1954 and 1955 Gibson Les Paul Goldtops
Posted on January 02 2021
A lot of great vintage Gibson Les Paul guitars came through the shop in 2020, but I'm having trouble picking my favorite between this 1954 Gibson Les Paul Model and this 1955 Gibson Les Paul Model. Nearly all the 1950s Gibson Les Paul goldtops are spectacular guitars and I'm always looking to buy more. You can contact me here to sell a vintage Gibson Les Paul.
1954 Gibson Les Paul goldtop
The seller of this vintage 1954 Gibson Les Paul Model inherited the guitar from his grandfather. He was also a guitar player, but knew that his education was going to be more important to his lifestyle than keeping this goldtop forever. He decided to sell so he reached out to me. We discussed the purchase for months before I booked a flight to San Diego, California to buy the guitar (video here: Gibson Guitar Buyer). This one was well worth the wait and the travel time!
Gibson Les Pauls from mid 1953 until mid 1955 feature a wrap tail bridge adjustable with threaded bridge stud on either side. The wrap tail goldtops are known for being exceptionally resonant since all the string vibration is transferred through the studs directly into the body instead of being split between a tune-o-matic and stop bar tailpiece. This was a fine sounding example that weighed in at 8lbs 14oz. The neck profile was fat measuring .91" at the first fret and 1.00" at the 12th fret.
1955 Gibson Les Paul Model Factory Update 1969
It's amazing when vintage guitars come in pairs! I received a call from a seller in Arab, Alabama only about a week after buying the previous goldtop. We connected over his 1955 Gibson Les Paul Model about 7 months earlier. It clearly started life as an early to mid 1950s Gibson Les Paul Model, but at some point it was refinished and modified with a tune-o-matic style bridge and Bigbsy B-5. We met at a fast food restaurant soon after we first connected on it to inspect for any identifying year features since the serial number was lost in the refinish.
I popped the back panel off to reveal the electronics inside. It was clear that the guitar was originally an all gold Gibson Les Paul but was now a gold top with natural Mahogany back and sides. I carefully removed the knobs and unseated the potentiometers to check the dates on the sides. The potentiometer codes indicated that they were made in early 1955!
After a full inspection, I believe that this started life as a 1955 Gibson Les Paul Model with the all gold finish and wrap tail bridge. The guitar was sent back to Gibson in what appears to be 1969 if we go by the position of the silk screen Les Paul signature on the headstock. The bridge post stud holes were filled, it was refretted, and the entire guitar was refinished. They then installed a tune-o-matic style bridge with nylon saddles and a Bigsby B-5 tailpiece.
The resulting guitar was a fantastic player! It still had its large 1950s neck profile and top carve. It weighed 9lbs 4oz. While I prefer the wrap tail bridges, the Bigsby B-5 and tune-o-matic were a fantastic combination. I won't forget this one!