Gibson Historic ’59 Les Paul Reissue VOS Review

If you were to name a guitar that is as famous as many of the bands and musicians themselves, you would be quick to shout out the name of the Les Paul. This classic instrument has been at the heart of rock n roll and you will likely find photos or video footage of all of the biggest names in rock with a Les Paul in their hands. This is why it can be pointless to focus on a particular artist or musician with respect to the instrument but in the summer of 2012, the guitar was found at some of the biggest shows in the world thanks to its patronage by John Squire.

When The Stones Roses came back with their Second Coming album, it was apparent that there was a rockier element to John Squire’s sound throughout the album. At this time, his guitar of choice was a Gibson Les Paul ’59 and this remains a key component of his arsenal during the band’s reunion. While this instrument remains the Holy Grail for many guitarists, there are a number of imitations that can give players the look, if not the sound, they are looking for. However, the official Gibson Historic ’59 Les Paul Reissue VOS (Vintage Original Specs) provides the opportunity to get your hands on one of the biggest names in music.


When it comes to guitars that look good, most instruments stand behind the Gibson Les Paul and the ’59 is easily one of the greatest looking instruments ever made. The modern reissue is a great remake of the classic and in the right light; it is easy to see why so many people would be taken in by this newer model. All credit to Gibson who have pulled out virtually all the stops to make this such a brilliant looking and playing instrument.

The Gibson Historic ’59 Les Paul Reissues VOS provides:

  • 22 frets
  • A mahogany neck and body
  • Three way switch
  • Two volume dials
  • Two tone dials

Sound / Tones

Given that this instrument is a perfect recreation of the guitar that so many of your favourite musicians play, you probably don’t need too much assistance in describing the Gibson ’59 sound. The thing is though, the main sound from the instrument is probably a lot sharper than you would imagine. There is a soft treble that can be found alongside the low end which helps to create a melodic sound. Putting the Gibson ’59 through a heap of pedals and amps can dramatically distort the sound but on its own, it can provide a sharp tone to your play.

Of course, with two tone dials and BurstBucker pick-ups, you can start to add a lot more drive and power to your sound. Whether you want to imitate John Squire, Slash, Clapton or Keith Richards, you will very quickly find that this instrument puts complete control in your hands.

Playability / Action / Ease of Use:

At the time, one of the biggest innovations in the original Les Paul ’59 was the wider frets. These frets may have been surpassed by modern day frets which have a much larger size but they were pretty ground-breaking at the time, opening up the guitar for string-bending and finger vibrato players. There is absolutely no reason why anyone would have any issues or difficulty in playing the Les Paul ’59, in fact, the hardest thing may be getting a guitarist to put the instrument down.

Build / Reliability

Weighing in at around 9lbs, you know this is a guitar with a strong build. Ironically, upon seeing the guitar close up, there is a slight concern that the finish seems a bit thin. However, given the nature of the project and the intention to recreate the original guitar as closely as possible, this is exactly what players should be looking for. If you are massively intent in having an instrument that apes the original, there will be one element that lets you down. The ’59 reissue does not utilise Brazilian rosewood fingerboards nor does it use Honduran mahogany. There are a number of reasons for this, no doubt including ethical and contractual obligations. It is a minor quibble but given the overall cost of the instrument, it is a quibble that some will be happy to make.

Price / Value

The fact that this is a reissue as opposed to being the original thing would have many people thinking that the price would be quite affordable but you will be looking to pay a minimum of $5,000 for the ’59 Les Paul reissue. There is no getting away from it, this is a very expensive guitar and it is easy to see why so many people turn to imitations to get the look. The thing is though, none of the copies or imitations, even the good ones, manage to get close to the look and feel that this guitar brings. The VOS range of Gibson guitars manage to do what they set out to do, to give the modern guitarist as close to the real thing as possible and for many, this is the important factor. Also, with every instrument being built individually and having its own unique finish, you are getting a one-of-a-kind guitar in your hands when you buy it.

It is a high price to pay but if you can afford it, there is value for money to be had from the Gibson ’59 Les Paul reissue.

The Verdict / Impression

With this reissue, you are getting as close to the Holy Grail of rock n roll as you are ever likely to get. The look of the guitar is stunning and the sound is exactly as you want it to be. There are many cheaper imitations available but you get exactly what you pay for with these instruments and indeed, the Gibson ’59 Les Paul VSO. If you have the money, there should be no hesitation in recommending this instrument but at such a high price, there will likely be a lot of soul searching going on before you make up your mind on whether this is a purchase you can make.

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Andrew Reilly

Indie and rock n roll were the main genres that inspired Andrew to first fall for the guitar, but as the years went by he developed a wider appreciation of other genres like blues and country.
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