Last year in the U.K., a design contest was held in honor of the 1960 Les Paul Standard’s 50th Anniversary. The winning design, the Maze 1960 Les Paul Standard, was revealed at the NAMM show in January, as was the identity of its designer, contest winner Richard Gregory from Dorset, England.
Gregory, a graphic designer, entered the contest through his local music store, Absolute Music of Poole in Dorset, England. The finished guitar is engraved with his winning design pattern, carved 1/16” deep into the top, and is decorated in all-gold hardware.
“The guitar looks brilliant,” Gregory told Gibson.com. “I guess I was expecting the engraved areas to be as smooth inside as the main surface – they seem to pick up the wood grain, so there's some very tactile ridging in some of these spaces, which makes for a very crafted feel. The playability – neck profile, scale, action – is fabulous. I've not played a solid-bodied electric with such easy, consistent response. The electrics are brilliant: you can really stretch those 1960s British blues tones out of it. The range, from clean and sweet to screaming overdrive, is just amazing. Great consistency of weight and tone across the strings. Impressive. I love it.”
Gregory grew up on the music of Dylan, The Byrds, The Beatles, Zeppelin and the Stones and has been a musician since his schooldays in the ’60s.
“[I started with] cello,” he recalled. “Then drums, then bass, then guitar and vocals, playing in garage bands ’til going semi-pro in the mid-’70s with an outfit called Swift Whippet. We played the London pub and club circuit for just a couple of years before day jobs took priority.”
Gregory’s design came from three specific ideas. “My inspirations for the design were the Les Paul shape, the 1960s – pop art, op art, black and white graphics, Bridget Riley – and finally something of the night with the reflection of subway lights on the curved surface of a shiny black sedan. These three sources came together in one idea.”
The result is a one-of-a-kind Custom Shop masterpiece.