One of the first Gibson Les Pauls ever made – now owned by Jared James Nichols – has been fully restored

Jared James Nichols
(Image credit: Jared James Nichols / Instagram)

Back in April, blues ace Jared James Nichols revealed that he was setting out to restore Dorothy, reportedly one of the first Gibson Les Pauls ever made, after it was destroyed in a tornado. 

And now, the guitar – so-named after the character swept up in a tornado in The Wizard of Oz – has been revealed in its fresh, restored state for the first time. “Dorothy's home,” Nichols writes in a new Instagram post. “Speechless. I'm in love...”

“One of the first Les Pauls ever made that was destroyed in a horrific tornado, has now risen and [is] ready for a new life.”

The guitar was restored by luthier Joel Wilkins, who specializes in “early Fender and Gibson guitar restoration, pickup/electronics repair and custom vintage pickups for artists.

“Joel [Wilkins] nailed it, completely,” Nichols continues. “He put his heart and soul into this resurrection. Joel, I cannot thank you enough. You are the best I've ever had the honor of working with.

“This guitar plays, looks and feels sublime. It's beyond my wildest dreams, [and] legitimately rings like a bell. Joel grafted the handmade new neck onto the broken one – insane!”

Dorothy has, as Nichols explains, received a number of new aesthetic and build appointments, including a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard and red rubies fashioned into a tornado-like formation on the headstock. Joe Bonamassa reportedly donated “real-deal genuine 1952 parts” to the restoration, too.

“Everything about Dorothy is beyond perfect, I am so grateful...” Nichols says.

“I need to thank my brother TJ Duckwiler for this incredible gift and [for] trusting me to bring this instrument back to life, making music. Love you brother.”

TJ Duckwiler owned the Les Paul prior to Jared James Nichols. He was gifted the six-string by a woman whose late grandpa was the original owner.

Nichols is currently gearing up to release his brand-new EP, Shadow Dancer in September. Thus far, he has dropped two supercharged blues-rock numbers: Skin 'n Bone and Bad Roots.

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Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at from 2019 to 2023, and also created content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.