Sometimes, a vintage guitar waltzes into The Music Zoo that perfectly reminds us why we’re in this crazy racket to begin with. Such a guitar is a 1955 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop currently available on our site, although none of us want to part ways with it. We’re blogging about it not for promotional or sales purposes, but to advance the notion that playing a fantastic guitar with a fantastic amp, fantastically loud, is one of the great things in life, nearly equal to the exhilaration one finds when skiing downhill on a 60-degree incline, or the 90-degree drop of a some modern roller coasters, or pushing a car through the turn, or reeling in a real big fish. Yes, vintage guitars, not to mention non-vintage guitars, are a fun, all-consuming passion that’s safer than daredevil exploits like skiing, Jetskis, motorcycles, speedboats, or eating oysters.
Getting to the point, we recently let the ’55 Goldtop out of its case, plugging it into the great, late ‘70s master volume Marshall combo that we keep in our Gibson Custom showroom. Net result: the beauty of those early, low-winding P-90s and all their bright but warm, grinding, gnarly, gutbucket glory. Such transparency and detail! Warm low end and sharp top-end. These guitars had the most primitive of bridges—just a stopbar wrap-around bridge/tailpiece with nothing whatsoever insofar as individual string compensation or adjustment. But, it was a system that worked and still works, and when you’re lost in amazing tone and the guitar is playing reasonably in tune, who freakin’ cares! It was pure adrenaline and exhilaration.
Another thing about this ’55 Goldtop: it’s in absolutely immaculate, like-new condition. As if, where’s it been sitting all these years kind of condition? While wars were being fought, presidents were impeached, stock market indexes crashed and boomed, movie stars crashed and burned, where was this guitar? We suspect that it’s had very few owners and was never really taken far from the front porch. Not long ago, one of these previous owners had the guitar appraised by vintage expert George Gruhn, who described the guitar as “Pristine, virtually unplayed.” Indeed, it’s rare when a guitar like this comes along and provides such a wonderful experience that all your worldly concerns have floated into the bog—ok, it’s more like an inlet–that your place of employ is situated next to. These are the bellwether guitars that all else should be compared to…reminders of why we love electric guitars…loud! Scroll below to get a closer look at this rare, vintage gem!
Photo Set: Walter Bryant
Written By: Mike Bieber