The Gibson Les Paul 55, as the name suggests, was a reissue of the 1955 Gibson Les Paul Special, produced in the mid and late 1970s. It was broadly accurate to the original (see the 1955 Gibson catalogue), but with a sunburst (rather than limed mahogany) finish. It started life as a limited edition guitar, and therefore not appearing in catalogues or price lists at the time. But it sold well enough to join the Gibson line proper a little later. The vast majority of all Les Paul 55s were produced in 1974, at Gibson's Kalamazoo factory. A number more were produced from 1976 (only 2 guitars shipped) until 1979, and these were improved slightly with a separate bridge and tailpiece. With it's solid mahogany body, one-piece mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard, and dual single coil SSC-1 pickups, it was quite different from other Les Pauls available at that time.
Gibson Les Paul Special 55 - Would you sell your soul for a 1955 Les Paul Special? (1975)
British advert, by UK Gibson agent Selmer. The advert announces the reissue of the 1955 Les Paul Special, or Les Paul 55.
Check out other vintage Gibson advertisements
Once re-reintroduced towards the end of the decade, the Les Paul 55 was included in Gibson publicity, it's first US catalogue appearance being in the 1978 full line catalogue. The model described in the catalogue was given the name Les Paul 55/78. The first reissue from 1974 is now often referred to as the Les Paul 55/74, although there is no indication that the '74' suffix was used when the guitars were initially available.
Sales in the years 1976-79 combined never exceeded those of 1974. The shipping figures and pricing, where known are shown below
| ||Guitars Shipped||Zone 1 US RRP|
Price comparison from 15th May 1978 - Gibson Solid bodies. The LP55 is the cheapest guitar in the Les Paul range (with the Les Paul Special Double cutaway), but still a hefty price for the time, and more than many other classic Gibson solid bodies.
|The Les Paul||$3000||RD Standard||$859|
|L-5S||$1079||Les Paul Special Double cutaway||$619|
|Les Paul Artisan||$1039||Les Paul 55||$619|
|RD Artist||$859||L-6S Custom||$589|
|Les Paul Custom||$849||SG Standard||$569|
|Les Paul Recording||$799||Melody Maker Double cutaway||$539|
|Les Paul Pro Deluxe||$789||S-1||$519|
|Les Paul Standard||$749||L-6S Deluxe||$459|
|Les Paul Deluxe||$699||Marauder||$419|
Demand was insufficient to sustain this model, and it's last listing in a Gibson price list was in January 1979, being replaced in the June 1979 price list with an even cheaper Les Paul, The Paul.