One of the guitars most associated with Pete Townshend during his time with The Who is the Les Paul Deluxe, and rightly so since he used them for longer than any other model of guitar during that period.
Having gone through copious quantities of the SG Specials he favoured in the previous years (though he had used LP Deluxes intermittently), he switched to using primarily Les Paul Deluxes in 1972, presumably at least partly because the SG special had been discontinued by this time.
During the 1973 Quadrophenia tour, these guitars were used in their ‘stock’ condition, but over the next few years, changes were made.
In 1974, Pete began to have his guitars numbered, owing to the number he took on the road with him. This seems to have been achieved simply with some duct tape and marker. He also seems to have always preferred the LP’s without truss rod covers.
By 1975, these stickers had been replaced by large, block numbers.
In 1976, he started to use the Deluxes in the condition they are most well known. A DiMarzio Super-Distortion was installed in the middle position of the Les Pauls, and two extra toggle switches added.
With these new electronics, the (usually) neck tone control became a volume for the middle pickup, and the (usually) bridge tone became a master tone control for all three pickups.
The toggle switch closest to the bridge is a coil tap for the middle pickup, and the rearmost toggle changes the phasing of the middle pickup and turns off the other pickups.
Gibson later released signature models of the LP Deluxe under Pete’s name, in red, gold and sunburst, all of which were finishes Pete used. Curiously, the red finish of the reissues seems not to match the Wine red of Pete’s, and despite details like the sandwiched body and the maple neck (see the above images of the goldtop for a visual), the reissues have a fretboard marker on the first fret, which Pete’s never did.