By Christopher Scapelliti
Les Paul's own "Black Beauty" Les Paul Custom and Chet Atkins' prototype Gretsch 6120 "Dark Eyes" guitar will be the stars of Guernsey's auction on February 19, 2015.
Introduced in 1954, the Gibson Les Paul Custom was the second iteration of the Les Paul guitar, which debuted in 1952 with a gold top. The Black Beauty featured an entirely black finish to make it suitable for upscale performance venues. It also had a mahogany top (versus maple on the Goldtop model) and the then-new Tune-o-matic bridge design.
The guitar featured in Guernsey's auction is the Black Beauty prototype, presented to Paul in 1954. He held onto it for years before gifting it to Tom Doyle, his personal luthier, guitar technician, and close friend, who has kept the guitar in his private collection since then.
In addition to this landmark instrument, Guernsey’s auction will feature other select guitars from Doyle's collection, including Chet Atkins’ legendary prototype Gretsch "Dark Eyes" guitar. This black 6120 model was one of two prototypes Gretsch made for Atkins, who used the instrument for numerous appearances in 1956 and 1957, including a well-known performance of the song "Dark Eyes," available on YouTube (watch below).
In addition to his talents as a guitarist, Les Paul was a pioneer in the field of multitrack recording. Guernsey's auction will include some of his early recording equipment as well as other pieces relating to Paul and his wife, Mary Ford, with whom he performed from the mid Forties through the early Sixties.
Check Guernseys for updates, including a catalog to come shortly.