prototype-era black surround of the two-tone middle-position pickup.

Ca. 1978, at the Who Exhibition in London, cherry sunburst, #2 three-pickup model, with prototype-era black surround of the two-tone middle-position pickup.

After 1979

1979, cherry sunburst, #9 of the three-pickup series.

1979, cherry sunburst, #9 of the three-pickup series.

1979, cherry sunburst, #2 three-pickup model, with prototype-era black surround of the two-tone middle-position pickup.

1979, cherry sunburst, #2 three-pickup model, with prototype-era black surround of the two-tone middle-position pickup.

Click to view larger version. November 1979, backstage, with three Les Paul Deluxes and one Schecter/Giffin Tele-style guitar on stands behind Kenney Jones.

Click to view larger version. November 1979, backstage, with three Les Paul Deluxes and one Schecter/Giffin Tele-style guitar on stands behind Kenney Jones.

Ca. 1980, with cherry sunburst no. 8, with prototype-era black surround of the middle-position pickup.

Ca. 1980, with cherry sunburst no. 8, with prototype-era black surround of the middle-position pickup.

Ca. 1985, in the studio for White City sessions, with cherry sunburst, #8, with prototype-era black surround of the middle-position pickup.

Ca. 1985, in the studio for White City sessions, with cherry sunburst, #8, with prototype-era black surround of the middle-position pickup.

Auction profiles

1972 cherry sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe – s/n 956924

This guitar was smashed (into five pieces) at Newcastle Odeon, 5 November 1973. Guitar was owned by Clint Nurse (of the band Beaver) from 1975, who had it repaired by the late Andy Driver. Guitar was sold via Christie’s auction (below), 5 May 2005 for £24,000 (estimated £20,000). (Clint also owned a 1963 Gibson Polaris White SG Special, sold via Christie’s in September 2004.) Current owner unknown.

Many thanks to Clint Nurse. Visit Clint’s band: Beaver. Photos courtesy and ©Clint Nurse.

Click to view larger version. Gibson cherry sunburst Les Paul Deluxe. Courtesy Clint Nurse.

Click to view larger version. Gibson cherry sunburst Les Paul Deluxe. Courtesy Clint Nurse.

Click to view larger version. Clint Nurse with Les Paul Deluxe

Click to view larger version. Clint Nurse with Les Paul Deluxe

Click to view larger version. Clint Nurse, with Les Paul Deluxe and Gibson SG Special, prior to auction.

Click to view larger version. Clint Nurse, with Les Paul Deluxe and Gibson SG Special, prior to auction.

Click to view larger version. Les Paul Deluxe, repair detail. Courtesy Clint Nurse.

Click to view larger version. Les Paul Deluxe, repair detail. Courtesy Clint Nurse.

Click to view larger version. Gibson Les Paul Deluxe about to be smashed, at Newcastle Odeon, 5 November 1973. Courtesy Clint Nurse.

Click to view larger version. Gibson Les Paul Deluxe about to be smashed, at Newcastle Odeon, 5 November 1973. Courtesy Clint Nurse.

Click to view larger version. News of the World article from May 1, 2005: “Twang goes £20k” Courtesy Clint Nurse.

Click to view larger version. News of the World article from May 1, 2005: “Twang goes £20k” Courtesy Clint Nurse.

Christie’s auction info:

Click to view larger version: 1972 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe (serial no. 956924) in cherry sunburst, for auction at Christie’s. © Christie’s.

Click to view larger version. 1972 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe (serial no. 956924) in cherry sunburst, for auction at Christie’s. © Christie’s.

Christie’s auctions Pete’s 1972 cherry sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe

On 5 May 2005, Christie’s auction house sold one of Pete’s guitars, a 1972 cherry sunburst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe for £24,000 (U.S.$45,600) as part of its Pop Memorabilia sale in South Kensington. The guitar was estimated at £20,000–£30,000. (Pete’s 1963 Gibson SG Special sold in 2004 for £85,000, a record for a Pete-owned guitar.)

Christie’s description:

Lot 185

2BA circa 1972 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, Serial No. 956924, in cherry sunburst finish, single cutaway body, mahogany neck, 22 fret bound rosewood fingerboard with crown inlays, two mini-humbucker pickups, four rotary controls, selector switch, metal bridge and cream pickguard — owned by Pete Townshend, circa 1973–19781975 and played by him onstage; accompanied by a black softshell case and a document concerning the provenance.

Research suggests that this Gibson was played by Pete Townshend at either The Who’s concerts in Newcastle, 5–7 November, 1973, or at the Madison Square Garden concerts, 10–14 June, 1974.

This Gibson Les Paul Deluxe was given by Pete Townshend to an employee who subsequently sold it to the current vendor. When the guitar was given away by Townshend it was in three pieces. The only unoriginal parts are the headstock, which apparently was unrepairable, and the pickups, which are replacements as one of the original mini humbuckers was missing so both were replaced with standard humbuckers.

