We come from the land of the ice and snow
from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow
the hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands
to fight the horde
singing and crying
Valhalla, i am coming!

I acquired this vintage sunburst Les Paul Standard in 2002 (it was built on the 258th day in 2001) before a gig I played with suck. I remembered my bandmate’s face when he asked me from whom I borrowed the Les Paul from.

I remembered talking with friends about guitars from makers like Paul Reed Smith in the days when a PRS became a more of a fashion statement. All you need is a heavy yet catchy metal tune, and probably look cute clad in a DVS tee and a pair of Carhartt denims way down low. Your record company will be most likely to get you PRS guitars, with a Mesa Dual Rectifier full stack in tow. One thing about PRS guitars, though, is that they are so expensive. In fact, many (read: sour grapes) would go, “…no way I’d play them”, but secretly harbour the desire to own ten.

I decided to get the real axe of the gods of rock (quoting Dewey Finn shamelessly here). Besides, I had been eyeing this beautiful carved chunk (one piece, I may add!) of mahogany for a couple of months. It was also the time when the new(er) and pricier Les Paul Standards were coming out from Nashville (with vintage pickups and hardware). I was surprised no one bought it after so long. I felt it was so much nicer than the honeyburst that hung next to it.

So one day, I bit the bullet and told good ol’ Lee at Sound Control to bring the guitar down for a test drive. I’d also got him to match the price with a competitor, and I got it for a few (hundred) quid less. The guitar played beautifully.

First of all. I’d like to say, I am not that good a guitar player. Honest. My scales go only in the same three fretted box. Probably give or take two frets on each side. My licks are sloppy (and noisy… Trabye said Nirvana was the only thing I could play :P). My only forte, if you can call it that, is rhythm work.

My point is?

This Les Paul is a wonder to play and I think it makes me sound so much better. I know that tone comes from the guitarist although the guitar, and the amp have their part to play as well. Like I could give Jimi Hendrix my Xingxiao Strat and I’m sure he’ll recreate Voodoo Chile as it was in 1970 (this remark goes to the people who moan about how they’d buy a signature series axe and still wouldn’t sound like guitarist x).

In my opinion, when the guitar is of good quality it feels easier and sounds better to play. When that happens, it motivates me to improve myself (I know, *lazy git*). I’m not surprised as this is some quality craftsmanship we have here. I have read that the Gibson somehow didn’t maintain the same standard in quality control for its Les Pauls prior to 2002, which means getting a really good guitar off the rack would have been pretty much a hit-and-miss kind of thing. I must have been one lucky customer, if that was the case.

It’s pretty heavy as it is made of mahogany with a maple top. It has a nitrocellulose finish (I wonder what it’ll look like in 2040!). I must say I had back ache for the first couple of weeks playing it. The neck is rounded (1959 profile). The pickups are not as strong as the ceramic ones in my Explorer. Tone-wise, this guitar sings in a variety of voices. This guitar can either sing sweetly or screams maniacally. Take your pick.

Since owning this Les Paul, I’ve always gigged with it – at the band comp in Newcastle, the Pria Mambo 2 and the 2003 MASSOC Summer Dinner/Dance. I also finally got to do a Pearl Jam tribute set in 2003 with cicatrizRG/lamson radius/kiasu king (who also by the way, used a Gibbo gold top Les Paul) at a gig in Newcastle University. And then the best GIG@Sheffield show in 2008 (see the Bujang Senang cover above).

Currently, my gigging days are kinda in the past and I’d use it for the usual jam seshes in buangruang, or SHCB-related activity.

Body Shape: Les Paul
Body Material: Mahogany
Top: Carved maple
Weight Relief: None
Finish: Gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer in Vintage Sunburst

Material: Mahogany
Scale Length: 24.75″ / 628.65mm
Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
Number Of Frets: 22
Nut Width: 1.69″ / 43.05mm
Inlays: Trapezoids
Tuners: Grover

Finish: Chrome
Bridge: Tune-O-Matic
Tailpiece: Stop Bar
Pickguard: Cream
Control Knobs: Gold Speed Knob
Switch Tip: Cream
Switch washer: Cream
Jack Plate Cover: Chrome

Neck Pickup: 490R (Alnico)
Bridge Pickup: 498T (Alnico)
Controls: 2 Volumes, 2 Tones & Toggle Switch

[Post updated July 2020.]
[1]”Immigrant Song” (Page, Plant) ©1970 Superhype Music Inc ASCAP.