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Gibson Les Paul Custom

Black Beauty / Fretless Wonder

Gibson Les Paul Custom: 1954-56

Gibson Les Paul Custom - Les Paul Says: It
Gibson Les Paul Custom - Les Paul Says: It's Gibson
A most important part of our recording equipment.

The Gibson Les Paul Custom was launched in 1954 as the Fretless Wonder or Black Beauty, as a companion model to the Les Paul Model of 1952. This was an ebony finished (as the name would suggest) guitar with contrasting gold hardware, a black single-coil P-90 (the same pickup as the Les Paul Standard) in the neck position, and a distinctive pickup in the bridge position, referred to as the Alnico V - named after the magnet within. These black soapbar style Les Paul pickups were quite distinctive. The advert (right) from 1956 shows Les Paul at work recording guitar with his wife Mary Ford looking on. The advert shows the original gold-topped Les Paul Model, but also the newer black-finished Les Paul Custom.

The Gibson Les Paul was always a fine guitar, but the Custom especially so, with it's gold plated hardware, bound body, neck and headstock, and mother-of-pearl inlays. Although the pickup covers themselves were simple black plastic, the polepieces were plated with gold. The Gibson Les Paul Custom headstock inlays used the same 'split-diamond' design as the Super 400. The large block neck marker inlays start at the first fret.

The Les Paul Custom guitar was described in the 1955 Gibson catalogue as follows:

The Les Paul Custom in the 1955 Gibson catalogue


Here is the ultimate in a solid body Gibson Electric Spanish Guitar... players rave about its extremely low smooth frets and playing action, call it the "Fretless Wonder." Features clear, resonant and sparkling tone, with widest range of tone colorings.

Solid Honduras Mahogany body with carved top, size 17 1/4" long, 12 3/4" wide, 1 3/4" thick with graceful cutaway design; bound with alternating white and black strips on top and bottom of body. Mahogany neck, with exclusive Gibson Truss Rod neck construction; ebony fingerboard; deluxe pearl inlays.

Two powerful magnetic type pickups specially designed and engineered for this model; individually adjustable gold colored magnets, gold plated polepieces. Double combination Bridge and Tailpiece is another Gibson First... adjustable both horizontally and vertically, plus the Gibson gold-plated Tune-O-Matic bridge, adjustable up and down, and individually for each string length. This combination provides a new high in sustaining tone quality and precision pitch adjustment.

Three way toggle switch selects either front or back pickup, or both simultaneously; each pickup has separate tone and volume controls; finest individual gold-plated Kluson machine heads; gold plated metal end pin and strap holder. Finished in solid Ebony color for rich contrast with gold plated fittings. Padded leather strap included.

Les Paul Custom Guitar Case: 537 Faultless

The Les Paul Custom had a launch price of $325, compared to $225 of the Les Paul Model (Standard) and $99.50 for the Les Paul Junior (US zone 1, September 1954). This was naturally the most expensive Gibson solid body, but in fact expensive, even compared to some Gibson archtops. In the same price list, the ES-175D is listed at $265, the ES-295 at $280. The next most expensive guitar was the ES-350 at $385.

1954 Gibson Les Paul Custom, with black single coil pickups Image Heritage auctions

Gibson Les Paul Custom: 1957-60

1958 Gibson electric guitars and amplifiers catalogue page 15

By very late 1957 this pickup configuration was changing to three humbuckers. It certainly is an impressive looking guitar. Have a look at the Les Paul Custom in the 1958 'guitars and amplifiers' catalogue. This was printed in March 1958, and lists the Custom at $375. Interestingly, despite the extra pickup, and the extra gold pickup covers, there was no price increase on the two-pickup version listed in the previous price list (July 1957).

Sales of the Les Paul Custom had dropped in 1957, and despite the new pickup arrangement, sales actually continued to decrease through 1958 and 1959.

1958 Gibson Les Paul Custom, with three gold humbucking pickups Image Heritage auctions

Shipping figures for the first issue Les Paul Custom are shown below (see Gibson Shipment Totals 1937-79 by Larry Meiners). A total of 1912 of these Black Beauty Les Pauls were shipped from Gibson's Kalamazoo plant up until 1960, with 1956 being the peak year. As can be seen, sales dropped off afetr the model was upgraded to three pickups. Whether this was coincidental, or directly related to the new pickup configuration is hard to say, but in any case, sales were bad enough for the Les Paul to be deleted from the Gibson line in 1960.

