WHEN GIBSON INTRODUCED THE LES PAUL JUNIOR in 1954, it was considered a budget version of the original Les Paul. It sported a more easily constructed slab body, a single P-90 pickup, and no fretboard binding. Little did the folks in Kalamazoo realize that this “beginner’s” model would become a symbol of primal rock and roll energy in the hands of such players as Steve Mariott of Humble Pie, Leslie West of Mountain, and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. With its new Belvedere Jr., DiPinto has introduced an instrument clearly influenced by this iconic model.
With its mahogany slab body and dot-marked rosewood fretboard, the Belvedere Jr. stays true to the Les Paul Junior’s spirit. However, the Belvedere’s body and headstock shape, along with the small pickguard, give it a pleasing, stripped-down look of its own. It also has a humcanceling P-90, a fully adjustable Tune-o-maticstyle bridge, binding on the fretboard, and Grover tuners. The off-center joint of the two-piece mahogany body is reminiscent of another budget Gibson: “The Paul” (though that guitar had a walnut body). Like The Paul, and for that matter the original Junior, the Belvedere Jr. exudes a no-nonsense, workhorse attitude.
Other than the ping of a G-string that caught in the nut during tuning, the Belvedere Jr. played perfectly right out of the box. The slinky low action caused no buzzing or fretting out, and in no way impeded bending, thanks to wellfinished jumbo frets. The instrument’s acoustic tone was loud and warm—always a good sign. Plugging in to an Orange Tiny Terror set for just a little crunch at full guitar volume instantly inspired a raft of AC/DC rhythm work, as the dog-eared P-90 provided just the right level of push and enough top-end to retain the clarity of the Young brothers’ slash and burn chords. Backing off the volume on the instrument cleaned up the sound with only a small amount of high-end loss. The tone control also is a pleasant surprise on an instrument at this price point, as it’s voiced perfectly for “woman tone” at higher gain levels and even offers some jazz roundness with a clean amp setting. The blissfully quiet 9.96kΩ pickup delivered the signature P-90 bark, impelling me to pull out my best rendition of “Mississippi Queen.” Frank Reckard used a Gibson Junior during his tenure with Emmylou Harris, and the Belvedere’s top end demonstrates how it could easily replace a Tele in a country music setting.
If you don’t have the ducats for a Gibson Junior or Special (vintage or reissue), but are a fan of classic P-90 bridge tone, this DiPinto model offers it up in spades—and did I mention it sounds great for slide? g
SPECS | DiPinto Guitars (215)-427-7805 dipintoguitars.com 92 HOLIDAY 2009 GUITARPLAYER.COM
GEAR Bench Test
MODEL Belvedere Jr.
PRICE $496 direct
FRETBOARD Bound rosewood with dot inlay
FRETS 22 jumbo
SCALE 24 3/4"
PICKUPS Noiseless dog-eared stacked humbucker
CONTROLS Volume, Tone
BRIDGE Tune-o-matic with stop tailpiece
FACTORYSTRINGS D’Addario XL110, .010-.046 set
WEIGHT 8.2 lbs
KUDOS Crunchy rock & roll goodness at a great price CONCERNS G string catches in nut