The Guitar Behind Hotel California: The Don Felder Les Paul

Guitar Behind Hotel California

Eagles are definitely considered to be one of the most important rock bands in history of modern music. It is known that Hotel California was their peak, but this band delivered so many great songs that also deserve a spotlight.

In some ways, there is one man who is responsible the most for this type of success. Don Felder was introduced to the band because the founding members wanted to change their tone from its core. Felder was an experienced rock guitar player, and Eagles saw an answer to their problems in his skill and knowledge.

When it comes to his choice of guitars, Felder was always a Gibson man. He rocked a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard. In recent years, Gibosn has decided to create a worthy tribute to this great man, and they called it the Don Felder Les Paul ‘Hotel California’.

Today we are going to talk about this rare and awesome guitar, and tell you what makes it so special aside from the person it was dedicated to.

What makes it so special

When Gibson does a tribute model for someone, they definitely spare no expenses in the process. What they wanted to do in this particular case was replicate Felder’s original ’59 Les Paul Standard, and adjust it slightly to give it a unique twist. In the end only some 300 of these guitars were made, 50 of which came with Felder’s signature on the headstock.

This type of limited production run is nothing new. Their previous tribute guitars also had such limited numbers. As you can imagine, the quality of this guitar was the absolute best Gibson had to offer at the time it was produced.



The body is made of the standard combination of tonewood. We are talking a single piece mahogany back with a carved maple top. There were two available choices of finish. 150 guitars featured a unique Felder Burst that was achieved using nitrocellulose that was hand faded to match the appearance of Felder’s own guitar.

The remaining guitars came with Gibson’s acclaimed VOS finish. The neck is a single piece solid mahogany design that sports a ’59 profile along with an aged rosewood fretboard.
Don Felder Les Paul 'Hotel California' guitarIn terms of hardware, we are looking at the standard stuff for the ’59 Les Paul. This means a tune-o-matic bridge with a stopbar on one side, and a set of old school tuners on the headstock.

Electronics of choice came down to two BurstBucker humbuckers, specifically the BB2 at the neck position and BB1 at the bridge. These were selected because of their close resemblance to what Don had on his Les Paul. At the end of the day, Don Felder Les Paul is by far one of the most intriguing guitars Gibson Custom Shop has yet delivered.

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The type of performance these guitars offer is equally refined as it is raw. If you are a fan of Eagles, you know exactly what to expect from one of these guitars. The tone is superb and closely replicates the one of early production Les Pauls.

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Those BurstBucker humbuckers definitely have that same type of quality in them. On top of all that, this guitar is extremely playable. At least that is what the lucky 300 have to report. The price of Don Felder Les Paul has skyrocketed in recent years, so they are becoming more and more exclusive.


  What we like

When Gibson sets their mind on creating a master class guitar, they have no problem following through with their plans. Don Felder Les Paul is a perfect example of that. If you were ever wondering what a perfect Les Paul looks and sounds like, this guitar will answer that question for you.


  What we don’t like

There is not a single flaw about this guitar. Everything was designed with a purpose, so even if you think something might be a flaw, it’s actually a feature.

On the whole

Don Felder Les Paul is the proof of what type of skill Gibson Custom Shop engineers have to offer. This guitar is impressive in all ways imaginable, and its a shame that only a select few will have the chance to play it.

This Les Paul is what it looks like when a tribute guitar is done right in all aspects.

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