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Vintage Burny “Les Paul” … a Fake that’s Better Than the Real Thing?

by vaughn skow April 30, 2015 3 min read

Vintage 1980s 1970s Burny Les Paul Fine Example

Over the decades I’ve owned a fair number of what I call “big Boy” Les Pauls; you know,  the kind with full binding, extra-glossy finishes, and multi-thousand dollar price tags.  I have failed to bond with any of them in a sufficient enough manner to justify my keeping them.  It’s quite possible that the problem is that I’m just downright spoiled.  You see, I’ve had opportunity topossess … but never actually own … several 58 and 59 Pauls.  That WILL spoil you, they really are THAT good.  Okay, let’s cut to the chase … A couple months back a buddy of mine asks me what I know about the vintage “Burny” Les Pauls.  All I knew is that they existed, and that there has been some chatter about them being quite good.  It just so happened that I was exhibiting at a guitar show that very weekend, and so I asked around, and in fact played several Burnys.  It’s hard to tell on a show floor, but yea, they seemed quite nice, and the fact that they had asking prices from about $700 to over a grand indicated that they were not your run of the mill 70s/80s Gibson knock-off.  Actually, the fact that they even appeared in the booths of strictly vintage dealers alongside real-deal holy-grail Pauls spoke volumes!

Which brings us to the guitar on display here.  After a week or two my buddy acquired a Burney to his liking and brought it over to the studio for me to check out.  I was flat blown away.  In every possible way, this “les Paul” is magnificent.  It’s neck profile is dead-on to a ’59, not as thin as what Gibby is currently calling the “slim-taper 60s profile”, but not as thick as what they call the “50s profile”.  No, it’s just plain perfect, it’s the profile EVERY Les Paul affectionado lusts after.  Actually, EVERYTHING about the guitar just flat feels right.  The weight, balance, action, and intonation are impeccable, and the pickups sound better than anything Gibson’s made this side of about 1965.   I wish I could tell you more about these guitars, but they are new to me, and I’m not anywhere close to an expert.  However, a little google search will put you in the camp of plenty of experts in a hurry.  What I CAN do is tell you a little more about what impresses me so much about this particular example.  And by the way, I can’t even tell you much of anything about the pedigree of this particularguitar, as there are no markings inside or outside other than the Burny logo!  It was sold as a 1980s model, and so we assume it is.  There, that’s about all I can tell ya, PLEASE … y’all feel free to leave some comments if you can shed some light on this instrument!

Vintage 1980s 1970s Burny Les Paul headstock

The first thing that stood out to me was the fact that the binding encased the fret edges, just like a bound-fingerboard Gibson.

Vintage 1980s 1970s Burny Les Paul bount fret edges

The knobs have a magnificent aged amber look.

Vintage 1980s 1970s Burny Les Paul Amber Knobs

All the plastic has aged (or came that way) in a most deep and luscious way.

Vintage 1980s 1970s Burny Les Paul cream switch tip

The truss-rod cover looks a little goofy.

Vintage 1980s 1970s Burny Les Paul headstock truss rod cover

She’s sweet.  I hope my buddy isn’t looking to get her back any time soon :-)

Vintage sunburst flame top 1980s 1970s Burny Les Paul front and back

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