gibson les paul standard 50s gold top

Mastering the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top

The Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top holds a distinct place in the annals of music history, a formidable blend of elegance, craftsmanship, and sheer sonic power. Not only a marvel of engineering but a testament to the era that birthed rock ‘n’ roll. This piece aims to offer enthusiasts an in-depth understanding of this iconic guitar. We are delving not only into its history and the role it played in shaping the music industry but also investigating the particulars of its design and features, all followed by practical advice on playing and maintaining this iconic guitar. Let’s embark on this journey to appreciate this stunning piece of musical art.

Historical Background of Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top

Origins of Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top

The Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top was conceptualized and brought into existence in the 1950s, a period characterized by a wealth of innovation in electric guitar design. The man behind the guitar, Lester William Polsfuss, commonly known as Les Paul, was renowned for his remarkable playing style and his innovations that influenced electric guitar manufacturing. Teaming up with the Gibson Guitar Corporation, Les Paul aimed to create an instrument that not only presented a spectacular aesthetic but also delivered an edge in the music industry.

The Instrument’s Design

The Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top was a union of bold aesthetics and meticulously crafted design features aimed at improving tonal output and playability. The body was made of solid mahogany, renowned for its warm tone, and was topped with a maple cap. The combination of these two kinds of wood was meant to balance out the tonal properties, i.e., mahogany’s deep resonant tone with maple’s brighter and punchy output.

The 50s Gold Top had a neck made of mahogany with a rosewood fretboard, which added to the instrument’s overall tonal warmth. The guitar also featured unique P-90 single-coil pickups that gave it a distinct sound, separating it from its competitors and making it a favorite amongst many blues and rock guitarists. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of this guitar was the Gold Top finish, which added to its appeal and set it apart in a market teeming with sunburst and natural finishes.

Significance in the Music Industry

The Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top promptly made its mark upon its release. It was a revolutionary design in a period where Fender’s Telecaster and Stratocaster models mainly dominated the industry. It provided guitarists with a new pallet of sounds to explore and implement in their music creation process, with its unique sonic output generated by the P-90 pickups.

Moreover, this model became associated with numerous iconic musicians who adopted it as their primary instrument. This increased the guitar’s visibility and popularity even further, cementing its position in the pantheon of classic electric guitars. A myriad of legendary acts from Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin to Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top were seen wielding the Gold Top, significantly contributing to its fame.

Contributions of Les Paul

While the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top was already a groundbreaking instrument on its own, the significance of Les Paul’s contributions to its development cannot be ignored. Les Paul was not only an innovator but also a notable guitarist. His talents lent credibility and authenticity to the instrument, and he became the face of Gibson’s marketing strategy. He used the guitar during performances, thus providing a live demonstration of the capabilities of the instrument.

A Deeper Look

The Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top is more than just a guitar; it’s a significant piece of musical history that embodies an era of remarkable innovation. Design features that influence its rich and powerful tonal output, along with its striking aesthetic appeal, have left a lasting impression on the landscape of electric guitars. Its association with legendary musicians and its continued popularity amongst enthusiasts and hobbyists testify to its enduring legacy in the music industry.

Photo of a Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top guitar

Photo by nicklaz21 on Unsplash

Features and Specifications of the Guitar

The Aesthetic and Design Narrative

Recognized for its unique aesthetic and design, the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top is an iconic instrument. It features the timeless “Gold Top” finish, symbolizing the influential golden age of rock and roll. Crafted with a solid mahogany body with a maple top, the guitar shares an excellent fusion of warmth and brightness in its tone. Its mahogany neck, fashioned with a more substantial, rounded ’50s-style profile, adds to the retro feel providing a comfortable grip that makes it as hands-on pleasing as it is to the ear.

Hardware and Construction

The construction of the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top contributes significantly to the instrument’s tone and playability. The guitar is crafted with the traditional hand-scalloped, double-carved top and neck. The fretboard is made out of rosewood, featuring 22 frets and acrylic trapezoid inlays. The hardware includes vintage deluxe tuners with keystone buttons, providing stability and classic style. It also sports an ABR-1 Tune-o-Matic bridge and a stop bar tailpiece to secure the strings and improve sustain.

