Gibson’s introduction of the Les Paul model in 1952 laid the template by which all other electric guitars would be measured, but it would still undergo several key modifications before developing into the iconic version widely known today as the Les Paul Standard. One of the most significant changes to the Les Paul model was the addition of the new Tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece in 1956, replacing the trapeze and wraparound tailpieces that had adorned earlier versions. The Goldtop models proved instantly popular with a growing legion of electric blues players, most notably B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Tiger Haynes, and today is one of the most revered and copied pieces of guitar hardware ever developed.
The 1956 Les Paul Goldtop from the Gibson Custom Shop is presented with all the historically accurate appointments and legendary tone of the original. No detail is overlooked, starting with the Les Paul’s traditional hand-carved maple top and solid, non-weight relieved mahogany body. The headstock is made from Holly head veneer, as opposed to fiber, just like it was in 1956, and the vintage-style tulip tuners are mounted in a straight line, also as they were on the original. The 24 ¾-inch scale length neck is made from one solid piece of mahogany, and attached to the body using a long neck tenon—one of the Les Paul’s more distinguishing characteristics of the 1950s. The neck is topped by a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard outfitted with acrylic trapezoid inlays matching the size of color of the originals. Also significant are two of Gibson’s legendary P-90 singlecoil pickups, providing all the punch and raw power that made the 1956 Les Paul Goldtop the guitar of choice for many early electric blues players. The guitar’s Antique Gold finish also matches the hue of the earliest versions, giving this Custom Shop model the accurate and distinct appearance of this traditional Les Paul. Other historical appointments include CTS potentiometers, bumble bee capacitors, rolled crème-colored fingerboard binding, single-ply thin binding around the body, and period-correct switchwasher and jackplate. The 1956 Les Paul Goldtop comes either a V.O.S. or Gloss finish, and comes with the standard Gibson Custom case and certificate of authenticity.
Gibson’s famed Goldtop finish was one of two colors (black was the other) decided upon by Les Paul and Maurice Berlin, appointed Gibson’s general secretary and treasurer after the company he founded, Chicago Musical Instruments, acquired controlling interest in Gibson. Berlin wanted the guitar to convey an impression of being “expensive,” the “best,” and most “superb,” and felt the color of gold would achieve this.
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