SG101 on the Web

Follow SurfGuitar101 on Twitter


toninho: SAAARFFFF!
69 days ago

synchro: Danny, you are a very sick man, in a very wonderful way.
41 days ago

losstomias: Este foro acepta Tapatalk?
38 days ago

TheBeachCruzers: DONT READ THIS
36 days ago

dp: Barfalona!
18 days ago

Emilien03: HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018!
17 days ago

Clarry: Where do Jack-in-the-Boxes go for holidays? The Dordogne
14 days ago

bigtikidude: ???........
5 days ago

DannySnyder: Last night I was attacked by a gang of mimes, they did unspeakable things to me.
4 days ago

bigtikidude: Heyoooo
3 days ago

Please login or register to shout.

Current Polls

No polls at this time. Check out our past polls.

Current Contests

No contests at this time. Check out our past contests.


Help us meet our monthly goal:



Donate Now

SG101 Banner

SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink Taboo topic - Les Pauls in Surf

New Topic
Page 1 of 1

I have a Jazz Master, I have a Tele,...and I'm a bass player! I am quite satisfied with both. This is strictly a lark question. Are there many examples of Les Pauls in Surf Music? -Purist or maybe diluted Surf Music? And if so, how do they hold up in a sandy environment? Thanks. I apologize for any profanity I may have unleashed. Picard Face Palm

bent bass playing for benter results


The Insect Surfers use Gibsons but I've only seen photos of semi-hollow and SGs. For what it's worth, I could care less what guitar a surf guitarist uses but I simply love the sound of offsets, Strats, and Mosrites for surf.

Personal story:
I was using my Strat with the floating bridge for Misirlou on stage with a couple hundred people watching when my low E string popped. All strings hopelessly go out of tune because the overall tension is changed. I grabbed my Les Paul w/P90s, plugged in, and finished off the song. Sounded great. I think P90s and single coils in general pass through a more "woody" character into the tone of an electric guitar vs. humbuckers.

With intent and skill (and drippy reverb) pretty much any combination of guitar gear could be surfy.

Mai Tai Surf on Facebook

Fender 60s Lacquer Jaguar/USA Strat/'63 RI Reverb/'68 Custom Vibrolux Reverb/Strymon El Capistan & Flint/Xotic EP Booster/Surfy Bear Reverb/Kingsley Page tube boost...and, yes, a Boss FRV-1

All that matters is how good the song is. There are as many good surf bands that use non-traditional gear as use traditional gear.

The Les Paul is not in my top-30 favorite guitars. Most other Gibsons are. Still, great guitars that lack some of the features I prefer (low break angle and lots of space between the bridge/tailpiece)

I often use a Yamaha Weddington in my surf band. It is generally thought of as a Les Paul clone, but it is so much more than that - way better than an actual Les Paul...great guitars and very versitile...If you don't know about them, google away!

Follow this link to hear what a Gibson with humbuckers can do in a Surf context:

It's not about the guitar or the pickup, it's about the Reverb really.

psychonaut wrote:

It's not about the guitar or the pickup, it's about the Reverb really.

I'd agree with this and also add it's the player and how they interact with their guitar/rig.

An example: about 25 years ago I walked into a club in my old home town to see a new Country band. I knew I was moving to Nashville and wanted to brush up on what was happening in the bars with this music.
As I was paying my entrance fee to the bar I heard some really, really good Telecaster tones emanating from the stage but could not see the band.
When I walked in and turned the corner to where I could see the band the guitar player was playing....A Les Paul Custom!

The '69 ES-355 I owned sounded more like a Jag than it did an ES style guitar, with it's funky, older pickups and such.

