Carl Verheyen: The One that Got Away, and Back Again

| May 28, 2010

Sometime in the early '70s I bought a sunburst Les Paul standard. I remember going to the one and only Guitar Center in Hollywood with my parents and buying it on time. They had to co-sign for me because the payments were a whopping $28 a month and my folks wanted to instill in me a sense of financial responsibility.  I think the payments went on for two years, which was pretty much forever for a kid . . .

I used that guitar with various bands for many years, but somewhere down the line traded it for a Strat.  Eventually I woke up to find myself a professional guitarist and the importance of having a good example of all the major guitar types became crucial to my career. I found myself a 1954 Gold Top with P-90s that sounded great, but I was still missing that classic Les Paul tone with the humbuckers. Sometime around 1980 I found a 1972 sunburst that had been routed out for standard-size humbuckers hanging in a shop in Hollywood. I paid just $1,200 for it and eventually found some real Gibson 1958 PAFs for it. I have to admit, that guitar sounded great and I used it on countless recordings and tours through the years. About a year ago I decided that it was just too damn heavy and I should look for a better example. After removing the super valuable PAFs and replacing them with some other pickups I had laying around, I foolishly put the guitar for sale on Craigslist.

One hour later it sold for top dollar, and I began the search for a replacement Les Paul.  This search went on for about 12 months, but it took only one week before I began to regret selling that old ’72. Nothing sounded as good to me, nothing played as well. What an idiot I had been to sell a great old workhorse and particularly one with sentimental value. Then the impossible happened! The guy I sold it to came to a concert I was giving in LA and introduced himself as “the guy that bought your ‘Paul.”  I immediately conveyed my regret in selling it, and he kindly offered it back to me at the same price. I bought it back the next day, replaced the PAFs, and haven’t put it down since. Lesson learned: If it sounds good don’t sell it! —Carl Verheyen



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