Eclipse Les Paul Special

Eclipse Les Paul Special

Eclipse is the name of local luthier Greg Biller's business. Greg started out as the head repairman at Elderly Instruments in Michigan (where I got my 125 and banjo from). When Gibson moved their facilities and sold much of their production tools, Greg bought some of their templates. He uses them to build his versions of Gibson standards, like this one which is based on a old double cutaway Les Paul Special, but with a curly maple neck, the Eclipse "parted" headstock, a Bigsby (essential!), "suited" fret inlays, and a Fralin strat pickup in the neck position. Most of the time I'm on the bridge P90, but the middle position combining the P90 and Fralin is interesting occasionaly. (I'm there in the picture on the right, so I guess I use it). I don't usually go for strat tones, so I rarely use the neck pickup by itself, but I may flip there if I get the urge. The lacquer finish is very light, which I love. I bought this from him back in, I'll say '01? Can't totally remember.

The neck is glued, shape is very reminiscent of a classic Les Paul D shape, very consistent, very smooth. Standard 12" radius, 1 11/16" string spacing, 24 3/4" scale, all standard Gibson specs. In fact, when I pick up a classic Junior or Special, it's amazing how similar it feels to this guitar. (truth be told, this is a better guitar than those, I think the maple neck has a lot to do with that).

This style Gibson (Junior/Special) is one of the more unheralded guitars in rock and roll, but it's made some classic rock n roll. Johnny Thunders played one, except his was the TV yellow finish, and just one P90. See here. Keith Richards uses a TV yellow Junior sometimes, but check out this cool pic of him with one finished like mine. I also think I once saw a picture of Joan Jett playing one, although obviously her signature axe is her Melody Maker. Single cutaway users were Leslie West , perhaps most responsible for bringing lots of attention to the Junior in the early 70s. Bob Marley played a single cutaway Special, as did John Lennon for most of his solo work. Mick Jones plays one as well. Judging by the recent price hikes of classic Junior/Specials, people are realizing how great these guitars are.

I took the cover off the P90 cause I kept hitting it with my pick. Should probably rig something up for that. The pickguard is 2 ply, "firestripe" tortoiseshell on top of black/white celluloid. The bridge is one of those Schaller roller jobs, which normally I don't care for, but for whatever reason it works great on this guitar. The electronics are simple, tone and volume. I'm toying with the idea of adding a treble bleed cap to keep the high end when you roll the volume knob off.

I used this guitar when I was with the Missing Links; it can really cop that Link Wray type tone. (which isn't surprising; although he was often photographed with all sorts of funky guitars, he cut many of his classics with a P90 GoldTop, including "Rumble", and I read somewhere he used a P90 Special in the studio as well sometimes). But it is a very versatile guitar, straight ahead rock, swing, whatever, it's in there. Greg really nailed it with this one.

I string it with Diadarrio .10s (XL110s) , and use Fender heavy picks (or any tortoise celluloid heavy, Buy and Sell has some I use which are fine).