Thinking "Junior"? Consider This...

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by duceditor, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. duceditor

    duceditor Squier-Axpert

    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    Although this forum focuses on, and most of us here are devoted to, the various Squier models, we also see a lot of interest in "Junior" style guitars, be they made by Gibson, Epiphone or lesser known makers. As a Gibson player from way back who was diggin' the P90 sounds since about 1962, I'd like to suggest an alternative to any of the above fo those looking to enter "Junior" country. One I've posted about before (but not lately), and one that I think in some ways has them all beat by a country mile.

    It is the 2015, 2016 Les Paul CM.

    The CM was a stab at entering the lower priced guitar market -- the same goal, and the same market, that gave the world the original Junior back in 1954.

    And like the original Junior the CM was a Les Paul in basic outline, but thinner, lighter, less beautifully finished and with only one pickup. But the CM has something going for it that no traditional Junior has -- something that makes it rather special, and something that gave it its name.

    That is its Carved Maple (CM) top.

    Les Pauls are traditionally mahogany, but with just that -- a carved maple top. Some of that was, frankly, for looks -- and to separate the Les Paul from what was seen by the Gibson company as less pure bred -- the flat, slab, body of the Telecaster. -Something Gibson disparagingly compared to a rowboat or canoe "oar."

    We of course know that that "oar" was one of the finest electric guitars ever designed. And even Les Paul himself is said to have wished Gibson to have gone a simple, not contoured, body of the guitar that bore his name.

    But that said many have come to see that fairly heavy, contoured, super-dense maple top -- and it far more than a the thin veneer seen on some copies -- as intrinsic to guitars goodness, as to looks, feel and sound.

    I've long played Les Pauls, and long loved Juniors, so I well know that great looks, feel and sound can come with either design. But still, having a Junior light guitar, with true Junior playing qualities, and a contoured maple top is something rather rare and special. And to have it see for less than a Junior, while having a real Gibson PUP and electronics, would just seem to good to be possible.

    Yet Gibson did it. And produced and sold these guitars in limited numbers (It was marketed as a "limited production" guitar from its very release) for two years. 2015 and 2016.

    How'd they do it?

    In a couple of ways.

    The body wood is just what it described to be. Solid mahogany with a thickish (not so thick as an original 'Paul) contoured top made of solid maple. But the grade of wood used is lesser. The grain not so perfect. Then Gibson gave these guitars a finish unlike any other. Especially for the first year of production -- 2015.

    All of the body and its set maple neck (such has a thickish rosewood board) is mat finished in ebony black. But the face of the guitar -- that maple piece -- while it, too, was "mat" it was a different finish altogether. -A thinnish, semi transparent stain. One designed to quickly wear away in areas that received heavy contact. Thus uneven from the start due to maple being resistant to the stain, it quickly became yet more so, each guitar becoming increasingly distinct with even a short period of heavy playing.

    Frankly this is a love it or hate it thing. One aimed, according to Gibson's own promos, at "no-nonsense rockers" and "punk purists."

    Here's a photo from Gibson's own 2015 web catalog:

    Screen Shot 2019-11-13 at 3.19.51 PM.png

    And here's my own, well worn and purposefully given a hint of mahogany color with a tinted furniture" polish ...

    LP CM w New P94 clone.jpg

    "Love it or hate it"?

    Now originally the guitar was delivered with a real, honest-to-goodness, 61 Zebra humbucker, one with (again quoting Gibson's own materials) "strategically mismatched coils for PAF tone."

    It is frankly one of the best sounding 'buckers I've ever had the pleasure to play. So good in fact that I seriously concidered leaving it on the ax, and from time to time seriously consider putting it back on there. But in the photo you can seee what I did an so far have kept: A P90 sounding P94 clone.

    Humbucker aside everything else, electronics-wise is pure pure Junior. Even to the hand soldered pots -- unusual on a Gibson these days (as most Gibsons have click together plugs and sockets to connect their electronics.)

    Why this aberration? My own thought is that on a limited run guitar it was actually cheaper to do things the old fashioned way. (But that is just a guess.)

    Apart from the finish -- unique to the 2015 model (2016 had the rock hard mat finish everywhere -- including on the face) was that other 2016 odditiy -- auto tuners.

    Those, again, we 'love 'em or hate 'em' things.

    To my surprise I'm in the "love 'em" category. I really do! But in any case they are easily replaced with standard Gibbie tuners -- and most 2015 owners have done just that.

    2016s did away with the robo tuners.

    Everything else is pure Gibson. Solid construction. Nicely finished 'pleked' fretwork, and that on a sanded, buffed and oiled rosewood fingerboard. The nut is graphite.

    Oh, and it comes with a truly top-grade, well padded, soft "gig bag" case.

    Sounds good, yes? It is.

    But what good is knowing this if they wee made only in limited numbers back in 2015 and 2016?

