In Gibson Guitar history there is a select group that was/is accomplished enough to have Gibson put their name on a signature model guitar. Les Paul is of course the default pick in this group, but others such as Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow, and Trini Lopez are also members of this elite group. Yes, one of the chosen ones was Trini Lopez, the actor from the 60′s cult war film The Dirty Dozen and a music performer of whom Peter, Paul and Mary once retorted, “Our next album is going to be called ‘Trini Lopez’s Greatest Hits” (since many of Trini’s hits were covers of Peter, Paul and Mary recordings).
Trini was a Latin performer that liked to sing the folks songs of that era. He integrated authentic rhythms into the songs and accompanied himself on electric guitar. He included bass and drums to attain his sound. When he first hit the circuit, his guitar of choice was a Gibson Barney Kessel Model, with its dual Florentine cutaways. A light bulb went off with Gibson designers and Trini was asked for his participation in creating a signature model.
What materialized was the Gibson Trini Lopez Deluxe. The body of this guitar was in essence a Barney Kessel Model with a six on an unusual side headstock and bound diamond shaped “F” holes. The guitar also had a standby switch on the upper bout (cool feature), the fret markers were diamond shaped and the bound neck seems to have an ebony fretboard. The distinctive pickguard was also unique to this model.
Gibson took things a step further in 1964 with the introduction of the Trini Lopez standard model. This was essentially a ES-335 with a six on-a-side headstock, and a neck more akin to those found on the non-reverse Firebird. The thin neck was bound with a rosewood fretboard and diamond position markers. The “F” holes were diamond shaped and bound like on the Deluxe.
The standard was made in transparent red, metallic blue and black finishes, and has enjoyed renewed popularity among contemporary players due to its great ES-335ish sound and distictive features. Players include: Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), Rusty Anderson (Paul McCartney), James Valentine (Maroon 5), and Lyle Workman (Sting).
Check the video above of Dave Grohl playing his cool metallic blue Trini Lopez with Foo Fighters, performing “My Hero” on London’s Jools Holland show back in 2009: Smokin!