Gibson is honoring iconic rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose with its Collector's Choice #28 "STP 'Burst" replica of Ronnie's fabled 1958 Les Paul, which will be limited to a production run of no more than 300 guitars.
It was called "STP" by the guitarist because an STP sticker had been placed near the toggle switch years before he purchased it. Once the oval sticker was removed, what remained was a red silhouette on the guitar's faded cherry-sunburst finish.
Montrose's STP 'Burst was used on his final tour with Edgar Winter, as well as on the first two Montrose albums (Montrose and Paper Money) that innovated and popularized riff rock and heavily influenced bands such as Van Halen. The guitar was put up for sale at Leo's Music in Oakland, California, in 1977.
"Ronnie liked to change guitars a lot," says long-time Montrose friend Michael Indelicato, "and I think the frets started bugging him on the '58. I saw it for sale at Leo's and tried to buy it for its asking price of $2,500, but I couldn't get the money together in time, and it was sold to someone else."
The 1958 Les Paul ultimately ended up in the hands of renowned German studio musician Peter Weihe, who used it on countless sessions during his global recording career.
"The 'Burst was intense in its midrange, and was the most flexible guitar that I’ve had the pleasure to play,” says Weihe.
Now owned by an anonymous German collector, the STP 'Burst replica was developed by Gibson—along with the full cooperation of Weihe, the Ronnie Montrose Estate, and its current owner—after a comprehensive analysis of the original guitar. Every element of this 1958 Les Paul was precisely studied to ensure an almost exact reproduction of the instrument Montrose wielded on the two albums that changed the landscape of rock guitar. Each Gibson Collector's Choice #28 STP 'Burst comes with a Certificate of Authenticity, Ronnie Montrose commemorative picks and pick tin, and a USB drive with exclusive video of the guitar's history with Montrose, introduced by the guitarist's widow, Leighsa Montrose.
"Ronnie would be humbled by this truly kind gesture," says Leighsa. "For him, to be honored and acknowledged in this way means more than my words could ever say."
Hear the Gibson Collector’s Choice #28 “STP ’Burst”
There is often confusion regarding Montrose's 1958 STP and his infamous 1959 Les Paul, due to inaccuracies in some articles about the two guitars, as well as, according to Indelicato, Montrose's own inadvertent errors concerning the dates of these vintage Les Pauls.
The 1959 Les Paul—later named "Stripe" (although Montrose himself never called it that)—was most famously used by Montrose on the Edgar Winter Group tracks "Frankenstein" and "Free Ride." During a concert at Nichols College in Dudley, Massachussetts, with Edgar Winter on October 10, 1972, the '59 Les Paul—which Montrose had recently purchased from guitarist J. Geils for $800—disappeared right off its guitar stand. The stolen 1959 Les Paul ended up in the possession of the late Irish blues guitarist Gary Moore, which prompted Montrose to sue Moore in 2010 for its return. The matter was never resolved during Montrose's or Moore's lifetimes, and the 1959 Stripe remains in the possession of the Moore family.
The 1958 STP was purchased by Montrose from a man named Robert Johnson in 1972—just a few months after the 1959 Les Paul was stolen—and the guitarist used the '58 until he sold it in 1977. [Note: The Les Paul wasn't the only guitar Montrose acquired through Johnson. In 1974, he bought a 1958 Gibson Flying V from him.]
Here's a peek at the Gibson Collector's Choice #28 STP 'Burst (retail price $6,332) ...