1957 Les Paul Goldtop Darkback
“A spectacular instrument … the very feel is sure to inspire even the most imaginative guitarist.”—Original Gibson advertisement, circa 1955
At the direction of legendary Gibson President Ted McCarty, Gibson engineer Seth Lover began working on a tone circuit with hum-cancelling capabilities sometime in 1954, applying for a U.S. design patent – hence the name “Patent Applied For,” or “PAF” – on June 22, 1955. By early 1957, the standard double-coil version of the humbucker pickup had begun to appear on Gibson ES-175s and ES-350Ts, and eventually on the Les Paul Model Goldtops of the same year.
Aside from the pickups, the basic specifications of those 1957 Les Paul Model Goldtops remained the same. There were, however, several minor cosmetic variations that made the 1957 version significant in the development of the Les Paul, the most noteworthy of which was the placement of the inlaid, pearl-cut Gibson logo, which was moved closer to the top edge of the headstock. Additionally, 1957 was to be the last full year of production for a Gibson model with a Goldtop finish. The popular color would not adorn another Gibson guitar until 1968.
But another important variation in 1957 was Gibson’s occasional use of a darker mahogany back. Most – if not all – of the “darkback” Les Pauls that left Gibson during this time also had all black parts, including the pickguards and pickup rings. Over time, however, many owners of these guitars have changed the black plastic parts to the more common crème color. Today’s 1957 Les Paul Goldtop Darkback from Gibson Custom reflects this detail.
1957 certainly proved to be a very important year in the development of Gibson’s Les Paul model guitar, and several key modifications made that year would remain as the foundation of the iconic version known around the world today as the Les Paul Standard. But while the addition of the new Tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece one year earlier had greatly improved the overall functionality of the Les Paul, nothing would compare with the addition of Gibson’s pioneering humbucking pickup in 1957.
The 1957 Les Paul Goldtop from Gibson Custom is a near-perfect recreation of the original instrument, in all of its original brilliance and historical magnificence. The body features Gibson’s traditional hand-carved maple top and solid, non-weight relieved mahogany body. The headstock is made from Holly head veneer, as opposed to fiber, just like it was in 1957, and the vintage-style tulip tuners are mounted in a straight line, also as they were on the original. The 24 ¾-inch scale length neck is made from one solid piece of mahogany, and attached to the body using a long neck tenon — one of the Les Paul’s more distinguishing characteristics of the 1950s. The neck is topped by a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard outfitted with acrylic trapezoid inlays matching the size and color of the originals. Of course, two of Gibson’s legendary Burstbucker pickups deliver all the subtle variations of true, classic humbucker tone by using historically “unmatched” bobbin windings and Alnico II magnets. The guitar’s Antique Gold finish also matches the hue of the original model, giving this Custom Shop model the accurate and distinct appearance of this traditional Les Paul. Other historical appointments include CTS potentiometers, bumble bee capacitors, rolled crème-colored fingerboard binding, single-ply thin binding around the body, and period-correct switchwasher and jackplate. The 1957 Les Paul Goldtop comes either a V.O.S. or Gloss finish, and comes with the standard Gibson Custom case and certificate of authenticity.