Earlier this summer, I got a message from my main boo, Dylan Keel. Someone called the shop where he was working and asked if they would have any interest in buying a vintage Les Paul Junior. Dylan thought that I might be interested. He was 100% correct. 

After a few really blurry photos, we were able to figure out that it was an early '55 Les Paul Junior that looked to be incredibly clean. There were no major blemishes and only a hint of finish checking on a few small areas. The guitar also came with the original case. I got in contact with the owner and got the story on the guitar, and he said all the right things to make a collector open up their wallet. 

The guitar had belonged to his father since it was new. It was purchased in 1955 from a local guitar store in Athens, Georgia, and never really left the area. He also mentioned that it came with an amp that was purchased at the same time. I had already rationalized the purchase before I even got a good photo of the guitar. But I had already bought a few things around that time, so I needed to liquidate something: This one didn't come cheap. 

I decided to sell my 2018 Gibson '59 Reissue Les Paul because it was ultimately a replaceable modern guitar. You don't get the chance to buy a one-owner '50s Les Paul everyday. A week or so later, I said goodbye to my R9 and immediately gave the owner of the Les Paul Jr. a call. I told him that I could meet him on Sunday with a whole lot of cash. He'd told me what he wanted for the guitar, but we hadn't yet agreed on a final price. 

Dylan graciously offered to let us meet up at his house so we could at least plug the guitar into an amp and check everything out before money switched hands. He put a blanket in the bed of his old F100 and brought out his grail 50's Premier amp for me to play.

As soon as I opened the guitar case, I knew I was in trouble. There was no hiding that this was a perfect example of an early Les Paul Junior. And it was so clean that I couldn't really knock the price down. The tuners were replaced with repros, but the original ones were in the case. It had a modern case that was more protective and even had the original hang tags and a few packs of era-correct strings. 

I tried to do a little negotiating, and ended up making a deal where nobody cried. He got a stack of cash, and I got one of my dream guitars. Obviously, the '50s Gibsonette amp was just the cherry on top. I'll be keeping this set together, because I think it's bad luck to break up that marriage. 

November 24, 2021 — Kyle Martin

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