Considering a 1954 Goldtop-Pulled the trigger on a 56

L96A1

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Hi, hope everybody is doing well during the chaotic time.
Thinking of getting a 1954 goldtop, is there anything that I should watch out? Such as a potential leaning bridge stud… you know, things that may give me a heart attack hiding under the beauty.
And how much do they go for? I mean an all origianl piece in pretty good condition. Not looking to mod or convert her.
Helps are appreciated.
I see Carter’s and Tone tailors each have one listed:
 
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jwinger

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Leaning studs I would say. Pretty common but not a deal-breaker issue, just something that needs correcting by a good luthier, putting in full legnth studs and bushings. Made my guitar sound even better believe it or not also
 

Liam

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Aside from jwinger's comments, there's not a lot that goes wrong with them, but you'd need to be confident about originality to know you are getting a deal. Looking from the UK side of the Atlantic, Carter and Tone Tailor are top end of the money, but for a couple of very top end looking guitars. The one at Carter's looks very original (and very nice). I think the bridge pickup has been shimmed up a little, but that's completely reversible (if you want the bridge pickup to have loads less output than the neck) and you really want to. I would leave it exactly as it is. Tone Tailors say the frets are really low on their one, and I'd be concerned that it's due a refret soon. It's not the expense, but finding someone you can trust to do it and keep the binding looking original (I am NOT going to discuss "nibs" in detail.) They play so nicely with full height frets, but thin and very low doesn't work for me at all.

Both listings mention a case. These can be worth money if in good condition and dependent on specific model/shape, so need to be part of the deal that you consider. When I say the dealers above are shooting top end, I know of a private sale a little less than a year ago that ended up being listed for similar money when retailed (and sold with a possibly slightly later "Cali Girl" Lifton case). The dealer wasn't making an outrageous margin in my book, but not all felt the same in the circumstances. I think that's about par for the course with these things. You could possibly find a nice one privately for sub-$25k, but you'd either be taking some personal risk, or employing someone that knows their way around a '54 Les Paul Gold Top to look it over for you. They will probably still want to be paid if the advice is to walk away...

If I was in the market for one, I'd be having a serious conversation with Carter Vintage. That is a great looking guitar.

Liam
 

Brewdude

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I live about 10 minutes away from Tone Tailors so would be happy to take one for the team and test drive it or keep it warm at my house if need be :thumb:

No real useful advice aside from a '54 being a dream guitar so mildly keep my eye on prices and as mentioned that seems on the high side, but not obscenely high, in the current market. There is probably some wiggle room to be had for a serious buyer but prices are creeping up it seems.

I also agree on the low frets being a bit of a scary phrase, albeit a possible negotiating point, but that is a somewhat pricey proposition. Though I will say BCRGreg is about 45 minutes away from Tone Tailors...
 

L96A1

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Leaning studs I would say. Pretty common but not a deal-breaker issue, just something that needs correcting by a good luthier, putting in full legnth studs and bushings. Made my guitar sound even better believe it or not also
I did that with my 1955 special, solid as rock!
 

Uncle Vinnie

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I looked at that very guitar yesterday on Carter's site (not to buy, just to admire)

Top end of the price range. If they sense you're serious and not a tire kicker, you can hit them low with an offer, mid 20s ... but I'd want to see a hell of a lot more detailed pictures than the four in their ad.
 

L96A1

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Aside from jwinger's comments, there's not a lot that goes wrong with them, but you'd need to be confident about originality to know you are getting a deal. Looking from the UK side of the Atlantic, Carter and Tone Tailor are top end of the money, but for a couple of very top end looking guitars. The one at Carter's looks very original (and very nice). I think the bridge pickup has been shimmed up a little, but that's completely reversible (if you want the bridge pickup to have loads less output than the neck) and you really want to. I would leave it exactly as it is. Tone Tailors say the frets are really low on their one, and I'd be concerned that it's due a refret soon. It's not the expense, but finding someone you can trust to do it and keep the binding looking original (I am NOT going to discuss "nibs" in detail.) They play so nicely with full height frets, but thin and very low doesn't work for me at all.

