Mick Curley’s ’74 Les Paul Custom

A very well played rock soldier that just gets better looking with age.

A few weeks ago, my band had the pleasure of playing at the iconic Annandale Hotel in Sydney with some awesome bands… 90’s legends ‘Midget’ and Hytest offshoot ‘Bruce!’. It was a really fun show, much beer was consumed and good times were had and good music played. It was great to catch up with the Hytest guys, as I’d been wanting to check out Mick’s Les Paul Custom up close for a while now.After a thunderous set from Bruce!, I asked Mick if I could snap some pics of his axe and get him to tell me the story of it.

Mick bought the Les Paul off his older brother Lenny Curley, who plays guitar in the band Tumbleweed. Lenny bought the guitar for it’s Steve Jones looks, but the sheer weight of the guitar (well… it IS a Les Paul Custom) led him to sell it to Mick and for him to take up playing his Mosrites. So Mick put the guitar into service with his band Hytest and played it HARD.

It’s one of those guitars that just looks awesome. You don’t see that many Les Paul Customs in this condition, as most owners tend to baby them a bit. (I know I do with mine.) But Mick has played this thing everyday since he got it, and the wear and tear has added a beautiful patina. The back of the neck is very nicely worn… I’d like to see the Gibson Custom Shop try and match this checking.

Being the first 1974 Les Paul I’d ever gotten my hands on, I was keen the feel the neck profile. I was very surprised to see that it had a nice full neck, VERY similar to my 90’s Custom. I was kind of expecting a thin neck like my ’78 Les Paul, but that obviously came later. But yeah… that wear and checking. Wow.

Mick brought this guitar on a Hytest Europe tour during a very hot European summer, and said that the sweat just made the soft nitro paint start peeling off in sheets. You can see on the front of the body what happens when you mix heat & rock ‘n roll on a very soft paint. It starts cracking like paper mache.

Realising that sweat will eventually rot away the guitar… Mick gave the whole Les Paul light coat of sealer to protect it. This isn’t a collector piece… it’s a player and Mick wanted to play it for a long time, which would be hard if half the guitar has rotted away. Mick has also replaced the hardware with some black units, as gold plated parts don’t really last 40 years of hard playing too well.

The pickups are still the originals, and in Mick’s hands this guitar sounds huge. But yeah… LOOK AT THAT CHECKING!

A nice touch is Mick’s strap lock. Very Australian… very pub rock. This strap isn’t going anywhere in a hurry.

But let’s turn our attention to the back of the guitar. I’ll let the photo’s speak for themselves.This is a seriously cool looking guitar. I mean… would you want to play this, or a pristine, white Les Paul Custom. You want the one with character.

The serial number has buckled and cracked after the years of sweat, so it’s barely legible. The ‘Made In USA’ is still there, but the numbers are pretty faint.

Thanks to Mick for letting me snap the pics and for a great gig. Anyone out there that’s in the vicinity of an upcoming Bruce! gig… make sure you check them out.
Here’s Mick and his Les Paul in action with Hytest…