In 1969, Gibson guitar company was purchased by Norlin, a South American brewing conglomerate. People are always claiming this era of production is inferior and snickering at dipshits who spend big bucks on 1970s Les Pauls. Those people are idiots. Four innovations from this time were outstanding. One through three were aimed at solving Gibson's Achilles' heel—headstock breaks due to the relatively weak, wide-grained mahogany.

1. Laminated three- and five-piece necks, often with vertical grain.

2. Maple necks—cheaper and stronger, with a brighter wood tone (some say).

3. Volutes—a little bump of wood on the back of the headstock—surprisingly effective.

4. Dirty Fingers pickups—open coil, absolutely explosive output (14k ohms), no loss in clarity, wound with thinner formvar wiring and a ceramic magnet, which usually costs depth, but not here. recommended