Another really cool (to me) example/lesson on why the type of guitar matters less than we sometimes want to admit:
A few years ago a close friend/customer brought over a new boutique-ish Princeton Reverb he had built for him. He wanted me to hear it, offer an opinion. The owner of this amp is a wonderful, individual style guitar player. He arrived with a mutual friend in tow who is also a very gifted player. I had just finished building a Strat and also had just taken delivery of my Gretsch White Falcon. As my friend plugged in the amp two other customer/friends came by to drop off or pickup guitars I had worked on. One of them a 40 year veteran in the music industry, the other a studio player who has been on many records.
So there was a group of five of us and we sat in a circle, playing bits, trying out this new amp and passing around the Strat and the Falcon.
Without changing any of the amp or guitar settings it was astounding - the difference in how those guitars and amp sounded in each different pair of hands. Sometimes bright, sometimes dark, sometimes full and others thin. Loud when one guy played it, quiet when the next guy played it. Distorted when one, clean the other....
To be a bystander (and I was exactly that most of the time. These guys are so talented they didn't need to endure much contribution from me, LOL) one would think they were playing entirely different instruments or amp than what we had at our disposal.
I sure wish I had shot video of that afternoon.
To say that it was telling is an understatement.

Sorry so long,


Great story, Jeff! Thanks for sharing.

SSS Agent #777

I agree, it's all in the application. I surf with mine!!


Sin boldly.

Da Vinci Flinglestein,
The quest for the Tone, the tone of the Quest

The Syndicate of Surf on YouTube

Interesting comments, as noted I've heard good players make the same guitars and amps sound completely different as well. I've also heard more than a few Gibsons, especially old ones, that didn't sound very much like a Gibson at all. As ever the magic resides in the fingers, not in the gear.

Mine isn't a Gibson. Or technically a Les Paul (It's basically a Les Paul Doublecut copy) but it has a mahogany 24 3/4" neck, a TOM/STOP bridge setup, humbuckers, pink lacquer.... And 10-guage flats. Love it for surf, as anything else. I surf on a matching bass, too.

As others have said, it's not so much the guitar as it is the player, but unless you have a Bigsby on that Les Paul you're going to loose a little wiggle room.

Sure a Fender is the image most of us have when someone says "surf guitar" but there really are no rules. Now I have to get the Historic '56 out and play some surf standards and see what happens.

All opinions expressed by this poster are well thought out and based on actual experience and/or scientific experimentation, except for those which are knee-jerk reactions or good sounding fantasies.

here's a Les Paul with a Bigsby and one without. I enjoyed playing Les Pauls, I liked the short scale and lower string tension...but would consider them more "moody" than "surfy" for instrumentals. (and granted Apache is not considered a "surf" tune)

Last edited: Jun 16, 2017 19:06:15

There's always the Deusenberg Les Trem, instead of a permanent mod to a bigsby. Always worth mentioning!

To go along with CrazyAces story, somewhere out there is a video of a Junior Brown gig. For those not familiar, he plays a combo 6 string/lap steel on a stand (no strap). Hardly a typical instrument.

During ohe song, he plays. And Redd Volkaert plays. And (I think) Bill Kirchen plays.

And each sounds like himself.

It's not the gear, it's the player.

Ssssssh, I was "cheating." There are JBL's in that Bandmaster.....


Traditional........speak softly and play through a big blonde amp. Did I mention that I sill like big blonde amps?

eddiekatcher wrote:

Ssssssh, I was "cheating." There are JBL's in that Bandmaster.....


Nice try with the back pedaling Ed but you still rule, no matter what guitar you play.


I appreciate those kind words Sir Jeff. Thank you.

I do love that guitar. I've had it for 49 years............... Geez, is that sobering or what?

Broken in half once, refinished twice, numerous sets of pickups in and out of it trying to find the magic that was already there. Looking back I wish I had not had it regretted in the early 70's. An original "Fretless Wonder" is almost non existent now. I pondered having Gibson restore it to the original super low frets when the original neck was replaced. Didn't do it though.......Duh.


Traditional........speak softly and play through a big blonde amp. Did I mention that I sill like big blonde amps?

Page 1 of 1