Greco Copies of Peter Frampton’s 1954 Les Paul Custom

History of Peter Frampton’s Gibson Les Paul Custom

Peter Frampton's Les Paul

Before talking about the Japanese copies of this famous Les Paul Custom, we will talk a little bit about its history which is really out of the ordinary. At the end of the 60s and during the 70s, Peter Frampton played in the band Humble Pie and then started his solo career with many tours and albums. The young English guitarist reached the peak of his career in 1976 with the Frampton Comes Alive album, which to this day is one of the best-selling live albums in history. A year after its release, the album was sold over 10 million copies and on the cover there was a picture of Frampton with a black Gibson Les Paul Custom equipped with 3 pickups. Peter Frampton said that this Les Paul was an original model of 1960, but the origin of this guitar and how it got into Frampton’s hands is a story that deserves to be told…

In 1970, Frampton would play with Humble Pie and open for three consecutive nights for the band Grateful Dead in San Francisco. From the first evening, Frampton had feedback problems on stage using a semi-hollow guitar. A fan named Mark Mariana went to see Frampton the second night after the concert and told him that he had noticed the problem; Mariana then suggested a solution. If he wanted, Frampton could play with the Mark Mariana’s solid-body Les Paul on the third night and he lent him his guitar. The Les Paul seemed to be a 1960 model but in reality, it was a 1954 Custom that came out of Gibson’s workshops where it had received a black lacquered paint, new frets and three new pickups.  Frampton immediately loved this guitar. Not only was his feedback problem solved, but he had in his hands the most expressive guitar he had ever played. After the concert, Peter Frampton wanted to buy it but Mariana decided to offer it to him. And so, in an act of great generosity, this modified ’54 Les Paul has become one of the most iconic guitars of the time.

Frampton custom les paul

How Peter Frampton’s Les Paul was lost and found 30 years later

Unfortunately, Peter Frampton’s Les Paul had been lost in 1980 when a transport plane crashed in Venezuela, near Caracas, while Frampton was on tour in South America. Fortunately, Frampton was not on board but the whole crew died and it seemed obvious that the guitar had been destroyed in the accident.

But life sometimes holds big surprises! That’s how Donald Valentina, a Venezuelan customs officer who also worked as a guitar tech, recognized Peter Frampton’s Les Paul when a local guitarist brought it into his workshop to make an adjustment. The story does not tell how the Les Paul got into the hands of this anonymous guitarist.

When Valentina saw that the guitar had 3 humbuckers and burn marks, he immediately thought it was Peter Frampton’s original Les Paul.

Over the next few years, Valentina tried to convince the guitarist to sell him his guitar. Negotiations lasted until November 2011 when the guitarist, having financial difficulties, agreed to sell the Les Paul. Valentina paid $5,000 to buy it.

When he had the guitar in hands, Valentina flew to Nashville, Tennessee, USA, to personally meet Frampton and return his guitar to him. This moment was filmed and you can see it in the video below.

After some repairs done by the Gibson Custom Shop, the 1954 Les Paul was again part of Peter Frampton’s tours, more than 30 years after his death.

Peter Frampton’s Les Paul Custom Gibson’s Replica

Gibson therefore saw the opportunity to make a signature guitar. I will not dwell on this subject because that is not the purpose of this article. However, I found it interesting to highlight Gibson’s asking price. Are you sitting comfortably? Well, Gibson is selling Frampton’s Custom Comes Alive for $20,700! If you want more information, please consult the PDF I have made available below. That’s it, we’ve seen the price of the Gibson, so we can continue the subject that really interests us here, the wonderful copies Made in Japan produced by Greco.

Peter Frampton's Custom Comes Alive

The Greco copies of Peter Frampton’s Les Paul Custom

1- Greco EG600PB

The EG600PB was produced from 1977 to 1981-1982.

Until mid-1979, the characteristics are the following:

  • Body: Mahogany pancake, semi-hollow, plywood top of white sycamore.
  • Neck: Maple
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Pickups: U-1000 (Alnico 8) x3

If you want to see detailed photos of the body with the features mentioned above (pancake and semi-hollow body, plywood top, etc.), read our article on the Greco Budokan EG600PR Ace Frehley which has exactly the same construction features as the EG600PB Peter Frampton.

From the end of 1979, Greco no longer made pancake and semi-hollow bodies for this model. The body became solid with a solid maple top (2 pieces). Also, Alnico 8 magnets have been replaced by ceramic magnets. Below, pictures of the 1980 EG600PB that is part of my personal collection and at the end of the article, I propose you two videos that I recorded with this guitar.

2- Greco EG800PB

The EG800PR was produced during the same period as its little sister. The differences are not very visible, except for the tuners according to the year of production and, of course, the label on the back of the head that identifies the model. However, this model is superior to the previous one for the following characteristics:

  • Body: Mahogany solid-body. Maple solid-top.
  • Neck: Maple
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Pickups: U-2000 x3
  • Tuners: epending on the years of production, they may be the same as on EG600PR, Grovers brand or Waffle type on some Super Real.

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