    Because even now, although they are selling for more than I got mine for (on closeout) new, they are an absolute bargain. Truly worth looking for IMO if you have a Junior frame of mind.

    Reverb has a few. So may Ebay. For less than a Gibson Junior.


    Ultimate Rock Machine.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
  2. Bluzy

    Bluzy Squier-holic

    Nov 20, 2017
    Hudson Valley, NY

    Beautiful ! You and @DrBeGood know how to some of us drool with your pictures!
    mb doug and dbrian66 like this.
  3. RegularJim

    RegularJim Squier-Nut

    Dec 30, 2017
    Illiconsin, Wisinois
    They are pretty cool. Yours seems to have a few more miles than mine...

    Rat cam 68, Hotrodleroy, Robb and 5 others like this.
  4. fattboyzz

    fattboyzz Squier-holic

    Nov 29, 2017
    Newnan ,Ga.
    I like my lil Epi LPJr .

    I just can't make up my mind to go P90 or Pearly Gates .

    I also like mine guard less ;)
    Rat cam 68, Robb and duceditor like this.
  5. Afrika61

    Afrika61 Squier-holic

    I've been having a Lot of fun with my Epi Junior since I picked it up but I have to admit that if I had my way, I'd probably get myself something like this:
    Rat cam 68, Robb and RoyalWe like this.
  6. BuddyLee

    BuddyLee Squier-Nut

    Aug 30, 2019
    Liberty SC
    I don't like Gibson's but you're making me want to buy one of those.

    They should have hired you instead of Mark Agnesi. :D
    Rat cam 68, Robb and duceditor like this.
  7. duceditor

    duceditor Squier-Axpert

    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    I don't have much 'in the can' to demonstrate this guitar. But here's one vid from 2018. Me doing one of my older originals along with The BlackBox Band...

    wickedtools and Afrika61 like this.
  8. Afrika61

    Afrika61 Squier-holic

    Meant to ask Don, just how much lighter are these CM compared to the average Junior,...:)
  9. duceditor

    duceditor Squier-Axpert

    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    I do not know - not even if they are lighter than a Junior. But they are way lighter than a standard 'Paul.

    Rat cam 68 likes this.
  10. Afrika61

    Afrika61 Squier-holic

    Well that IS something then. I always thought that LPs were a bit on the heavyish side and as much as it pains the ego to say it, the weight of a guitar is something that I have to give serious consideration to. I'm lucky enough to have not suffered back issues in my life and I have to think of things like the weight of a guitar to keep it that way,..
  11. duceditor

    duceditor Squier-Axpert

    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    I, alas, cannot find my digital scale, but a web search found someone who weighed his CM as exactly 7 lbs. (3.175 kgs).

    Sweetwater is currently selling a classic type Les Paul Junior that they say weight 8 lbs 13 oz -- that's 3.99 kgs. and, by comparison, they are selling a Les Paul Classic that they say weight 9 lbs 13 oz. -- about 4.43 kgs.

    That puts the Les Paul CM roughly in the SG weight category and over a pound lighter than the average Fender Telecaster.

    The CM also has a belly cut that adds to its comfort.

    Rat cam 68, drewcp and Afrika61 like this.
  12. Afrika61

    Afrika61 Squier-holic

    Thank you!!
    duceditor likes this.
  13. Hotrodleroy

    Hotrodleroy Squier-holic

    Dec 7, 2011
    I went a little different route and grabbed a Gibson Les Paul l 60's tribute. They have dual p-90's, maple cap, pickguard, 3-way switch, bridge that's adjustable with a hex wrench, stop tail, and "bag" candy.l They were made in 2016 in 3 of the matte finish's you talked about. Internal lighting at about strat weight. Of course I didn't pay new or used price. It was a guitar that was given to the lady by a known musician that doesn't want any publicity to help offset her medical costs, I didn't find that out until after I paid for it. He just told her to sell it and use the money. Heck I would have gave her more had I known that before I paid for it, but Christmas is coming up and I have her address. Here's a pic. KIMG0824.JPG KIMG0826.JPG KIMG0827.JPG
    Rat cam 68, Afrika61 and duceditor like this.
  14. wickedtools

    wickedtools Dr. Squier

    May 16, 2010
    west texas
    I still have not got it out of my mine, when I worked on a 57 Junior and got to keep it and played it all weekend. :)
    Rat cam 68 and Afrika61 like this.
  15. Afrika61

    Afrika61 Squier-holic

    Is that quote from Les Paul legit Don? I'd like to think that I'm in good company when it comes to liking slab siders and and who would be better company than LP?
    (a slab sider of my own making!):D
    duceditor and Rat cam 68 like this.
  16. Afrika61

    Afrika61 Squier-holic

    Ahh, this is it, near perfect.
    The only thing I'd do different is put a snake head neck on it:
    I wonder what value of caps he has wired up to that three way switch?
    duceditor likes this.