As the competition to develop and market affordable and professionally built solid body electric guitars was heating up in the mid-1950s, Gibson branched out into new directions that would eventually yield a wide variety of new and innovative Gibson products at various price points. Among those new products was the Les Paul Junior single cutaway model, which quickly became Gibson’s best-selling model and the instrument of choice for such legends as Leslie West, Steve Marriott, Keith Richards, Mick Ralphs, Mick Jones and Paul Westerberg.
No guitar neck profiles are more distinguishable than the neck profiles employed on the Gibson models of today. The rounded neck profile on the Les Paul Junior emulates the neck profiles most commonly found on Gibson’s iconic Les Paul models of the late ’50s. As with all Gibson necks, it is machined in Gibson’s rough mill using wood shapers to make the initial cuts. Once the rosewood fingerboard gets glued on, the rest—including the final sanding—is done by hand. That means there are no two necks with the exact same dimensions. So while it still has the basic characteristics of the rounded neck profile, each neck will be slightly different, with a distinct but traditional feel.
Ebony and rosewood has always graced the fingerboards of the world’s finest stringed instruments, including many of today’s Gibsons. The fingerboards on the Les Paul Juniors are constructed from the highest grade ebony and rosewood on the planet, and are personally inspected and qualified by Gibson’s team of skilled wood experts before it enters the factories. The resilience of these dense and durable woods make the fingerboards extremely balanced and stable, giving each chord and note unparalleled clarity and bite. The 12-inch radius of the fingerboard provides smooth note bending capabilities and eliminates “dead” or “choked out” notes, common occurrences on fingerboards with lesser radiuses. Rosewood fingerboards are available with the Satin Vintage Burst and Satin Cherry finishes, and ebony fingerboards are available with the Satin White finish.
A classic piece of hardware, the wraparound bridge/tailpiece on the Les Paul Junior offers a simplicity and functionality that is hard to match. It provides a firm seating for the strings, allowing the player to adjust intonation and string height as needed, and yielding an incredible union between the strings and body, resulting in excellent tone and sustain.
The classic dot inlay is one of the most distinguishable features of many traditional Gibson models, including the Les Paul Junior. A figured, swirl acrylic gives these inlays that classic “pearl” look. They are inserted into the fingerboard using a process that eliminates gaps and doesn’t require the use of fillers.
Two of the most central features of the Les Paul Junior are its solid mahogany body, and its set-neck construction, or glued neck joint. Like the majority of Gibson’s classic guitars, the neck of the Les Paul Junior is set into the body’s neck cavity using glue, which ensures a “wood-to-wood” contact, no air space in the neck cavity, and maximum contact between the neck and the body, thus allowing the neck and body to function as a single unit. The result? Better tone, better sustain, and no loose or misaligned necks. As with all Gibson woods, the regimen involved in selecting the right body wood and the formula to dry it out is extensive. First, the wood is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson’s team of skilled wood experts before it enters the Gibson factories. Inside the Gibson factories, humidity is maintained at 45 percent, and the temperature at 70 degrees. This ensures all woods are dried to a level of “equilibrium,” where the moisture content does not change during the manufacturing process. This guarantees tight-fitting joints and no expansion, and controls the shrinkage and warping of the woods, in addition to reducing the weight. It also improves the woods’ machinability and finishing properties, and adherence to glue. Consistent moisture content means that every Les Paul Junior will respond evenly to temperature and humidity changes long after it leaves the factory.
The legendary P-90 – introduced in the early 1950s – is Gibson’s truly legendary singlecoil pickup, and offers the soulful, classic tone that only a P-90 can. Delivering more warmth than a standard singlecoil pickup, with higher output and sweet treble response, the P-90 continues to be one of the most popular pickups today, offering a distinct and powerful tone that remains unmatched in the face of relentless impersonation.