Gibson Les Paul Standard

Solid body electric guitar

The Les Paul Model, from the 1954 Gibson catalogue - note the combined wrap-around tailpiece
Les Paul Model / Les Paul Standard
Pickups Two single-coil P90 (1952-57, 1968), Gibson humbuckers (1957-1960, 1976-date)
Scale 24 3/4"
Body Solid Honduras mahogany, carved maple top. 17 1/4" long, 12 3/4" wide, 1 3/4" thick.
Neck 22 frets. Set neck, one-piece mahogany (maple from 1976-82). Rosewood fingerboard with trapezoid inlays
Controls Two volume, two tone, three-way pickup selector switch
Finishes Gold top (with natural mahogany back and sides) 1952-57, 1968; Cherry Sunburst 1957-1960; Natural, Dark Sunburst, Wine Red, from 1976; Ebony from 1978

The Gibson Les Paul Standard, was actually first produced as the 'Les Paul Model' from 1952. It only gained the 'Standard' suffix in 1960, to differentiate it from other models produced at the same time. Initially it was fitted with P90 single coil pickups, though these were replaced by Gibson humbuckers in 1957.

Les Paul was a phenomenal guitarist, as well as inventor and studio recording innovator, and although he certainly helped develop the guitar bearing his name, the patent lists Gibson president Ted McCarty as inventor. The guitar was under development between 1950 and 1951, being launched in the middle of 1952. It was Gibson's first solid body guitar; a response to public demand and to Fender's Esquire and Broadcaster models. McCarty was not fan of the Fender models, and decided to create a far superior guitar, unmatchable by Fender. It would have less harshness thanks to a mahogany body and set neck, but with the sustain provided by maple. This was famously accomplished by adding a carved Michigan maple top to the slab Honduras mahogany body.

Les Paul made a deal with Gibson to promote the Les Paul. He would get paid a commission for every guitar sold, but would also not be seen using guitars by other makers: check out the video to the right showing him playing one of the early Les Paul Model guitars, accompanying his wife Mary Ford.

As the 1960s dawned, the Les Paul was redesigned; it basically morphed into the new SG series, with the name soon being dropped in favour of 'SG'. But by 1968, the SG Standard was back, with it's first reissue. It was only short lived, however being replaced by the Les Paul Deluxe in price lists by 1969. Certain shipping figures suggest that the Les Paul Standard continued in production throughout the 1970s, though it was certainly not included in the 1970 or 1975 Les Paul brochures, or Gibson price lists until mid 1976. The Standard has remained in the Gibson range since this time however, becoming one of the company's flagship models.

In 1980, Gibson released two limited edition versions of the Les Paul, the Les Paul Standard 80, and the Les Paul Standard 80 Elite. These two heritage reissue guitars were based on the earlier examples of this guitar: both had a mahogany neck (at a time when most Les Paul necks were maple), reissued Pat. Appl. For pickups, nickel hardware, the original SP1 headstock with 17° headstock pitch, and were available in Vintage Cherry Sunburst or Honey Sunburst finishes. There were differences between the two models of course: the Standard 80 had a carved curly maple top, the 80 Elite a carved quilted maple top. The Standard 80 had a three-piece mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard, the 80 Elite a one-piece mahogany neck with ebony fretboard.

See also catalogue appearances

Electric guitar advertisements originally published from 1953 onwards. Click on the images for larger copies. Check out other vintage Gibson advertisements

Gibson Les Paul Standard - They

Gibson Les Paul Standard - They're Tops... Les Paul, Mary Ford and their Gibsons (1953)
Very early advert for the Les Paul Guitar. This was only a year after the models introduction, and at this point, the instrument was simply called the Les Paul model

Gibson Les Paul Standard - Gibson Les Paul Model

Gibson Les Paul Standard - Gibson Les Paul Model (1953)
It's a sensation! This very early advertisement for the Les Paul Model (latterly known as the Les Paul Standard) features Les Paul himself playing the gold-topped P90 equipped guitar

Gibson Les Paul Standard - Les Paul Says: It

Gibson Les Paul Standard - Les Paul Says: It's Gibson (1956)
A most important part of our recording equipment This interesting mid-fifties advert shows Les Paul at work recording guitar with his wife Mary Ford looking on. The advert shows the original gold-t...

Gibson Les Paul Standard - Daddy of

Gibson Les Paul Standard - Daddy of 'em All (1969)
1969 advert for the two re-released Les Paul models, the Custom and the Standard

Les Paul may not have invented amplified music, but he perfected it almost single-handed. He started a revolu...

Gibson Les Paul Standard - The Most Les

Gibson Les Paul Standard - The Most Les (1978)
"Les Paul's silver anniversary is your golden opportunity". Advert for the 25th anniversary Les Paul guitar

Gibson Les Paul Standard - Vintage Voltage. 30th Anniversary Les Paul Standard

Gibson Les Paul Standard - Vintage Voltage. 30th Anniversary Les Paul Standard (1982)
An advertisement for a short-lived limited edition model to celebrate 30 years of Les Paul's work with Gibson guitars

The shape of '52 that shattered all the molds; the classic gold top, The...

Gibson Les Paul Standard - American-made. World-played.

Gibson Les Paul Standard - American-made. World-played. (1982)
This advertisement was widely used circa 1982-1984. It features the American map guitar that appears on the cover of the 1983 Gibson catalogue, alongside the ES-335 dot, and Les Paul Standard.

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1992 Gibson Les Paul Standard Honeyburst

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1976 GIBSON LES PAUL STANDARD Tobacco Sunburst!

