Gibson Les Paul Special Solid Body Electric Guitar (1957)

Gibson  Les Paul Special Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1957)
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Item # 11698
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Gibson Les Paul Special Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1957), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 7-0836, limed mahogany finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, black hard shell case.

This is a well-worn "real relic" of an early 1957 single-cutaway Les Paul Special, showing many signs of use including an old headstock repair but still in excellent playing condition just over 65 years on. The features are typical of this first variant of the model with a light "limed mahogany" finish on the body and neck, two powerful P-90 pickups with black plastic "soapbar" covers, black bonnet knobs, a multi-ply beveled-edge black celluloid pickguard and the nickel-plated bar bridge/tailpiece assembly. The headstock carries a pearl Gibson logo and silkscreen "Les Paul Special" designation on the face and mounts repro plastic-button Kluson Deluxe strip tuners. The finish overall is a subtle darker banana shade; there are many variations in these.

Although 1957 was the peak production year for this model less than 1500 were shipped out, which is not a huge total even for the 1950s. The LP Special is not nearly as common as the single pickup LP Junior, which sold over 3500 units that year in sunburst and "TV" finishes. These single cutaway Specials are much solider in construction (especially at the neck heel) than the double-cutaway version introduced in late 1958, and many find the sound more pleasing as well.

At 8.15 Lbs. this is lighter than many of these and handles perfectly. While not 100% original with a visible headstock repair this is still a great player's instrument, with the sound and vibe completely intact suitable for everything from rampaging Rock'n'Roll to raw blues and even twangin' country. As the iconic Gibson solidbodies from the 1950's become ever more desirable the original Special still represents the greatest value in a "Golden Era" Les Paul; this one more so than many if a fully giggable "genuine relic" is desired.
Overall length is 39 1/4 in. (99.7 cm.), 13 in. (33 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.)., 8.15 lbs.

This guitar is far from pristine but still great looking with a killer vibe, a very fine player that wears its scars proudly. The most obvious is a solid but fully visible headstock repair, sealed up and sanded lightly but not finished over. The break was the typical "smile" pattern through the treble side of the throat which went to the face but not through; the head was not detached. The repair is very old and VERY solid, with pegs set in from both sides as was often the custom long ago. It was sanded smooth but no attempt was made to refinish the area, so the serial number is completely intact. The tuners are later correct style Kluson repros (something else was on for a time) and the truss rod cover is also a repro.

The finish on the rest of the guitar is beautifully aged with some checking and crazing; there are dings, dents and chips scattered around, most notably on the body edges. The back of the neck has some feelable small dinks, but nothing too serious with one deeper spot at the 14th fret on the treble side. The back of the body has some deeper dings and belt buckle scuffing mostly into but not through the finish. The top was neatly signed by Les Paul in marker decades ago; later on he refused to sign guitar tops and would only mark the pickguard! At some point something was taped over this leaving some small marks on the finish.

The pickups and wiring are nearly all original; just the bass side tone cap is later; the switch tip and the black plastic jackplate are repros. The pickguard, knobs, bridge and switch ring are all original. The guitar was very professionally refretted long ago with wire a bit larger than the original thin 1957 style, the nut is replaced as well. This helps make this Special an excellent player with the expected killer sound; even not plugged in it really rings.

We were told this Special was bought 30 or so years ago (in this exact condition) from local NY dealer "Stevie Sunrise" whose Sunrise Guitars on long Island was a haven for old electrics of every stripe and Les Pauls in particular. Steve passed on some years back, so this story was a nice reminder of those far off days. Overall Very Good Condition.