Gibson recreates Jason Isbell’s “Red Eye” 1959 Les Paul, the former six-string sidekick of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ed King

Isbell was “involved in every step of the process, from choosing the tops down to the case candy”. 

A close up of the Red Eye Les Paul in its case

Image: Gibson

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Gibson has partnered with Jason Isbell to recreate his 1959 “Red Eye” Les Paul, with just 59 Collector’s Edition models from Gibson Custom and the Murphy Lab available.

Made in close collaboration with Isbell himself, the model emulates the iconic guitar which he purchased after its former owner, Lynyrd Skynrd’s Ed King, passed away in 2018. King originally bought the guitar in 1982 and nicknamed it “Red Eye” because of its distinctive appearance. Much its red colour on the top had faded while displayed in a store window, except for a patch below the toggle switch covered by a hangtag.

This limited run of replications was crafted using new 3D scanning technology and Murphy Lab ageing techniques to aid in hand-crafting an effective clone of Red Eye. Gibson says that every detail has been thoughtfully recreated, from the exact playing wear to the sonic character and solid Brazilian Rosewood fretboard. The figured maple tops were also personally hand-picked by Isbell.

The model additionally comes with a blue Les Paul Protector Series hardshell case with a grey plush interior, a Jason Isbell Strap made by Savas from Midnight Blue Wild Alligator leather with a Red Eye emblem, two rubber “beer bottle” style strap locks, a certificate of authenticity booklet, plus custom and reproduction hang tags.

With such detail these guitars don’t come cheap, and are each priced over $20,000.

The Red Eye Les Paul in its case and a close up shot of the strap. It has a red eye on it.
Images: Gibson

Interestingly, when Isbell became set on owning Red Eye, he went down some unconventional roots to be able to afford it. Advised against the purchase by his accountant, he went to his manager instead: “I was like, ‘What can I do to get this amount of money? Can you book me some private shows – no war criminals or anything! – but if there’s some decent people who want me to play their birthday party…’” He tells the Gibson Gazette.

“And it just so happened that Bitcoin was really taking off, so I wound up at a bunch of weird Bitcoin birthday parties and paid for that guitar. Instead of dreaming about having one of these, I got to actually have one.”

Of this new, limited model, Isbell says, “Working with Gibson Custom on the ‘Red Eye’ Collector’s Edition has been a thrill and a true honour. I was involved in every step of the process, from choosing the tops down to the case candy. I believe these guitars represent the best possible recreation of my 1959 Les Paul, and I’m proud to be associated with the project.”

The Red Eye Collector’s Edition is priced at $21,999. Find out more at Gibson.

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