  1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 total
Les Paul Custom
first issue
94 355 489 283 256 246 189 1912

In actual fact, the Les Paul name was too good to just drop, and in 1961 a new range of guitars was created with the 'Les Paul' moniker. These were, of course, the new SG series, but this name was soon dropped, in favour of 'SG', or 'solid guitar'.

Gibson Les Paul Custom: 1968 reissue

Gibson Les Paul brochure, June 1968
Les Paul

Throughout the second half of the 1960s, a number of high profile guitarists were playing older Les Pauls, and producing fantastic sounds. Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, Michael Bloomfield, Peter Green and Eric Clapton all created some of the most distinctive music of the time with these guitars. Les Pauls were everywhere. Except in guitar stores... So in 1968 Gibson decided to reissue two Les Paul models, and the Custom was made available in its original ebony finish, and again dubbed the fretless wonder. It was available from mid 1968 at a price of $545 (Gibson price list 01/06/68), with the Les Paul Standard at $395. The brochure (right) describes the two models (click for a closer look at this brochure).

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

Gibson is proud to announce its newly reborn affiliation with the man who has come to be known to millions of music lovers the world over as "Mr. Guitar"...

And in the words of the 1969 "Daddy of 'em All" advertisement...

Les Paul may not have invented amplified music, but he perfected it almost single-handed. He started a revolution in fretted instruments and pickup design which is still going on. And the guitars he designed with Gibson have yet to be surpassed. The demand for them just won't quit. And the pressure to make more has never let up. Okay, you win. We are pleased to announce that more of the original Les Paul Gibsons are available.

The Custom was not an exact replica, as it had two humbuckers, (originally it had two single coils OR three humbuckers). The 1968 LP bodies and necks Les Pauls were one-piece mahogany (with maple top). Some time in 1969, the bodies were changed to three-piece mahogany/maple/mahogany, with a three-piece mahogany neck.

1969 was a great year for the Les Paul Custom, in terms of sales: 2353 guitars shipped, which was more (just) than the total number shipped between 1954-1960 and 1968 combined.

1968 Gibson Les Paul Custom, with two gold humbuckers Image Heritage auctions

Norlin period Les Pauls

In late 1969, Norlin took over from CMI, and the company's focus changed somewhat. Advertising and promotion was shifting away from older jazz, country and pop musicians, and towards a younger rock crowd. Sales increased year on year, reaching a peak in 1973 of 8344 guitars shipped.

Keith Richards on the cover of the 1975 Gibson Les Paul catalogue with his ebony-finished Les Paul Custom
Keith Richards on the cover of the 1975 Gibson Les Paul catalogue

Cherry Sunburst was first listed in price lists as an option in mid 1971 (Gibson price list 26/06/71) - have a look (and listen to sound clips) to a 1973 Cherry Sunburst LP Custom. According to shipping figures, Cherry was also available at this time (though never mentioned in any Gibson price lists or catalogues). Tobacco was available from 1972 (Again never listed). In this period, two humbuckers was the norm, but three pickup models were available as a special order option (along with a short scale model).

Sales were strong throughout the early 1970s, despite the deep US recession of 1973, and 1975 saw a further two finish options; white and wine red, with tobacco sunburst and natural being added in 1976. Sales did dip somewhat in 1976 and 1977, but remained in the thousands.

By the mid-1970s, Gibson had opened a new plant in Nashville, and a significant amount of Les Paul production was moved from Kalamazoo to the new facility. Gibson serial numbers prior to 1977 give no indication as to where an instrument was produced, but from '77 they do. The majority of these late seventies Les Paul Customs seem to have been built at Nashville, though Kalamazoo-made examples certainly exist.

1970 Gibson Les Paul Custom
1970 Les Paul Custom
1977 Les Paul Custom ebony finish
1977 Les Paul Custom ebony finish
1977 Les Paul Custom natural finish
1977 Les Paul Custom natural finish
1977 Les Paul Custom. Nickel plated parts, wine red finish
1977 Les Paul Custom. Nickel plated parts, wine red finish
1977 Les Paul Custom. Nickel plated parts, ebony finish
1977 Les Paul Custom. Nickel plated parts, ebony finish
1977 Les Paul Custom. Natural finish with maple fingerboard
1977 Les Paul Custom. Natural finish with maple fingerboard
1980 Les Paul Custom. Tobacco Sunburst finish
1980 Les Paul Custom. Tobacco Sunburst finish

Shipping figures for the second issue Les Paul Custom (see Gibson Shipment Totals 1937-79 by Larry Meiners)

  1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
Les paul Custom
second issue
433 2353 2612 3201 4062 8322 7563 7451 4323 3134 10850 1699

From 1976, three humbuckers were no longer a special order option; but the standard configuration. Two pickup customs were available with nickel plated hardware, which obviously made them a cheaper guitar than the gold plated models. One of the final finish options was the Les Paul Custom Silverburst - a nice black to silver burst finish, first mentioned in price lists in May 1978 - although only for the Les Paul Custom variant with nickel plated hardware.

