les paul custom shop

1959 ES-140
1961 Les Paul Junior
2007 SG Classic
2011 SG Standard Exclusive
1969 SG Standard
1968 SG Special
2006 ‘60 Strat Relic
2005 Limited '66 Strat Closet Classic
1988 American Standard Stratocaster
1966 Jaguar
1965 Duo Sonic II
1966 ES-330
2009 USA '62 Wilshire Reissue
1971 ES-335
1997 Rickenbacker 360
1959 ES-140 3/4T (again!)

Name: Brian Keele          

City: Atlanta

Instrument: 1999 Gibson Custom & Historic 1961/1962 Les Paul (SG) Custom

My wife and I didn’t get married until a few weeks before I turned 40.  She was well worth the wait.  Similarly, it took me decades to find my musical soulmate…

I’ve played guitar for about 30 years, several of them as a gigging and recording professional.  I’ve owned 5 Les Pauls, 4 Strats, a Tele (briefly), a few hollowbodies, 3 acoustics, a 12-string, a lap steel, 4 basses, and at least one pointy product of the late 80s of which I’m not proud.  Through it all, I’d never given a second glance to an SG.  That changed last year when I attended both shows of an amazing 2-night stand by HoneyHoney at Eddie’s Attic, and spent the better part of both nights mesmerized by the sound and look of guitarist Ben Jaffe’s glorious reissue ’61 LP/SG Custom.  (note: they were known as Les Pauls in 1961 & 1962, until Les had Gibson pull his name and replace it with SG, for “Standard Guitar”)  I spent the next few weeks dreaming of SGs, occasionally browsing listings online, all while telling myself that I did not need another guitar, and that it was just a crush that I’d soon get over.  And then one night I stumbled across a listing on Reverb.com that literally gave me chills – Classic White, triple-pickup Custom model with a Maestro Vibrola unit and very rare stock nickel hardware (which I greatly prefer over the usual gold).  Against my better judgement, and after a few days of questions and negotiation with the seller, I nervously pulled the trigger…

I was nervous because I wasn’t at all sure what I was getting.  I had never spent time playing any SG – for all I knew, I might hate the way they felt.  I also preferred to put hands on an instrument before buying it, and as such had rarely purchased guitars online.  Sure enough, upon its arrival I thought I’d made a mistake.  The neck was wide and flat and a little chunky in the back - not at all like the thin, narrow “slim taper” LP or “thin C” Strat necks I was used to playing.  To make matters worse, the balance of the guitar seemed all wonky, and it looked funny when I played it slung low like a Les Paul.  What the hell had I done?

Within 2 days I was completely hooked.  I shortened my strap by almost a foot and found that the guitar was incredibly comfortable and well-balanced.  It was much lighter than my back-breaking LPs, and most importantly, sounded amazing through everything from a dead clean Fender Deluxe Reverb to a cranked Friedman Dirty Shirley.  The neck profile that I was so worried about ended up being far more comfortable for my large-ish hands than those of my other guitars.  My playing became cleaner, I had less hand fatigue, and I was able to pull off licks that I was never able to previously.

As the seller noted in his listing, the guitar itself has undeniable “mojo”.  It was originally owned by a noted blind blues player in New Orleans named Bryan Lee – a cool coincidence given that my first and middle names are Brian Lee.  Despite only being 18 years old, the guitar has been PLAYED, and has the battle scars to prove it.  It’s like something you’d expect to see leaning in the corner of a Louisiana roadhouse, which is to say that it’s nice and broken-in.  It features plenty of finish checking/cracking, numerous scratches and dings, yellowed patches, hardware patina, some random areas of mismatched white touch-up paint, and an odd little raised “nubbin” on the back of the neck around the 15th fret.  (I think this was installed as a tactile position marker for the original owner, and was carefully located where it doesn’t affect playability)  The original pickups were at some point replaced with Seymour Duncan Antiquity humbuckers, which sound great to my ear.  Since buying it, I’ve lowered the action slightly, changed out the Vibrola bar, replaced the original Klusons with aged milk-bottle style Grover tuners, added straplocks and a custom strap, and housed it in a new plush, white-lined Gibson case to replace the ill-fitting Gibson Nighthawk case that it came to me in.

A year later, this is the only guitar I reach for, and it’s ushered in a very happy and productive period for me both as a player and as a songwriter.  It truly is the guitar of my dreams and my musical soulmate – it just took me 30 years to find it…

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It’s always a fun time to get out to The Guitar Shop in Port Credit, Ontario, just west of Toronto, Canada.  I’d love to visit this shop more…it’s one of the best in the region, but I can only go shopping in the evenings after work and they close at 7 pm every day…sad for me ‘cos it means I only get there a few times a year.  Anyhoo, let’s see what makes this shop so good:


1) The LP in the middle was completely refinished by Historic Makeovers in the style of “Lucy”.  The colour is incredible.


