Les Paul Junior Double Cut
Lesley West, Johnny Thunders, Keith Richards, Billie Joe Armstrong ... just a few of the players who are associated with the Les Paul Junior, with the double cutaway body. I've even seen pictures of a young Pete Townsend thrashing one of these.
To me, this is the best-looking body Gibson ever came up with. Not quite symmetrical, but close, the cutaways allow better access to the upper frets than the single cutaway of the traditional Les Paul. A solid mahogany slab of wood makes up the body, with no extraneous decorations or frippery added. It was, originally, the entry-level model of the Les Paul line, so the austere look allowed for a lower price.
A few years ago, I bought one of these (a model from the early 2000's which was a Guitar Center Exclusive) from a guy on eBay. I rarely buy a guitar which I haven't held in my hands prior to purchase, but I was wanting the guitar, badly, and there were none to be had on the local scene.
The guitar arrived, in perfect shape, just as described, but I really wanted to send it back. The paint (the famous shiny Gibson lacquer) did not suit, especially on the neck where it stuck to my skin and made it a chore to move up and down the fret board, and the P-100 pickups (a humbucking version of the P-90) just sounded awful.
But, I really wanted this guitar, so I stripped the finish off of the neck (along with the resale value), and swapped the neck pickup for an actual P-90. It was playable, and I used it for slide, but it still didn't suit.
As it arrived...
I found myself still looking at Jr. DC's on eBay, and other sites, lusting after the examples with either nitrocellulose paint jobs, or the transparent cherry finish. I even entertained the notion of buying a less expensive import model, just to get the look and sound I wanted. But, I had an actual American Gibson hanging on the wall, so that seemed a little stupid...
So, this past Friday evening, I decided to fix that problem, once and for all. I pulled the guitar off of the wall, and started removing the paint ( a tedious, 10-hour process over the course of 2 nights). Then, once the paint was off, I started sanding.
Yesterday, as I worked on bikes in the driveway, I alternated my time with finish sanding and, eventually, applying a cherry Swedish Oil finish.
The light spot at the end of the neck is a maple strip which covers the truss rod. Why Gibson put maple there, I have no idea. The other two light spots are filler, where the wood chipped out as I removed the mounting post inserts for the bridge.
Once the finish had dried enough to be handled, I reassembled the guitar so that I could play it at practice, last night. As I did so, I discarded the original P-100 which was still in the bridge position, and replaced it with a Mighty Mite P90 I had purchased last year, for another project. The other project can wait, in order to get this one complete!
So, here is the final assembly. The new bridge pickup is a huge improvement, and the tone of the guitar is more pleasing to me on both pickups, now that the wood is no longer buried under a sixteenth of an inch of lacquer.
The Les Paul Corner of the living room is much more pleasing to me, now!
I suspect that the Junior is going to get a lot more playing time, in the future, than it has in the past.