My 1952 altered and tortured Goldtop

rialcnis

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I don't know why I never found this forum before. I signed up in the middle of last night.

I am not an expert on Les Pauls. I knew more about them 30 years ago.

Back in 1966, when I was 19, I bought a used Les Paul. At the time I has no idea what year it was and all I really knew about them was I grew up watching Les Paul and Mary Ford and loved them as a kid, then became a Yardbird's fan (fanatic), when I first saw them play in 1965 at the Hullabaloo club in Hollywood (Beck using his Esquire Telecaster).

When I saw the Yardbirds at the Avalon ballroom, on Catalina Island. in 1966 Jeff Beck was playing his Les Paul and it blew my mind. (It was wired for stereo and ping-ponging with feedback streams all over the place. ).

I had to have one and learn to play. I saw a classified ad for a used Les Paul and have it to this day. The guitar had already obviously gone through the mill and it was pretty funky. cracked old knobs. The goldtop looked oxidized and had a greenish hue to it. It had obviously had lots of use. I wish I knew who owned and used it--later I suspected the two young guys in Laurel Canyon, that sold it to me may have ripped it off. The tuners barely stayed in tune and the trapeze tailpiece would move from side to side. I can tell the sad story of how I altered it (Pickups tail piece, drilled hole did weird things to it) etc.

I will say that I have played a bunch of Les Pauls and this one has the most wild gritty sound of any I played. and the action was really low and slinkier and it feels lighter then other Les Pauls I've tried.

Turns out according to some self proclaimed "experts" I met along the way, it was a 1952 Goldtop with NO serial number and according to a Les Paul book I have, the first 6 months of production had no serials.

Glad I found the forum. I have questions and interest in reading here. I am interested in what people have to say about it. Besides keeping it, what are my options?

In 1967 I had it altered at Wallachs Music City on Sunset. Brand new Humbuckers put in--some routing necessary. I bought gold hardware and pickups and painted it psychedelic based on a scene from Fantasia with Oil paint and varathane. It looked gorgeous. It was wired for stereo and had a Phasing knob.

Time marched on. and at one point I pawned it to my sister to go to Japan and she managed to forget it was mine not hers and some guy friend stripped the paint and messed with it, telling her it needed restoring etc. When I heard about it I got it back.

In 1980 I had new tuners put on because the old originals were not reliable and added cheap bridge and tailpiece. (the other gold one had cracked)

I lost the p-90's, which I had thrown in a drawer, original pick guard and over the original trapeze. Ten years ago I found a supposed genuine 1952 Tarpeze but never installed it.

Anyway I forgive my sister and myself for being so casual, but it sure plays.









q











 
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Sharky

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I'm not in the position to give any advises on vintage guitars, but I can surely comment. I like the look of your guitar and I personally saw a lot of vintage Bursts and Goldtops (that were not vintage back then) in the 70ties, that were tampered with a lot worse. It was fairly common to tear out PAFs and replace them with Di Marzios or Bill Lawrence PUPs because they were hotter and "better" for the kind of music people were making. Coils were split, battery operated pre-amps were implanted. At least they were not vintage and that was good ;o).

I'd be more than happy if I could have afforded to keep my 1961 PAF SG that I had to sell to fund the purchase of a new racing bike. Not only would it have 10 times the value today, it would have lots of stories to tell, as has yours. Even more. You had it for so long, you like it much, why change anything?

I wish I had all the money that I have wasted by making wrong decissions, wasting stuff, not respecting things tbc.
 

Jimmi

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I think this guitar has an awesome vibe to it. Great little guitar. Put it this way, you would have no trouble selling it (as long as you didn't ask too much). I love guitars like this one (and have a couple). I think they are like stray dogs....don't have the pedigree of a purebred but often make the best companions. My favorite guitar in my collection is a converted '54 that has had as much or more done to it...but it is a tone beast.

Did you have to do anything to the bridge to get it to work? Often those have to be shaved.
 

Alvinfan

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Welcome to the forum !! :thumb:
Cool guitar and great story !
How does the area around the lower strap button look ? There should be small holes after the original trapeze.

You write that after 6 months Gibson started putting serial numbers on the Les Pauls.
I have always thought that this did not start until early 1953.
I tried to check it on different websites and found different answers.
Anybody here have an oppinion on this ?
PS : I have an all gold Les Paul with no serial nr and have been wondering if it is a ´52 or a ´53.
 

eric ernest

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Judging from the toggle switch cavity, it had a gold back originally.

Your pickups look like early 60's Gibson Patent number, so that guitar should sound terrific!

I would tidy it up a bit if I were you. reinstall the PU rings accurately, plug the hole in the top, reinstall Kluson tuners, correct truss rod cover, install a pickguard, old knobs, nickel hardware.

Live with that awhile, and THEN decide if you want to take it any further. :thumb:

Congrats, I love guitars with a history!

-eric
 

madaxeman

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Looks gorgeous, thanks for sharing.
If it were mine, i might be temped to replace the control knobs, selector switch backplate, little bit of missing binding and get the hole in the top filled. I'd maybe even consider getting the top refinished that said it really does look great as is.
 