Early 1980s Gibson Les Paul Custom
Early 1980s promo picture of the three-pickup Les Paul Custom, in ebony, and natural finish. Note the gold hardware throughout

1978 was a fantastic year for the Les Paul Custom. Sales exceeded 10000 units (the previous highest year was 1973 with 8300). As well as the two and three pickup customs, the 1978 Gibson catalogue also shows a 2 pickup version with a maple fingerboard. Still with gold hardware, it was available in ebony and natural finishes.

The Les Paul Custom is very much a flagship model of Gibson's current line, and has not been out of production for any length of time for the last five decades. Naturally it is a very expensive instrument; an Epiphone Les Paul Custom has also been available from time to time, with similar features (typically dual pickup); currently available as the the Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro (check prices).

Gibson Les Paul Custom for sale is funded by its visitors. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission. For more info see terms and conditions.
1981 Gibson Les Paul Custom Silverburst with Original Gibson "Chainsaw" Case

1981 Gibson Les Paul Custom Silverburst with Original Gibson "Chainsaw" Case

Bridgeport, West Virginia, 263**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Reallycool 1981 Les Paul Custom Silverburst. We are selling this guitar for one ofour customers. The guitar is in pretty good shape for it's age, mostly justnormal playing wear. The back and headstock have some of the typical Gibsonchecking. The front doesn't have the checking, but has a few scratches and playwear. The back has the same play wear with some buckle rash. Maybe the mostimpressive quality of this guitar is that the original Gibson / Schaller " The Crank" tuners are still intact and ... more
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Gibson Les Paul Custom R1954

Gibson Les Paul Custom R1954

Edgewood, Texas, 751**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Stunning P90 Crimson Custom Shop R4 from the Gibson Custom Shop Demo line

Good luck finding this guitar anywhere!!!

COA blah blah
... more
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Vintage 1978 Gibson Les Paul Custom White Electric Guitar ALL ORIGINAL

Vintage 1978 Gibson Les Paul Custom White Electric Guitar ALL ORIGINAL

Fair Oaks, California, 956**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Beautiful color. Yellowing from the original white color. All original from 1978. Original case. no repairs. Currently has Schaller strap locks but I have the original strap button which are included. This guitar was actually played so a lot of little dings but overall it is in excellent condition. Message for more pictures.
... more
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1957 Gibson Les Paul Custom w / 3 original PAF pickups + Fretless Wonder HANG TAG!

1957 Gibson Les Paul Custom w / 3 original PAF pickups + Fretless Wonder HANG TAG!

Carbondale, Illinois, 629**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Add Me to Your Favorite Sellers
Olivia's Vintage would like to present this 1957 Gibson Les Paul Custom in its original Black finish. It's all original and 100% complete along with its original hardshell case and original HANG TAG stamped "LES PAUL CUSTOM FRETLESS WONDER " . There's also a copy of the original sales ledger where the original owner made multiple payments of $13 a month for over a year. It has a good playing neck, but the small original frets are very worn as this would ... more
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1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty Vintage Electric Guitar w /  T Tops, Case

1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty Vintage Electric Guitar w / T Tops, Case

Seattle, Washington, 981**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Up for sale, a 1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom in excellent, 100% original condition and in perfect working order, complete with the original hardshell case. This Norlin-era ??Black Beauty?? Les Paul weighs 10lbs 5oz, featuring a carved maple cap, "sandwich" mahogany body, and a three-piece maple neck capped with a bound ebony fingerboard
The tonewoods ensure plenty of natural punch and sustain, and the ebony fretboard yields glassy treble articulation. All three pickup positions are distinct ... more
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1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom Rare Tobacco Burst Vintage Guitar

1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom Rare Tobacco Burst Vintage Guitar

Peoria, Arizona, 853**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This vintage 1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom guitar in a stunning tobacco burst color is a rare find for any collector or musician. With a solid body type and electric guitar type, this guitar delivers excellent sound quality and tone. The brand name Gibson is synonymous with quality, and this guitar is no exception. The model name Custom is fitting for this guitar, as it boasts a unique design and style. Perfect for those looking for a classic or vintage sound, this guitar is a must-have for any ... more
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Original 1985 Gibson Les Paul Custom in Sunburst with factory Kahler + OHSC

Original 1985 Gibson Les Paul Custom in Sunburst with factory Kahler + OHSC

Harrisonville, Missouri, 647**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Original 1985 Gibson Les Paul Custom in Sunburst with factory Kahler + OHSC
This auction is for a very cool 1985 Gibson Les Paul Custom in the beautiful Tobacco Sunburst finish with the original Kahler tremolo system. In fact, we have gone over this guitar and it appears to be 100% original. It was consigned to us by a good customer of ours who bought it a few years ago and never could get used to the Kahler tremolo system. This guitar comes to you in an original vintage Gibson chainsaw case ... more
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1956 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty w / OHSC

1956 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty w / OHSC

San Diego, California, 921**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


1956 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty
In Very Good Overall Condition (Please See Photos)
Some Cosmetic Playwear As Shown
Finish Checking Throughout
Professionally Refretted By Glaser Instruments Of Nashville, TN
Ilitch Hum Elimination System Removed And Put Back To Original (See Photos)
Previously Owned By John Shanks
Used On Bon Jovi's ' This House Is Not For Sale' Album
Neck Depth At 1st Fret: 0 88"
Neck Depth At 12th Fret: 0 99"
... more
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1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom with all 3 original PAF pickups RARE IMPORT MODEL

1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom with all 3 original PAF pickups RARE IMPORT MODEL

Carbondale, Illinois, 629**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Add Me to Your Favorite Sellers
Olivia's Vintage would like to present this 1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom in its original Black finish. This is a rare import guitar with the faint original factory "MADE IN THE USA" stamped above the serial number. It has a great playing neck with good frets. It's all original and 100% complete along with its original hardshell case and an old English made Bulgin guitar cable. There are nicks + dings (a couple have been touched-up), finish checking, belt ... more
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1977 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty Vintage Guitar w /  T-Tops, Case

1977 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty Vintage Guitar w / T-Tops, Case

Seattle, Washington, 981**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Up for sale, a 1977 Gibson Les Paul Custom in excellent condition and in perfect working order, complete with a hardshell case. This Les Paul weighs 10lbs 3oz, offering plenty of punch and sustain while still being relatively on the lighter side for a later Norlin-era Custom. Tonewoods include a carved maple top, mahogany body and a three-piece maple neck capped with a bound ebony fingerboard. All three pickup positions are distinct and full-sounding, and the T-Top humbuckers deliver growl and ... more
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Midlothian, Texas, 760**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


vintage guitar more
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1979 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black

1979 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black

Smyrna, Delaware, 199**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This 1979 Gibson Les Paul Custom in Black is a fantastic addition to any musician's collection. It was purchased from the son of the original owner after his passing. It is 100% original and has had no repairs or modifications made. Stamped second, which means it had a minor, and limited cosmetic issue found at the time of production or it was built for an employee of Gibson. The guitar has no cracks or any issues. The paint has some checking and scratches (pictured) Comes with what is ... more
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1973 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty

1973 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty

Nazareth, Pennsylvania, 180**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Just in is this great 1973 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty
Quick Details
Weight 10 2
Nut width 1 69inches
Depth at 1st Fret 0 81 inches
Depth at 12th Fret 1 00 Inches
This 1973 Les Paul Custom is in great shape with no breaks or repairs
The body is in almost perfect shspe with the exception of a small wear mark through the paint and into the wood on the treble side of the neck between the 9th and 10th frets. This happened from the guitar sitting in its case over years ... more
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1973 Gibson SG Custom Walnut w /  Bigsby, 3 Pickups! 1970s SG Les Paul! NO BREAKS

1973 Gibson SG Custom Walnut w / Bigsby, 3 Pickups! 1970's SG Les Paul! NO BREAKS

Norfolk, Connecticut, 060**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


In good condition and sounds great. Some minor imperfections as seen in the photos
... more
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Vintage 1980s Gibson warranty Card  Les Paul Custom

Vintage 1980s Gibson warranty Card Les Paul Custom

Staten Island, New York, 103**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Vintage 1980s Gibson warranty Card Les Paul Custom Please look at pictures and feel free to ask any questions Please look at my other listings for more vintage warranty cards Thanks... more
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Gibson 1979 Custom Les Paul Wine Red w /  Gig Bag

Gibson 1979 Custom Les Paul Wine Red w / Gig Bag

Harrison, Ohio, 450**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Gibson 1979 Custom Les Paul Wine Red w / Gig Bag
The guitar you are looking at is in Very Good Condition
Guitar has light scratches and dings throughout including belt scratches on back as shown in pics
Guitar may have light scratches that I didn't see or camera pickup
This guitar not only plays great but sounds even better, i m.o
The frets and neck are in Very Good Shape!
Weight 10lbs 2 oz - Scale shown not included
If you have any questions, please ask
The Music ... more
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Gibson Les Paul Custom Vintage 1976 in Original Hardshell Case

Gibson Les Paul Custom Vintage 1976 in Original Hardshell Case

Bridgeport, West Virginia, 263**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This is a 1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom in factory Wine Redwith the original hardshell case. Cosmetically the guitar is in pretty goodcondition for being 47 years old, showing normal nick, dings and play wear. The LP Custom is popular with rock groups because of its amazingsustain capabilities. It has thatclassic 70's Les Paul tone. Thereis nothing that sounds better than a Les Paul turned way up, grinding out somehot riffs! The guitar weighs 10 4Pounds
... more
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1975 Gibson Les Paul Custom Honeyburst Headstock repair

1975 Gibson Les Paul Custom Honeyburst Headstock repair

Nazareth, Pennsylvania, 180**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Just in on Consignment is this beautiful 1975 (old format serial number) Les Paul Custom in one of the nicest Honeyburst finishes we have seen. This ole gal had its headstock broken and repaired a long time ago. It appears that they did a carbon wrap on the break. It is not the prettiest but it is very solid
Quick Details
Weight 10 lbs
Nut width 1 69
Depth at 1st Fret 0 80
Depth at 12th Fret 0 98
The body has average wear for its age with limited small dings and chips on the ... more
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1973 Gibson Les Paul Custom Electric Guitar Cherry Sunburst With Case

1973 Gibson Les Paul Custom Electric Guitar Cherry Sunburst With Case

Aurora, Colorado, 800**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Clean, very solid, no repairs, works and sounds amazing. Original owner sold it to a shop, years later sold to the only other owner and he played it in his normal rotation. Sounds amazing, I did not clean, wipe, polish, or attempt to hide flaws. Selling it as is the way you see it. If you want more pics don??t hesitate to ask. I??m not selling it so you can pick it to death after you receive it. Just ask for more pics of any specific part and I will send it.
... more
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Vintage 1956 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty! All Original & Clean W / OHSC!

Vintage 1956 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty! All Original & Clean W / OHSC!

Grand Rapids, Michigan, 495**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Just in at Tone Chasers Music is this 1956 Gibson Les Paul Custom. This guitar is all original with the pictured dings and checking being the most significant signs of wear. This is an exquisite example. The pictured original hardshell case is included. As pictured.

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jim smith Comment left 25th March 2013 06:06:11 reply
very helpful. recently had a house fire and guitars were smoke damaged from miniscule to severe and now dealing with insurance co. my les paul custom was purchased new when I was a teenager and I know i had it for at least three yearsbefore i graduated high school in 1976, suggesting it is a 1970-1973 model(has USA stamped on headstock with serial #132718)pots are hard to read but one is:70 028, another is only partially readable and clearly ends in 7325 and another end in 7325 as well and has the number 7(I think) before the 7325. these pot codes woud suggest the pots were made in 1973 on the 25th week. the pots were never changed( Iam the origional owner). It is cherry red sunburst which suggests it is no older than mid 1971.What year do you think the guitar was made? thxs, jim s
Salt 'n Pepper Comment left 12th December 2012 20:08:24 reply
Should a '76 LP Custom have two or three pickups? Looking at one with three, but not sure if the middle pickup is a later addition. Did Gibson produce both simultaneously? Thanks if you can help.
Alex Gaal Comment left 13th November 2012 08:08:09 reply
Hi, I've owned a Les Paul what I assume is a custom for the gold parts for over 30 years. The serial no. have been removed since before I got it. Its nat. wood finish and the only way I think I can ID its year is pot no. 1376850, TX1158, 500k. Another problem is those pots may have been replaced before I owned it. Any advice? thanks
Vintage Guitar and Bass Comment left 20th April 2018 14:02:38 reply
Hi Alex - that pot was made by CTS (137) in the 50th week of 1968 - so, if original, that would probably make your guitar a 1969. It is unlikely a newer guitar would be fitted with older pots - though clearly not impossible. If your guitar is a 1950s model, it will either have the soapbar style pickups above, or three humbuckers. A 1969 Gibson Les Paul Custom will only have two humbuckers. You can read more about Gibson pot codes here Gibson pot codes.
Blues McIlroy Comment left 2nd August 2012 16:04:14 reply
I got my Les Paul Custom brand new in 1976. Present from the folks. I've now had it 36 years and it's still going strong. It had a refret about 5 years ago, but not surprising considering how much play it got. Such a sweet tone for those heavier blues rock numbers. I don't play so much now, but this is one guitar that is going nowhere!


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It was the largest folder in the series, with 24 inserts, (19 guitars and 5 basses): Guitars: 335-S Standard, Melody Maker Double, Marauder, L-6S Custom, S-1, RD Artist, Firebird, Firebird II, Flying V, Flying V-II, The V, Explorer, Explorer II, The Explorer, The "SG" Standard, Les Paul Artist, Les Paul Artisan, ES-335 Heritage, ES-175/CC Basses: Grabber, G-3, L-9S, RD Artist Bass, Flying V Bass

1970s Shaftesbury 3263 bass

1970s Shaftesbury 3263 bassRose-Morris were selling Shaftesbury-branded Rickenbacker copy instruments from the late 1960s right through the 1970s. The 3263 bass was one of the first models, (alongside the 3261 six string and 3262 twelve string) available from late 1968 until about 1974. The earliest incarnation was a set neck bass, produced very briefly in Japan. But production quickly moved to Italy. This bolt-on neck example was built by Eko, in Recanati, using the same hardware and pickups as fitted to Eko, and Vox basses built around the same time. It's certainly a fine looking bass, and not a bad player either.

1961 Hohner Zambesi

1961 Hohner ZambesiThis very early, and pretty rare British-built guitar is branded Hohner London. Hohner were, of course, a German company, better known for their harmonicas and accordions, but they were keenly expanding into guitars at the birth of the 1960s. This model, along with the Hohner Amazon and (particularly) the Hohner Holborn, bear some similarity with Vox guitars of the same period; furniture manufacturer Stuart Darkins constructed bodies and necks for both brands, with Fenton Weill assembling them using their hardware and pickups. These guitars do have some hardware peculiarities, and they are not the most adjustable of instruments, but they actually play very nicely, being solidly built out of some very nice woods. Check out the video on this page.

1963 Vox Super Ace

1963 Vox Super AceThe Vox Super Ace was a mid-priced British solid body electric guitar, produced by JMI at their factory in Dartford, Kent. It was broadly modelled on the Fender Stratocaster, and a sibling model to the dual-pickup Vox Ace. Both the Ace, and Super Ace (along with several other models), were redesigned in 1963 with a new body shape, headstock style, and pickup layout - only increasing the resemblance to the aforementioned Fender. The Super Ace had a 1963 price tag of 47 5S. It's a pretty nice playing guitar with some lovely sounds - check out the videos on this page, and in the Vintage Guitar and Bass supporting members area

1966 Vox New Escort

1966 Vox New EscortThe Vox New Escort was Vox's version of the Fender Telecaster, at a time when American guitars were out of reach for most British musicians. It was made by JMI in England, for the British market, and unlike the majority of other models, didn't have an Italian-made equivalent. But the New Escort wasn't a slavish Fender copy, adding Vox's stylish teardrop headstock to the tele-style body, with a stop tailpiece and two Vox V2 single coil pickups. And it's a pretty substantial, and nice playing guitar, with a very comfortable neck. Check out the images, specifications, and watch a video of it in action. There is also extra content in the vintageguitarandbass supporting members area.

1969 Fender catalog, Fender Lovin' Care

1969 Fender catalog, Fender Lovin CareCatalog scan. The 1969 Fender Lovin' Care catalog consisted of 48 pages of electric guitars, basses, amplifiers, steel guitars, acoustic guitars, banjos and keyboards. Like the previous catalog, this featured the company's guitars in a variety of interesting settings around California, from the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, to the Hollywood Bowl. Several instruments were making their first appearance amongst it's pages: the Telecaster bass, Montego and LTD jazz guitars, and the Redondo acoustic. It was the final catalog appearance, however, of the Electric XII, Bass V, Duo-Sonic, Coronado I and Coronado Bass I.

1973 Eko Ranger Folk

1973 Eko Ranger FolkThe Eko Ranger series of guitars was incredibly popular in the second half of the 1960s and through the 1970s, selling in very large numbers. The Ranger Folk was 1 1/4" smaller, and 1" shallower than the Ranger VI and XII - and with a narrower waist. Not a bad guitar; a little quiet, but pretty playable. These were great value in 1973, and because they sold so many, they are easy to find and excellent value today.

1966 Vox Symphonic bass guitar

1966 Vox Symphonic bass guitarThe Symphonic bass was built in the UK, by Vox parent company JMI. It was the Vox equivalent to the Fender Precision bass, and was one of the most expensive Vox guitars produced. It was actually a great playing bass, rather similar to the Precision in feel and sound, but was probably just too expensive compared to an actual Fender and consequently sold poorly. When Vox hit financial problems in 1968, unsold guitars and basses were passed on to Dallas Arbiter, who briefly sold the excess Symphonic bass stock as model 4537. This bass, although with a neck date of February 1966, was most likely one of the unsold Vox guitars sold on by Dallas Arbiter. Check out the bass, and the two video demos through 1960s Ampeg and WEM amplifiers.

1968 Shaftesbury 'Electric Guitars' catalog

1968 Shaftesbury catalogThe 1968 Shaftesbury 'Electric Guitars' catalog was just four pages long, and contained four guitar models: the six string Barney Kessel-style 3264; and three Rickenbacker-styled semi-acoustic models: the six-string 3261, the twelve string 3262 and the 3263 bass. Shaftesbury was the house-brand of major UK distributor Rose-Morris, and seems to have been launched as a response to the company's loss of it's distribution deal with Rickenbacker. The guitars were mid-priced, and built in (initially) Japan, and later Italy, by Eko

1970 Rose-Morris 'Exciting Electrics Wonderful Westerns Celebrated Classics' catalog

1970 Rose_Morris catalog1970 Rose-Morris catalog, dated April 1970. It featured 6 electric guitars, 32 acoustic guitars, 3 basses and 1 steel guitar. It contains the following instruments, over 20 pages: Electric guitars: Shaftesbury 3261, 3262, 3264, 3265, 3400; Top Twenty 1970; Bass: Shaftesbury 3263, 3266; Top Twenty 1971; Acoustic guitars: Eko Rio Bravo, Rio Bravo 12, Ranchero, Ranchero 12, Colorado, Ranger, Ranger Folk, Ranger 12; Aria 1674, 1675, 1676, 1679, 1680, 1695, 'John Pearse' Jumbo, 'John Pearse' Folk; Rose-Morris 15-11, Kansas, Georgian, Florida; Suzuki 1663, 1664, 1665, 3054, 3055, 3060; Tatay 1713, 1714, 1715; Peerless 3052; Steel guitar: Aria 3425

1971 Rose-Morris 'Exciting Electrics Wonderful Westerns' catalog

1971 Rose_Morris catalogThe sixteen-page 1971 Rose-Morris catalog featured electric guitars by Rose-Morris' own brand, Shaftesbury, and budget brand Top Twenty; aswell as acoustics by Eko, Aria, and for the first time Ovation. The catalog contains the following instruments: Electric guitars: Shaftesbury 3261, 3264, 3265, 3400, 3402; Top Twenty 1970; Bass: Shaftesbury 3263, 3266; Top Twenty 1971; Acoustic guitars: Ovation: Balladeer, 12 String, Glen Campbell, Glen Campbell 12 string; Eko Rio Bravo, Rio Bravo 12, Ranger, Ranger Folk, Ranger 12, Colorado, Ranchero, Ranchero 12, Studio 'L'; Rose-Morris Florida; Aria 'John Pearse' Jumbo, 'John Pearse' Folk

1972 Fender Precision bass

1972 Fender PrecisionA detailed look at an early 1970s Fender Precision bass guitar in custom black finish, with rosewood fretboard. 1972 list price, $307.50. The Fender Precision had been shipping since at least very early 1952 - with just one re-design circa 1957. This example, then, shows a model already two decades old, but barely changed since the '57 revamp. Fender got it right first time around, and although there are numerous minor cosmetic differences, the essence of this bass is effectively the same as it was in '52: a simple, single pickup instrument with a GREAT sound. Check out the demo video through an old Ampeg B15. It's no wonder this is the bass that everybody wants!

1967 Vox Stroller

1967 Vox StrollerThe Vox Stroller was the brand's entry level electric solid body guitar, fitted with just one pickup and a fixed tailpiece. Although aimed at student guitarists, it wasn't a terrible instrument, but did lack somewhat in adjustability, having no accessible truss rod and only a floating rosewood bridge. But this example is actually quite an improvement on earlier versions, with a standard 1/4" jack and a solid mahogany body. 1967 price £18 2s. JMI ceased UK guitar production in late '67, and combined with decreasing demand for the Stroller, this surely must be one of the last examples shipped.

