Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ed King to Sell “Redeye” Prototype on Reverb

There are certain songs in the rock canon that are known throughout the world — and plenty of Lynyrd Skynyrd songs are on that short list.

Behind the charismatic singer Ronnie Van Zant sat Ed King, who slung his ‘64 Fender P-Bass in the band and, while riffing his Stratocaster, co-wrote “Sweet Home Alabama” as well as a long string of hits, including "Poison Whiskey," "Saturday Night Special," "Mr. Banker," "Swamp Music," "Whiskey Rock-a-Roller,""Railroad Song," "I Need You" and "Workin' For MCA."

Now King’s listing some of his collection for sale on King’s a huge fan of the Les Paul and has put together an impressive collection of the instruments. One of the centerpieces is Redeye, a 1959 Les Paul with distinctive red splotch on the upper bout and a colorful history. Gibson’s Custom Shop thought so, too, and recreated the burst as Collector's Choice™ #16 1959 Les Paul "Redeye." Redeye Prototype #1 went directly into King’s personal collection and, because of its playability and incredible tone, it quickly became a favorite.

King spoke with Reverb about the guitar, his relationship with Les Pauls, the Gibson Custom Shop and Redeye Prototype #1, one of King’s prized instruments, which he has recently listed for sale on Reverb.

What is it that you love about Les Pauls?

Ed King: Though I’ve made my living playing a Stratocaster, I always come back to my original 1958, ‘59 and ‘60 Les Pauls. Their tone gets all up inside my head, to the point that’s all I want to hear. The Gibson Custom Shop released a series based on ‘59. It’s an insane guitar. The neck feel and fret job are precise! To me, that’s everything.

What's the story behind the original Red Eye?

EK: It was owned by a great guitar player in central New Jersey. I'd been after him for seven years to sell it. One day in '82, he called and needed cash for a lawsuit; one of his music stores had burned down. I was there in 30 minutes, cash in hand. It was stolen from me at gunpoint on Father’s Day, 1987. I was able to retrieve it 10 years later where I discovered it was in a collection. The pickup covers were gone, but otherwise it was just the same, with no wear.

What prompted the Custom Shop recreation? What was that process like?

EK: They'd seen the guitar before and were anxious to do a run of 300. It started out OK, but before it got to #080, the finishes weren't right. Some of the necks were far too big. But my prototype is as close to the whole package as they'd ever get.

Redeye Prototype #1

Since then, Gibson’s Custom Shop has tried to capture lightning in a bottle with the Gibson Collector's Choice #16 1959 Les Paul "Redeye," which incorporates features from the 20th Anniversary Historic Specification reissues, including:

  • Single-layer rosewood fingerboard
  • Hot hide glue neck joint
  • Accurate fingerboard and body binding color
  • Historically accurate truss rod assembly
  • Genuine aniline red dye for the guitar’s back, neck and sides
  • Period-correct details include the neck’s nylon 6/6 nut, holly headstock face with pearl Gibson logo, reissue Kluson Deluxe green-key tuners, ABR-1 Tune-o-Matic bridge with lightweight aluminum stopbar tailpiece, reproduction Bumble Bee tone caps
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