Gibson (used early 1956) Les Paul Special Electric Guitar

Tag No 32-4202 Used

#6 4917, in excellent condition, weighing 7lbs 15.5 ounces, in TV Yellow, with a newer rectangular hard shell case.

With the help of the late noted jazz and popular music musician Les Paul (a/k/a Lester Polfuss or Rhubarb Red), the Gibson Company, in 1952, introduced a solid body guitar that would help to change the course of contemporary music.   This was a small bodied, single soft cutaway instrument that had two electro-magnetic pickups, four control knobs and a three-way toggle switch.   Gibson thought they had made a major breakthrough but, because sales of the famous 1950s Gibson Les Paul single cutaway electric solid body were dwindling, the Gibson Guitar Company made the decision to abandon that original single cutaway model entirely.  

Late in 1960 a new model emerged called an SG Standard, whose initials most people (including myself) feel probably stood for “Solidbody Guitar.” This model was much lighter in weight, had twin sharp double cutaways , twin humbucking pickups, four rotary knobs in the lower treble bout, said “Les Paul” on its truss rod cover, and its three-way toggle switch was mounted just under the white-black-white bordered, pointy, black pickguard.   In the months that followed Gibson came out with a less expensive version that lacked the humbucking pickups, lacked the “Les Paul” name on the truss rod cover, and instead came with twin black P-90 single-coil pickups (raunchier sounding than the smooth, sophisticated humbuckers) without pickup surrounds.  The two available colors at that time were cherry or white.   Backing up a little bit Gibson had, in fact, come out with a variation on this model, also called SG Special, in 1955.  This model has rounded horns and not the sharp ones of the SG.    In the earlier versions, including this example, the pickguard does not surround the pickups – this changed in 1966 when the pickguard was changed to surround.  The original Les Paul Special model was made from 1955 through 1959.   

This model is described in Gruhn’s Guide to Vintage Instruments, © 2010 by Backbeat Books) as having a flat top, a slab body, a single cutaway in the original configuration but in early 1959 this was changed to a double cutaway.  It has two black “soapbar” type semi-rectangular pickups with exposed magnets (poles).  The neck pickup is next to the fingerboard and below the bridge pickup is a “stud” or “stop” tailpiece/bridge combination.  It has a laminated and beveled edge pickguard that shows white-black-white on three sides.  In the lower treble bout are four knobs and in this instance one three-way toggle switch which came with a plastic surround that read “Rhythm/Treble”.”  The toggle is located in the upper bass bout.   The fingerboard is Brazilian rosewood and said ‘board is bound in single ply ivoroid that has yellowed nicely.  The fingerboard is dotmarker inlaid in pearloid with 10 dots in nine fret positions.  The black headplate is inlaid “Gibson” in postwar script pearl and below that, horizontally, is the “Les Paul SPECIAL” decal in yellow silkscreen.   Below that is a wide-white bordered black bell-shaped truss rod cover held in place by two Phillips head screws.  Its hardware is nickel-plated and that finish is usually called “TV Yellow” since performers who played on black and white TV looked better with this finish than they did with a white guitar (sometimes it was called “limed mahogany”).  

Here are the notes of our head of repair, Rocco Monterosso:  Gibson Les Paul Special, 1956 serial #6 4917, having original tuners with replaced buttons.    One of the potentiometer codes reads 134542 which means that this component was made by Central Lab Company in the 42nd week  of 1955.   This guitar has its original frets, which are largely unworn, original truss rod cover, original pickups; all four of the rotary knobs are original.  The tailpiece is original, as is the toggle tip and pickguard; the electronics (wiring) are original – there are no broken solder joints inside this instrument, and the nut is, as well, original.     Its finish is original showing some blushing on the neck.   The hard shell case is, of course, not original.   

We also note that the bridge posts are leaning slightly forward.  The guitar plays well as-is, but the future owner may wish to have the posts doweled and re-drilled to correct its position. 

What we are offering you is an extremely classy, rare (Gibson shipped a total of only 1,345 in 1956), and extremely beautiful guitar – as classic a Gibson Les Paul from 1956 as one can realistically ever hope to see.   It is flavorful and it is fine.   And it would look SO good in your living room!   This WAS $11,999 BUT NOW ON SALE FOR: 

Our Price is $10,995.00.

Sorry, this item has been sold.
You may still add it to your want list, and we will contact you if your desired instrument comes in!

Additional Photos (click for expanded view)

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