RevWillie

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If it were mine I would:

- plug the hole in the top
- replace/repair the bass-side neck binding with correct Royalite binding
- possibly re-fret it with medium frets

and PLAY IT!

You can always do other parts & restorations later if you really want to. You have kept it and loved it for 40+ years - why change what works for you? It is what it is: a stripped, altered, all-gold trapeze '50s Goldtop.

As you know, you could sell it with zero effort but... why? What would you replace it with that has 1/10th the soul (and memories)?
 

Ducati

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I agree it must have been an all gold model originally. So dating it by the lack of serial number isn't going to work. Maybe some cavity shots would help, but I suspect it's later than you think if the neck angle was ok for a TOM bridge setup.

You might be the longest tenured Les Paul owner on the forum - congratulations for having great taste back in the day.

I wouldn't change much on it. I'd be tempted to clean up the pickup routes so the rings sit square, maybe align the tailpiece a little better, and either put a switch or plug in that hole in the top. Frets look pretty flat, might need some new ones after all that playing!
 

zeronalo

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its your guitar leave it the way you want it. But by all means play it often.

Its a piece of history and a piece of your history. Great story for a great guitar.

enjoy it

Freddy
 

rialcnis

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Wow. Thanks for all the replies and help. I read replies last night and about 5am I started thinking I should clean it up real good, Straighten out some of the issues suggested and get gold hardware back on it, paint it with the same painting I put on it in 1967, wire it again for stereo and put a phasing knob back on it. (Or a full synth setup.) I wish i'd bought original knobs at far less then todays cost when I first considered it.

In answer to one question about the old trapeze holes at the tail. Yes they are there. Tomorrow I'll take a picture of it and add it to the thread.

Another thing mentioned above, was the look of goldleaf color in the cavity.i may have been experimenting years ago...but tomorrow ill take off the pot cover and see if there is any gold in there. and whether this had once been all gold. I doubt thats true, because the neck and back appears original and who would remove the gold in those days and then redo it? Seems illogical and if it was stolen and someone redid it to hide their theft and maybe even erase a serial numbers...what thief would redo the neck and back and leave a totally faded and green top?....anyway maybe I'll never know.

So thanks again for the opinions. Any other opinions or comments I will appreciate.

I have a question..has any LP experts researched stolen Les Paul going back to it's release? Only because I'm curious if this thing ever belonged to some great old player. The sellers did seem shifty in retrospect.

DavidC
 

Sharky

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after reviewing the pictures today I'd buy a period correct knurled nut for the selector switch and I'd get a good luthier to plug the holes not needed, repair the neck binding, get a refret with medium sized fret wire (or the size you prefere), straighten the PUP rings and play the hell out of it.
 

rialcnis

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I agree it must have been an all gold model originally. So dating it by the lack of serial number isn't going to work. Maybe some cavity shots would help, but I suspect it's later than you think if the neck angle was ok for a TOM bridge setup.

You might be the longest tenured Les Paul owner on the forum - congratulations for having great taste back in the day.

I wouldn't change much on it. I'd be tempted to clean up the pickup routes so the rings sit square, maybe align the tailpiece a little better, and either put a switch or plug in that hole in the top. Frets look pretty flat, might need some new ones after all that playing!

I supposed anything is possible, but i find it hard to believe it was ever all gold. The neck and back always looked original to me But i'll stay open to the idea. I am pretty sure not all. 1952 goldtops were all gold. Weren't two wood combinations available? Weren't the all gold boies a different wood combination? I was told something like that by someone.
 

cmcgov

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Wow. Thanks for all the replies and help. I read replies last night and about 5am I started thinking I should clean it up real good, Straighten out some of the issues suggested and get gold hardware back on it, paint it with the same painting I put on it in 1967, wire it again for stereo and put a phasing knob back on it. (Or a full synth setup.) I wish i'd bought original knobs at far less then todays cost when I first considered it.
I'd do this. If you're going to get new gold hardware, I'd look for vintage correct reproduction pieces or even real vintage. Only things I would change would be the tailpiece, bridge, and studs. But if you like how your guitar sounds now, I wouldn't bother changing it unless the look bothered you. Besides, you may have some real old vintage stuff installed there already since it rings so well. If the tuners are working fine I'd leave those alone as well.

Definitely paint it how it was, and get your wiring set up just how you like it. Besides what you're planning, I'd get three screws for the pick up rings two for the neck, one for the bridge, and a toggle switch back plate (three additional screws needed) and be done.

I'm not a fan of having fret work done or cleaning the fret board, but if it's bothering your playing I'd get some fret dressing done. If tuning issues are becoming a problem your nut or bridge saddles may need to be tended to. Otherwise keep playing it mate.

Some people here are obsessed with having to have every guitar vintage correct in every aspect and restored to its original glory. You don't seem to fit that style of thinking so be wary, it's your guitar. Also, don't sell it.
 




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