Follow me :       Siguenos en Facebook   Síguenos en Twitter   


"Old Black" Neil Young Replica

Hello folks.

This time I´m bringing you more than a custom work job, it´s a great conversion project of a Gibson Les Paul, the legendary guitar of the no less legendary Neil Young.
As you can see in the next pics, it is an instrument that has been with Neil for decades, becoming an icon by itself, as many other legendary guitars of other artists.

The guitar has been with him for a long time, with its famous peace & dove strap.

These pictures are the only ones with good quality that I´ve been able to find of the original Old Black. As you can see, the guitar has been heavily customized, with unique details which in this project I´ll try to imitate to the most detailed as possible.

The back of the guitar is no less unique than in the previous view, with its very unique features, some of them which remain a mystery even today. I´ll be talking about them soon.

Gibson manufactured replicas of the guitar, but without the "relic".

The guitar has lots of features that I will be detailing step by step as I go along with the project.

First of all, there is no "official" version where all the mods and different changes made to the guitar are explained. Almost all are just speculation based on the point in time when they were made, although some of them seem quite close to what really happened.
According to several sources, the original is a 1953 Les Paul Goldtop.


There are stories though that claim that the bridge was not a ´53 but the trapezoid one like the "first" Les Paul, so it would be a ´52 bought in ´53.

Who knows?. Anyway it seems that when Neil Young bought it used in 1968 it had been already modded. The bridge pup was replaced for a Gretsch Dynasonic_DeArmond, that Neil replaced in 1972 for a Firebird mini humbucker which is the one on the guitar nowadays and gives the guitar its unique tone. This pickup works in a 2-way thanks to a mini switch located between the volume and tone knobs, which allows to have the pickup signal through the circuitry or straight to the output jack.

In 1969, a Bigsby B7 + an ABR-1 bridge were added. Exact year is not known but it´s possible that also in 1969 the Schaller M6 tuners were added, along with a few other features which I´ll describe later.

As a start point, I received a 2010 Les Paul Studio 50s, the Gibson budget version of a ´56 Goldtop. The original owner replaced the truss rod cover for a Deluxe´s.

No neck binding, luckily the inlays are the same ones as in a Standard Les Paul.

"Natural" binding in the body.

Gibson P90s in both bridge and neck positions.

Detail of the body "binding", not quite well made, by the way.

4 piece mahogany body.

Deluxe machine tuners. I deleted the serial number, but the year is visible in the pic.

Metal sheet to attach the P90. It will be removed.

I will also remove or rather "hide" the holes left by the StopBar, as Old Black doesn´t have have it.

Ok, after showing you what the guitar looked like, I´ll start to mechanize it to start transforming it or in better words, "give" it the appearance of a 1953 Goldtop.

To do this I start milling the neck. It was a very thorough job as I had to create a special press from scratch where it fixed tightly the fretboard and at the same time allowed easy access for the press. It was a fret-by-fret work on both sides, but as you can see the results were excellent.

Same technique was applied to the body. I milled the binding cavity thus obtaining the correct looks of an original 50s Goldtop.

Detail of how perfectly the binding fits.

Next Page