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I don't understand why people dislike Norlin era Gibson products so much...

IMMUSICRULZ

Active member
Joined
May 25, 2021
Messages
372
I often find myself (as does everybody else on this site) asking, "Why do people dislike the Norlin tenure of Gibson?" I have heard reports of the headstocks of Gibson Norlins falling off, that Norlin era Gibsons had trouble staying in tune, etc. But Norlin also owned Moog during this time, and the Minimoog and Polymoog of the Seventies wasn't that bad.

I know that was a time when Gibson was doing unorthodox things to the LP line, like maple bodies and necks, and adding lots of unnecessary electronics. I have heard some of you guys say stay away, while others really love them. I'm not looking at buying it, I was just curious. I actually own a Norlin era Epiphone acoustic guitar, and a 2000s sunburst Epiphone Les Paul.

No guitar is perfect, and I just wanted to provide a few examples of Norlin players.
Lindsey Buckingham and Bob Welch of Fleetwood Mac both played Norlin Lesters, as did Kerry Livgren and Richard Williams of Kansas (who also played an SG and an ES 335.) Even the solo on My Sharona by The Knack was through Mesa/Boogie amps and a black Norlin Les Paul played by the group's guitarist, Berton Averre. Either you like Norlin Gib or you don't. I see a lot of Norlin Les Pauls and SGs in guitar stores and often wonder if I should spend money on those instead of the REO Speedwagon records I love so much. :)

But if you have something kind to say about Norlin Gibson (and if you own any Norlin Gibson Guitars), please post it here. I'd love to hear about when you got them and how much the Norlin tenure meant to you.
 

DutchRay

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2015
Messages
463
I've played some great Norlin-era Les Pauls, no doubt about that.
But... They are so different from 50's guitars. The 3-piece maple neck, heavy weight (and pancake bodies), flat frets, Nashville bridge, 300k pots and t-tops, have such big impact, I'd hardly call it 'the Les Paul' sound.
 

guitplayer

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 8, 2008
Messages
1,890
1970-74 saw mahog necks. Old wood is what I think helps.
The maple necks , not so much for the LP sound. But in a way it is.
I`d look for a 1972-74.
Couple factory standards from 74
 

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Bob Womack

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Joined
Apr 8, 2002
Messages
2,013
I've posted before abut my '74 Kalamazoo Small-Script Standard. I have played so many sessions and gigs with it at this point that it is full of memories and sort of an extension of my arm. No it isn't a golden age LP but it is a lovely instrument in its own right and is valuable to me.

lptop.jpg


lpincasetouched.jpg


paulie74vsm.jpg


By the way, the weight is in the same range as that of a non-weight relieved LP of most eras - 9.8 lbs.

Bob
 

Shelkonnery

New member
Joined
Jan 28, 2021
Messages
24
I personally consider the Les Paul sound a lot broader than just golden era Bursts.
Norlins seem to have worked just great for Randy Rhoads, Joe Walsh, Neal Schon, Jimmy Page, Adam Jones, just to name a few. You don't often see good guitarists bashing that era so publicly. It seems to be an internet forum thing mostly.
 

DutchRay

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2015
Messages
463
I don't think a Norlin Les Paul into a Marshall 2203 is the classic Les Paul sound. Let me be clear, I love that sound but it is very different from a '59 into a plexi Marshall, which for me is the classic Les Paul sound.
Also take into consideration that in the mid/late 70's, golden era Les Pauls were just as rare and expensive as they are now, a $5000-$10.000 guitar was considered crazy by many players. Only successful players could afford them and the 'normal' players had to deal with what was available. I'm pretty sure all players mentioned above would have gladly traded their Norlin for a golden era Les Paul.
 

Shelkonnery

New member
Joined
Jan 28, 2021
Messages
24
“Just as rare and expensive as today” might be an overstatement. I don’t recall original Bursts at $40k range during the 70s, but I could be wrong (used an inflation calculator for $200k today).

All of these guitarists I mentioned became successful enough that they could afford original Bursts. Some of them did. All of them kept their Norlins in rotation even after getting a Burst though. So I can’t say I agree with your train of thought.
 

ADP

Active member
Joined
Jul 16, 2015
Messages
164
I have played a 1970 Custom that was amazing, a 1971 "Standard '58", a 1976 L.E. Explorer, and a 1980 "Heritage Elite" - that each had the "magic".

Additionally, there have been a few secret runs of amazing Les Paul's such as the Leo Les Paul and Guitar Trader Magazine's release. Some even came with original 1950's PAF pickups that Gibson had remaining.

Other than that I probably hadn't thought of the many hundreds of Norlin-era guitars that I have let pass through my hands, for a second time until now. They all say Gibson, though, so that is good enough for most. The pride of ownership incited by the brand name is one factor in why many people love these guitars, as they should!

Some great pickups throughout the era, too!
 
