This 1958 Les Paul Standard, owned by Dickey Betts, changed Joe Bonamassa’s life

Betts' Allman Brothers bandmate Dan Toler also used this Gibson.

vintage gibson les paul allman brothers
All images: Eleanor Jane

Previously owned by two bona-fide members of the Southern-rock royal family in the shape of former Allman Brothers Band guitarists Dickey Betts and Dan Toler, this instrument was also the first sunburst Les Paul that a young Joe Bonamassa heard live on stage. “I was six years old and never forgot that evening,” said Bonamassa, describing the 1983 encounter in New York State as “life changing”.

The modern-day blues star was reunited with the pivotal Les Paul in May 2019 when its current owner, vintage-guitar dealer and collector Matthieu Lucas, took it along to a Bonamassa concert in Clermont-Ferrand in France. Joe used it onstage that evening.

Besides having a dark back, the eagle-eyed among you will spot that the guitar’s plain maple top isn’t centre-joined. This is an indication the ’58 started out life as a Goldtop, with the sunburst refinish apparently applied at Betts’ behest in the Gibson factory in the mid 1970s. Along with a headstock repair, a refret and a set of Grovers, this LP may not have had the easiest life, but it’s still cool as hell and is a fabulous playing and sounding instrument.

To see more, visit mattsguitar.shop.

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