One of the First Gibson Les Pauls Ever Made Was Destroyed in a Tornado – So Jared James Nichols is Restoring it

Jared James Nichols (left) and the "Dorothy" 1952 Les Paul
(Image credit: Phillip Faraone/Getty Images/Gibson, Jared James Nichols /Instagram)

Fresh off the introduction of his second signature Epiphone Les Paul, the “Gold Glory” Les Paul Custom, Jared James Nichols has set his sights on another Les Paul-related project.

This new project? The restoration of a 1952 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop that was destroyed in a tornado in Washington, Illinois in 2013.

Thought to be one of the first Les Paul models produced in 1952 due to its diagonally placed bridge pickup screws, the guitar was named Dorothy, after the Wizard of Oz character who, of course, gets swept up by a tornado.

“On 17 November 2013 one of the biggest recorded tornadoes tore through Washington, Illinois killing and destroying everything in its path," Nichols wrote on Instagram. "This guitar was found in the front yard of a home in the rubble. It has not been touched since, there is still mud on it!”

“The original owner was found (it was her grandpa’s guitar who has long passed) and she gave her blessing to my new friend who has kept the guitar since then.”

“I want to thank my new shred brother TJ Duckwiler from the bottom of my heart for hitting me up and gifting me this incredibly special instrument," Nichols continued. "He knew my love of LPs and P-90s of course. We talked the idea of this guitar being risen from the ashes and brought back to its former glory. It is happening!”

The point man on the repair work will be Joel Wilkins, a master luthier known for his work on vintage Fenders and Gibsons.

“Joel is a wizard and a true genius, he will be taking this project full-on. Crafting a hand built Brazilian board neck, alongside fixing every other component to take it back to glory. I will only be fixing, no refinish! 

“Excited is an understatement. I cannot wait to play my heart out on this Les Paul.”

We'll be sure to give you updates as the restoration plays out – we can't wait to see the finished product...

Jackson Maxwell
Associate Editor, and

Jackson is an Associate Editor at and He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.