Joe Walsh’s 1969/70 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe “Rocky Mountain Way”
Joe started using this guitar as his main around 1971, as can be seen in numerous recorded performances from that year. The guitar is a tricky one to figure out because it seems to be modified, but we’ll try our best.
Based on one key detail on the instrument, this guitar is a modified Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. This detail is the volute or the protrusion on the rear of the neck-headstock join, which is basically supposed to make that joint a bit less prone to breaking.
This change in the design was introduced to the Les Paul model in 1969, when Gibson re-introduced the Standard model (which was discontinued in 1961), but renamed it to “Deluxe”. All the earlier Les Paul Standards had a flat surface on the back of the neck/headstock joint, and these guitars are notorious for being relatively easy to break.
The footage of Joe playing this guitar from 1971 is definitely far from HD, but with a little bit of photo editing, you can see that without a doubt, there’s a volute on Joe’s guitar.
This means that the pickups and the pickguard we see on Joe’s Les Paul are not original to this guitar. The Les Paul Deluxe came from the factory with two mini-humbuckers and with a white pickguard, which means that Joe removed those, and installed different ones on his own.
The pickups and the pickguard look like they came from a Gibson Les Paul Custom, since the pickguard is black, and the plastic rectangle pieces around the pickups are black as well. So Joe either had another guitar from which he took these, or there’s a slight chance that this guitar was a custom order from Gibson.
See, even though the Les Paul Standard was not available officially as a model in the late 60s, only the Deluxe was, you could still order one if you went straight to Gibson and asked. However, these guitars are extremely rare, and going only by statistics, it’s more likely that the guitar was a modified Deluxe. Also, the truss rod cover on Joe’s guitar (see photo above) seems to read “Deluxe”.
With the Eagles
By March 1977, when Joe appeared with it at the famous Live at the Capital Centre concert by the Eagles, the guitar was modified even more extensively. We see a new custom “poker chip” around the toggle switch, new control knobs mixed with old ones, a lack of any pickguard, and a lack of any sort of branding on the headstock.
The only song on which he used the guitar during the concert was “Rocky Mountain Way”. According to Sweetwater, a company that currently owns this guitar after it was given to them as a gift by Joe, Joe used this exact guitar to come up with that song. He was apparently mowing his lawn and was inspired by looking around at the mountains from his home in Colorado.
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