Gibson 1998. Les Paul Custom Old Hickory #OH 23.
#23 of 200.
Only 188 were built as Gibson ran out of wood.
The project was carried out by Gibson USA, Custom Shop General Manager Rick Gembar and the Custom Shop Craftsmen team led by Bruce Kunkel.
Michael Hill of Appalachian Hardwoods, Hasi, VA delivered a portable chainsaw to the Hermitage, and Gibson woodworker Gene Nix sawed off part of the trunk where it had fallen.
From Harmony Central
Summer NAMM 1998
Gibson to Build 200 Guitars from Historic Tree
July 10, 1998 -- Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Musical Instruments, announced today that Gibson will build up to 200 "Old Hickory" guitars using a historic tree that was downed at The Hermitage during the tornado that ravaged Nashville in April, making national headlines.
The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson, suffered extensive damage in the storm, especially the loss of a 275-year-old tulip poplar tree - a state record holder in age and size, and already an old tree when Andrew Jackson lived at The Hermitage from 1804 to 1845.
Gibson has teamed up with The Hermitage to secure the fallen tulip poplar tree and produce the highly collectible guitars. Each one features Andrew Jackson's portrait inlaid on the headstock, the name "Old Hickory" inlaid on the hickory fretboard, and a portrait of The Hermitage mansion on the pick guard. Three special guitars will have a mother-of-pearl banner inlaid on the body, highlighting key dates in the life of Jackson and The Hermitage.
The first "old Hickory" guitar will be given to the Smithsonian Institution and the rest will be made available to the public, with proceeds going to support The Hermitage restoration. While no price has been set for the guitars, one collector estimates that they will cost "a number of Jacksons". Henry Juszkiewicz says, "Mother Nature has truly tested our resolve, and we can think of no better way to respond than by creating the "Old Hickory" guitar from the ancient wood of a beautiful 275 year-old poplar tree that once was a cool and shady place for the 7th President of the United States and his family. We hope the guitars will always symbolize the boundless courage of the people of Tennessee and the undaunted American spirit that has been so prevalent through the many natural disasters of the last year."
ALSO ...The mother of pearl that was used on the Guitar came right out of the Tennessee River. [As a matter of fact, it came from Birdsong!]
The first three Old Hickory guitars were made with elaborate inlays on the body itself . These would be OH 001 - 003. The first went to the Smithsonian, the second went on display at The Hermitage, and the third was kept on display at the Gibson offices.
The next ten (OH 004 - OH 013) were given to The Hermitage to be sold to the public to raise funds.
Not just an extremely rare guitar, the Gibson Old Hickory series represents a true chapter in American history.
April 16 (2008) marked the tenth anniversary of a savage series of tornados that ripped through the city of Nashville, TN in 1998. The extent of damage to the city and surrounding rural areas was massive.
A major victim of this natural disaster was The Hermitage, the historic family home of the 7th U. S. President, Andrew Jackson (nicknamed “Old Hickory”). “Although the 177-year-old mansion was virtually untouched, more than 1200 trees on the extensive grounds, some planted by ‘Old Hickory’ himself, were devastated.”
One of the fallen trees was a 275-year-old tulip poplar, which was at the time the tallest and oldest tulip poplar in the state of Tennessee. With wood harvested from this fallen behemoth, the Gibson Custom Guitar Shop set out to produce 200 Custom Les Pauls to commemorate both the horrific storm of April 16th, and the memory of Andrew Jackson and The Hermitage. The fingerboard itself was to be fashioned from a hickory tree which fell next to the grave of Jackson’s wife, Rachel.
The first “Old Hickory” guitar was unveiled at The Hermitage on July 12, 1998 —- with many political and musical dignitaries present, including Chet Atkins and then Vice- President Al Gore. Subsequently, the 1st guitar was donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
Although Gibson intended a run of 200 guitars, I have heard that the goal fell short at around 188 because the source of tulip poplar wood ran out. Unlike ANY other popular guitar model — vintage or otherwise — there can NEVER be a “Reissue” of an Old Hickory.
There is a very interesting video on Youtube at The Trogly's Guitar Show, regarding these Old Hickory Les Paul's