In the world of Les Pauls, the 1959 "Burst" rules them all - and for good reason. Not only did some of the most iconic electric players of all time use them, they're truly special instruments capable of awe-inspiring sustain, tone, and beauty - that illusive "it factor" that all lauded, historically significant instruments possess.
Is it the wood? The pickups? The finish? Time, age? These are the questions that keep dedicated tone chasers awake at night and the 'code' that dedicated guitar builders seek to crack - and fortunately for us mortals - to replicate.
Can't afford, or find, a $400K 1959 Burst to call your own but want a taste of that magic? Enter: Peter "Max" Baranet.
In the world of Burst replicas, the name Peter "Max" Baranet reigns supreme in the minds of many Les Paul aficionados. The famous "Hunterburst"? The one that Roman Rist, a former colleague of Max, says...
"That’s the one that got him (Slash) hooked. The seed for his Les Paul addiction, becoming the Les Paul icon that he is, is the Hunterburst.” That's a Max Les Paul Replica according to Rist.
We could probably stop there with a....'nuff said....no?
In a quest to see just how good this guitar is compared to the best LP's out there, to answer the questions we all want to know - Does it have "it"? Is it as good as I've heard? How close does it really get? - we had a Les Paul shootout with this Max LP, a JamCity 57 LP Special Conversion, a 56 LP Conversion, a Yaron Les Paul replica, several Gibson Custom Shop LP's, and oh....I dunno....an actual 1959 Les Paul.
What an experience, and yes, we're dopes for not filming this (it happened quite spontaneously via a very gracious customer's collection). The conclusion? The Max got the closest to the real deal of any in the bunch...and these were all fantastic Les Pauls.
There's a bounciness, a springy-ness, to a real 59 LP's single notes - not the same snap as a Fender, but a liveliness that makes playing feel very interactive. The guitar is giving back and not just taking, so to speak. The Max does this in an almost identical way to the real 59.
The sustain is very similar too. The Spinal Tap jokes are real, folks. You really can go out, have a bite, come back...and it'll still be going. It's freaky, honestly...but super cool and not something we'd ever experienced in an electric. The Max gets darned close to this level of sustain, though the real 59 has it beat by a touch (to be expected, right?).
Tonally, the Max has a very similar level of output and overall tone. Other LPs in our shootout were a bit more aggressive, more of a true "rock Les Paul" while the 59 and the Max had a clearer, medium let's call it, output. Just gorgeous, round, punchy, fat Gibson tones. This is what the last 50 years or so of rock and roll were made of. Magical can be an eye-rolling adjective when describing a guitar and the experience of playing a great one, but honestly folks, that's what it was. Fun doesn't even begin to sum it up.
Condition: Near mint. If you put it under a microscope you may see a few signs of prior ownership, but this guitar was babied, no question. Super clean.
What can we say? This is as good - and as close to the real deal - as it gets. Maybe that Slash guy was onto something? :-)
Please see the attached pics that include Max describing his process.
- Built for Tony Melman’s Roots of Rock charity
- All old growth woods which were harvested from the same period as the wood used on the '58-'60 bursts
- Murphy painted
- Tom Holmes pickups
- '60s tuners, wiring harness, pots, nos bumblebees
- SN 9 1990