It's a strange turn of events when an early 1950s Les Paul is not considered to be quite as collectable as the more highly prized 1958 models.
Such thinking doesn't necessarily transfer to Fender Stratocasters, for instance, where a 1954 coming on to the market would be as eagerly pursued as, say, a '56 or '59.
Popular thought is that the early versions of Gibson's most famous son are considered to be 'works in progress'.
Popular thought is that the early versions of Gibson's most famous son are considered to be 'works in progress' and representative of the gradual evolution towards the latter end of the 1950s and the flame-topped, humbucker-laden models that we're familiar with now. In reality, early Les Pauls might just be victims of bad press, as many of the P-90-loaded models (such as our specimen here) have a distinct magic all their own.
True to say, perhaps, that the stud bridge/tailpiece was never quite as player-friendly as the later Tune-o-matic, and that the intonation could be questionable. Yet no-one complained when Les Paul himself had a string of hits with his wife, Mary Ford, playing just such a model.
Also it's an undeniable fact that it was players like Freddie King and Hubert Sumlin playing Goldtops that inspired Eric Clapton to search for a Les Paul in the 1960s – and when it came time for the current king of blues-rock, Joe Bonamassa, to create his signature Gibson, a Goldtop was his first choice.
So this 1954 Les Paul could be considered as something of a pioneer – a great sounding, revolutionary instrument that played its part in changing the face of popular music forever.
Guitar courtesy of the Vintage Guitar Boutique, London.