1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard Burst
Posted on June 10 2021
It was such a thrill to be the buyer for this 1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard and to own it, if only for a short time. I spent all the time that I could with it trying to get a better feel for all its small details and features. I'm always a buyer for vintage Gibson guitars, but I'm especially looking for Gibson Les Paul guitars from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. You can contact me here to sell a Gibson guitar.
1958 Les Paul Standard
In my opinion, 1958 is the absolute pinnacle year for the Les Paul line in the 1950s. 1958 was the all important year of the transition from the Goldtop finish of 1957 to the Cherry Sunburst finish you see here with red outside fading to yellow on the inside. The larger humbucking which resisted the buzzing of the 60 cycle hum through an amplifier were introduced only the year before in 1957. The Tune-O-Matic bridge, which intonates more precisely than the wrap tail or trapeze bridge, became standard on the goldtop in late 1955.
But Gibson was not finished updating the Les Paul line in 1958. Only a year later in 1959, the Les Paul Standard received a fret size update from skinny 1950s frets to more modern jumbo style frets used throughout the 1960s. Many players prefer the larger frets but I am personally partial to the normal 1950s size skinny frets. They don't last as long as larger frets, but they simply feel better to play in my opinion.
The neck profiles on 1958 Les Pauls are generally standard, although the final shaping was done by hand, so there is some variance to within + or - .02". The neck profile on this flamed out Burst measured about 0.90" deep at the first fret and 1.00" at the 12th fret. The profiles began to slim down to about 0.85"-0.95" in 1959, then all the way down to 0.80"-0.90" in 1960. Of the three standard neck profiles, the large 1958 is my favorite. The larger neck feels comfortable in my hand and is unmistakably vintage. I'll admit that the '59 profile may be easier to play for long periods of time.
Many many Les Paul Standards made in 1958?
The best way to determine how many Les Paul Standards were made in 1958 is to use Gibson Shipment Totals: 1937-1979 by Larry Meiners. This book is a printed record of the totals in Gibson's shipment ledgers were are owned by the current Gibson company. You may remember that the day books from Gibson from mid 1958, 1959, and 1960 are missing and that the company is offering a $59,000 reward for their return.
Lucky for us, the totals for each model were recorded in the shipment ledgers from Gibson, not the day books. Gibson's shipment totals indicate that 434 Les Paul Standards were shipped in 1958. The totals do not record how many were Goldtops and how many were 'Bursts.
Of equally important note to the 1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard, Gibson employee Seth Lover helped design a brand new type of pickup in 1955 that replaced its old single coil design, the P-90. The Humbucking pickup utilized two coils with reverse direction windings that cancelled the 60 cycle hum that often plagued the single coil pickups. The Humbucking pickup replaced the P-90 on the Les Paul Model in 1957. It's commonly called the "PAF" pickup because of the sticker on the back that reads "PATENT APPLIED FOR". This is the pickup that helps make the 1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard such a coveted guitar.
This 1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard burst, nicknamed "PJ" because of the name on the case, weighed in at 8lbs 14oz. The neck profile measured exactly .90" deep at the first fret. This is a typical fat 1958 profile that I found very comfortable because of the slightly thin shoulders of the C shape. Many of the R8 reissue Les Pauls had more a D shaped neck that felt even larger than they measured. This was not the case with this guitar!
The control cavity of this 1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard had some interesting features that are specific to a 1958 Gibson guitar. Check out the way that the ground wire is soldered to the back of each pot. You can also see the bright yellow lead covers on the capacitors. It seems that Gibson wasn't preoccupied with the direction of the capacitors when installing them since many from this time period are installed opposite of each other, including this guitar. You can also see a pretty nice chew mark on the edge of the cavity. The potentiometer codes read 134 808 which indicates Centralab, 1958, 8th week.
Another interesting feature that's typical of 1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard guitars and even some early 59s is the small fret style. Gibson updated their standard fret size to large jumbo frets in 1959 so there are far more large fret bursts than small fret guitars. This guitar had been played a lot so there was very little meat left on the small frets. It was still a blast to play!