The Gibson Les Paul remains one of the top selling guitars of all time. It attracts young and old alike, and whether it’s early Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, or relative newcomers like Slash, the Les Paul seems to transfer mojo from deep within the Mahogany itself directly into the player. However, in the 1960s not all was rosy in Les Paul-land. This article is not about one particular guitar, but an entire line that, for a time in the 1960s, was not the iconic instrument it is now. What happened to the mighty Les Paul some 50 years ago? And how did it come back?
The humbucker as we know it traces its history back to a design by Seth Lover, who invented it while working for Gibson in 1955. His Patent Applied For (P.A.F.) design has served as the launching pad for innumerable pickups in the nearly six decades since, and these days original examples of those early humbuckers change hands for some pretty impressive figures. But there’s an easier way to tap into that historical tonal mojo, and it’s currently catching the light as I type this and drawing my eye to my Gibson Les Paul: the Seymour Duncan SH-55 Seth Lover humbucker.