Mike Bloomfield is known to have possessed benchmark tone. And while a great deal of that sound was down to his inimitable touch, Bloomfield’s go-to electric guitar was a Gibson Les Paul Standard.
Along with other hard rocking blues guitar heroes such Gary Moore, Paul Kossoff and Jimmy Page, Bloomfield has long been synonymous with the ‘Burst, though Gibson’s iconic single-cutaway solidbody is not the first Les Paul he owned.
Having pored over Gibson catalogs for years he was first introduced to the joys of a Les Paul when his guitar teacher gave him a top-of-the-range “fretless wonder” Les Paul Custom model.
In the mid-‘60s, while on tour with the Butterfield Blues Band, Bloomfield became aware of British guitarists such as Keith Richards, Peter Green and Eric Clapton playing the ‘mid-priced’ Standard model which was prized for its sustain, volume and tone.
Along with these famed British guitarists, Bloomfield did much to popularize the Les Paul Standard and help create a demand that has shown little sign of slowing down since the '60s. Indeed, the sunburst Les Paul is by far Gibson’s most successful electric guitar design.
Following its discontinuation in 1960 when it was superseded by the thin-bodied, double-cutaway SG-style, the single-cutaway Les Paul format was eventually reintroduced in 1968, thanks to players like Bloomfield who used it to devastating effect – as show in this classic live clip.
Performing at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 with The Electric Flag, Bloomfield pulls a dynamite solo out of the bag that perfectly encapsulates what the 'Burst is capable of doing in the right hands.
Browse the Mike Bloomfield catalog here (opens in new tab).
Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar, as well as contributions for specialist books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.
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