Duane Allman’s 1950s Gibson Les Paul Standard “Hot Lanta”
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 months before delivery. During this time he switched the pickups. The rhythm pickup was switched to the bridge position, and the bridge to rhythm. This was 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.