In Sunburst, author Tony Bacon explores the origins of the Gibson Les Paul Standard and asks the question: was the Burst really the best guitar ever made? According to guitar greats such as Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, it sure is! Gibson reached out to Bacon to ask him why the guitar world remains enraptured with the sunburst Les Pauls. Read the whole interview here!
What, to you, is the allure of a sunburst Les Paul? “It pains me to say it as an author, but the allure of a sunburst Les Paul is quite difficult to put into words. It’s like Frank Zappa said: ‘writing about music is like dancing about architecture.’ Why is a guitar good, why is it bad? How does it feel for a player? These are all very personal things. “So I don’t really address that in the book. What I tried to do was address why original Les Paul Bursts were overlooked at the time. And why, later, people hit upon it. And what’s happened since, including how Gibson reacted over the years… right up to now, and doing a very fine job of recreating the “uncreatable” if you like. The magic carries on. This is my fifth book about Les Pauls, but it’s always an interesting story and I keep coming back to it.”
Why did you write the book now? “I wrote the Million Dollar Les Paul book in 2008, but that was more of a conventional textbook. The criticism of that was: where are the pictures? And that was fair criticism. So Sunburst is, in some ways, a reaction to that. This book has the greatest pictures. “I keep finding out new things, there’s lots in the book, but it still can’t quite explain why original Bursts were so good. To understand, you have to pick one up and play it.”
Why do you think so many guitarists are obsessed by sunburst Gibson Les Pauls? “On the surface, they’re just wood, plastic and wire. But they’re not. Jimmy Page’s #1 is something else. Billy Gibbons’ “Pearly Gates” is something else. The Peter Green/Gary Moore Les Paul is something else… and it goes on. There are more pictures of all these sunburst guitars in this book than any other, I think.”