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2018 Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul Standard

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Rob Comment left 23rd May 2017 19:07:59 reply
I have a Les Paul Standard Model, serial number 109602 in what I believe is called Dark Sunburst or Coffee Sunburst finish, that I inherited from my brother-in-law. I have every reason to believe he already owned it when I first met him in 1976. It has twin humbucker pickups, cream plastic trim, and seems to be all original in all other respects as well. I love it and play it every week. I am trying to determine the year of manufacture. Apparently Gibson records for the early 1970s are deficient. The pots are marked 1377421 and 70-028, and I found on another website for Gibson dating that this means they were made in either 1970 or 1974. I offer this information as just another small piece of evidence to support your statement in the article that Gibson was producing Les Paul Standards through the 1970s.
Vintage Guitar and Bass Comment left 24th May 2017 06:06:40 reply
Hi Rob. Well, as you know you can not ascertain the precise year of manufacture from the serial number, however your pot codes do give some info. 70-028 is the part number, and 1377421 gives the date of the pots manufacture (21st week of 1974) and the manufacturer (137 = CTS). So although, technically, a guitar could sit around the Kalamazoo plant for some time before the electronics were fitted, it is more likely that both were built in 1974. If you get a chance post a pic in the forum - would be great to see it.
PJ Comment left 25th May 2017 07:07:10 reply
Hey Rob, First off, I made an error on reporting my serial number, it was a typo...should have been 680071. That said, in 1987 I wrote to Gibson in an attempt to verify when my Standard was actually manufactured. They sent me back a manila envelope containing a booklet called "The Gibson Story" that was published in 1973, a nice generic cover letter (actually photocopied), and list of serial numbers From the letter: "We here at Gibson are always pleased when our retail customers want to learn more about our products. We appreciate your interest in wanting to know more about your Gibson Guitar. Unfortunately, it would require a full-time staff of Gibson historians to answer all the inquires we receive regarding manufacture dates, type of material used, value of instrument etc. Enclosed find our serial number listing which should help you determine the age of your guitar. blah...blah..." I believe the relevant part of the "enclosed" for your serial number is this: "...To clarify serial numbers from the early 70's, the headstock will be stamped "Made in USA" under the serial number in the following: 1970: 100,000 - 400,000 1971: 400,000 - 700,000 1972: 700,000 - 980,000 In 1975 eight digit serial numbers were initiated. 1975: 99000000 1976: 00000000 In 1977 a new system was inaugurated in which the first and fifth digits of an eight-digit serial number identify the guitar's year of construction. For example, an instrument labeled 73128056 is a 1978." Using the guide from the horse's mouth, My serial number falls in the mid-ish 1971 range which validates my guitar's manufacture date, given what I also know and stated in my previous email: ordered in 1970, arrived in 1971. Using the same guide, your guitar's serial number would fall in the early 1970' range -given of course that it has "Made in USA" stamped into the headstock, beneath the serial number. That said, it does not line up with your pot's alleged manufacture number. My speculation? one of three possibilities (there may be more): 1. Your neck was manufactured, stamped, and dated in 1970 and sat waiting for a body until 1974 at which time the pickups and pots were installed. Of course, I don't know at what point a manufactured neck (or guitar) would have received a serial number. 2. Your guitar was manufactured in 1970 and the pots were replaced at some point afterwards. 3. the pot serial number dating system is flawed. So the mystery of your Standard's manufacture continues, unless your brother in law, or the store where the guitar was purchased (if still around) can verify the date of purchase. My Standard came from Appleway Music in Ft. Collins, Co. in 1970-71, however, Joe Fonfara sold the store in the late 1970's and it has long since gone out of business. Hope this is insightful and helps you narrow down your guitar's date of manufacture. Paul
Vintage Guitar and Bass Comment left 25th May 2017 07:07:42 reply
1970: 100,000 - 400,000 1971: 400,000 - 700,000 1972: 700,000 - 980,000 Hi PJ. Thanks, interesting post. That specific piece of info (even though from Gibson) is incorrect/incomplete. Gibson customer service (at least in the past) have been famous for giving out dramatically over-simplified info. I can provide dozens of examples that contradict those numbers. You are correct that after serial numbers were allocated, guitars may have sat around for some time before being shipped, however this more often the case with lower volume models. I have records of several Gibson guitars and basses with similar 10xxxx serial numbers and pots dating to mid 1973, and shipped in 1974 - including models only launched in late '73 for example - so definitely not 'old stock'. IMHO a shipping date of 1974 is still the most likely option.
Rob Comment left 25th May 2017 08:08:39 reply
Thanks for your interest, PJ and Vintage moderator. The serial number 109602 and MADE IN U.S.A. are impressed into the head stock. I am satisfied that the pots dating to the 21st week of '74 i.e. May 20-24 are a good indication of 1974 being the correct year. It may have been a high school graduation present for my brother-in-law that year, and it is extremely unlikely that he would have ever replaced the pots. The sales receipt and cancelled check were probably among the thousands of such papers in my father-in-law's stuff when we cleared it all out, but I never thought to look for them at the time because I did not know I would inherit the guitar 4 years later.
PJ Comment left 14th May 2017 10:10:50 reply
In 1970 a friend of mine "special ordered from the factory", a 1954 Les Paul Model Standard Gold Top that looks identical to the picture in this article. He sold it to me in 1976, as by then he was more interested in playing his bass guitar. I have owned it since then, and continue to play this sweet sounding beauty. The only blemish it has is a barely noticeable, tiny (1/8th inch x 2/16 inch) ding in the finish located about 1 1/2" in from the upper bout - the result of an ashtray falling on it. LOL. The body is a single, solid piece of Honduras mahogany, with a carved maple top. Serial number 080071 is stamped into the headstock. the words "Made in USA" are also stamped in the headstock. This guitar dispels the myth that all Gibsons manufactured in the 1970s are garbage.