NVGD: 1954 Les Paul (Video Added)

jwinger

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Well I've actually had the guitar a couple of months now but anyhow.

This is my first vintage Les Paul standard and I tried a total of 4 on the way to this one. I was using a 54GT replica with original pots and pickups as my benchmark so was only gonna walk away with one that matched or surpassed that guitar, which has been a go-to for many years.

Well, safe to say this guitar managed to do it. It's an absolute belter. An honour to be able to play this thing after listening to Freddie king and Sean Costello growing up and always dreaming of having an original one day.

A hair under 9 lbs, two very well matched p90s and untouched electronics - amazingly the pots are super smooth and even, with no crackles or drop outs anywhere. All other parts original save for a one strap button, which I don't really have any intention of changing - part of the guitars history! Some minor fret wear up in the cowboy chord area but not much. I'm gonna enjoy it for a good while before I think about having the frets levelled out. Neck is lovely - not particularly big at all.

Only things I've done are swap out the old tuners which were functional but a bit stiff, and have the typical stud lean addressed with some full legnth vintage bushing and studs. That necessitated a different wraptail bridge as the original was a thin ear. So I put a mojoaxe on and it now intonates bang on every string. That's the same bridge I have on my replica and I really recommend it for anyway really looking to play a vintage Gibson. Original parts in the lifton case for safe keeping.

Interestingly it sounds noticeably better still with the longer studs and bushings. I guess it's hardly surprising when you see how tiny the originals are - really very littl metal to make contact with the wood and transmit the string vibrations. Can't believe Gibson thought they'd get away with them without issue!!

I should also highlight that the slight loss of paint around the tailpiece bushings was there before the longer ones were put in. I think someone had already had the short ones out to take a look at the leaning issue sometime previously as the luthier who replaced them said someone had glued them in...perhaps they were being pulled up out the body or something, who knows. Or maybe it was simply the leaning of the studs that caused some of that finish to come off...I've seen it on other old goldtops also.

Anyway will do a video Vs the replica in due course but for now here are a few photos to share.







UPDATE: Video Clip

I'll caveat by saying I'm very new to the slide...just recovering from a broken hand at the moment! Anyway, playing it through my 65 Bandmaster into a JBL D120F. A little bit of Jan Ray for drive, which does a decent impression of the Bandmaster cooking but at lowish volumes. Treble pickup tone is on about 6 and neck full up. Just recording through an iPhone mic

 
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Mike I

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Congrats!!

From a guy that has spent years looking at/for a nice 54-56 Goldtop, I salute you for finding "the one" !

It's gorgeous!

Play it in good health! :thumb:
 

jwinger

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Something very interesting I've noticed about these old soapbars, this set in especially...no matter how much gain you hit them with, they still have an underlying clarity that's almost like a clean pickup still and you still hear the guitar and the wood shining through very clearly. I think it's just that most these old p90s are pretty microphonic, even more than old pafs, but it's a really big part of the sound IMO. I wonder if they were always like that or it's a part of the aging process...

Another observation...the thin frets are a part of the sound we associated with these early LPs also. My replica had the thin ones initially. I eventually refretted it with the typical 59 style after I'd worn the originals pretty heavily from circa 6 years of it being used more or less every rehearsal and gig. No regrets as no doubt easier to play and still sounds outstanding, but it changes the sound for sure...a bit fuller and smoother
 
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goldtop0

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Congrats.............a humdinger :applause:
I've got a pair of '52 P90s in my '13 R6 and they're as you describe above.........love the clarity of them compared to humbuckers.
 

Liam

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Johnny,

That looks awesome! Agree entirely about earlier P90s and clarity. I know everyone says the resistances are all over the place, but how far away from 7.6 k is either pickup in that guitar? I think it was a sweet spot. Bridge pickup shimmed up a little? I'm guessing it doesn't have the really short original covers that I have on my '55 GT replica, because there's no gap showing. I am a total fan of the small frets, even though they wear a little faster. I think those guitars are better when you have to work a little harder to play them, part of the character.

I know we both have a bit of a reputation for playing our little hearts out when the opportunity arises, so with that kinship in mind, can I put on record that I AM SO JEALOUS MATE! ;) Totally chuffed for you at the same time of course.

Liam
 

jwinger

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Johnny,

That looks awesome! Agree entirely about earlier P90s and clarity. I know everyone says the resistances are all over the place, but how far away from 7.6 k is either pickup in that guitar? I think it was a sweet spot. Bridge pickup shimmed up a little? I'm guessing it doesn't have the really short original covers that I have on my '55 GT replica, because there's no gap showing. I am a total fan of the small frets, even though they wear a little faster. I think those guitars are better when you have to work a little harder to play them, part of the character.

I know we both have a bit of a reputation for playing our little hearts out when the opportunity arises, so with that kinship in mind, can I put on record that I AM SO JEALOUS MATE! ;) Totally chuffed for you at the same time of course.

Liam
Ha! Cheers mate...so the neck is bang on 7.6...good guess there! The bridge is 8.8k (remeasured today and edited), which is about as hot as I've heard of for an early to mid 50s p90. But zero sign of a rewind...solder and tape untouched at the pickup end and solder not touched at the pot either. Anyway despite the reading it's actually surprisingly similar to the 7.7k p90 I have in the bridge if my replica in tone and output, certainly no less treble bite. The neck in the replica is 7k and probably a bit darker (sweet, delicate and singing clean, but more compressed so doesn't cut quite as much in a mix under higher gain) than the 7.6k one in the original, so the readings can be a bit misleading I guess!

It has the short cover with the cutaway on the bridge you just can't see it with the angles in the photos. Not shimmed, both pickups screwed right down. Poles up a good bit on the bridge p90 to match the output to the neck. More of a snarly tone than shimming the whole thing in my experience with the replica where I ended up doing the same.

I agree on the fret front... definitely part of the character. Make you play different and you really have to commit to a lead part...can bring out the best of you, if you are up for it haha! Despite having the replica refretted, when this one needs it they are getting the small ones on again...
 
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