The evolution of the Les Paul: how Gibson’s single-cut design developed from 1952 to 1978

Gibson Les Paul Standard
(Image credit: Future)

The Gibson Les Paul was launched in 1952 with a multi-section maple top, mahogany body and neck. Gold-finished top (a few had gold back and sides also), twin soapbar P-90s, trapeze tailpiece. Shallow-angle neck-set means strings have to wrap under bridge, preventing palm muting, to make setup geometry work – turning a good bridge design into a flawed one. 

Shallow neck-set also made later conversion to stopbar tailpiece or Tune-o-matic problematic. Single-ply cream binding – though very earliest models omit neck binding. Single-ring Kluson tuners with no brand name. Tall ‘barrel’ control knobs. Silk-screen ‘Les Paul Model logo on headstock’. 

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Jamie Dickson

Jamie Dickson is Editor-in-Chief of Guitarist magazine, Britain's best-selling and longest-running monthly for guitar players. He started his career at the Daily Telegraph in London, where his first assignment was interviewing blue-eyed soul legend Robert Palmer, going on to become a full-time author on music, writing for benchmark references such as 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and Dorling Kindersley's How To Play Guitar Step By Step. He joined Guitarist in 2011 and since then it has been his privilege to interview everyone from B.B. King to St. Vincent for Guitarist's readers, while sharing insights into scores of historic guitars, from Rory Gallagher's '61 Strat to the first Martin D-28 ever made.