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Midnight Blues

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Joined
Feb 20, 2011
Messages
1,453
I have two.

This is my '72/'54 Limited Edition which my parents bought for me back in '73 for $300.00 from a local player, one of, if not the, best in the area I might add:

full


full


full


I am a HUGE Peter Frampton fan and have been since Humble Pie released "Humble Pie Performance Rockin' The Fillmore" back in '71. It was Frampton's playing on that album (along with the pictures of his '54 LP on the cover) that made me want to play guitar and want a Les Paul. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Mark Farner, from Grand Funk Railroad, was also a huge influence back then as well.

It's mostly original except for the Grover machine heads that my brother (a drummer) bought for me at Manny's in NYC, when he was playing at the Playboy Club in Manhattan, in the early/mid '70s. I wanted Grovers because that's what Frampton had on his LP. The only other non-original part is that jack plate. Back in the '70s, I dropped her on a cement floor and the jack plate bent (
run.gif
). It stayed that way until sometime in the 2000s when my luthier changed it.

This is STILL MY FAVORITE guitar out of the nine that I have.


Here's my '76 Deluxe that I bought from a friend of mine in high school in '77. This is how it looked at the time (photo courtesy of Ludlow Guitars, NYC):

full


My friend was looking to sell it and he approached me to ask what I thought he could get for it. I told him that I thought $400.00 was a good price. I must've been in the market for a new guitar (?), so shortly thereafter, I told him I'd buy it.

Not long after that, I had some mods done: Removed the PG, had it routed and put DiMarzio Super Distortions in, put Schaller machine heads on and changed the volume/tone controls to "Speedies", which I prefer.

Here's what it looked like for 30+ years:

full


full


Then, about 10 years ago (almost to the day), I decided to change things-up again and I bought a set of Bare Knuckle PG Blues pups to put in and I changed the volume/control knobs to "Reflectors" and this is how she looks today:

full


full


A side story: For various reasons, not the least of which I got married, in the '80s, I quite playing (certainly in bands) for about 20 years and gave most of my stuff (except the 2 LPs I had at that time) to my nephews or sold it. When I started to play regularly again, I found a local luthier (the same one I mentioned above) with a great reputation, to service this LP, along with my other guitars. Unbeknownst to me, it turns out that he had apprenticed with the luthier that did all the work on my Deluxe back in the '70s. :)

As @Shelkonnery pointed-out, '50s LPs were not in the $40K range, not even close! Additionally, they weren't as exalted as they are today either. A Les Paul was a Les Paul then and they could be had for any price, depending on how much money the seller needed. They were guitars and players played them regardless of when/how they were made.

I also find it humorous when people say that something like the volume/tone knobs (he typed facetiously) or the glue, etc., used back then makes a difference in the tone and that they're able to tell. There are so many factors involved in tone, not the least of which is the amp (also made differently back then) that in my humble opinion, is nothing more than snobbery and is silly.

For the record, Frampton played a Norlin too:

MBXxYbB.jpg




cheers.gif
 
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tjdjr1

Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2016
Messages
53
Nothing wrong with a Norlin era LP, I have 2 newer LP's and SG along with 2 older Norlins, a 78 Deluxe (routed) and a 80 Standard. All have their slight differences in feel and tone but I rarely leave anything completely stock, which I wish i did years ago, but oh well...Some great tones from Norlin era as well.
 

Mwoodbro

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2002
Messages
150
I have had a few Norlin era Gibsons and still have 2 - an 84 ES-335 that I bought in 85, and a 71-72 goldtop LP reissue that I bought from someone on this forum many, many moons ago.
Both really good sounding solid players. Contrary to the accounts of many, this goldtop is not heavy - less than 9 lbs.
I don't have a pic of the 335 handy, but here's the goldtop...
F7fe1vc.jpg
 

Wilko

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Mar 11, 2002
Messages
19,988
BTW, It's not that they are "disliked". It's that given a choice between other models, the Norlin is often not the choice. The Gruhn's Guide had a nice way of saying it "fine utility instruments" or something like that.
 

El Gringo

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 8, 2015
Messages
4,801
My Norlin era Black Beauty ! My very first electric as a kid , which I still have and play with my tech at his hotel room when he visited in May of this year to care for 12 of my 21 instruments from my herd . Notice the chainsaw Gibson case ! Which several years back in 2018 I get the "Dad" call from him admonishing me that the guitar was not safe being transported by UPS even though I always insured when shipping instruments to him out of town for service . I said to him that it is in a flight case , to which he replied that "what if it fell off the back of the truck ?" and then got run over and squished ! So on my own I went out and got some Anvil Steel cases (best money spent ! ) Now the Anvil Steel will crush anything in it's path (costs more to ship as it is much heavier and now I don't need the extra insurance , as my tech said to me " I will never be made whole by filing a claim for damage during transit " and he is right ! ) I forgot to add as a reminder of all the Norlin era Bashing that this Black Beauty has been to hell and back and has been subjected to heavy use and abuse by me when I was a kid and didn't know any better (9lbs) This guitar has ThroBak MXV-SLE-101 Plus pickups with A5 magnets . I still have the original Patent Sticker T-Tops , which I removed 79-80 for Dimarzio , then Seymour Duncan ,then Gibson 57 Classics which were in for the longest time from 92-93 until 2018 when I discovered the joys and wonders of all Things ThroBak . Mighty huge shout out to THROBAK www.throbak.com
 
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El Gringo

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 8, 2015
Messages
4,801
I have two.

