Duane Allman’s 1950s Gibson Les Paul Standard “Hot Lanta”

access_time First seen circa 1971

This is the guitar that Duane was most often pictured within the last couple of months of his life. He got this Les Paul in mid-1971 from Kurt Linhof – a guitar dealer and collector whom he met through Billy Gibbons of ZZ-Top.

ZZ Top was opening for the Allman Brothers. Billy introduced Kurt to Duane as,” If anybody can find you a guitar this man can!” Well…. and he did find Duane a guitar! And what a guitar. Duane was looking for a Tobacco Burst. Duane’s terms were, “I’ll pay you the cost of the guitar plus half…plus half of that!… plus half of that! !…plus half of that ! ! !” it became a running joke. The rest of the Allmans gave Kurt a shopping list of gear they were looking for.

Duane Allman “HOT LANTA” Story

When Kurt found and first acquired the Les Paul, it already had a replacement headstock/peghead on it because the original had been broken off and the owner had it fixed. Because of that, accurate dating of Duane’s Les Paul becomes almost impossible [Randy Poe, Skydog, p. 296]. Pots and switches were checked, but that turned up no proof either. Linhof himself stated that he thinks that the guitar might be a ’59, but having never seen the original neck and headstock, he couldn’t say what the build year was for sure. Also important to mention is the fact that the pickups were switched from their original positions:

Kurt had the guitar for a couple of months before delivery. During this time he switched the pickups. The rhythm pickup was switched to the bridge position and the bridge to the rhythm. This was a common practice among the early Burst connoisseurs, as the Les Paul was designed originally as a solid body jazz guitar. Hot Lanta pickups measured 8.7k ohms in the bridge and 8.3k ohms in the neck. Kurt said he has only come across one PAF that was hotter than Hot Lanta’s – that PAF was 8.99k.

Duane Allman “HOT LANTA” Story

After Duane’s death, this guitar remained with his brother Gregg, who eventually traded it with Allman Brothers’ road manager Twiggs Lyndon for a 1939 Ford Opera coupe [Guitar Player magazine, October 1981]. During this period, Twiggs re-fretted the guitar and inlaid Duane’s name on the back of the body using the old frets [The Big House, Vintage Guitar magazine by Dave Kyle, December 1996]. Lyndon often carried the guitar on the road with Dixie Dregs, and he had it with him at the time of his tragic death on November 16, 1979. Because the band was on the road, for the time being, the guitar remained with Dregs guitarist Steve Morse until he was able to give it back to Twiggs’ family.

‘We were up in New York at the time,’ Morse explained, ‘and I just took responsibility of carrying it around until I was able to give it to Twiggs’ brother Skoots in Georgia. Now it’s at Twiggs’ parents’ house in Macon. I use that guitar when we record, and they’ll let me use it pretty much when I want to, but it’s with his family.

Twiggs Lyndon Talks Gear: An Unpublished 1978 Interview

On April 2, 1990, Twiggs’ brother Skoots gave the guitar to Duane’s wife during her visit to Macon and presented it to her at Duane’s grave site at the Rose Hill Cemetery. Since then the guitar remains with Allman’s daughter Galadrielle. For more info about the topic please read Jas Obrecht’s interview with Twiggs Lyndon, which offers some great insight and input from all the people involved.

To avoid confusion, it is important to point out that this guitar was not the one that Duane used on the live album ‘At Fillmore East’. Duane bought “Hot ‘Lanta” (Duane did not name his guitars) on the afternoon of the first of the last Fillmore shows, according to Kurt Linhof. Randy Poe thinks that Linhof meant June 25, 1971 [Randy Poe, Skydog, p. 296]. June 25, 26, or 27, either way, it means that this guitar was not used on September 23, 1970, nor on March 11, 12 or 13, 1971. The Les Paul used on March 12-13, 1971 is, in fact, the 1959 Cherry Burst.

