Gibson Les Paul Standard 1952 – 1957

The Gibson Les Paul Standard, originating in 1952, has undergone substantial transformations throughout its existence, influencing both its playability and appeal to collectors. Here’s an in-depth exploration of its evolution:

Early Models (1952-1953):

The initial goldtop models from 1952 and early 1953 faced criticism for their shallow neckset and a problematic trapeze tailpiece. This design flaw made them less practical for players, as the strings wrapped under the bar, hindering palm muting. Additionally, a knock to the trapeze could throw the entire guitar out of tune. The neck angle further limited customization options. These early Les Paul Standards are often looked down upon by players.

Transition to Wrap-Around Bar (Early 1953):

Recognizing the issues, Gibson adopted the “wrap around bar” tailpiece/bridge combo by early 1953. This improved playability, allowing strings to wrap on top of the tailpiece for effective palm muting. However, accurate intonation became a challenge for many players.

Tune-o-matic Bridge and Stop Tailpiece (Fall 1955):

In fall 1955, the Les Paul Goldtop saw a major upgrade with the adoption of the Tune-o-matic bridge and stop tailpiece, resolving intonation concerns. This configuration, paired with P-90 pickups, became highly praised, making the late 1955 to early 1957 Goldtop a versatile and coveted guitar.

Humbucking Pickups (Early 1957):

A pivotal moment in the Les Paul’s history occurred in early 1957 when Gibson switched from P-90 to humbucking pickups. This change solidified the Les Paul Standard as one of the most popular electric guitars globally. The humbucker goldtop, in particular, became highly sought after.

Visual Changes (1958):

The final significant change in 1958 brought a visual transformation, replacing the “goldtop” finish with a sunburst and changing the back color to cherry red. Despite being identical to the mid-1957 goldtop model, the sunburst Les Paul Standards from mid-1958 to 1960 are considered among the most attractive electric guitars ever produced.

Transition to SG Body Style (Late 1960):

In late 1960, the Les Paul underwent a major design shift with the introduction of the double cutaway SG body style, featuring a sideways vibrato and a thin neck backshape. However, these guitars were criticized for being less playable and are less collectible. The 1963 to 1964 SG Les Pauls saw improvements in vibrato and neck size.

Notable Model Features:

1952 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop:

  • Carved maple top (two or three pieces)
  • Single cutaway
  • Mahogany back and neck
  • Soapbar P-90 pickups with cream covers
  • Trapeze tailpiece/bridge combo
  • Cream binding on neck and top
  • Pearl logo
  • Goldtop finish
  • Nickel-plated parts

1953 to Early 1955 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop:

  • Stud wrap-around tailpiece/bridge
  • Serial number on back of peghead
  • Increased neck set for better adjustment
  • Curved top case introduced in 1954

Fall 1955 to Early 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop:

  • Tune-o-matic bridge
  • Stud tailpiece moved back to anchor strings
  • Change in knob shape to top-hat (“bonnet”)
  • Transition to Bumblebee tone capacitors

1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop:

  • Introduction of humbucking PAF pickups
  • Some goldtops with dark brown backs
  • Transition from black to cream plastic parts
  • Variation in peghead logo position
  • Rare mahogany-topped goldtops

The Gibson Les Paul Standard, with its rich history and various iterations, remains a timeless and iconic instrument in the world of electric guitars.

Gibson Factory Order Numbers

Gibson used Factory Order Numbers (FON) on some of their guitars from about 1908 to 1961. Many times you will see both a factory order number and serial number. The FON was stamped for each batch in production and each instrument in the batch during the early stages of the build.

The FON can be very helpful dating the instrument as that might be the only marking. They can also be used together with the serial number to more precisely date the instrument.

Gibson used four different patterns of FON’s through out the years.

FON: 1908-1923
The first FON’s are usually ink-stamped on the neck block inside the body and have of a three to five digit number with no suffix

1902-1916 1 – 3650
1917-1923 11000 – 12000
1924-1925 11000A – 11250A
1925-1931 8000 – 9999 1931-1933 1 – 890
1934 1 – 1500
1935 1A – 1520A
1936 1B – 1100B
1937 1C – 1400C
1938 1d – 1000d
1939 1E – 980E
1940-1945 1 – 7900

  • Alphabetical FON: 1935-1942

    1935 A
    1936 B
    1937 C
    1938 D
    1939 E
    1940 F
    FA 1941 E
    1941 G
    1942 H

FON after WW II: 1949-1952
After WW II FON’s were hit or miss and not very good for dating or not present on the guitar. When present they were rubber stamped on neck block or on back of the headstock with numbers from 100 to 9999.

Year Factory Order Number
1941 G
1942 907, 910, 923, 2004, 2005, 7000’s
1942 H
1943 9xx to 22xx
1944 22xx to 29XX
1945 1xx to 10xx
1946 many no fon
1947 700s to 1000s
1948 1100s to 3700s
1949 2000s
1950 3000s to 5000s
1951 6000s to 9000s

Alpha FON: 1952-1961
Around 1952 Gibson went back to the a first letter pattern
The first letter used in
1952 was Z
1953 Y
1954 X
1955 W
1956 V
1957 U
1958 T
1959 S
1960 R
Then lastly Q in 1961 which is very rare to see.

