Here is a vintage 1955 Gibson Les Paul Custom “Black Beauty” electric guitar. This particular example, serial number 5 5327, was recently purchased from the original owner’s daughter and remains 100% all original and absolutely complete with every original accessory, including: the original Gibson hangtag with model stamp, original store price tag, original vintage black strap, original 4-latch Lifton black case with key. With no structural nor originality issues, this guitar is perfectly intact with all original parts. It is very clean, with only minimal evidence of wear. At a premium price of $675 for the guitar and $155 for the case in 1955, the Gibson Les Paul Custom was Gibson’s most high-end Electric Spanish Solidbody product, and with approximately less than 1,000 total AlNiCo/P-90 Les Paul Customs ever shipped, makes this model a rather rare find in such well-preserved and uncirculated condition. Interestingly, though AlNiCoV Les Paul Custom is quite scarce, surprisingly, many guitar Gods have enlisted it’s prowess, including; Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Paul Kossoff. Interestingly, all of the aforementioned players have been photographed with a ’55 Les Paul Custom, while Pete Townsend actually used a ’56.
Serial Number: 5 5327
Weight: 8 lbs. 9 oz.
Pickup Measurements: AlNiCoV- 8.21Ω, P-90- 7.99Ω
Introduced in 1954 per Les Paul’s request for a more sophisticated Tuxedo-appointed model, whence the “Black Beauty” designation, and re-configured to the more commonly associated 3-P.A.F. configured version in 1957, the AlNiCoV/P-90 L.P. Custom was produced for a mere 3-year period. In 1955, only 355 Les Paul Customs were shipped, and with production estimated at a little under 1,000 total instruments, this model is decidedly more rare than a Burst, which was also in production for the same amount of time.
This ’55 Gibson Les Paul Custom features: a 1-piece Mahogany double-bound body with a hand-carved Mahogany top, a 1-piece Mahogany neck, a bound Ebony fingerboard with Mother of Pearl (MOP) block inlays, a bound headstock/peghead with a Mother of Pearl split diamond inlay (like a Super 400), Kluson “Waffle-Back” tuning machines with (intact!) celluloid plastic keystone buttons, a (2) pickup configuration consisting of a single P-90 pickup in the bridge position and the Seth Lover designed AlNiCoV pickup in the neck position, a (no-wire) tune-o-matic compensated bridge, a lightweight wrap around tailpiece with studs, a 4-ply (b/w/b/w) laminated black pickguard, gold hardware, original Lifton 4-latch case with black exterior and yellow interior, an original Gibson black leather strap, original vintage string pouch, original hangtag, original dealer’s store price tag, and original Excelsior case key.
As mentioned, this particular example is in very excellent, 100% all original condition. It displays superficial playing wear, with more evidence of case/storage distress than actual playing hours. There are 2 significant dings on the top, neither of which are through the Ebony (Black) nitrocellulose lacquer finish, though otherwise, there is not much playing wear nor dings on the back of the body. There is the usual isolated playing wear on the back of the neck in the first and third positions, revealing the Mahogany wood beneath the finish, but the bound headstock is intact and extremely crisp. It presents very nicely, and the subtle mojo combined with the light weather-checking really enhances the overall vintage appeal.
It is extremely light weight, 8 lbs. 7 oz. (less than 8.5 pounds) which is not always the case, and it feels incredible. The neck profile is large, and the soft C-shape is highly ergonomic, resulting in a super comfortable neck with easy playability, Though these notorious “fretless wonders” aren’t too conducive to modern playing incorporating string bending, the original small frets sure make it easy for everything else. The string-height can be reduced to mere millimeters above the 12th fret if desired, which is a fantastic feeling for heavy chord playing. The sound of the AlNiCoV pickup, also used on concurrently produced high-end Gibson jazz guitars, is really beautiful. It’s rich with significant output, and actually nicely complements the traditionally fantastic P-90.
The overall package is highly attractive, as it would be difficult to find a more intact example including such an extensive assortment of original ephemera.