2) There’s that Historic Makeover LP “Lucy” one more time.


3) I also LOVE Fano.


4) Toronto-based jazz musician Robb Cappelletto shows me his 2011 PRS Modern Eagle.  You know you play your guitar A LOT when it is 4 years old and already the finish is wearing off!  :D


5) More PRS splendour.


6) Gibson Custom Benchmark Reissue '58 Explorer


7) 1959 Gibson L-48

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 More guitar shopping from this week:

  1. Extremely pretty PRS semihollow
  2. Custom Shop ES-335 VOS
  3. Les Paul Supreme (I think…)
  4. Troy Van Leeuwen Jazzmaster
  5. Cherry Casino!  Don’t see many of these…
  6. Gorgeous Martin 00-28V
  7. 2015 Fender American Vintage Jaguar
  8. ditto
  9. ditto.  So expensive for no apparent reason.  :\ 
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Guitar shopping this week at the Long & McQuade store in Brampton, near Toronto, Canada:

1) Wall o’ new Stratocasters.  Check out the nice Dokota-like red and the “channel bound” neck in the middle, as well as the interesting dark candy cola-style finish (bottom row left).


2) 1500 for a new Les Paul?  C'est impossible!  Ahhh…not when it’s a Les Paul Lite…half the thickness of a regular Les Paul.  And so affordable!

3) Lovely figuring on a Custom Shop ES-335

4) When the parking lot is full and you just happen to be driving a raised 4 x 4, you make your own parking space!  :D

5) I nearly bought this Ricky 620 - only $1300 CAD!

6) Anyone know what those two knobs on either side of the Bigsby do?

7) A couple of pretty 335’s and a lefty pre-2013 SG Standard.  There’s also an ES-390 in the background.

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Guitar Shopping this week at the big Long & McQuade store on Bloor Street in Toronto, Canada:

  1. Various Gretsches, Godins and even a Taylor electric in there too!
  2. Gibson Custom Trini Lopez ES-335 Reissue.
  3. New finish on this SG.  The tag said “Trans Black” but it sure looks brown to me!
  4. I was ever to spend over 4000 dollars on a new guitar, which I would never do, but anyhoo:  if I was ever to spend more than $4k on a new guitar, it might just be one of these - Gibson Custom Shop ‘54 Les Paul Gold Top, VOS.

14th June 2015 - Glorified Guitars’ 1 Year Anniversary!

A year ago today I started this blog, and what a year it has been! I just want to thank you all for following me and making this not only a great experience but a learning experience also. 

To celebrate I have compiled my top 20 guitars that I have posted over the past 12 months, so here it goes: 

20. The 1960s Fender Jazz Bass, beauty. 
19. The marvellous Crook Sparkle Paisley T
18. Status Graphite Guitars. A compilation of some of their finest specimens.  
17. Gibson Custom Shop Edgar Allen Poe Les Paul by James A Willis
16. Kramer Game of Thrones Map. This has been hand decorated with such detail and care.  
15. Gibson Memphis ES-335 Olive Drab Green Limited Run
14. PRS Private Stock 2895 Custom 24 Blue Green Smoked Burst, I mean just look at that finish.
13. The Eric Clapton “Fool” SG (which gained the attention of the Tumblr Radar) 
12. 2006 Modulus Q6 Quantum 6 String Bass in Blue Green 
11. PRS Private Stock Hollowbody II Orca. This PRS has orca whales swimming along the neck, which I just adore. 
10. Zemaitis Generation 2 Metal Front MFJ-101-LTD13 BK. This list wouldn’t be complete without a Zemaitis. 
9. Ibanez Floral JEM 
8. Fender Custom Shop Black Holoflake (ooh sparkly) 
7. Carillion Enigma 8FF in Nebula Burst 
6. Fender Custom Shop Dia de Los Muertos Telecaster. This tele featured on a Fender Custom Shop calendar I had, and I definitely felt the need to include it on this here blog. 
5. John Mayer’s “Rosie” Stratocaster  
4. PRS Tortuga. I urge you to look closely at this guitar, notice all the fret markers are lil turtles, and the turtle on the headstock has the world in its shell, amazing! 
3. Hutchinson Guitar Concepts Viking Explorer. Stating that I love this guitar would be an understatement. It is such a masterpiece and the pinnacle of badass guitars. 
2. PRS Anniversary Dragon. Another PRS! This is a compilation of the Anniversary Dragon guitars throughout the years, and is a stunning example of the magic that can be done with inlay.
1. Fender Custom Shop Pine Cone Stratocaster. Accented with gold and diamonds and modelled after a Fabergé egg, this guitar spells class with a capital C.  

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Guitar shopping at Cosmo Music in Toronto, Canada.

  1. Custom Shop Les Paul
  2. Suhr
  3. DG-335
  4. Ace Frehley Les Paul Custom
  5. ES-355
  6. Gretsch Black Falcon