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Les Paul Custom, ’58

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Ebony, Serial # 8 3775.

The Gibson Les Paul Custom was introduced at the Chicago NAMM show in July of 1954. It was marketed as a lavish higher grade version of the popular Les Paul Model. Part of the luxury treatment was the use of the split diamond pearl headstock inlay previously reserved only for the Super 400. The headstock and one-piece mahogany body also received sumptuous multi-ply binding. The fingerboard borrowed the ebony with pearl block inlays scheme of an L-5. The Custom was also the first Les Paul to receive the innovative Tune-O-matic Bridge, which allowed for individual string intonation. While originally coming with a bridge P-90 and an Alnico V “staple” neck pickup, the Custom received an up-grade of three humbucking pickups by late 1957. The description in the 1958 Gibson catalog reads: “Here is the ultimate in a solid body Gibson Electric Spanish Guitar – players rave about its extremely low, smooth frets and easy playing action, call it the ‘Fretless Wonder.’ Now with three humbucking, adjustable pickups, this new and improved ‘Les Paul Custom’ guitar has increased power, greater sustaining and a clear, resonant, sparkling tone, with the widest range of tonal colorings. Finished in solid ebony color for rich contrast with the gold-plated metal fittings.”

 

The 1958 Les Paul Custom pictured has the usual appointments for that year including: three gold-plated “Patent Applied For” humbucking pickups (middle pickup factory wound out-of-phase) , gold-plated Grover Roto-Matic tuners (replacing Kluson Super tuners that year),  a gold ABR-1 bridge  and stop tailpiece, and 22 smooth flat frets on a 24 and ¾” scale ebony fingerboard.   Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Danny Gatton are a few artists known to favor a 3-pickup Custom at one time.

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