1974 Gibson Les Paul Special was one of Gibson’s first reissues.
I bought a new one exactly like this one in 1974. Unfortunately it was stolen from my home many years ago. It took a very long time to find another one in such great condition. Chased this down by driving to a vintage guitar shop in Maryland. This guitar is in amazing condition for its age. All original parts (except strap buttons) and no repairs except for re-frett job that was extremely well done. I was even able to find an original “chain saw” style case.
These 1974 Les Paul Specials come up on eBay now and again, but some have been greatly modified and are beat up. Some also have pickup rings around the P-90 pickups from the factory which makes me thing they were routed incorrectly. Basically a “boo-boo” ring. This guitar is 100% original and in wonderful condition. It plays like a dream.
These Les Paul Special re-issue models have wrap tail bridges and not the tune-o-matic like on some Gibson models. The wrap tail bridge adds to the way the guitar plays and sounds, but also is hard to get modern intonation so the guitar plays in tune around the fretboard.
On my original 1974 Gibson Les Paul Special, I had replaced with a wrap tail bridge with a Leo Quan Badass bridge which was popular in the 70s. These can still be found on eBay sold as vintage parts and usually have Leo Quan Badass Patent Pending etched on the bottom. Not easy to find and original one in clean condition however. I few companies are making other replacements for wrap tails like Tone Pros.
Playing this guitar always brings back memories of my old garage band days many years ago. Glad I was able to add this guitar back into my life. The P90 pickups on this guitar scream. But I was not totally happy with the intonation like my original one. So I replaced the bridge with a Tone Pros model. The original wrap tail can easily be put back on with no issues.
I was able to find on eBay and original Gibson chainsaw case just like the one I bought new in 1974.
Back to Simple Wrap Tail Bridge
The Tone Pro replacement bridge never fit this guitar well. First off it changed the look and feel of the guitar. The angle of the original studs that were installed like this from the factory were done this way to get the intonation close actually causes and issue for the Tone Pro bridge. The Tone Pro saddles usually come pre notched and do not quite fit this angle for the string path. In order for it to work better you real need to notch the bridge saddles differently and not on center. The massive and more moving parts also change the way the guitar sounds and plays. This reminds me of the Telecaster three barrel vs six saddle argument among Fender guys.
Well I went looking for a new replacement bridge. If none suitable could be found I intended to go back to the original wrap tail and intonation would be adjusted the best way possible.
Happily I found Mojoaxe Custom Guitar parts that make a perfect replacement called the CWT-A Compensated wraparound tailpiece – Aged Nickel finish for $139 + shipping. This bridge looks exactly like the original bridge but is compensated for intonation. Only a trained eye up close would be able to tell it is not the original bridge. This is a perfect replacement for the original 1950s wrap around bridges or reissues.
I ordered one from Dan at Mojoaxe it arrived in a few days. It is a very well made part that obviously was well thought out and care taken to make. I had it installed quickly and intonation was almost dead on right from the start. Small adjustment and setup and the guitar sounds and plays better. I am convinced that this Mojoaxe compensated wrap around bridge is the best possible replacement for this guitar. This is the part Gibson should have made.
The simplicity of a wrap tail bridge with better intonation and sustain. I highly recommend you check these out if you have a guitar like this.