'97 LES PAUL ELEGANT Custom Shop, Super Flam Top, N.O.S. NEW
Single cutaway mahogany body, internal sound chambers, set-in mahogany neck, cream bound carved AAA grade maple top, 22 fret bound ebony fingerboard with abalone trapezoid inlay, tune-o-matic bridge/stop tailpiece, blackface peghead with pearl Custom Shop/Gibson logo inlays, black truss rod cover, 3 per side tuners, nickel hardware, clear pickguard, 2 covered humbucker ('57 Classic) pickups, 2 volume/2 tone controls, 3 way toggle switch.
The Les Paul Elegant is features great looks and tone. The body is made from mahogany with a triple-A grade maple top. There are open cavaities in the body to reduce it's weight while at the same time increasing it's resonance. They are called dynamic chambers and help to increase the guitar's interaction with the amp. This is similar to a certain degree with what happens with semi-hollow or hollow body guitars but at a much subtler level. The maple top with it's transparent finishes gives a deep glow as well as the highly figured wood grain. You'll find white-black multi-ply binding on the top and bottom of the body. The bridge is a the classic Tune-O-matic with a stopbar tailpiece.
The 24.75 inch scale length neck is made from a single piece of mahogany. It has an ebony fretboard with 22 frets with white binding around the neck. The binding also matches the pickup covers and 3-way pickup selector label. One interesting thing about this guitar is it's compound radius fretboard. The fretboard at the first fret is flatter and gradually becomes rounder as you get towards the 12th fret. This allows for greating lead playing in the upper registers while leaving the lower registers more adapted to chordal playing. The neck also has a long tenon to increase its connection to the body. The trapezoidal inlays are made of abalone and add a bit of 'elegance' to the already great looking guitar.
The pickups and electronics are all Gibson. It has the traditional two volume and two tone controls (one for each pickup) with a 3-way pickup selector wired: neck, neck+bridge, bridge. The pickups themselves have that great vintage sound. They are the '57 Classic humbuckers which are replicas of the PAF (Patent Applied For) pickups found on the late 50's Gibsons. The '57 classic has a full rich and has enough to give it plenty of crunch. These pickups have Alinco II magnets and use vintage style enamel coated wire. The covers like the rest of the guitar's hardware is nickel plated (chrome) for years of wear.
The Elegant, like most Les Pauls, features a figured maple top over a mahogany body. But the Custom Shop sculpts "tone chambers" into the solid one piece mahogany body on the Elegant, which gives this guitar extraordinary resonance and sustain, with less weight. This Les Paul Elegant weighs just 8.25 pounds! The Les Paul Supreme model also used a similar chambered strategy, however, the Supreme uses a "sandwich" approach, and a carved back with no control cavity access, which will inevitably create a dilemma when you need to clean a scratchy control pot or switch. The Les Paul Elegant, on the other hand, has a traditional back with easy full access to the controls.
The figured bookmatched maple top has a flame pattern. Gibson no longer builds Elegants at all, and the flame top version was discontinued even earlier -- buyers then settled for quilted maple for the final few years of production. The finish over the flamed top is Gibson's gorgeous transparent "Butterscotch" in gleaming nitrocellulose lacquer. The hardware is all nickel. The top and neck have beautiful cream binding. The color scheme is gorgeous and the intense bookmatched flame figuring in the maple is simply extraordinary.
The pickups used in this guitar are Gibson's '57 Classic Humbuckers, which provide growling full, fat, creamy Gibson "Patent Applied For" tone.
One of this guitar's biggest "secret weapons" is the neck and fretboard. The set-in solid mahogany neck features the classic Les Paul rounded back profile. The fretboard is made from the finest jet black ebony and features a unique "compound radius." What is that? Well, all fretboards have some curvature. Vintage guitars tend to have a more round curvature, as round as the surface of a circle with 7.25 inch radius. The old vintage radius was comfortable for the basic chords on the first few frets. On the other hand, many newer necks tend to have a flatter radius of 9.5" to 12" or more. These necks allow for easier lead work and are more comfortable on the higher frets. The Gibson Custom Shop's ingenious compound radius actually gives you the best of both worlds. On the low frets the fretboard is more rounded, and as you work your way up the neck, it grows more flat, so the radius is always optimal for the kind of playing you are doing in whatever position your hand might be on the board. You can lay the action as low as you want to over the frets, and you can bend notes until they cry for mercy.