How much is a Gibson Les Paul worth?
Posted on March 08 2022
It's important to have accurate identification in order to find the value of a 1950s or 1960s Gibson Les Paul. As a Gibson guitar buyer, I start with with most important parts of identification first, then work my way down the list until I've assessed every aspect of the Les Paul. Gibson Les Paul values are subjective, but there will be general agreement on Les Paul values of the same model, year of manufacture, features, condition, and originality among guitar buyers.
Gibson Les Paul guitars from the 1950s can be worth between $6,000 and $400,000 depending on the exact year, model, and features. Speak to an expert to find the value of your Les Paul: 205-913-1084.
I'm always on the hunt for the nicest examples of all models of original Les Paul guitars made in the 1950s and early 1960s. If you've inherited a vintage Gibson Les Paul and are curious about how much I would value your guitar then you can contact me here: sell a Gibson. Or if you'd like help with using the serial number to find the year then check out the Les Paul Serial Number lookup.
1. Determine the exact model (there are 5!)
The first part of finding the value of an original Les Paul is to accurately identify the model. Gibson introduced five different Les Paul models during the 1950s: Les Paul Junior, Les Paul TV, Les Paul Special, Les Paul Standard, and Les Paul Custom. The values for each model range wildly depending on which model 1950s Les Paul you have. Some of them will have the model name underneath the Les Paul signature on the headstock of the guitar, but the Les Paul Custom has a large split diamond pearl inlay instead of the model name. The Cherry Sunburst 1958, 1959, and 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard is the most valuable model.
Les Paul Standard - Goldtop (1952-1957 P-90s, humbucking pickups in 1957) or Sunburst (1958-1960 with humbucking pickups) - Most Valuable
Les Paul Custom - Black finish with gold parts, P-90 pickups (1953-1957) or humbucking pickups (1957-1961)
Les Paul Special - TV Yellow or Cherry Red with two P-90 pickups
Les Paul TV - TV Yellow with one pickup
Les Paul Junior - Sunburst or Cherry Red with one P-90 pickup -- Least valuable
2. Identify the year
The year of manufacture by serial number is important to the value of an original Gibson Les Paul since the features changed throughout the 1950s. You can get help with finding the year by serial number here: Les Paul Serial Numbers. When trying to find out how much a Les Paul is worth, it's important to compare Les Pauls from either the same year or same year range with matching features. The Les Paul Standard varies in worth by year more than the other models by far. A Gibson Les Paul Standard from 1959 is worth almost 10x the value of the same model made during 1952.
I am looking to buy 1950s Les Pauls. You can contact me here: Sell a Gibson.
Most valuable Les Paul years in descending order:
1959, 1958, 1960, 1957: The Standards and Customs from these years typically have humbucking pickups and are the most desirable. This is the most valuable time period for the Les Paul guitars. Humbucker guitars from these years can be worth $50,000 to $400,000. Contact me if you are looking to sell one: Sell a Gibson.
1956, 1955, 1954: Les Pauls from these years have either the Tune-O-Matic bridge or wrap tail and are considered to be excellent playable guitars. This is the second tier of value. Goldtops and Customs are typically worth $25,000-$70,000
1953, 1952: Les Paul Models (Goldtops) from these years often have neck angle problems which make them less comfortable to play. They are still valuable guitars which can fetch $20,000 - $35,000.
1961, 1962, 1963: It's a little known fact that even though the body style changed to what we call the SG, it was still called the Les Paul Standard until 1963. These can be worth $15,000 - $30,000.
1968, 1969: The Les Paul line returned in 1968 with the goldtop Standard and black Custom. True 1968 Les Paul guitars are very desirable. They can be worth $10,000 - $30,000.
3. Identify important features
Gibson Les Paul collectors are looking for certain features which correspond to generally agreed upon values for Les Paul guitars. The two most important features that affect value are finish color and pickup style. Each Les Paul model changed differently over time, but the most significant change is the transition from gold finish or goldtop to Cherry Sunburst on the Standard model in 1958. A late 1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard is worth nearly double the value of an early 1958 Les Paul Standard with gold features.
The pickup style and bridge style also heavily influence the value of a 1950s Gibson Les Paul. Gibson introduced a new pickup in 1957 they called the humbucking pickup. This became the most popular sound for rock and roll, but only Les Pauls from the last few years of production have them. The bridge style also became more refined in 1956. Gibson introduced the Tune-O-Matic style bridge on the Custom in 1954 and the Les Paul Model in 1955. Les Paul guitar players found the tighter intonation and tuning stability to be far more valuable than the early style bridge.
1950s Gibson Les Paul Timeline
1952: The first Les Paul Model was introduced this year with a goldtop finish, wrap under trapeze bridge, and two cream covered P-90 pickups. Example: 1952 Les Paul
1953: The wrap under bridge was updated to the wrap over, often called wrap tail bridge. Example: 1953 Les Paul.
1954: The black finished upscale Custom and Sunburst finished student Junior are introduced.
1955: The Les Paul Special and Les Paul TV Model are introduced. Both feature the muted yellow finish Gibson called Limed Mahogany, but the TV has only one pickup like the Junior. The Goldtop's wrap tail bridge was updated to the Tune-O-Matic (ABR-1) bridge introduced on the Custom two years earlier: 1956 Les Paul.
1956: The Junior, TV, and Special's bridge pickup is shifted forward and bridge post bushings are doubled in length. Many made prior to the change suffer from leaning posts.
1957: The Humbucking pickup is introduced on the Goldtop (Standard) and Custom.
1958: The Cherry Sunburst finish replaces the formally gold finished Goldtop (1958 Les Paul). The Junior, TV, and Special's single cutaway body style is updated to the double cutaway. The Cherry Red finishes replaces the Sunburst on the Junior and is now offered on the Special.
1959: Jumbo frets become standard across the Les Paul line. The neck profiles begin to slim from the mid 1950s 0.90"-1" to 0.85" - 0.95". The Special and TV Models drop the Les Paul name and begin the SG line (body style doesn't change yet).
1960: Neck profiles continue to slim down to 0.80" - 0.90". The red dye in the Cherry Sunburst finish changes to a brighter red which doesn't fade as easily. The volume and tone knobs now have a circular foil cap (reflector knobs).
1961: The classic SG body style now replaces the carved top single cutaway Standard and Custom as well as the double cutaway Junior, TV, and Special. The Les Paul name is retained on the Standard, Custom, and Junior until 1963.
1964-1967: No Les Paul guitars made.
1968: The Les Paul line is reintroduced with a new Standard and a Custom.
Gibson Les Paul Buyer
I am actively looking to buy all models of the Gibson Les Paul from each year in the 1950s and 1960s. If you're curious about how much I would value your Les Paul then you can contact me here: Sell a Gibson. I can help you identify the exact model, find the year by serial number, and identify important features. I may be the guitar buyer you're looking for.