Both listings mention a case. These can be worth money if in good condition and dependent on specific model/shape, so need to be part of the deal that you consider. When I say the dealers above are shooting top end, I know of a private sale a little less than a year ago that ended up being listed for similar money when retailed (and sold with a possibly slightly later "Cali Girl" Lifton case). The dealer wasn't making an outrageous margin in my book, but not all felt the same in the circumstances. I think that's about par for the course with these things. You could possibly find a nice one privately for sub-$25k, but you'd either be taking some personal risk, or employing someone that knows their way around a '54 Les Paul Gold Top to look it over for you. They will probably still want to be paid if the advice is to walk away...

If I was in the market for one, I'd be having a serious conversation with Carter Vintage. That is a great looking guitar.

Liam
You’ve checked all my questions boxs, really appreciate your comments and knowledge. I prefer Carters too, that one has that mojo looking to my eyes.
I know these prices are top of the game and I’ve searched a few that’s about the same price. I don’t have any one in the States otherwise I can save the money for another guitar. The prices have gone crazy these days. And I think it’s not only because of the pandemic situation.
I’ve asked Carter for a demo, if it sounds good to me, will see my luck with it.
That one at Tone tailor, about super low frets, I double it’s a misexpression, no shop would describe the fret like that right? Lol, that’s too honest for a shop to say. But I do like Carters better.
Thanks again Liam, I’d share how thing go whether I get it or not.
 

L96A1

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I looked at that very guitar yesterday on Carter's site (not to buy, just to admire)

Top end of the price range. If they sense you're serious and not a tire kicker, you can hit them low with an offer, mid 20s ... but I'd want to see a hell of a lot more detailed pictures than the four in their ad.
Yes sir! Full exposure is a must for these kind of guitars.
I will send them here too if they send me.
 

L96A1

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I live about 10 minutes away from Tone Tailors so would be happy to take one for the team and test drive it or keep it warm at my house if need be :thumb:

No real useful advice aside from a '54 being a dream guitar so mildly keep my eye on prices and as mentioned that seems on the high side, but not obscenely high, in the current market. There is probably some wiggle room to be had for a serious buyer but prices are creeping up it seems.

I also agree on the low frets being a bit of a scary phrase, albeit a possible negotiating point, but that is a somewhat pricey proposition. Though I will say BCRGreg is about 45 minutes away from Tone Tailors...
How I wish you live near Carter now lol, yes super low or low frets would be a deal breaker for me. But they look fine from their photos.
 

red_house356

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I would definitely try and see how much they can skim off the top. Cash is king and hard to negotiate around. It was the only reason why I got my ‘53 Les Paul at a player grade price. The seller was asking for clean/original pricing at $20,000. I paid a little over 10.

Frets are another point that can be worked around, but I think playability is more important that having original frets. Mine are low and I’m switching them out. Most of my fret nibs are strunk. Not sure if they can be saved. I will ask anyway. The fretwire is .070 wide. Jescar has 50078, which is the closest if you have the height brought down a bit. I do prefer the feel of the thinner frets on these old Les Pauls. Be aware that most shops will want to plane the fretboard.

As for the forward lean, you can switch out the bridge posts for the longer vintage ones. Retrospect (Historic Makeovers) sells them for $20? I put them in a ‘56 Les Paul Junior and she resonated better. Plus, you can play worry free. I use 10-48s on Gibsons.
 

L96A1

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I would definitely try and see how much they can skim off the top. Cash is king and hard to negotiate around. It was the only reason why I got my ‘53 Les Paul at a player grade price. The seller was asking for clean/original pricing at $20,000. I paid a little over 10.

Frets are another point that can be worked around, but I think playability is more important that having original frets. Mine are low and I’m switching them out. Most of my fret nibs are strunk. Not sure if they can be saved. I will ask anyway. The fretwire is .070 wide. Jescar has 50078, which is the closest if you have the height brought down a bit. I do prefer the feel of the thinner frets on these old Les Pauls. Be aware that most shops will want to plane the fretboard.