Vintage Gibson Solid Body Guitars: A Nostalgic Journey into Timeless Tones With Photo Gallery

Vintage Gibson solid body guitars are cherished by musicians and collectors alike for their legendary craftsmanship, exceptional tonal characteristics, and historical significance. These instruments, crafted by the renowned Gibson company, have shaped the sound of popular music over several decades. In this blog, we will delve into the fascinating world of vintage Gibson solid body guitars, exploring iconic models and their unique specifications that continue to captivate enthusiasts to this day.

  1. Gibson Les Paul Standard (1952-1960): The Gibson Les Paul Standard, introduced in 1952, is perhaps one of the most iconic vintage solid body guitars ever created. With its single-cutaway mahogany body and carved maple top, it offers a rich and warm tone. Key features of the Les Paul Standard include:
  • Body: Mahogany with a carved maple top
  • Neck: Mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard
  • Pickups: P-90 (1952-1957) or PAF humbuckers (1957-1960)
  • Bridge: Tune-o-matic
  • Controls: Two volume and two tone knobs, three-way pickup selector switch
  • Finish: Goldtop, Sunburst, or Custom colors
  1. Gibson SG Standard (1961-present): Originally called the “Les Paul” when introduced in 1961, the Gibson SG Standard quickly became a favorite among rock guitarists due to its sleek design and aggressive tone. Key features of the SG Standard include:
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard
  • Pickups: PAF humbuckers (early models), Patent Number humbuckers (mid-’60s onwards)
  • Bridge: Tune-o-matic
  • Controls: Two volume and two tone knobs, three-way pickup selector switch
  • Finish: Cherry, Heritage Cherry, Ebony, and more
  1. Gibson Flying V (1958-present): The Gibson Flying V, with its distinctive V-shaped body, broke new ground in guitar design. Although it was not initially embraced by the mainstream, it gained popularity over the years, especially in heavy metal and hard rock genres. Key features of the Flying V include:
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard
  • Pickups: PAF humbuckers (early models), Dirty Fingers humbuckers (1970s onwards)
  • Bridge: Tune-o-matic
  • Controls: Two volume and one tone knob, three-way pickup selector switch
  • Finish: Classic White, Cherry, Ebony, and more
  1. Gibson Explorer (1958-present): Like the Flying V, the Gibson Explorer debuted in 1958 and boasted an unconventional body shape. Initially overlooked, it eventually gained recognition as a go-to instrument for rock and metal guitarists seeking a unique look and powerful sound. Key features of the Explorer include:
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard
  • Pickups: PAF humbuckers (early models), Dirty Fingers humbuckers (1970s onwards)
  • Bridge: Tune-o-matic
  • Controls: Two volume and one tone knob, three-way pickup selector switch
  • Finish: Antique Natural, Cherry, Ebony, and more

Vintage Gibson solid body guitars are not just instruments; they are cultural artifacts that have played a significant role in shaping the sound of popular music. The Les Paul Standard, SG Standard, Flying V, and Explorer represent a small fraction of the remarkable models created by Gibson over the years. Each guitar exhibits unique tonal characteristics and has its place in music history. Whether you’re a musician, collector

Gibson Transition year of 1964

Around the middle of  1964  major changes occurred. The info below is very useful for dating a Gibson guitar in cases where serial numbers were repeated or unclear.

1. Neck width at the Nut was reduced from 1 11/16 inches to 1 9/16 inches (you will see cases of 1 10/16 inches during this transition year.

2. Most Hardware moved from Nickel plated to Chrome, this included bridges, tuners and tailpieces.

3. Most serial numbers moved from 5 digits to 6 digits.

4.  Kluson Tuners were stamped with 2 lines down the back instead of one line down the center of the back with the words Kluson Deluxe.

5. By 1965 the Stud Tailpiece on the Gibson Es-335, Es-345 and ES-355 were removed and replaced with a Trapeze tailpiece.

There is more information here on the our Guitar identification Page.



Gibson Headstock Logos thru the years in Pictures

Very Helpful in Dating a Vintage Guitar when Serial number not present or unclear.

Original Slanted Logo “The Gibson” Logo
Late 1920’s not slanted The Gibson Logo
Mid 1930’s thin Gibson Logo
Late 1930’s Thicker Gibson Logo
Slanted mid 1940’s Gibson Logo
Late 1940’s “i” touches the “G” on “Modern” non cursive/script Gibson Logo
Modern Gibson Logo open “b” and “o”
Late 1960’s Gibson Logo around 1969 with no dot over the “i”
Early 1970’s block shaped no dot over the “i” closed “b” and “o” gibson logo

1968 – 1969 Red, Black and Brown Gibson J-45 and B-25 With Photo Gallery

1968 -69 were dark years for Gibson and the Norlin Corporation buy out began. Gibson needed revenue and to use up old parts. Less than perfect tops used to make the J-45 and B-25 were sprayed a solid color of red or black and a few brown . A white screwed down pickguard was used. Many of the instruments were 4 piece tops and marked seconds. Late in 1968 the bridge was reversed with the belly facing down , and the Gibson logo on the pickguard was removed.  There is more  Gibson Acoustic Flattop Model Information here.