The following appeared in the November 2020 issue of Guitar Player.
Mick Taylor’s 1958 Les Paul Standard isn’t the most famous example of that model, but as the ’Burst that Charlie Watts is holding aloft on the cover of Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!, it’s one of the most seen.
Taylor revealed that the guitar had an aftermarket Bigsby B7 vibrato when he purchased it, but he fitted the guitar with a factory-stock nickel-plated stop tailpiece, which is how it appeared during his tenure in the Rolling Stones, from 1969 to 1974.
The guitar had its original Kluson keystone tuners at the time, but these were later changed out for Grovers.
As it happens, that isn’t the only modification Taylor made. Apparently, he swapped out its double-black PAF pickups at some point.
The guitar, which is now one of many Stones guitars in the collection of Hard Rock International, has been thoroughly inspected by Hard Rock guitar tech Kip Elder, who confirms the pickups currently in the guitar are not original.
“We got a 10.2k-ohm reading for the bridge pickup, which typically registers about 8.5k,” he told VintageGuitar.com.
The guitar was frequently confused with the 1959 Keith ’Burst over the years, but Elder confirms that the first digit of its serial number is an eight.
Taylor played the guitar at the Stones’ Altamont Speedway concert on December 6 and can be seen performing with it in a video for “Love in Vain,” from the group’s 1972 tour. (It can easily be identified by the screw holes left from the Bigsby.)
Taylor still owned the guitar when Guitar Player interviewed him in the early 1980s, but Jeff Nolan, Hard Rock’s director of memorabilia, says the company purchased it from him around that time.
The finish has faded to a beautiful lemon ’burst since the guitar’s heyday, but as Nolan attests, “It’s an absolutely gorgeous example. I see so many ’Bursts in my job that I wanted to dislike this guitar. But it’s so, so good.
“It’s incredibly resonant, and the action is still perfect, even after all these years of not being in use.”
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Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World, a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar World, Guitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.
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