Review: “Sunburst – How the Les Paul Became a Standard”

There have been many books written about the Gibson Les Paul. With so many flavors and styles of Les Pauls and when researching this iconic guitar it can be sometimes confusing. Some of these books focus on certain types of Pauls like the Black Beauty or even focus on vintage years such as the heralded 1959 Burst. Tony Bacon has recently written “Sunburst – How the Les Paul Became a Standard”, not focusing on a vintage or style but actually a finish.

Tony Bacon follows the “Burst” from its inception through modern times. As you turn the pages of the book it becomes clear how a technology created in 1957 is still cutting edge in the hands of today’s guitarists. The book covers the influence of this guitar as it found its way into the hands of the greatest guitar players in history. The book also gives the history of particular Les Paul models that were passed from icon to icon gracing the most famous recordings and stages in rock history.

So what makes the “Burst” so special the Les Paul comes in an array of colors? Some will argue that Gibson reserves the best maple tops for their translucent finishes. Do those AAA tops make a sonic difference? I would say no but there are tone “cork sniffers” that would argue that point for days. What the “Burst” top does give you is attitude.

Full disclosure I am the owner of a 2011 Gibson Les Paul Traditional Iced Tea Burst. When banging out chords on it I can embody the swagger of Jimmy Page, the coolness of Peter Green or the sonic fury of Slash. When you are playing a “Burst” you feel connected to the guitar and connected to its history.

“Sunburst – How the Les Paul Became a Standard” takes you through that history. Carefully chronicling how this guitar has become considered as an artwork, lusted after, surrounded in myth and mystery.  The book also has a great reference section that chronicles the history of the “Burst” and cross references features and functionality of all model years.

“Sunburst – How the Les Paul Became a Standard” is a great read and a phenomenal coffee table book. Expect your copy to quickly get dog eared and maybe even stained with drool, the photos of the guitars in this book are simply stunning.

“Sunburst – How the Les Paul Became a Standard” Is available from all major online book retailers it is listed at $29.99 (US). This book is a must have for any Les Paul owner anyone with an intrest in guitars will be sure to enjoy this book.

About the author – Tony Bacon writes about musical instruments, musicians, and more. He is a co-founder of Backbeat UK and Jawbone Press. Tony’s books include The Ibanez Electric Guitar Book, The Ultimate Guitar Book, and History of the American Guitar. He lives in Bristol, England.