1979 Gibson Silverburst Les Paul Custom


A mighty guitar filled with blood & thunder.

The story of this guitar goes way back to August 2008. 5 long years ago (wow, time flies!). Back then I was a frequent contributor to the Time Off Message Board (TOMB) which all the local Brisbane musicians posted on. One day someone calling themselves ‘oldrocker’ posted that they were looking for people to jam with. Nothing new.

But reading a few posts in, I realised that this was Peter Mengede, former guitarist of the band Helmet… and later Handsome. I was definitely interested. Helmet were the soundtrack to the 90’s for me. I had jammed on their songs in my cousin Sam’s band back in my Griffith days (we did a pretty awesome ‘Unsung’).

I contacted Peter and we organised to meet up. While we were emailing back and forth, I sent him a photo of my guitars… which at the time included a 1976 cherry sunburst Les Paul Standard.


Peter was very interested in it as he’s a big Jimmy Page fan. He mentioned he had a 70’s Antiqua Les Paul Custom. I’d never heard of that finish… a quick search in Google and I realised he meant Silverburst! Holy crap!

I’d become a HUGE fan of Mastodon, and the thought of a Silverburst Les Paul Custom was too much for me to handle. I cheekily asked Peter if he’d be interested in a swap for my ’76 Standard. He said he’d definitely be interested. He wasn’t all that fond of the Silverburst as it weighed an absolute ton and the frets where in a bit of a bad shape.

That weekend I headed around to Peter’s house with my Les Paul and we jammed on a few riffs he had. He then brought out a dusty old Gibson case and there she was… a beautifully slightly green Silverburst Les Paul Custom.




I handed my Les Paul over to Peter. He strummed it for a bit… looked at it for a bit… strummed it some more looked at it again… showed his wife… strummed it again…and then said “Yep. Want to trade?”

Yes. Yes please. For the love of all that is holy… yes.

Peter mentioned that he’d bought the guitar during the Handsome album recording session in Seattle. He suspected that it might of been Chris Cornell from Soundgarden’s Silverburst (!) but after a quick search online I saw that Chris’s Les Paul had one of its pickup covers removed. Oh well, being owned by the guy who played on ‘Strap It On’ and ‘Meantime’ was pretty good too!

So due to the bad frets and a dodgy input jack, it sat it storage for 5 years. Yes… that’s right. I originally thought that it needed a refret, so I kept putting it off. Tim finally said… maybe all it needs is a fret dress. 2 days later and I picked it up. Holy crap. I couldn’t believe that a fret dress had stopped me playing this for 5 years! Dammit! I’m such an idiot.


So what do we have? A Les Paul with a beautifully slim Norlin neck, which has some wear around the ‘A’ position. You can see the original silver peeking through the green.


It also weighs a lot. My 90’s Les Paul Custom is 4.3kg. This beast is 4.8kg. That’s half a kilo heavier! It feels like a weapon. Like it means business.


While Mastodon were in town, my friend Greg was doing their sound. He kindly got Mastodon to sign my Les Paul. Brent Hinds didn’t seem too impressed.


I then wised up and scrubbed it all off, but you can still see their signatures faintly, which I’m fine with. It’s very subtle as you can’t see it from a distance and it feels a bit inspiring having them on there. Bill Kelliher played my guitar backstage and loved it. And that guy knows a thing or two about Silverbursts.


So yeah, I’m pretty stoked. I played this on the weekend at a gig through a 70’s 100 watt Marshall JMP and it sounded spectacular. Really clear, heaps of power and sustain. Just a perfect guitar sound. I’m hooked. I’m not going to waste another 5 years… I’m going to play this guitar as much as I can.