I've always been attracted to the gold finish of 1950s Gibson Les Paul guitars, so when this one from 1954 became available for a local sale in San Diego, California, I booked a flight to go see it. I could tell when I picked it up that it had been played but well cared for. I strummed a few chords on what was left of the decades old strings and felt the resonance in my chest. I knew then that I was going to take this Goldtop home.

As a Gibson Les Paul collector, I'm always on the hunt for 1950s Gibson Les Paul guitars, but I especially love the goldtops made in the 1950s. 1954 is a great year for the Goldtop because of the increased neck pitch and resonant wrap tail bridge. I'm looking for good examples of original guitars with original finish and parts. If you've inherited a Gibson Les Paul and are looking for help with identification and values then I may be able to help. I'd be happy to take a look to help date it. You can contact me here to sell a Gibson. 

I've just ordered this book for more examples of 1950s Gibson Les Paul goldtop guitars: Goldtop Believers by Vic Dapra. It's tough to find so many examples of goldtops in one place to compare guitars with. 

Gibson Les Paul Goldtop Serial Numbers

Gibson's serial number scheme for solid body guitars in the 1950s usually pretty easy to decode. Vic Dapra's book indicates that the very earliest Gibson Les Paul goldtops in 1952 didn't have serial numbers, but starting in 1953, the serial numbers were ink stamped on the backs of the headstocks with a prefix digit indicating the year and four or five additional digits. A 1954 Gibson Les Paul goldtop should have a "4" prefix digit and four additional digits. For more help with Gibson Les Paul serial numbers check out How to date a Gibson Les Paul.

Gibson Les Paul Goldtop 1954 Serial Number

The serial number is not the only way to date a Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. In fact, a Gibson guitar expert can date a Goldtop in an instant using only the outwardly visible features. The two most obvious tells for dating a Gibson Les Paul goldtop would be the pickups and the bridge style. Gibson used P-90 style pickups from 1952 until 1957, so a 1950s Goldtop with P-90s was likely made between those years. The bridge style for the Goldtop was updated from the trapeze style bridge in 1953 to the wrap over bridge like the one here in 1953. It was updated again to the Tune-O-Matic style bridge in 1955, so a wrap tail bridge 1950s Goldtop was likely made in 1953, 1954, or 1955. 

Another way to date a Gibson Les Paul goldtop would be the potentiometer codes. Potentiometers are variable resistors that allow the player to control the volume and tone of the signal being sent to the amplifier. The manufacturers etched a code in the back that can be used to date the Les Paul. The codes on the potentiometers used in 1954 are on the sides so they're more difficult to read. Here's an example from a Gibson Les Paul 1958.

How to date Gibson Les Paul guitars with potentiometer codes

Gibson Les Paul Goldtop 1954 Values

Gibson guitar collectors like myself look for the right year, condition, and originality to compare values of vintage Gibson Les Paul guitars. Now that we know the correct year for this Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, we can compare it to other guitars available from the same time period. A 1954 Gibson Les Paul goldtop with have pretty similar specifications to a late 1953 and early to mid 1955 Les Paul Goldtops, so we can lump them in a similar category of value. If you're curious at how much your Les Paul is worth to me then you can contact me here: Sell a Gibson. I can help with identification and may be interested in buying it as well. 

The way that condition affects a vintage Les Paul's value is a bit subjective, so it's best to compare the condition of two similar guitars. This Gibson Les Paul 1954 has medium checking which is attractive on a vintage guitar. The clear coat has ambered a bit; there are various nicks and scratches. Still, it's a pleasing guitar to look at and begs the guitarist to play it. Vintage inspired players will flock to this guitar, but the jaded collector may pass in favor of a cleaner example like this Gibson Les Paul Goldtop 1953

Sell a 1954 Gibson Les Paul

If you're curious about how much your Gibson Les Paul 1954 is worth to me then you can contact me here: Sell a Gibson. I'd love to check out your 1950s Les Paul. I can help with accurate identification and comparison of condition to other guitars. I travel worldwide to purchase the guitars I've always dreamed of. I may be able to come to you for an in-person transaction, or I can arrange for professional packing, shipping, and insurance. 

John Shults

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