With an impressive two songs in Gibson.com’s Top 50 Guitar Solos of All Time (“Crazy Train” and “Mr. Crowley”) and a legion of fans still worshiping his unparalleled shredding abilities 28 years after his blazing career was cut short, Randy Rhoads is firmly established as one of the brightest stars in the metal-guitar heavens. After forming Quiet Riot while still in his teens, Rhoads stepped up his game when Ozzy Osbourne asked him to audition for his own band in 1979. Along came Rhoads, a practice amp in one hand, and his beloved 1974 Les Paul Custom in the other – and before the young guitarist had even finished his warm-up licks, Osbourne told him “you’ve got the gig.” What followed was an amazing ascent, but a too-swift ending, which earned Randy Rhoads a unique place in rock history.
To honor this achievement, Gibson Custom is releasing the Randy Rhoads 1974 Les Paul Custom, an instrument crafted in the image of Rhoads’s own much-loved, much-played instrument, and limited to only 100 hand-aged and 200 VOS guitars. Don’t be fooled by the light yellow color in the live shot. Gibson artisans have worked closely with the Rhoads family to perfectly reproduce the exact rich amber color of the original guitar. Rendered in period detail, the Randy Rhoads 1974 Les Paul Custom captures all the fire and aggression of this hard-rock favorite of the early ’70s, including numerous details that were particular to the model’s production for a relatively short period of time. Specific woods, pickups and dimensions have been painstakingly recreated by Gibson Custom, and the precise look of Rhoads’s own guitar also has been captured. One hundred examples of the Randy Rhoads 1974 Les Paul Custom will be hand-aged by Gibson Custom to match the playing wear and road abuse experienced by the star’s guitar, while another 200 will be treated to Gibson Custom’s VOS process to present the look of a gently aged instrument. All in all, this is the closest any fan, player or collector can get to owning Rhoads’s own guitar… without owning Rhoads’s own guitar.
Having reintroduced the Les Paul Custom just six years before (following eight years without a true single-cutaway Les Paul in the catalog), Gibson was working through the design for several years, making minor changes along the way while progressing toward the ultimate solidbody electric guitar. Les Paul Customs of the early to mid-’70s have become particular favorites with many great rockers, and possess a combination of details that were only present for a short period – all in evidence here on the Randy Rhoads 1974 Les Paul Custom.
To recreate this iconic metal machine, Gibson Custom uses the solid carved maple top with three-piece body consisting of two mahogany slabs with a thin maple center section, as used in Les Pauls of the period. Also present is the three-piece mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard and Custom fiber headstock veneer, on a 17-degree back-angled headstock for optimum tone and sustain, of course. To recreate the sweet, yet aggressive tone of Les Pauls of the era, Gibson Custom has developed the new Super ’74 Humbucker, first used here on the Randy Rhoads 1974 Les Paul Custom, and a big part of this guitar’s fiery, singing, sustaining sound. To get the look of the guitar just right, all of the original 1974 Custom’s ornate details are painstakingly recreated, including the split-diamond headstock inlay, mother-of-pearl block fingerboard inlays, six-ply white/b/w/b/w/b body-top binding and four and five-ply back and headstock binding respectively, and gold-plated hardware.
The piece de resistance, of course, is the nitrocellulose lacquer finish: dubbed “Randy Rhoads White,” the finish on each of two versions reflects the look of a white Les Paul Custom that has aged and yellowed for three decades. After finishing, 100 will be aged by hand to reflect the look of Rhoads’ original guitar, and a further 200 will be finished in Gibson Custom’s acclaimed VOS process. Either way, every Randy Rhoads 1974 Les Paul Custom off the blocks rocks hard and looks just right.
Each includes a Gibson Custom hardshell case with Rhoads signature, Certificate of Authenticity, owner’s manual and adjustment literature, and Gibson’s Limited Lifetime Warranty and 24/7/365 Customer Service.