Pete Townshend owned this guitar until 1975, not 1978 as stated in the catalogue, when it was acquired by the current owner.

Information and photo © Christie’s.

For further information, see christies.com/LotFinder/search/LOTDETAIL.ASP?sid=&intObjectID=4480796.

Christies auction Les Paul Deluxe Rear

Auction: 1972/73 Gold Top Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, Serial No. 133625

News (14 June 2011): Christie’s auctioned a gold top Gibson Les Paul Deluxe in its Popular Culture: Rock and Pop Memorabilia auction on 14 June 2011 in South Kensington, London. Item is lot 226 and was estimated £20,000–£30,000. Realised £31,250 (U.S.$50,719). For more information, see christies.com.

Pete Townshend owned and used Gibson Les Paul Gold Top guitar. One of Townshend’s earliest Les Pauls used during the 1973–1974 American leg of the Quadrophenia tour. One of the first Les Pauls Townshend played following his move from the Gibson SG Special, his first main stage guitar.

A circa 1972/73 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, Serial No. 133625, in gold finish, single cutaway mahogany body, maple top, mahogany neck, 22-fret bound fingerboard with crown inlays, two humbucker pickups, Grover tuners, four rotary controls, combination metal bridge/stud tailpiece and cream pickguard, with sticker to base of body Bob and Judy Heil’s, Ye Olde Music Shop, and original black hardshell Gibson contour case with orange plush lining — owned by Pete Townshend circa 1973–1976 and played by him onstage during the American Quadrophenia tour; with a colour photograph of Townshend on stage during the tour playing a similar Gold Top guitar 5x7in. (13x18cm.) printed later; accompanied by a signed letter from Pete Townshend concerning the provenance in which he states that he ...lent the guitar to my brother-in-law and studio colleague, Jon Astley in about 1975–76... When Jon tried to return it, I decided to give it to him.

Lot 226

£20,000–30,000 (US$31,000–45,000; €23,000–34,000)

Pete Townshend turned to the Gibson Les Paul Deluxe guitar in August 1972 when the Gibson SG Special, that had been Pete’s first main stage guitar, was discontinued. Townshend had been experimenting with the Les Paul Deluxe prior to this, intermixing them with the use of his trusted SG. It was important for Townshend to have a stable guitar where replacements could be easily obtained after frequent performances where Pete smashed his guitar onstage. In an interview in 2001 Townshend guessed that over the years it was likely that he had destroyed around 200 guitars on stage.

The Les Paul Deluxe soon became Pete’s guitar of choice for recording and touring by the Autumn of 1973, in the accompanying letter Pete writes This Les Paul Deluxe guitar was originally sold to me by Bob Heil for the American tour of Quadrophenia in 1973. The majority of these early Les Pauls were in a cherry sunburst finish, but a few were the more distinctive ‘Gold Top’ such as the one in this lot. The illustrated photograph in the catalogue, taken by Neal Preston, shows Pete playing a similar Les Paul Gold Top during the US tour. He continued to use this model of guitar throughout the 1970s, which has been attributed to the Who’s individual sound during what is considered to be the bands most revered era.

It is this model of guitar associated with the distinct numbering system devised by Pete and Alan Rogan, his guitar tech. The pair decided to number each guitar, between 1–5, with tape initially on the back of the body. A quick and unique way to differentiate which guitar was at a specific capo setting for smooth and swift guitar changes during Townshend’s dynamic performances. Pete recalls that the guitar in this lot, .. was my #5 stage guitar on that tour and must be one of my earliest Les Paul’s. It’s unmodified, apart from the machine-heads, which were replaced with Grovers. The guitar remained in Pete’s possession until circa 1975–1976 when he then gave it to Jon Astley, his long term producer and engineer.

Realised £31,250 (U.S.$50,719)

For more information, see christies.com.

Modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe (serial no. 450022)

Modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe (serial no. 450022)

A 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe in cherry sunburst featuring the third-pickup modification and control switches, enlarged rear cavity, the Alan Rogan-style straplock system and removed truss-rod cover. This guitar was given away in November 1982 by WLS radio in Chicago, Illinois.

Note: This guitar appears to have been built to Pete’s specification but likely was never played by him.

Click images to view larger versions. This guitar is in private collection.

Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – in case
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – rear of body
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – rear of body
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – heaastock rear
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. top of body
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – front view
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – headstock
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – control view.
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – front view, close up
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – front view
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – with Rosemont Horizon 1982 ticket stub.
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – serial number stamp
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – serial number stamp
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – front view
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – front closeup
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – heel closeup
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – heel closeup 2
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – jackplate closeup 1
Click to view larger version. A modified 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. In private collection. – jackplate closeup 2

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