In late 1953 Gibson unveiled the first Les Paul Customs. After the initial success of the Les Paul Goldtop, “The Wizard of Waukesha” wanted a contrasting color for an even more upmarket electric, and this time it was to be classy black, “like a tuxedo.”

In the decades since, black Les Paul Customs have become a visual icon. For 2017, Gibson Custom has revived that look not only on the Les Paul Custom model itself, but also on four more ever-enduring Gibson designs: the SG, the Flying V, the Explorer and the Firebird.

Les Paul Custom

The Les Paul Custom of the ‘50s was Gibson’s first black “ebony” finish electric, and the 2017 Les Paul Custom effortlessly lives up to the high standards set by its 1950s archetype. There are the inevitable refinements: the ‘50s Customs had mahogany caps, while this has a two-piece maple top on a mahogany body in classic Les Paul style, for enhanced tone and clarity. Like all the models here, it has two pickups (some LP Customs were three-pickup) and these are the modern-voiced 490R (neck) and 498T (bridge) for crisp and edgy tones with improved versatility for the contemporary player.

Gibson Custom

But it still has that beautifully-contrasting gold hardware and eye-catching binding, plus Grover kidney tuners, Custom block pearl inlays (with an inlay at the 1st fret, unlike Les Paul Standards, Tributes and others), a Richlite fingerboard and a Corian nut.

With the modern player in mind, it has a Medium C-Shape neck profile and medium Jumbo frets, and there's a long-tenon neck joint for even greater sustain. Full specifications here.

SG Custom

Maybe it’s the influence of Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, but a black SG has always been a true object of desire – and not only for hard rockin’ players. The 2017 SG Custom is an absolute stunner with a slick nitrocellulose finish in ebony and multi-ply appointments. Full specifications here.

Gibson Custom

The neck profile on the SG Custom is a Slim C-Shape for that classic SG feel.

Explorer Custom

This is a very limited run, and genuinely takes the Explorer into new aesthetic realms. The guitar retains that instantly recognizable voice courtesy of its 490R and 498T pickups and all-mahogany body, but the upscale looks, complete with multi-ply binding (also on the pickguard) make it a guitar that will get you noticed more than ever.

Gibson Custom

A medium C-Shape neck profile and mini Grover tuners make for brilliant playability and tuning stability. Full specifications here.

Flying V Custom

The Explorer Custom look is mirrored on the Flying V Custom. Another soon-to-be-rare V, this one in ebony gets a new layer of boldness, even for an already outspoken guitar. Thru-stringing via a gold chevron tailpiece and multi-ply diamond jack plate cover (echoing the diamond headstock inlay) complete a still-visionary design.

Full specifications here.

Gibson Custom

Firebird Custom

It makes sense that the Firebird gets a new-look ebony Custom option as well as the Explorer and Flying V. This pushes the design further, though. The body is all-mahogany, but it’s flat and without the raised center block of the original ‘60s Firebirds. The 490R and 498T humbuckers are there again, and they are full-sized rather than the mini humbuckers of days gone by for a fatter sonic twist to this unique ’Bird.

Gibson Custom

The iconic Firebird emblem remains on the new multiply pickguard making this a rare ‘Bird that’s got everything for the modern player. The neck profile is again Medium C-Shape, it has medium Jumbo frets and kidney Grover tuners. Full specifications here.