Gibson Les Paul 1956 Goldtop in California

John Shults

Posted on January 29 2022

Gibson guitar collector buys 1956 Gibson Les Paul goldtop in California


I'm writing this post from in the air during my return flight from buying this 1956 Gibson Les Paul goldtop from the son and daughter of its original owner in Tulare, California! It's an excellent example of a rare variation of the Gibson Les Paul  goldtop made only in late 1955, 1956, and early 1957. The combination of the iconic P-90 pickups and Tune-O-Matic bridge make it spectacular instrument as well. 

As a Gibson Les Paul collector, I'm always on the hunt for nice examples of 1950s Gibson Les Paul guitars. I travel world wide to buy the guitar I've always dreamed of. If you're curious about what year your vintage Les Paul was made in then check out Les Paul Serial Number Lookup. Or if you're curious about how much I would value your Les Paul then you can contact me here: Sell a Gibson.

Gibson Les Paul collector buys Gibson Les Paul 1956 gold top in California

Gibson Les Paul 1956

By 1956, Gibson had five different solid body electric guitars in the Les Paul line: Junior, TV Model, Special, Standard, and Custom (from least to most expensive). What Gibson guitar collectors call the Goldtop today was listed in the catalog simply as the Les Paul Model, and it wasn't until a year or two later that it officially became the Standard. The Les Paul Model was introduced in 1952 as the first in the popular guitarists signature line with a gold finished top, P-90 pickups, and a trapeze style bridge which anchored near the end pin. The unpopular trapeze style bridge was updated to the wrap tail bridge in 1953, but was updated again in 1955 to the new combination Tune-O-Matic bridge with stop bar tailpiece. The Goldtop retained its P-90 pickups until mid 1957 when they were replaced with the new humbucking pickups. 

The Gibson Les Paul goldtop from 1956 is a truly exceptional guitar for the player because of its combination of the P-90 pickups and the extra intonatable Tune-O-Matic bridge. This variation of the Goldtop was only made from late 1955 until early 1957, but we can't say for sure exactly how many were made. We have the production figures from each year but the ledgers don't list the bridge style in 1955 or the pickup style in 1957. My guess is that less than 2000 Goldtop Les Pauls exist with the P-90/Tune-o-matic bridge configuration. 

Gibson Les Paul 1956 vintage guitar, goldtop, gold guitar with brown and pink case

Les Paul Collector

One of my favorite parts of being a Les Paul guitar collector is the trip to various locations to buy vintage guitars. I was thrilled when the owners of the 1956 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop contacted me looking to sell their guitar. We discussed how to date it by serial number and features, its condition, and its value at length. I have been looking for the right mid 1950s Goldtop with P90s and Tune-o-matic, so I agreed to fly to California to buy the guitar in person. 

I flew into Los Angeles, California and drove out to Tulare to meet the sellers. We chatted for a while about their dad and how much he loved his Gibson Les Paul. He wasn't a professional player, but he loved making music with his friends on his guitar. He passed away about 10 years ago, but his children held on to the guitar for its sentimental value. I'm thrilled to be its next owner and can't wait to get it back home.

Sell a Gibson

If you've inherited a 1950s Gibson Les Paul guitar and are curious about learning more, then I may be able to help. You can check out this page for help with guitar dating: Les Paul Serial Number Lookup. That page will help determine what year your guitar was made. If you're interested in selling the guitar and are curious about it's value, contact me here: Sell a Gibson. I'd be happy to take a look, offer feedback, and may be interested in buying it. You can learn about me and my guitar collecting habit here: About Me.

Les Paul goldtop guitar 1956 with fine finish checking and original finish

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