“It was so destroyed you could take the paint off with your hands”: How Rich Robinson brought his ’68 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop back from the brink after Hurricane Sandy

In October 2012, The Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson lost scores of vintage guitars in Hurricane Sandy. Now he says he’s been able to restore one of them – a 1968 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop – and, against all the odds, it’s playing better than ever. 

Robinson tells the story in the new issue of Total Guitar, ahead of the release of the band’s (incredibly titled) new studio album, Happiness Bastards (due March 15). 

While Robinson has previously discussed the instruments he lost to Sandy, in the latest interview the Crowes guitarist sheds light on a more positive aspect of the otherwise harrowing experience. 

“I lost around 70 guitars,” Robinson explains to Total Guitar. “My 1964 ES-335 got destroyed. I sent it to get fixed because it was delaminating and they tried but it was never the same. It sounded horrible to me and didn’t play well. But there was a 1968 Goldtop that got damaged and actually came back better after getting fixed.”

The condition the guitar was found in was, it’s fair to say, less than ideal and it seems Robinson’s expectations of the repair were pretty low, initially.

“It was so destroyed you could take the paint off with your hands,” recalls the Black Crowes man. However, it seems that, with a little TLC from an inventive pro repairer, he was eventually able to walk away with not just a functioning guitar – but also a new addition to his pedalboard.

“They mixed [the old paint] back together to refinish the guitar,” says Robinson. “Then used the leftovers for a pedal which had a mahogany back, just like the Goldtop!”

The happy ending is that the Goldtop has since performed so well it found its way onto the new record. 

In addition, the matching Goldtop stompbox also reportedly features on Happiness Bastards, though despite its lavish finish, Robinson notes it’s a pretty utilitarian circuit: “[it’s just] a little boost – really simple.” 

Though Robinson isn’t explicit about the link in the Total Guitar interview, the ’68 Goldtop may well be the same one that he used on the band’s debut album, Shake Your Money Maker album.

“I used my Goldtop that I’ve had forever and had a Bigsby on it,” Robinson prevoiusly told Guitarist.

“At first, we thought that was a mid-’50s model, but later we found out it was a ’68. That Goldtop was really messed up, y’know, the paint had worn off and it had a DiMarzio humbucker and a P-90 in the neck.”

For more from Robinson, including the story behind the Black Crowes’ first studio album in almost 15 years, the wealth of tasty vintage gear powering his tones and why the metal crowd have AC/DC wrong, pick up Total Guitar issue 382 from Magazines Direct.

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