“When I was in eighth grade, I was living in Pennsylvania on an army base where my dad was stationed,” Cantrell began. “At that time, I was heavily into KISS and became a huge Ace Frehley fan, who, of course, played a Les Paul. So, when I was making a Christmas list, I cut out a picture of a Gibson Les Paul, pasted it on there, and wrote, ‘This is all I want.’ Christmas day came and I opened the big present for me… and it was an acoustic guitar. I was totally disappointed, but my dad said, ‘Get good on this first, then I’ll buy you a Les Paul. I’m not spending that money until you get good.’ Well, fast-forward to where we are now.”
In 2021, Cantrell not only has an abundance of Les Pauls but joined the roster of artists honored by the Gibson custom line. In the early ’90s, he modded a red Les Paul and named it “Wino”—now, it’s getting recreated on a mass scale.
“I sent them the original Wino, which I had made a few changes to,” he said. “It has a piezo pickup in it so you do some acoustic stuff, blending with the volume knob. But, I mean, you can hold them up side by side and they look pretty identical—even down to every single dent mark on it. And they play identical too. So, we’re really stoked. It’s kinda like a cool childhood dream coming true—I have my very own Les Paul and it’s going to be available to everybody.”
The Jerry Cantrell “Wino” Les Paul from Gibson Custom Shop was released on August 24.
Photos by Jonathan Weiner.