Gibson Les Paul Special Solid Body Electric Guitar (1956)

Gibson  Les Paul Special Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1956)
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Item # 12220
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Gibson Les Paul Special Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1956), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 613918, limed mahogany finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, original brown hard shell case.

This is a nicely worn-in but original example of the classic 1956 single-cutaway Les Paul Special, a "real relic" showing numerous genuine signs of use and one small typical repair but in overall in excellent playing shape for 60+ years on. It still resides in the original pink-lined brown hard shall case, which is a considerable collector piece in itself since it also is correct for higher-end Les Paul Standard models.

The features are typical of the first variant of this model with a dark-yellowish "limed mahogany" finish on the body and neck, two powerful P-90 pickups with black plastic covers, black bonnet knobs, a multi-ply beveled-edge black celluloid pickguard, and the nickel-plated bar bridge/tailpiece assembly. The headstock carries the pearl Gibson logo and silkscreen "Les Paul Special" designation. The original wiring is complete and intact including the much-loved "bumblebee" capacitors.

Although 1956 was a comparatively high production year for this model, only a total, of 1345 were shipped out of Kalamazoo. The LP Special is not nearly as common as the single pickup LP Junior, which sold over 3,000 that year alone. These single cutaway Specials are much more solid in construction than the double-cutaway version introduced later in the decade; many find the handling and sound more pleasing as well. This is simply a great all-around guitar, suitable for everything from rampaging Rock'n'Roll to hard blues and even twangy country. As the iconic Gibson solid bodies from the ever-longer-ago 1950s become more venerable, the original single-cutaway Special represents perhaps the greatest value in a "Golden Era" Les Paul and this one has vibe to spare.
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.).

This guitar is beautifully well-worn overall but remains very original, showing quite a bit of honest play wear overall. The repair noted above is not an ongoing structural issue but visible. The stop tailpiece bushing on the treble side leaned forward a bit and caused a chip of wood to push upwards from the body wood between the stud and the pickup. This is a very common situation on older Specials and Juniors, particularly earlier examples. It has been repaired solidly but visibly, not touched up or sprayed over and causes no playing issues. For some reason there is an extra layer of cream paint just around the edge of the control cavity under the cover (just the upper edge, not the cavity itself).

The TV Yellow finish remains completely original showing noticeable checking overall and quite a bit of play wear, especially the body edges and the back of the neck, which is worn down to the wood over part of its length. The lacquer has retained the attractive "limed" dark yellow patina, darkened a bit but not looking too heavily "smoked". The electronics are all original with untouched solder joints and the capacitors in fine fettle. The black jack plate is a metal replacement; nearly all of the original thin plastic ones have been broken by now.

The hardware appears all original including the lightweight stop tailpiece and the Kluson Deluxe tuners. Everything shows general wear but nothing out of the ordinary. The guitar has been refretted with somewhat taller wire than the original thin mid-'50s style but these show only very light wear and play very well. Despite the wear (or to some because of it) this is a superbly attractive, great sounding Les Paul well played in and ready to go for the next 60 years. It is housed in the original pink-lined, 5-latch brown hard shell case with some wear but in quite solid shape, which is a sought-after piece in itself. Overall Very Good + Condition.