IGNORANT GUITAR QUESTIONS….The LA Times has a feature story running today about the fantastic prices being fetched by vintage Gibson Les Paul Standard “Burst” electric guitars. It’s all interesting stuff, but this part puzzled me:

The 1950s proved to be the golden era of electric guitars. Old World craftsmanship fused with new technologies to create instruments that have yet to be surpassed. The Burst wasn’t created so much as it evolved.

….Ed King, a former guitarist with the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, acquired his first Burst in 1970 at a Virginia bar.

“I traded a guy a guitar and some cash for it,” he said. “There’s a real reason why these guitars are so valuable, and it goes far beyond the famous people who have owned them. They have a sound that can’t be replicated.”

What’s the deal here? A Stradivarius is also an unmatched instrument, but that’s because we genuinely don’t know exactly what went into making them and we never will. In the case of the guitar, though, we do. What’s more, Les Paul is still alive. If there are any questions about it, we can just ask him. The collector’s value of a Burst is easy to understand, but on a purely sonic level does it really have a sound that’s “yet to be surpassed”? Why? Or is that just talk?

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