NVGD: 1956 Les Paul Standard (Formerly the "Poor Man's" One)

WayneLawKid

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So I told myself that I would only buy original, no-issues guitars recently. That lasted until I was trolling gbase late one night I came across a 1954 Les Paul Standard "refin." No breaks or repairs. Original small frets. Body refin with overspray on the neck. Electronics are original (mid 53' Centralab pots). Plastics too, except for the knobs (which look right to me and blacklight correctly) and the switch tip. Tuners are original. Wraptail is a mid-to-late 50's short seam, but not the thin-ear 54' version. Another quirky thing is that the serial number, which appears to be in the correct font albeit smudged, is a 56' serial - "6 3145". It's probably just a restamp when the neck was over sprayed, just with an odd serial. Who knows!?

Anyways, it is a great guitar. Big neck, but not wild (.93/.98). The original frets are very playable. And it growls like it either wants to get into, or just won/lost, a bar fight. Here are a few shots.

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JMP

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Wow! I suppose the definition of “poor man” is relative and subjective. Thanks for sharing the story and photos! Congratulations.
 

WayneLawKid

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I suppose the definition of “poor man” is relative and subjective.

Ha! Yes, it is. Definitely a little tongue and cheek in the title description. But with the cost of an original no-issues example now in the $35k-$45k range, this was most definitely a poorer man's option ;). That probably would have been a more apt title.

And thanks everyone for the congrats! The small frets are definitely a different experience than the late 50's early 60's frets that I'm used to, but that can always be addressed. I'd feel less terrible having it re-fretted knowing its a not a museum piece.
 
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WayneLawKid

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I had my finger on the button on this one, nice!!

Yeah, when I was on the phone to buy it they said they were getting calls to buy while I was in the process of buying. It's a crazy market these days...
 
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WayneLawKid

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What makes it a 54?

That's a great question. I'm not so sure if it's a 54' or 56' that shipped with a wrap tail. And in the spirit of the plot thickening here, when I googled 1956 Les Paul Standard Goldtop wrap tail I came across this auction listing from 2012:


This is that exact guitar. Sold for $22,500 in 2012 as a 1956 and all original - finish and all. That includes the smudged serial and all the telltale wear that is has today. Probably a misinformed seller, and an unsuspecting buyer. But for the life of me, I am having trouble spotting the signs of a refinish. It blacklights uniformly throughout. That includes in the control cavities.

What makes it seem like a 54: Mid-53' pot codes and 1/2 inch barrel knobs (rather than top hats).

What makes it seem like a 56: Serial number, full depth wrap tail (not thin ear) that angles perfectly with the string wear patina, and 4-latch curved top Lifton (without the thermometer bulb head).

I'll post some blacklight photos for fun so you can see what I am seeing. Maybe I'll take it up to Elderly Instruments in Lansing for their take as well.
 
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WayneLawKid

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For those interested, here are some links to YouTube videos of the guitar under blacklight. Apologies for the Zapruder-esque filming style. Trying to steady a blacklight while filming.




 

sws1

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Blacklight can't prove anything in the affirmative (i.e., that it's original finish). It CAN prove the negative, however. In this case, it looks fine.
I would look for someone who has handled many old guitars who knows what an original finish should feel and look like.

You may have lucked out.
 

eric ernest

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I think the body was most certainly refinished, and I think there is a good chance the neck pitch was changed.

I looked at the photos before I read your text. The full-length back shot seems to illustrate two different hues of gold...among other things.

There would need to be an extremely good shot of the fingerboard overlapping the body on both sides to help without an in-hand inspection.

Regardless, it certainly looks like a terrific instrument! :cheers:
 
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WayneLawKid

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There would need to be an extremely good shot of the fingerboard overlapping the body on both sides to help without an in-hand inspection.

Look closely for signs of a removed trapeze TP on the end.

Thanks, Eric! No signs of a former trapeze on the end and no channel route (ala 52' and 53'). As for shots of the side of the fingerboard, let me know if these suffice. The fretboard height is uniformly around 4.5mm across the body, so I'm not seeing any tilting of the neck to increase neck angle relative to the body. But maybe that's not what you're looking for.

Appreciate you taking the time.
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Midnight Blues

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Very, very nice! Congrats, HNVGTD :jam: and play her in good health!
 

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