With his glam-rock looks and pop-metal hooks, Marc Bolan led his band T. Rex into the stratosphere in the late '60s and early '70s, and his customized Gibson Les Paul was the fuel that propelled it all skyward. Dressed in a simplicity that gave them a broad and infectious appeal, songs like "Ride a White Swan," "Get It On (Bang a Gong)," "Jeepster," "Metal Guru," "Children of the Revolution" and "20th Century Boy" were laced through with addictive riffs and crunching rhythm guitar that sounded consistently massive—and hooked burgeoning metal-heads and teeny-boppers alike. Bolan's star burned out far too soon when he died in a car accident in Southwest London in 1977 shortly before his 30th birthday, but his music and its influence have remained strong over the intervening decades.
To honor this star's legacy, Gibson Custom introduces the Marc Bolan Les Paul, a detailed recreation of the much-modified Les Paul that accompanied Bolan throughout the height of his career. With its replacement Custom Model neck and headstock (added to Bolan's late-'50s Les Paul when its original neck was broken in the early '70s), un-covered humbucking pickups including zebra-coil neck unit, and stripped "Bolan Chablis" finish, the Marc Bolan Les Paul is the spitting image of the iconic original. Add in its superior neck and body tonewoods, period-correct design and construction, and accurate PAF-style humbucking pickups, and this great Artist Model also nails the meaty, rich tone of its legendary inspiration.
The Marc Bolan Les Paul will be produced in a strictly limited run, including 100 hand Aged guitars, and a further 350 aged with Gibson Custom's acclaimed VOS process. Each will include an Artist Model Certificate of Authenticity, a plush-lined hardshell case, a vintage replica guitar strap, and warranty literature.
Reserve yours now at your authorized Gibson Custom dealer, and get it on... before they're gone.
T. Rex Tone, from a Legendary Les Paul Reborn
Although the Les Paul Custom neck with which it was most often seen has lead to some confusion over the origins of Marc Bolan's guitar, the instrument was actually a late-'50s Les Paul that was stripped and refinished by Bolan himself in a faded translucent orange dubbed "Bolan Chablis", then "re-necked" after an accident in the early '70s. As such, the body of the Gibson Custom Marc Bolan Les Paul is produced with period-correct woods and techniques, and includes a solid (non-chambered) one-piece mahogany body and carved plain maple top, as revealed through Gibson Custom's recreation of Bolan's own "DIY" refinishing work, while its sides and back retain the original back finish.
Its mahogany neck is set with a long-tenon neck joint like all the great original Les Pauls, for added resonance and sustain, although its look and the rest of its construction mark a major departure for the instrument. Like the early-'70s Les Paul Custom neck that Bolan had added to his guitar in the course of its repair, this neck carries the ebony fingerboard that distinguishes that "upgraded" model, along with the large mother-of-pearl block inlays, period-correct 14º headstock pitch, and mother-of-pearl split-diamond headstock inlay in a holly headstock veneer.
To translate all of this thick, juicy vintage Les Paul tone to your amp of choice, the guitar carries a pair of Custom Buckers, an accurate PAF-reproduction humbucker designed specifically for the Marc Bolan Les Paul. Along with its mismatched nickel-plated ABR-1 Tune-o-matic bridge and gold-plated aluminum stopbar tailpiece, the Custom-spec gold-plated Grover tuners and a PLEK-cut Corian nut further enhance the resonance and singing sustain of this unique instrument.
With only 450 produced in total—100 hand aged, a further 350 given the VOS (Vintage Original Spec) process—they are bound to go fast, so get your hands on your own Marc Bolan Les Paul today. All are covered by Gibson's Limited Lifetime Warranty and 24/7/365 Customer Service, and include a black Gibson Custom case with plush red lining, Artist Model Certificate of Authenticity with Marc Bolan photo, warranty and adjustment literature, and a vintage style guitar strap.
Body and Finish
Made from the classic tonewood combination of carved maple top and one-piece mahogany back, and dressed in a DIY-style faded translucent "Bolan Chablis" finish, the Marc Bolan Les Paul is an accurate rendition of the much modified late-'50s Les Paul that the T. Rex frontman made his own, and which propelled numerous glam-rock hits of the early '70s.
Click Here To Learn More Neck, Fingerboard and Headstock
As with the most familiar incarnation of Marc Bolan's own Les Paul, this Artist Model carries an early-'70s style Les Paul Custom neck. This includes an ebony fingerboard with mother-of-pearl block inlays, a period-correct 14º headstock pitch, and a holly head veneer with mother-of-pearl split-diamond inlay. It is topped by a Corian nut and aged gold Grover tuners .
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Pickups and Electronics
A pair of custom-made humbucking pickups accurately replicate the tone and performance of the original PAF pickups in Marc Bolan's late-'50s Les Paul, with the unparalleled blend of power, clarity and depth that has made these pickups famous. They are routed through high-quality CTS potentiometers for volume and tone, with "bumble bee" tone capacitors, and a Switchcraft three-way toggle switch.
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The hardware set on the Marc Bolan Les Paul reflects the "mix and match" hardware on the T. Rex frontman's original Les Paul. The guitar wears the original nickel-plated ABR-1 Tune-o-matic bridge of the late-'50s Les Paul, partnered with a gold-plated aluminum stopbar tailpiece and gold-plated Grover tuners derived from the Les Paul Custom. All hardware is either hand aged or VOS aged.
Although a lovely looking piece, Marc's original was of course a Les Paul Standard (which this by rights should've been) - it only 'became' a Custom some years later after various neck changes. Marc's beloved beauty was stolen after rehearsals at studios under the arches in Waterloo. It has never been located since. Marc bought another Les Paul Standard for the 1977 Dandy in the Underworld tour - this was a cherry red guitar (not black as stated above by someone's comment previously). I have had my own Marc Bolan Gibson Les Paul Standard since 1996, and as someone rightly commented, one can get very close to Marc's sound through various amp/cab/fx combinations, but at the end of the day, it is also the way the guitar is actually played as well to obtain that real Bolanic sound - after all, Marc used various guitars when he recorded albums such as Electric Warrior, and The Slider, but it all sits together nicely within that sonic realm. At the end of the day I applaud Gibson issuing a Bolan signature model, even though it seems, from a slightly later American perspective, as at least he can now be regarded as a 'guitar player' as well as Marc Bolan 'pop star'.