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The Student Model That Became a Master

If we’re talking about the mightiest guitar tones in all of recorded history, Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” has to be near the top of the list. Frankly, the guitar on the track sounds sort of like an actual mountain: gigantic, imposing, and made of pure rock. The guitar that produced this monolithic tone was none other than a Les Paul Junior: a no-frills one-pickup student model guitar, of all things.

When Gibson introduced the Junior in 1954, it was a runaway success; in fact, it outsold the Les Paul Standard by a wide margin in 1959! The Junior’s widespread popularity meant you could pick one up easily and cheaply in second-hand shops. So, after guitarists in the know like Leslie West started using them, an amazing reversal happened: suddenly, guitar masters were seeking out student model guitars!

The Les Paul Junior boom continued with the advent of punk rock. It was a perfect marriage: the Junior’s stripped-down aesthetic, raw, aggressive tone, and wallet-friendly price point made them a perfect vessel for the anarchic sounds of players like Mick Jones and Johnny Thunders.

A Secret Weapon

Nowadays, the Les Paul Junior is a permanent fixture in the landscape of modern music. Just about every session guy has one in his quiver for those tracks that need a little extra rawness and aggression, and you’d be surprised how many players often associated with other guitars reach for Juniors when they need that secret sauce. For instance, J Mascis is known for playing Jazzmasters, but he used a Junior to record almost every rhythm track on most Dinosaur Jr. albums.

Everyone should experience the magic of a Les Paul Junior at some point, so we are quite excited to showcase a slightly nastier selection from Gibson’s Original Collection: the Les Paul Junior, a guitar that continues the rough-and-tumble legacy of its vintage forebears.

The Source of the Sauce

So, what is the source of the Original Collection Les Paul Junior’s incredible power? How does a humble former student model have so much muscle? Well, Wildwoodians, the answer has three key components: wood, wire, and hardware.

The Les Paul Junior’s body is made out of high-quality, resonant mahogany. As a general rule, mahogany has a warm, punchy, midrange-forward sound with a natural tendency towards round, musical compression. All in all, mahogany-bodied electric guitars sound warm, clear, and well-mannered when played acoustically.

By contrast, P-90 pickups have a brash, bold personality. Their midrange snarls, bites, and punches, their highs are full of rich bell-like overtones, and their lows are meaty and muscular. The mahogany body rounds off the harsh edges of the P-90 sound ever so slightly, which allows the Junior to sound aggressive yet pleasant no matter how much gain you pile on. Through a clean amp, it sounds lush and full without any ugly spiky frequencies.

Can We Take it To the Bridge?

Sure, the Junior might lack a neck pickup, but its single dog-ear P-90 sounds so full and is so versatile that you won’t really miss having a second pickup. It sounds rich enough that single-note lines have plenty of mass and depth, and it is fearsome as a rock rhythm machine. Through a clean amp, it has plenty of jangle, chime, and warmth. And, in a pinch, the P-90 in these puppies will do a pretty good impersonation of a neck pickup if you roll the tone all the way off. It’s the sort of sound that will work in any genre from blues to rock to metal to country.

Part of the reason why the bridge pickup in these Juniors sounds so good is the design of the bridge itself. The Original Collection Les Paul Junior features a wraparound tailpiece, a piece of hardware that is utterly genius in its simplicity. Wraparound tailpieces improve sustain and resonance because they are beefy and because there is more contact between string and bridge. Of course, this does make it a little harder to intonate. But, most players are perfectly happy to trade a little bit of precision for bigger sound. And anyway, you can always bend it ‘til it sounds good!

Pure Rock and Roll

The Les Paul Junior from the Gibson Original Collection is the distilled essence of rock and roll. It’s lean, it’s mean, and it is a tone machine. We invite you to take one of these monstrous guitars for a spin and experience their myriad sonic delights. Once you do, we’re sure you’ll be overcome by the urge to put your elbow on all your amp’s knobs, turn them all to ten, and let ‘er rip. We’re proud to showcase such an inspiring instrument, and we have no doubt it will provide you with a lifetime of simple delights and joyous noise.


Brand Gibson
ModelOriginal Collection Les Paul Junior
Finish ColorVintage Tobacco Burst
Finsh TypeGloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Weight7.50 lbs.
Body WoodMahogany
Neck WoodMahogany
Neck ShapeVintage '50s
Neck Dimensions.900 1st - .990 12th
InlaysAcrylic Dots
Scale Length24.75"
Nut MaterialGraphTech
Width at Nut1.695"
Frets22 Medium Jumbo
Pickups1 Dog-Ear P-90
Controls1 Volume, 1 Tone Hand-wired with Orange Drop Capacitors
TunersVintage Deluxe with White Buttons
CaseGibson Hardshell Case

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Serial Number: 116990094

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