As for the forward lean, you can switch out the bridge posts for the longer vintage ones. Retrospect (Historic Makeovers) sells them for $20? I put them in a ‘56 Les Paul Junior and she resonated better. Plus, you can play worry free. I use 10-48s on Gibsons.
Absolutely,I’ll be patient for mine.
I would definitely try and see how much they can skim off the top. Cash is king and hard to negotiate around. It was the only reason why I got my ‘53 Les Paul at a player grade price. The seller was asking for clean/original pricing at $20,000. I paid a little over 10.

Frets are another point that can be worked around, but I think playability is more important that having original frets. Mine are low and I’m switching them out. Most of my fret nibs are strunk. Not sure if they can be saved. I will ask anyway. The fretwire is .070 wide. Jescar has 50078, which is the closest if you have the height brought down a bit. I do prefer the feel of the thinner frets on these old Les Pauls. Be aware that most shops will want to plane the fretboard.

As for the forward lean, you can switch out the bridge posts for the longer vintage ones. Retrospect (Historic Makeovers) sells them for $20? I put them in a ‘56 Les Paul Junior and she resonated better. Plus, you can play worry free. I use 10-48s on Gibsons.
I could just offer 25k or something like that, the thing is they don’t know me and what are the chances for them to discount to a real life price for some one they don’t know.
Anyway, I now have a measure in the mind to avoid paying too much.

I hope I can have original frets, though they are s bit small, had one guitar with jescar, those frets sound too bright for me, though they are super durable.

For the studs and bushing I think I probably will ask the shop to swap for me, then I can put strings I like without worrying.
 

jwinger

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On the fret front, just me, but I wouldn't consider it a deal breaker. It's like tires on a car...you use it, they wear. Just be careful about who you have refret it if and when you need to do it. The height of the frets seems to be more of an influence on playability than the width in my experience with these smaller frets though...if they are low it's hard, but when they have plenty of height still in them it's no problem, and they do sound different from fat 59 type frets
 

L96A1

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On the fret front, just me, but I wouldn't consider it a deal breaker. It's like tires on a car...you use it, they wear. Just be careful about who you have refret it if and when you need to do it. The height of the frets seems to be more of an influence on playability than the width in my experience with these smaller frets though...if they are low it's hard, but when they have plenty of height still in them it's no problem, and they do sound different from fat 59 type frets
Also the material of the fret, I mean, if its been refretted, hard to find out unless you play it.
Assume this will be a long hunt, doubt if Carter will drop that much price for a total stranger from another country.
Will see my luck with this one.
 

jeggz

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I’ve owned two 54’s, bridge lean was not an issue with either one, I think it’s because of the maple cap.

As far as refrets go, it has to be done, if it’s not enjoyable to play, once the novelty wears off, it’ll just sit and you’ll play a different guitar.

Happy Hunting!
 

barsinister

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I got my 54 all gold in 1984 at the old We Buy Guitars on 48th st--for $5 Down on layaway!! with cali Girl case--Its a Desert island guitar-it was beat up when I got it-only put 1 scratch in it this whole time-had to refret (We Buy did it) bridge PU was weak--went thru a bunch-Duncan antiquity p90 shimmed up was the best posts DID lean. fixed 'em .Light,Big neck, clear twangs barks sings Spits -all with NO pedals everything a good rock n roller should be. I dont like burst les pauls-this for me is the Queen--if you find a good 54 youve got everything made--A Pox on Conversions
 

jeggz

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Ohhh

One other tidbit, take the thin ear wraptail and studs off, put em away and replace it with a Mojoaxe, or later 50s vintage if ya want.
 

L96A1

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Yes Mojoaxe makes some nice parts, I use his wrap around bridge for my 1955 special.
 

jwinger

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Ohhh

One other tidbit, take the thin ear wraptail and studs off, put em away and replace it with a Mojoaxe, or later 50s vintage if ya want.
Exactly what I did. Thin ear in the case. Mojoaxe on with full legnth studs
 

jeggz

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Theres way too little aluminum over and under those grub screws.
 


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