Peter Frampton with Signature Les Paul

Peter Frampton today and at the height of his fame, playing Philadelphia in 1977

Gibson Peter Frampton Signature Les Paul

Story by John Bongiovanni

Gibson is certainly no stranger to the guitar community. They are solidified in the pantheon of the top two legendary builders. For the past 127 years, Gibson has been synonymous with creating and shaping sound. This year they caught my eye in a big way when they announced that they were doing a signature model for a guitar the was for years, thought to be just a memory. Peter Frampton’s heavily modified 1954 Gibson Les Paul Custom.

That guitar is what was to become Frampton's signature instrument. He found through a fan at a show at the infamous Fillmore West in San Francisco, and used it with Humble Pie, and of course throughout his solo material, and played it almost exclusively for years. It was made historic on the cover of his classic 1976 live album, Frampton Comes Alive! And this is where the story takes a twist…

In 1980, while Frampton was on tour in South America, the guitar was put on a cargo plane in Venezuela, en route to his next gig in Panama. The plane unfortunately crashed right after taking off. What Frampton didn't realize at the time was that the guitar had actually survived, with a few some scratches, bumps and bruises. A musician on the Caribbean island of Curaçao had found the guitar and owned it for many years before a local guitar collector came across it and was able to contact Frampton. After some negotiating, the guitar was returned to Frampton.

The Gibson Custom Shop has re-created the guitar that Peter Frampton played on his multiplatinum live album from 1976. Distinctive features include a mahogany back with weight-relief chambers, the Peter Frampton custom slim neck profile, and three Gibson humbuckers: '57 Classic (neck), '57 Classic Plus (middle), and 500T (bridge). The 3-way pickup selector is wired so the middle pickup is always on (with its own volume and tone) and can be combined with the front or rear pickups. Top-level Les Paul Custom features include the ebony finish, 22-fret Richlite fingerboard with pearl block inlays, single-ply white binding on top and back, kidney bean tuners, and gold hardware. Includes case.

“My brand-new Gibson Les Paul Custom VOS is here and boy is it good,” says Peter Frampton. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the look and sound. Gibson has gone that extra mile in every area to make this feel and sound the closest to my original, storied Phenix Les Paul Custom guitar. The neck and weight of this mahogany guitar will amaze you at how great it feels and how light it is (and it’s even a hair lighter than the Phoenix). This is the real deal. Thank you, Gibson!”

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