Mark knopfler 1958 les paul
When Gibson Custom and Mark Knopfler got together to recreate his legendary ’58, they chose to offer just 250 instruments: 150 in VOS finish, 100 aged and 50 signed by the man himself. Here’s one of those rare aged and signed ones – now sadly all sold.
In what Gibson calls ‘Knopfler Burst’, it’s a subtle fade but with plenty of cherry remaining. The ageing is superb, with all the dings and lacquer checking you’d expect from a guitar that’s done decades on the road. And all the various major ‘events’ that have befallen it, too – a deep scratch across the back of the headstock, a double gouge inside the cutaway, and, of course, the usual buckle wear.
The timbers are classic Les Paul: mahogany back and neck, rosewood fingerboard and subtlely figured maple top. True Historic specs have been uprated to be historically more accurate here and include: Custom Bucker pickups with truer shaped covers; plastics that are closer in colour and composition; double top and neck carve to better evoke the ‘dishing’ effect and profile; and ‘broken’ headstock edges and ‘rolled’ binding edges.
Medium jumbo frets really suit this neck here, and the 303.8mm (12-inch) radius imparts a gloriously familiar feel – if you have the chops, the Knopfler will go with you all the way. Plugging into our Blues Junior test amp, the tones range from the subtle to the brutal, bright, sweet and airy in the top but balls aplenty when needed.
While most Custom Shop guitars are amazing recreations of former Gibson glories, those built for artists seem to be imbued with that little bit more ‘love’. Knopfler has said of his reissue,“I was expecting it to be ‘okay’, but as soon as I picked it up I realised that, not only did it look great, it ‘was’ great.”
We can only agree. But with instruments such as this, objectivity goes out of the window somewhat, and we have to go with what our hearts and guts tell us. The truth is, there’s never been a new Les Paul come through these doors that’s received quite so much adulation. Deputy editor (and Mark Knopfler fan) David Mead is playing the guitar at the adjacent desk as your reviewer writes this. Let’s leave the final comment to him. David: “It looks fantastic, the neck is amazing – even acoustically it sustains forever. It’s the perfect Les Paul.” www.gibson.com
1 Due to the slightly deeper neck, the ‘bell’ truss rod cover was often a mite further from the nut than on ’59s. Also, note the ‘broken’ headstock edges, aged tuners and tinted lacquer over the pearl Gibson logo A rich, almost glowing ‘Knopfler Burst’ finish, correct colour plastics and not too radically figured top make the guitar look eerily ‘real’ Although the heavy cast ‘True Historic’ toggle switch cover plate is fitted as standard, a classic brown plastic one can be found in the Lifton-style case’s bits and bobs compartment We’d love to know how Mark’s original guitar got this curious – and pretty deep – scar between the first- and sixth-string tuners. Two similar ones appear in the cutaway Lacquer checking on the Knopfler is exceptional. It covers the maple top, the holly headstock fascia, and also the area behind the nut – just where you find it on most original Gibsons 1. 3. 4. 2. 5.