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access_time 1971

1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul

Duane occasionally used a 1961 Gibson SG (serial number 15263 [Randy Poe, Skydog, p. 292]) finished in cherry red which he got from Dickey Betts – who himself played it in the early days of the Allman Brothers. Most notably, he played this guitar on “Statesboro Blues”. What happened back then was I had this SG when we started the band, and then I got a Les Paul, my ’57, and when Duane wanted to play […]

access_time 1969

1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

This was Duane’s main guitar during the first year of the Allman Brothers Band. Duane purchased it in early to mid-1969, most likely from Lipham Music Shop in Gainsville, Florida, – which is the place where he and rest of the band often got their instruments at that time. The guitar is first mentioned in a letter featured in Galadrielle’s book [Please Be With Me, p. 182] dated to May 16, 1969. The letter was written by Duane […]

access_time 1970

1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard

Duane traded this guitar in September 1970 with Stone Balloon’s guitarist Rick Stine for his Goldtop, a Marshall head, and $200 on top of that. His only condition was that he keeps the original PAF pickups from the Goldtop.[Duane Allman: Memories from his Friend, Joe Marshall] The guitar featured plaint-top cherry sunburst finish, and no pickguard (as was preferred by Duane on all of his Les Pauls), but it did have both of […]

access_time 1961

1959 Gibson Les Paul Jr.

This was Duane’s first ever electric guitar. He mentioned it in a letter to a friend dated July 1961, and according to Galadrielle Allman [Galadrielle Allman: Please Be With Me, p. 65], Duane paid for the Gibson electric himself by selling the parts of the motorbike that he had driven into the ground. According to some other sources, the guitar was purchased by his mother. Duane used this guitar from 1961 to […]

access_time 1970

1959 Gibson ES-335

There’s a photo of Duane playing a sunburst Gibson ES-335 with the pickguard and pickup covers removed dating back to June 13, 1970. Although the guitar’s origins are still a mystery, there are two versions of what happened to it after Duane’s death. The first one is that the guitar ended up with Dickey Betts. Dickey allegedly later gave it to Eddy Shaver, who was his student at some point. After Eddy’s death in 2000, the […]

access_time 1967

1950s Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

Duane was on occasions seen playing a late fifties Gibson Les Paul Goldtop around the time he played with the Hour Glass [See Photo]. The guitar was allegedly borrowed back in 1967 from Tommy “Crash” Compton, who was a friend of Johnny Sandlin. Duane never gave the guitar back and Gregg’s Wurlitzer piano was eventually traded for it. Duane had borrowed a ’59 gold top Les Paul (note – the Goldtop model […]

access_time 1967

1950s Fender Telecaster (Pete Carr)

Duane used another Telecaster around 1967/68 that belonged to Pete Carr – who was the bass player in the Hour Glass. The guitar was initially purchased from Sylvan Wells, a friend of Pete and of Duane (Sylvan is now an attorney and a luthier: wellsguitars.com) Allman had the guitar set up for the slide and reportedly used it to practice the craft of slide guitar even while his bandmates hated what he was […]

access_time 1970

1968 Gibson Les Paul Custom

This Les Paul Custom (serial number 537837) recently appeared on an auction at JuliesLive.com, eventually selling for around $50,000. According to the official statement on the website, it was owned by Duane Allman and later his brother Gregg after Duane’s untimely death. In 1993 it was acquired by Larry English, former executive vice president and director of Gibson Guitar. The guitar is signed with a gold marker on the front of the body by Gregg […]

access_time 1964

1956/57 Fender Stratocaster

Duane used this guitar from around 1964/1965, and it was most likely the first Stratocaster that he ever owned. The guitar’s previous owner, Lee Hazen, gave an interview to Vintage Guitar Magazine in 1997 explaining how the guitar found it’s way to Duane: I traded it off to a fellow in Sanford [Florida] who had a guitar shop. I think his name was Jimmy Jewell, and Duane ended up with it. I […]

access_time 1966

1950s Fender Telecaster

Duane acquired this Telecaster while playing with the Allman Joys around 1966, and it remained his main guitar with the Hour Glass until 1967. The most interesting part about this guitar is that it had a maple Stratocaster neck installed on it, most likely dating somewhere between 1954 and 1958 – at least based on the small headstock shape. It also originally featured a black pickguard but it was replaced with a white one at some point by Duane. Another custom thing on […]

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