1963 Vox Clubman Bass (left handed)

1963 Vox Clubman Bass left handedA nice example of the Vox Clubman II bass, built by JMI in Dartford, Kent in 1963. This is a lightweight bass, short (30") scale and very easy to play. It is an early example, and as such has a thin black scratchplate and side mounted, coaxial output jack. JMI offered left handed examples of their solid body Vox guitars and basses at 10% premium. Production numbers are unclear, but left-handed examples rarely come up for sale

1977 Gibson ES Artist 'prototype'

1977 Gibson ES Artist prototypeNot to be confused with the Gibson ES Artist launched by Gibson in 1979; this ES Artist was an early model designed by the Gibson research and development team in Kalamazoo in 1977, the instruments themselves constructed by Gibson artist Chuck Burge. It was planned for launch as a high end semi acoustic with 335-style construction (central maple block) and innovative circuitry - but was pulled at the last minute, being deemed too expensive. Apparently, several examples were produced with varying specifications, though exactly how many actually left the Kalamazoo plant is unclear. Certainly two guitars were sold to LaVonne Music by Gibson in around 1980. Read more about the development of this guitar, with details from Chuck Burge and the story of it's sale to LaVonne music

1959 Hofner Committee

1959 Hofner CommitteeThe Hofner Committee was a truly beautiful guitar produced in Germany, primarily for the UK market. It was a large bodied (initially 17 1/2") guitar with a carved spruce top, available as an acoustic or electric guitar. By the early sixties the carved top was replaced with a laminate, and although still a very fine guitar, the earlier carved top examples, with frondose headstock (like the example shown here) are far more highly prized amongst musicians and vintage guitar collectors.

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins TennesseanThe Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean, or model 6119 was Gretsch's best selling hollow body of the 1960s. This wonderfully faded example from 1965 was originally Dark Cherry Red, but has turned a mid-orange brown. The original color, however, can be seen underneath the pickup surrounds. 1965 specs: maple body, two-piece neck, Brazilian rosewood fretboard and Hi-Lo 'Tron single coil pickups. Nickel plated Gretsch Bigsby tailpiece.

1965 Gretsch 'For the Spectacular Sound of the Times' guitar and amp catalog

1965 Gretsch catalogThe 1965 Gretsch catalog, or catalog #32, featured 10 hollow body electric guitars, including the newly launched Gretsch Viking; four solid body electrics, including the Astro Jet - making it's only catalog appearance; just one bass, the single pickup PX6070; nine acoustics and 12 tube amplifiers. Pride of place went to the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman that adorned both the front and back covers. 24 pages, six of which are in full color.

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret ends

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret endsLoose frets are especially problematic in certain old guitars, but are generally very easy to fix. You'll be amazed at the difference you can make with just a few tools, a bit of knowledge, and a little time. Fixing loose frets can eliminate fret buzz, remove sharp fret ends, and greatly improve the tone of any guitar. If your luthier bill will be greater than the value of your guitar, definitely time to have a go yourself!

1966 Hagstrom 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog (Merson USA)

1966 Hagstrom guitar catalogHagstrom guitars were distributed in the mid-1960s United States by Merson of USA. This eight page 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog, printed in two-colors contained six solid body electrics, three solid body basses, two electric acoustic guitars, two electric acoustic basses and five acoustics.

1965 Hofner President

1965 Hofner PresidentThe President was produced by Hofner in Bubenreuth, Germany, specifically for Selmer, who distributed the brand in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other commonwealth nations. The President was a hollow body electric acoustic, available as a full body or thinline, and with blonde or brunette finish. It was a great playing guitar that sold fairly well in the second half of the 1950s, throughout the 1960s, and into the very early 1970s. The example shown here is a full-body depth guitar in blonde - and as a 1965 guitar, one of the last to feature the rounded Venetian cutaway. From late 1965 until 1972, the President sported a sharp Florentine cut. Naturally, such an electric acoustic suggests jazz and blues, but many of the original British Hofner President players were part of the rock 'n roll, skiffle and beat scenes of the late 50s and early 60s.

1963 1964 Fender catalog

Fender 1963 catalogue"The Choice of Professional and Student Musicians Everywhere" This eight page catalogue was included as an insert in the 1963 annual "school music" issue of Downbeat magazine (September 1963). As well as keyboards and pedal steels, this catalog contains seven guitars, three basses and ten amplifiers - from student guitars such as the Musicmaster and Duotone to professional models like the new Jaguar.