After paying his dues with Humble Pie and years of solo touring and recording in the late ’60s and ’70s, young British guitar star Peter Frampton hit it huge in 1976 with the release of Frampton Comes Alive, the biggest selling live album of all time. And as every one of the more than 10 million fans who bought it in its first year of release alone could tell you, you only needed to fold down that double-album cover to see Frampton wailing on a black, three-pickup Les Paul Custom. Players by the score ran out in search of their own version of that Les Paul Custom, the instrument in Frampton’s hands widely assumed to be an original 1960 model, but its origins, and its journey to the star’s hands (and out of them once again), reveal some unusual twists and turns.
During the first night of a three-night stand in 1970 opening for the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore West in San Francisco while still playing with Humble Pie, Frampton was having trouble with howling feedback from his semi-hollowbody guitar on the big stage. A fan named Mark Mariana approached him after his set on the second night, said he’d noticed the hassles the guitarist was having, and provided a solution: if he wanted to, Frampton could play Mariana’s solidbody Les Paul Custom for the third night at the Fillmore. He delivered the instrument, which looked for all the world like a 1960 Custom, but was in fact a 1954 Custom freshly back from the Gibson factory, where it had been given a new coat of ebony black lacquer, new frets, and three humbucking pickups to update it to contemporary specs. Frampton bonded with the guitar instantly. It not only cured his feedback problems for the closing night of the run, it proved the most tuneful, expressive guitar Frampton had ever played. When he offered to buy it after the set, Mariana said that, no, he wouldn’t sell it—he would give it to Frampton. And through that unprecedented act of generosity, a re-born 1954 Les Paul Custom became one of the most iconic guitars of the decade.
Sadly, Frampton’s original Comes Alive Les Paul Custom was lost in 1980 when a cargo plane crashed in Venezuela. But Gibson’s Custom Shop raised it from the ashes in the form of the Peter Frampton Les Paul, a guitar crafted in the image of the 1954/1960 Les Paul Custom, but with a few new twists to the artists specifications. Wearing a high-gloss ebony black “black beauty” finish, gold-plated hardware, multi-ply body and headstock binding, and the decorative mother-of-pearl “split-diamond” headstock inlay and block position markers in its Richlite fingerboard, the Peter Frampton Les Paul is the spitting image of the original.
At Frampton’s request, however, it benefits from a slim-carved neck profile for optimum speed, and a weight-relieved mahogany body and carved solid maple top that both lighten the load and enhance the tone. A classic Tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece pairing keep things tight, resonant and sustaining, while three open-coil humbucking pickups of Frampton’s own specification—a 57 Classic in the neck position, a 57 Classic Plus in the middle, and a 500T in the bridge—provide all the tones, from sultry to sizzling, that this virtuoso guitarist is known for. As a high-calibre instrument, the Peter Frampton Les Paul naturally comes with a Custom Shop hardshell case, along with a Certificate of Authenticity and Gibson’s Limited Lifetime Warranty.
- Brand: Gibson
- Model: Peter Frampton Les Paul Custom
- Colour: Ebony
- SKU: CSPFEBGH1
- Weight: 8.38 lbs / 3.80 kg
- Top: Carved Maple
- Body: Weight-Relieved Mahogany
- Neck: 1pc Mahogany
- Neck Profile: Peter Frampton Custom Slim-Neck Profile
- Fingerboard: Richlite
- Fingerboard Inlays: Pearl Blocks
- Fingerboard Radius: 12" (305 mm)
- Nut Width: 1 11/16"
- Scale Length: 24.75" / 628mm
- Frets: 22
- Binding: Multi-ply Black/White
- Tuners: Gold Grover Kidney Bean Tuners
- Bridge: Nashville Tune-O-Matic w/Stopbar Tailpiece
- Hardware: Gold
- Pickups: 57 Classic (Neck), 57 Classic Plus (Middle) & 500T (Bridge) Humbuckers
- Controls: 2 Volume, 2 Tone, 3-Way Switch
- No. Of Strings: 6
- Case/Gigbag: Gibson Custom Shop Case
- Accessories: Gibson COA