Jared James Nichols’ position as a Gibson brand ambassador has afforded him access to some incredible instruments. However, recently he got to put one of Kossoff’s 1959 Les Paul Bursts through its paces on camera and he did not waste the opportunity.
In a new clip for Premier Guitar, the blues-rock firebrand demos the instrument and discusses his love of Kossoff and Les Pauls. Nichols’ confidence in playing it, he admits, is down to the fact that he is friends with owner Kris Blakely and has “spent a lot of time with this guitar”. (Side note: we would also like to be friends with Blakely.)
Indeed, Nichols seems to have been trusted to play it onstage in his Freebird mega jam (with Richie Faulkner, Zach Myers and Marty Schwartz) back in January – and this latest clip looks to have been recorded on the same day.
Nichols kicks off with the All Right Now riff, before running through some more of the Free man’s licks and tricks. Not least, a seriously good impersonation of Kossoff’s vibrato.
Later he turns the volume down a little, noting how little gain you need to drive the original PAF humbuckers.
“You always try as a guitar player to be expressive,” comments Nichols. “But [you want those] ones that push you just a little further... I love – because I play Les Pauls all the time – the ones that vibrate against your body and when you’re playing them, it feels like they’re alive.”
In the clip, host John Bohlinger notes that he’s never seen Nichols play anything other than a Les Paul.
“I always kept coming back to Les Pauls,” responds Nichols. “Funny fact: I was actually born in Waukesha where Les Paul is from. So I remember when I was a little kid, seeing a Les Paul and being like, ‘That's cool, yeah!’ So when I started to play I was like, ‘Of course I'm gonna play [a Les Paul].’”
Kossoff completists will note that this isn’t the guitar the Free icon played during the recording of All Right Now (for more on that, read Guitarist’s in-depth story of Paul Kossoff’s 'stripped top’ 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard). However, this is the Les Paul that was used for most Kossoff’s career – and famously damaged at the end of Free’s final show in 1972, when Kossoff hurled it into the air.
Regardless, we imagine the young Nichols would have been knocked out by the thought he’d one day get to jam on any 1959 Les Paul Burst. Or get his own signature model, for that matter.
Speaking of which, Nichols recently teased the arrival of a new Epiphone Les Paul Custom signature in Pelham Blue, which might not rival the frills of a Burst, but certainly has its own charms.