When Gibson began building the Les Paul Junior in 1954, the company was clearly targeting beginners, along with guitarists with a tight budget. The price of the Les Paul Junior? A cool $99.50. To buy that same guitar today might cost more than some new cars or SUVs. The reason? It had a comfortable neck and a fat tone that some players found irresistible. Leslie West of Mountain was an early proponent of this guitar, but today you can see it in the hands of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, who loves to bash out monstrously huge chords on his ’56 Junior (named “Floyd”). Which is why Gibson thought it would be smart to offer everyone a Billie Joe Armstrong Signature Les Paul Junior. Naturally, since his name is on it, Armstrong worked closely with Gibson’s Custom Shop and this new junior combines the best features of the original with a few modern twists.
This guitar has a solid mahogany body and neck in an Ebony finish (a Classic White version is also available), a special design, stacked, double-coil H-90 pickup and a vintage style non-compensated wraparound tailpiece. Unlike the ’50s Junior, which had a huge, chunky neck, Billie Joe decided a ’60s slim-taper neck profile would please most of today’s guitarists (after all, many consider this to be Gibson’s most playable neck). The rosewood fingerboard has 22 frets and pearloid dot position markers. Finally, the controls consist of just one volume and one tone controls with black “top hat” knobs. But we’ve saved the best for last, because that H-90 pickup may look like a P-90 “dog ear” model, but thanks to the stacked, double coil design, it can yield a ferocious tone that’s perfect for hammering out power chords or digging into an extended solo. Finally, this Junior ships in a custom Billie Joe Armstrong hardshell case.