The Gibson Goldtop, ie “Les Paul Number 1”, not because it was Gibson Les Paul’s first electric guitar, but because it was his “benchmark” guitar in the 1950s, sold this week at Christie’s Auction House for $ 930,000. It was also, according to Gene Paul, the son of Les Paul, guitar “the legendary inventive guitarist continued to polish and modify after receiving it from Gibson”.
This story on CBS Sunday Morning from last weekend will give you a good look at the instrument made by Kalamazoo. It meant everything to Paul, according to his son, Gene.
“It was his crowning glory. It was thirty years of experimenting, his dream and his obsession with Gibson to do it.”
(CBS Sunday morning)
It was, like Mary’s guitar, made by Gibson with custom wiring requested by Paul but now with a linked fingerboard that would be standard on all Les Paul models in the future. Unlike the Gibson Les Paul models sold to the public, the current guitar was only equipped with a single master volume control and a single tone control. The output jack which is located on the face of the body also deviates from Gibson’s standard design. This last demand from Paul was to mitigate the danger of unplugging his output jack on stage. Paul would later have claimed that this instrument was the first one that suited him and that he answered all his ideas about what an electric guitar should be and led him to nickname it his “Number One”. – Test on the Christie’s auction house lot
(Tom Doyle via YouTube)
According to reverb.com, it’s not the most expensive guitar sold at auction, but given its history and connection to Kalamazoo, it is important.
A glimpse of the Kalamazoo Heritage Guitar Factory where music history was made
Heritage Guitar Factory, which was the Gibson Guitar Factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan