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.
The following catalogues feature the Les Paul Standard (or Les Paul Model, as it was known initially). Click through to see the individual pages, and the original specifications/descriptions from each year. Other Gibson catalogues can be found here.
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.
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'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 (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'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 '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 (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 (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. (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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