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Joe Perry's Gibson Les Paul

Bookmatched figured marble top
Mahogany back

Mahogany/Rounded with rolled-edge fingerboard


Scale/Nut Width
24 3/4"1 11/16"


Tune-o-matic/Stop bar

black chrome

Rhythm: '57 Classic humbucker
Treble: Special design humbucker

Two volume, master tone control (rhythm position), push/pull control (treble position) for mid-boost (requires 9 volt battery)

Hand-stained Transluscent BlackBurst

Joe Perry's signature Les Paul model is as unique as his guitar work with Aerosmith. A special bridge pickup wound to Joe's specs, an active mid-boost control with a tone-shaping circuit give the Joe Perry Les Paul the definitive rock and roll sound.

Gibson USA Launches Joe Perry Signature Guitar

NASHVILLE -- Gibson USA and legendary Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry have teamed up to create a signature Joe Perry guitar, embodying Perry's unique, personal interpretation of Gibson's timeless Les Paul model.

The Joe Perry Les Paul brings a distinctive new look, a comfortable new feel, and exciting new sounds to a classic Gibson model. A stunning hand-stained Translucent BlackBurst finish accentuates the wood grain of a figured maple top, and the aggressive-yet-classy appeal is accentuated by a pearloid pickguard, pearloid truss rod cover and black chrome hardware. The neck shape features a rounded-edge fingerboard for greater comfort. The bridge pickup is custom-wound to Perry's specifications. The electronic circuitry includes an active mid-boost tone-shaping circuit, accessible with a push/pull pot, and a master tone control. The special circuit offers the player a new spectrum of altered tones as well as the trademark Les Paul sounds. A "Joe Perry" signature logo on the guitar and on the exclusive hardshell case completes the package.

The prototype for the Gibson Joe Perry Les Paul is Perry's own early-1960 sunburst Les Paul Standard. "I didn't do a lot to change what's already a great guitar," he said. "Obviously, the cosmetic changes are the most radical. The electronics idea came from a guy who worked on my guitars here in Boston. He took the guts out of a wah-wah pedal and put it in the bass pickup tone pot. When you pop the pot out, everything about the way the guitar is set up goes through that pot and gives you that wah-wah sound right in your guitar, so you can set the tone any way you want." (A full-length interview with Perry will appear in the next issue of GMI's Amplifier magazine, coming online Feburary 1.)

Recently reunited with Columbia Records, the band's original label, Aerosmith is poised to embark on a worldwide tour in support of their upcoming release, Nine Lives (set for March 10). With a signature sound propelled by Joe Perry's sparkling guitar work, Aerosmith has sold in excess of 70 million albums and remains as vital and influential a force in today's international rock music scene as when they stormed out of Boston in the early '70s.

Joe Perry talks guitar

Joe Perry's approach to equipment is simple: a great amp, a good cable, and of course a Les Paul guitar.

Perry typically records and performs with a variety of late '50s and early '60s Les Pauls. He also records with several Pauls from Gibson Custom Division's Historic Collection. For Nine Lives he added one more ax to his arsenal--the new Gibson Joe Perry Les Paul model.

Perry used his personal '59 and '60 Les Pauls as a starting point for the design of his signature model. "I think a Les Paul is just about as close to perfect as you can get anyway," he said. "Gibson already designed the great guitar. Over the years, there have been so many little variations, that you end up searching out the one that has the right little nuances. I don't think there is much I can change about a 1960 or a 1959. If you get a good one, I wouldn't change it.

"Basically, what I did is I picked the best of all those guitars that I've played over the years, and kind of put it in there," he continued. "Frankly, the '59 reissues that are coming out of Gibson are so good, that I've got a couple and that's all I play. They have the fat necks, they're light, they sound good, the neck joint is just right. The angle of the neck going into the body is the way it should be."

Joe especially appreciates the attention to details. "[I like the] little things like finishing the frets and putting that one more step into production," he said. "It means so much to a guitar player, those little things."

So when it came to creating his variation on the perfect guitar, Perry decided to leave well enough alone, for the most part. "I didn't do a lot to change whats already a great guitar," he said. "Obviously, the cosmetic changes [including no binding and a Translucent BlackBurst finish] are the most radical. It's a combination of a '59 and a '60. I've got a '59 style finish on it, but the way the neck feels suggests that it was made in January of 1960. [My personal guitar] was a body that was left over from '59, because the finish on it is the kind that fades. It's not when they switched over to the non-fading finish."

The biggest modification to the sound on the J.P. model is some fancy electronics. "I knew a guy who did work on my guitars here in Boston," Perry said. "He'd take the guts out of a wah-wah pedal and put it in the bass pickup tone pot," Perry said. "When the pot is pushed in, you have a standard Les Paul. When you pop it out, everything the way the guitar is set up goes through that pot, and gives you that wah-wah sound in your guitar, so you can set the tone any way you want, and leave it. Or you can do little hammer-ons with your left hand and get wah-wah with your right hand on the tone pot."

Perry says that people sometimes get too caught up in the vintage thing, and that a new guitar can have a lot to offer in terms of high fidelity sound. "As much as I love my '60 Les Paul, I also like the Joe Perry model," he said. "It plays really well and it's together. Also, there's a little more top on it. That mellowing process that everybody knows and loves that happens to the older guitars is a great thing, but to my ears, I sometimes like to use the newer guitars because they're tighter and a little brighter."

The ultimate test came when cutting tracks for Aerosmith's new album. Fresh out of the plant, Joe's new guitar saw as much or more action than any of his others including his beloved 1960 Les Paul.

"I really worked on this guitar to come up with something that could sound good with anybody who picked it up," he said. "Gibson sent me one of the first production guitars. I got it in the studio right when the sessions started and that was one of the main guitars for the rest of the record. In fact, the first song on the first side of Nine Lives [Aerosmith's upcoming release], that's the guitar. Right there out of the box."

The Joe Perry Les Paul model was not the only new factor in Perry's guitar sound on Nine Lives, In the interest of getting a beefier sound, Perry says he "suffered" for a few weeks to work up his finger strength. "I also switched to .10 gauge strings," he said "There's so much more tone."

Perry took the simplest, most direct approach to getting a raw, unadulterated guitar sound, starting with a short cord. "I'm always trying to get the shortest distance with the best wire between my guitar and the speakers," he said.

The short distance between guitar and amp helped Perry get better feedback. "We got into the habit of recording in the control room," he said. "Even trough it;s easier to play that way, I think you lose tone that way, plus you don't get any of that good feedback. Not just like the long sustain feedback, there's an interaction between the speakers and the guitar that you give up. This time, we did all of our guitar track within three feet of the amps."

Copyright  1997-2004 Cristoffer Eriksson. All Rights Reserved. Rock This Way - Cristoffer's Aerosmith Page