This is my '72/'54 Limited Edition which my parents bought for me back in '73 for $300.00 from a local player, one of, if not the, best in the area I might add:

full


full


full


I am a HUGE Peter Frampton fan and have been since Humble Pie released "Humble Pie Performance Rockin' The Fillmore" back in '71. It was Frampton's playing on that album (along with the pictures of his '54 LP on the cover) that made me want to play guitar and want a Les Paul. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Mark Farner, from Grand Funk Railroad, was also a huge influence back then as well.

It's mostly original except for the Grover machine heads that my brother (a drummer) bought for me at Manny's in NYC, when he was playing at the Playboy Club in Manhattan, in the early/mid '70s. I wanted Grovers because that's what Frampton had on his LP. The only other non-original part is that jack plate. Back in the '70s, I dropped her on a cement floor and the jack plate bent (
run.gif
). It stayed that way until sometime in the 2000s when my luthier changed it.

This is STILL MY FAVORITE guitar out of the nine that I have.


Here's my '76 Deluxe that I bought from a friend of mine in high school in '77. This is how it looked at the time (photo courtesy of Ludlow Guitars, NYC):

full


My friend was looking to sell it and he approached me to ask what I thought he could get for it. I told him that I thought $400.00 was a good price. I must've been in the market for a new guitar (?), so shortly thereafter, I told him I'd buy it.

Not long after that, I had some mods done: Removed the PG, had it routed and put DiMarzio Super Distortions in, put Schaller machine heads on and changed the volume/tone controls to "Speedies", which I prefer.

Here's what it looked like for 30+ years:

full


full


Then, about 10 years ago (almost to the day), I decided to change things-up again and I bought a set of Bare Knuckle PG Blues pups to put in and I changed the volume/control knobs to "Reflectors" and this is how she looks today:

full


full


A side story: For various reasons, not the least of which I got married, in the '80s, I quite playing (certainly in bands) for about 20 years and gave most of my stuff (except the 2 LPs I had at that time) to my nephews or sold it. When I started to play regularly again, I found a local luthier (the same one I mentioned above) with a great reputation, to service this LP, along with my other guitars. Unbeknownst to me, it turns out that he had apprenticed with the luthier that did all the work on my Deluxe back in the '70s. :)

As @Shelkonnery pointed-out, '50s LPs were not in the $40K range, not even close! Additionally, they weren't as exalted as they are today either. A Les Paul was a Les Paul then and they could be had for any price, depending on how much money the seller needed. They were guitars and players played them regardless of when/how they were made.

I also find it humorous when people say that something like the volume/tone knobs (he typed facetiously) or the glue, etc., used back then makes a difference in the tone and that they're able to tell. There are so many factors involved in tone, not the least of which is the amp (also made differently back then) that in my humble opinion, is nothing more than snobbery and is silly.

For the record, Frampton played a Norlin too:

MBXxYbB.jpg




cheers.gif
I love your Norlin era Les Paul's as they are just beautiful , as it was hearing your journey in music as well ! P.S. I like how the reflectors look !
 

IMMUSICRULZ

Active member
Joined
May 25, 2021
Messages
372
Also Jeff Lynne, Richard Tandy and Kelly Groucutt of ELO all played Norlin era Gibson guitars and Moog synthesizers.
 

stxrus

New member
Joined
Mar 21, 2015
Messages
19
I had a ‘71 Deluxe (bought new) that sounded incredible but it was a true boat anchor. At just over 12 pounds it was more than my 19 year old body could play for more than 2+ sets. An entire night was impossible.

My current Norlin is a ‘74 Special. I’m slowly bringing it back to its original form. Hopefully by my birthday in March
 

Midnight Blues

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 20, 2011
Messages
1,453
I love your Norlin era Les Paul's as they are just beautiful , as it was hearing your journey in music as well ! P.S. I like how the reflectors look !
Why THANK YOU VERY MUCH EG, I appreciate that!

I don't know what I was thinking back in the '70s when I put the black "Speedies" on her? It was probably because I like "Speedies" better, but I didn't really care for the amber/gold color? I definitely like the "Reflectors" much better!


Thanks again and
cheers.gif
 
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