Going for Gold
The sunburst Les Paul Standards of 1958-’60 may grab most of the attention, but for plenty of no-nonsense players out there, the 1954 Les Paul Model “Goldtop” with two soapbar-style P-90 pickups and wraparound tailpiece embodies raw blues rock and roll more than any other guitar on the planet. From Carl Perkins’ recordings of “Honey Don’t” and “Blue Suede Shoes” to Freddie King’s “Hideaway”, a Goldtop was there—rippin’ it up and making musical history in the process. The Gibson Custom Shop’s 1954 Les Paul Goldtop VOS is the veritable second coming of this revered yet short-lived variant of the venerable Les Paul, presenting all the period-correct finepoints that aficionados of the breed know and love. With its hot, gritty P-90 single-coil pickups, deep-set, long-tenon neck joint; lightweight wraparound “stud” bridge; rounded ’50s profile D neck; and gently aged nitrocellulose “gold” top, which is actually a metallic bronze powder suspended in lacquer, this baby is the real deal, raw and ready to rock. While the Les Paul Model might have “evolved” from this point, fans of the ’54 know that it never sounded quite the same again, either. The direct feel and solid, resonant tone of that wraparound stud bridge can’t be matched by any other configuration, and the P-90 pickups are a world unto themselves, too—with the meat power of later humbuckers and the clarity and bite of single coils, P-90s have proven enormously popular for more than 60 years.
When Les Paul and Gibson sat down at the drawing board to devise the first solidbody electric from a leading guitar manufacturer, the artist who was giving his name to the project insisted that this radical new instrument needed to be finished in gold, a color that would claim the Les Paul Model’s place in the world. Marrying a solid, lightweight mahogany back to a carved maple top was the first stroke of genius, and established the most legendary tonewood combination in the history of electric guitar manufacturing. To complete the design, Gibson added the features that players of this radical new amplified music were demanding, while rendering the entire package with the historic company’s traditional arched top, bound body and neck, glued-in neck joint, and supreme tone and playability—in short, making the Les Paul a high-quality instrument for a new breed of player. With the addition of the wraparound bridge in late ’53/early ’54, the Les Paul had arrived, and it has never looked back. With its historically correct features, quality tonewoods, and proprietary VOS (Vintage Original Spec) hardware and finish aging process, the Custom Shop 1954 Les Paul Goldtop is as close as a player or collector can get to landing the real thing. Gibson’s alnico-magnet P-90 pickups are the closest reproductions to original ’50s P-90s that the company has ever produced, and quality CTS volume and tone pots and “bumblebee” tone capacitors take it all the tone from pickup to Switchcraft output jack in glorious style. To top it off, a final set up and fret dressing from Gibson’s phenomenal PLEK system makes it as sweetly playable as a guitar can possibly be. Each 1954 Les Paul Goldtop VOS comes protected in a Gibson Custom Shop hardshell case and includes a Certificate of Authenticity and full owner’s manual and instructions. Check out your own today, and grab a piece of that Gold.