1952 Gibson Les Paul
The Gibson Les Paul is a solid body electric guitar that was first sold by the Gibson Guitar Corporation in 1952. The Les Paul was designed by guitarist/inventor Les Paul with the assistance of Ted McCarty and his team.
The Les Paul was originally offered with a gold finish and two P-90 pickups. In 1957, humbucking pickups were added, along with sunburst finishes in 1958. The sunburst 1958–1960 Les Paul – today one of the best-known electric guitar types in the world – was considered a failure, with low production and sales. For 1961, the Les Paul was redesigned into what is now known as the Gibson SG. This design continued until 1968, when the traditional single cutaway, carved top bodystyle was reintroduced. The Les Paul has been continually produced in countless versions and editions since. Along with Fender's Telecaster and Stratocaster, the Les Paul was one of the first mass-produced electric solid-body guitars.
Goldtops, the first Les Paul model, were produced from 1952–1957. Early 1952 Les Pauls were not issued serial numbers, did not have bound bodies, and are considered by some as "LP Model prototypes". However, later 1952 Les Pauls were issued serial numbers and also came with bound tops. Interestingly, the design scheme of some of these early models varied. For instance, some early Les Pauls were fitted with black covered P90 pickups instead of the cream-colored plastic covers that are associated with this guitar. The weight and the tonal characteristics of the Goldtop Les Paul were largely due to the mahogany and maple construction.
In 1953, the trapeze tailpiece was dropped, and a new stopbar design was added. This design combined a pre-intonated bridge and tailpiece with two studs just behind the bridge pickup. This increased the sustain of the Goldtop noticeably; however, the intonation and string height adjustability were limited. A new design, the Tune-o-matic, replaced the stopbar in 1955. It consisted of a separate bridge and tailpiece attached directly to the top of the guitar, combining an easily adjustable bridge with a sustain-carrying tailpiece. This design has been used on most Les Pauls ever since.