The Money Shot: Watch a close encounter with one of the first 100 Les Pauls ever made
Even by the lofty standards of 1950s Gibson Les Pauls, this is a rare bird indeed. Recently sold by our friends at ATB Guitars in Cheltenham, UK, this all-original 1952 Goldtop was one of the first 100 Les Pauls ever made. And before it was shipped off to its new owner, we were lucky enough to spend a few glorious days with it.
Unlike later examples, on the headstock logo, the dot over the i is connected to the G
Read more: The Money Shot: Dave Davies’ 1958 Gibson Flying V
How can you tell it’s one of the very first Les Pauls to leave 225 Parsons St back in the day? Since they didn’t have a serial number, the first 1952 Goldtops can be identified by several key features unique to the very earliest models that were changed later that year, including diagonal adjustment screws on the bridge P-90 and an unbound fingerboard.
Wear on this guitar is minimal and doesn’t detract from its value or appearanceThe eagle-eyed will also notice that the dot over the letter ‘i’ is connected to the G on the headstock logo. Meanwhile, you’ll also find that the wiring channel passes through the centre of the bridge pickup rout rather than the treble-side of the neck pickup rout, the latter approach becoming the norm once neck binding arrived.
The earliest Les Pauls featured bridge P-90s with diagonal adjustment screwsIn addition, the control cavity is shaped more like a parallelogram than the more clover-like outline Gibson later settled upon, and the body is about one eighth of an inch deeper than the bodies of later Les Paul Goldtops.
Though the trapeze ‘wrap-under’ tailpiece and shallow neck angle of early Les Pauls are oft-maligned, every aspect of this particular guitar seems to work together harmoniously, with a superb balance between the pickups and some truly spectacular amplified tones. It’s also a very resonant example, and the weight of just 3.6kg/7.9lb makes it one of the very lightest Goldtops we’ve ever encountered.
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The ‘no-line’ Klusons here are original
The body is approximately one eight of an inch deeper than the bodies of later Goldtops
These taller speed knobs are typical of the era
Later Goldtops would feature fingerboard binding and tortoiseshell position-markers – the side dots here are white
Poker chips came later but this Catalin switch tip is the only one this guitar has ever worn
There’s some fret and fingerboard wear but nothing that impacts negatively on tone or playability
The neck’s soft V profile is a joy to play and, while the bridge design rules out palm muting, there’s not a lot else that this guitar won’t do. Indeed, if the bridge bothers you that much then solutions are available, such as the non-invasive retrofit bridge designs that wrap over rather than under from MojoAxe and Glaser Instruments.
Check out our accompanying video to hear this incredible musical instrument in action and stay tuned to Guitar.com for more vintage content.
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