Pickups and Electronics

The electronics of the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top are designed to capture the guitar’s tonal nuances accurately. The guitar includes dual BurstBucker pickups (BurstBucker 1 in the neck and BurstBucker 2 in the bridge). These pickups are patterned after the legendary PAF humbucker pickups that Gibson refined throughout the late 1950s. These pickups produce a classic, full-bodied tone with rich midrange and solid lows. The 4-knob control layout (2 volume and 2 tone) combined with a 3-way pickup selector provides a wide range of tone control options.

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Sound and Performance

In terms of sound, the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top delivers a powerful, resonant tone that is ideal for various music genres. The solid mahogany body and maple top contribute to the guitar’s warm and bright tonal quality while the BurstBucker pickups add a touch of vintage appeal. Whether you are playing blues, rock, or jazz, this guitar’s rich and full-bodied tone can accommodate you. The 50s neck profile offers an excellent feel that harks back to the guitar’s roots, appealing to players who are after that classic Gibson feel and sound.

Introduction to Versatility and Usability

The ability of the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top to offer an incredible range of sound profiles makes it a standout choice for live performances, rehearsals, and studio sessions. It is meticulously built to endure the rough and tumble of an on-the-road lifestyle while providing a comfortable fit for extended periods of play. The classic Gold Top finish not only enhances its visual appeal but also serves as an inspiration for music lovers. This guitar perfectly meshes a retro look with the precision of the latest engineering techniques, providing guitar aficionados and amateur musicians with a resilient and iconic musical tool.

The Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top guitar in a stunning gold finish with a classic design.

Playing and Maintenance Guide

Gaining a Deeper Understanding of the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top

To truly appreciate the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top, you need to familiarize yourself with its unique properties and learn how to handle it carefully. This legendary guitar is best known for producing a wide array of warm, velvety tones, largely due to its solid mahogany body, distinctive flamed maple cap, and iconic golden color. On top of that, it comes equipped with PAF-style Burstbucker 1 and 2 pickups, which add a modern twist to its classic sound profile.

Playing Techniques

The technique and style of playing the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top tend to vary from the usual playing style. The guitar best serves for bluesy bends and meaty hard rock riffs as the frets allow for smooth slides and firm grips. The humbucker pickups are another vital feature that affects playing techniques. They’re known for their ability to cancel hum and produce a thicker, fuller sound compared to single-coil pickups.

When using a pick, aim to hold it loosely for increased fluidity and flexibility. This guitar benefits from varied dynamics, so try to mix up your playing with both soft and hard strumming attacks.

Setup Guide

To get the most out of your Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top, it’s essential to keep it correctly set up. Start with ensuring the guitar neck is correctly aligned. You can do this by adjusting the truss rod. If your guitar buzzes or is hard to play, it may be due to a problem with neck alignment. Follow this by optimizing the action, which affects the distance between the strings and the fretboard. You can adjust the action by altering the height of the bridge.

Ensure the Intonation is correctly set. This can be done by comparing the fretted note at the 12th fret to its corresponding open note. If these are not the same, you could adjust the saddle’s position.

Guitar Maintenance

Maintaining your guitar well means it will play better and last longer. Regularly clean your instrument with a dry lint-free cloth, paying special attention to the fingerboard and frets very gently with special fret cleaner or soap and water.

Restring your guitar every few months, or more frequently if you’re playing regularly. Moisture and dirt from your fingers can build up on the strings and degrade their quality over time. While the strings are off, take the opportunity to clean the fretboard as these areas are otherwise difficult to reach.

Troubleshooting Tips

Sometimes your Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top might give you some trouble. If you’re hearing a buzzing sound, the problem could come from loose hardware, poor setup, or fret problems.

If you’re having trouble getting any sound at all, the first check should be your cables and equipment. If all is okay, the issue could be an electrical one, likely with your pickups. Professional inspection and repair may be necessary as these issues can be complex.

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Description: A close-up image of a Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top guitar, showcasing its beautiful gold finish and flamed maple top.


After diving into the intriguing history of the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Gold Top, examining its structure and unique features, and understanding the nuances of playing and maintaining this instrument, it becomes clear that this instrument is much more than just a guitar. It is an eloquent expression and representation of music history that resonates with every note it produces. Armed with this knowledge and appreciation, the relationship between you, the player, and your instrument deepens, enhancing each musical endeavor you embark on. As a final note, always remember to treat this guitar with the respect and care it deserves, honoring its rich historical roots as you continue to make your history with it.