The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Gibson Les Paul Signature Thinline Gold Top, 1973

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Introduced during 1973 and built until 1979 – the Norlin era – the Gibson Les Paul Signature Thinline Gold Top, is a rarity, and as a guitar has never been re-issued in any form. We have seen in-person one other example, during the 1980s, in The Twelfth Fret repair shop. Approximately 1,400 Gold Top models were built, and under 100 in Sunburst. It was also available as a bass.

This model uses the construction of an ES-335, but its asymmetrical body has approximately the top half of a 335 and the bottom half of a Les Paul. The design, while unusual, works pretty well from both visual and practical perspectives. The body is Maple laminate with a Maple center block, and the neck is 3-piece Maple with a Volute and bound Indian Rosewood fingerboard.  The headstock tilt-back is around 14 degrees, milder than Gibson’s now-standard 17 degree tilt. 

Where the Gibson Les Paul Signature really differs is in its electronics which show a strong influence from Les Paul himself. The pickups are low impedance, and the guitar has two output jacks, one on the top and one on the side. The side jack is a TRS type for balanced low impedance, while the top jack is a standard TS type for high impedance, converted via an internal transformer. The controls include a standard 3-way pickup selector, master volume and tone controls, plus a phase (in/out) switch and a three-position rotary output level selector marked 50, 200 and 500. Position 50 seems to provide the fullest output, the 200 increases midrange and treble with reduced fundamental, while 500 emphasizes treble and reduced mids and fundamentals. This is not quite like the Varitone switch found on some ES-345 and 355 models – there is no choke. These pickups are made to be clean, clear and crisp.

There is a bit of uncertainty as to the precise date of this Gibson Les Paul Signature. Its serial number is very faint and we’ve approximated the last two digits. Below the serial number is an equally faint ‘MADE IN USA’ stamp. The serial as read indicates 1971 or 1972 in Kalamazoo, but this model was introduced in 1973 so it would be an early example. The ‘Harmonica’ tune-o-matic bridge and stop tailpiece combination appeared in 1971, and is original. The creme plastic pickup covers have molded Gibson logos, mentioned in the Gruhn Guide as appearing in 1974, however other 1973 examples also have these covers. The pickguard is missing, but the rest of the guitar – except for the frets – appears to be original. The finish shows wear from being used as intended, and the shaft of the B tuner is slightly bent though the tuner itself works smoothly.

This guitar has been heavily played, and somewhere over the years it was re-fretted; the current frets extend to the outer edge of the binding, and are fairly low.

The Gibson Les Paul Signature is comfortable to play and its geometry brings to mind the 1961 Epiphone Casino, which had its neck joint at the 16th fret. This moves the first fret closer to the body, so low position playing is an easy reach.

A black hard shell case is included.


 

 

Price: $6,000.00 CAD
  • Model: Les Paul Signature
  • Year: 1973
  • Finish Gold Top
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: 120406, dating to around 1973 in Kalamazoo Michigan
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 10/06/2022

  • Consignment Item

  • Including Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 8.008lbs 3.64kg
  • Scale Length: 628.6mm 24.75in
  • Nut Width: 43.48mm 1.711in
Gibson Website

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