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do you remember the first real burst you saw in person? first burst you've played?

Rich R

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It was the early '90s and at Lark Street in Albany, NY. I was still a student at Syracuse University.

I did a double take when I saw it hanging on the wall. I asked Buzzy "Is that what I think it is?"
He replied "It is."
"May I play it?"
Buzzy looked me up and down, paused and said "If you drop it, you owe me forty-thousand dollars." Then with one hand gripping the 'butt' of the guitar, he handed it to me over the counter.
I plugged it into a '59 Bassman and quickly decided that it was the best sounding and easiest to play electric guitar I'd ever experienced. It was a 1958 'Burst with small frets and no serial number. According to Buzzy it came from the factory without a serial number. The color was largely there and the flame was light, tight and evenly distributed over the top. It was not a flame monster, nor would it even be described as overtly flamey. I definitely wasn't a plain top nor even 'peek-a-boo'. It was in very good condition but needed a re-fret. I can't remember if the tuners were original or not but if I had to guess, I'd say they were.
I returned the guitar to Buzzy and thanked him for the enlightenment. He grinned.

I was a semi-regular (and harmless) tire kicker at Lark Street. Buzzy knew that I was a vintage guitar nerd and that I genuinely appreciated his instruments. I still appreciate his generosity in allowing me to play pretty much whatever I wanted although I never purchased anything. It was extremely educational.

I remember that guitar! He quoted me 40K, too, and talked about the lack of the serial #, and how it was some kind of employee/"Saturday" guitar. Even then, that sounded like some bullshido to me...
 

sws1

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Dec 4, 2001
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I remember that guitar! He quoted me 40K, too, and talked about the lack of the serial #, and how it was some kind of employee/"Saturday" guitar. Even then, that sounded like some bullshido to me...

Is this the same buzzy and lark st that is in NJ?
 

brandtkronholm

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Dec 3, 2006
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2,479
Is this the same buzzy and lark st that is in NJ?

The same.

The shop in NJ has been arranged to look like the old shop in Albany.

I remember that guitar! He quoted me 40K, too, and talked about the lack of the serial #, and how it was some kind of employee/"Saturday" guitar. Even then, that sounded like some bullshido to me...

I trust Buzzy.
 
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stinecrs

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Sep 10, 2015
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I saw Martin Barre play his '59 burst with Jethro Tull in the 1970's; man it sounded killer - what tone! I played many 1950's Les Paul Juniors through the years, owned three of them - great guitars! I played my friend Eliot's vintage 1957 Goldtop - superb! The first vintage burst I played was at Rumbleseat Music when it was in Carmel CA back in 2014. I remember walking in there and just marveling over that beautiful 1960 burst; they were asking $235K for it. The sales person asked if I wanted to play it, I said no I was just here looking, couldn't afford it by no means. He said that's ok, you can play it if you like to. Alright then, sure I'll play it! I remember playing a "G" chord unplugged and listening to the chord ring out through the old wood. I was hooked! It was just beautiful and a rare treat to play it. The burst was so balanced and articulate! $235K was a little out of my price range...... So I ended up buying an original 1955 Les Paul Junior off Reverb.com that had a small amount of cosmetic damage to it (not much though) and had it converted to a 1959 Les Paul Standad by Brian Monty of Ontario Canada. He had it for 8 months. I put two vintage 1959 PAFs in her; obtained an old ABR-1 bridge and a few other vintage parts (old black beauty caps as well). And some folks on this forum ripped into me for converting my junior to a standard. Other folks supported me. We all own our feelings, don't we? :) That's as close as having a vintage burst as I will ever get. I do own a 2008 R9 as well; that's pretty nice. My conversion plays and sounds great; I'm very happy with it...... A few folks I let play it, loved it!:jim First picture is the 1960 burst at Rumbleseat Music. Second picture (left to right) a Musikraft Les Paul kit I built in 2013, 1955 jr to '59 Standard in the middle, and my 2008 R9.

Chris and his new friend (1960 Les Paul- profile.jpg Three Less Pauls_2016 Cropped.jpg 1959 Conversion Front View.jpg
 

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Dragonkoi

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Oct 6, 2015
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I haven't even been in the same room as one. Not even the same postcode.

Update: I played two 1959 bursts today at The North West Guitar Show in the UK. Both belonged to Tom Wilson. He had a nice collection of 50's Les Pauls with him. I got a copy of the Burst Believers 3 book while I was there which has features both guitars. Awesome day.
 

Tom Wittrock

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Update: I played two 1959 bursts today at The North West Guitar Show in the UK. Both belonged to Tom Wilson. He had a nice collection of 50's Les Pauls with him. I got a copy of the Burst Believers 3 book while I was there which has features both guitars. Awesome day.

Good for you! :dude:
 

iknowpeanuts

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Feb 6, 2018
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I brought in my LP to a luthier whom I was meeting for the first time. He gave my guitar a once over and said he had something to show me: He brought out the first burst I ever saw and held in my hands. It was a surreal experience to say the least and it was unbelievable when I realised that lived within earshot of one for the longest time.

It was one thing to hear comparison videos of the real thing vs the reissues but having heard the actual thing in person, it was the closest thing to a religious epiphany in all my time on earth.

He added that he doesn’t normally do that but decided to when he saw that I took the trouble to change my truss rod cover to one that’s closer to proper spec. It was such a cool moment in more ways than one, and certainly one i’ll always be grateful to him for.
 

El Gringo

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Apr 8, 2015
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Late 70's in my local mom and pop store had a few of them hanging from the ceiling with wires so we couldn't touch them which was smart on the store owners part because we were just brats touching anything and everything and never once did I have the nerve to ask if I could play one . Then fast forward to the 90's when Lark Street Music was around the corner from my house where I purchased 2 Gibson's and a Martin and a Fender amp , they always had a Burst or 2 in the store but yet again I did not have the nerve to touch a several hundred thousand dollar guitar and the owner Buzzie who is the BEST always encouraged me to try it out and play around with it and bless his heart as I just could not and that will probably be the closest to ever having a vintage Burst in my hands .
 

Mieko8

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May 24, 2010
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I played the Norm Burst 07452 several times and was saving my pennies, thinking one day I’d be able to afford it. Just when I had enough money saved that wouldn’t even get me a used custom shop, Joe snatched it. I needed only another 10 years and it could have been mine. Tom was also kind enough to let me play Curly and Donna in Dallas. That’s it for me aside from the one I owned. A re-neck that I named “Anne Boleyn” 08144.
 

C-4

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Jan 5, 2005
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1,775
My first time playing a burst was my guitar teacher's in 1958. I got to play that one a lot. I also hung out at The Guitar Trader in Red Bank, N.J. and played all the original LP's in that store over time, including LP Customs, GT's, and of course, bursts.

I've played bursts which were still new, unsold, at music stores in N.J. during the time they were being offered in the 1950's, and early 1960's.

If we only knew back then what these guitars would become. Oh well, I'm perfectly happy with my R9 and Custom Shop Les Paul Custom Pro.
 

Redhod

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May 2, 2002
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530
The first burst I ever saw made a huge impression on me -- it was in Mike Bloomfield's hands, right in front of me at an Electric Flag concert, ripping through a Twin Reverb. It remains one of the golden memories of my life.

I'd read an interview with him in which he raved about the properties of a Les Paul. A year later, 1969, I'd see one hanging in Manny's. I forget the price. I just knew it looked beautiful. My need to own one someday started there.

The OP's question has gotten me thinking about the order in which I'd see the next ones. I never would play an actual burst. But Paul Kossoff and Free came next, then Led Zeppelin at the Bath Festival for an actual burst, then Mick Taylor. Around that time I'd seen black Les Pauls in the hands of Jeff Beck, Neil Young, and others. Leon Russell. Ollie Halsall (up close in a club!). Or Page with the Black Beauty. The first Les Paul I played was a black one in the early '70s, a musician in LA loaned it to me, then tried to sell it to me dirt cheap but I was too broke. I've always wondered what I let get away? Was it a '50s LP or a Norlin? I just knew that I loved it. And it imprinted on me the dangerousness of a black Les Paul.
 

wsaraceni

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Jan 6, 2004
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Got to see another “burst” today. Year “1959ish” at the abalone vintage booth at the philly guitar show. The Alex Conti burst
 

zappa1777

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Jun 23, 2015
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The first one I tried was in 2001 in South Africa. It became known as the African Burst eventually. What a beautiful guitar
 

goldtop72457

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Mar 24, 2005
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I've never played a burst but I did see one up close when I worked at Guitars Unlimited in Menlo Park, CA back in the late 70's. A guy came in with one and showed it to us. It was a plaintop cherry burst. He said he paid $7500.00 for it so that might date it if someone here knows when plaintiops were going for that price. After he told me what he paid I didn't want to touch it. At the time that was a fortune. I just kinda gazed at it for a while
 

WP Blues

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The first burst I got to see and hear REAL WELL was in October of '73 at a REO Speedwagon concert where my buddy Jeff and I got to the venue (a local university) early so we could get a good spot, which we did. Gary Richrath had a somewhat beat up burst with great flame, and at times he was only about four feet away from us. The sound of that thing thru two modded Marshall stacks was attention getting, to say the least. We saw him about a year later with a greened-up '57 goldtop. This photo is from the October concert. Oh, the first one I got to play was the one they have at Elderly Music right now. They were nice enough to bring it out of the "vault" and let me and my friend (who happens to be the same one that was with me at the REO concert) play it briefly.

rr01.jpg
 

Tom Wittrock

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I've never played a burst but I did see one up close when I worked at Guitars Unlimited in Menlo Park, CA back in the late 70's. A guy came in with one and showed it to us. It was a plaintop cherry burst. He said he paid $7500.00 for it so that might date it if someone here knows when plaintiops were going for that price. After he told me what he paid I didn't want to touch it. At the time that was a fortune. I just kinda gazed at it for a while

Late 1980s. :ganz
 

Tom Wittrock

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I guess my memory on the price is bad because this was app 1978-79 time frame. By the late 80's I was in the IT biz. I do remember thinking the guy paid a fortune for that guitar

At that time plaintops were [normally] under $5000. :)
 
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