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"Due in part to their intense adoration and collectability, Les Paul guitars are some of the most faked items in the music world. This is especially true of their early 1952 Goldtop models which, unlike the late 1952 models, were not engraved or marked with serial numbers."





The Gibson company unveiled the original Les Paul guitar in the summer of 1952. Les Paul, a gifted and world renown Jazz and Rock musician, endorsed the guitar himself. The electric guitar features, among other things, a solid mahogany body, raised pick guard, and an arch top. And the distinct sound of the Gibson Les Paul helped shape the future of rock and roll. The guitar's intense popularity has also lead to a number of different imitators, counterfeits, and knock-offs, which means that it is very important to inspect one thoroughly before purchasing.

The original "Goldtop" Les Pauls are extremely sought after and collected, but the later models and versions of the instrument are heavily cherished as well. The second issue of the guitar, Les Paul Custom, was released to the public in 1954 and since then, Gibson hasn't looked back. There are over twenty different Les Paul models made by the company. Most are upgrades of the original, while others are signature models. Many different musicians have custom Les Paul guitars named after them as well, with each one reflecting, to a small extent, the particular artist's playing style and sound. There are also Les Pauls made by Ephiphone, a Gibson owned company, that feature a different body and less details. These guitars, while quality pieces, are much cheaper and generally considered inferior to the original Gibsons.

If you come across a Gibson Les Paul guitar in a shop or at auction and are unsure of its make or model or just need to challenge the authenticity of one, the easiest way to do this is by referencing the item's serial number. It can be located on the back of the headstock and checked against Gibson's complete serial number database. Using the Gibson database, you should be successful in determining the model and year of the instrument in question.

Due to Gibson's varying processes of dating their early Les Pauls, getting information from the serial number alone may be difficult for some. A thorough visual exam is the next best bet. All of the Les Paul guitars have slight differences that range from hardware accessories to color or shape. Knowledgeable collectors should be able to look over an instrument while comparing it to various models. This method is also the first step for anyone who is determining whether or not the guitar is a fake.

If the guitars serial number has been rubbed off or has become unreadable with age, inspect the instrument's truss cover. Gibson engraved many of the custom and standard Les Pauls in this area, clearly defining what they were. Unfortunately, the truss rod covers are easily replaced and therefore not always reliable. However, the absence of Gibson's engraving on model's that would normally have one is a clear denotation of a recent restoration of the instrument or a fake.

Due in part to their intense adoration and collectability, Les Paul guitars are some of the most faked items in the music world. This is especially true of their early 1952 Goldtop models which, unlike the late 1952 models, were not engraved or marked with serial numbers. Counterfeiters attempt to create exact copies of these guitars so that they can be sold for huge profits to unknowing and unsuspecting victims. There are hundreds of disappointed collectors who have been taken advantage of after purchasing fake Les Pauls.

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Another important item to watch out for when inspecting or purchasing a Gibson Les Paul guitar are any potential modifications that have been made to the instrument. Many people made unfortunate modifications and changes to their authentic Les Pauls, essentially rendering them as worthless as the counterfeits. Pay close attention to the neck and body of the guitar and look for color variations and lines in the wood grain. It is also important to remember to only allow licensed professionals to make repairs to your authentic Les Paul, as inferior work could lead to irreversible and worth-affecting damage.

If your aren't successful in determining your Gibson's authenticity, make, or model after checking the serial number and visual comparisons then one final option may work for you. Have the instrument examined by a reputable specialist or expert. A professional musician and Les Paul expert can be located in the phone book or online, just be sure and check their credentials thoroughly beforehand. You may have to compensate the specialist for their time and resources, but in the end you will be left with the knowledge of your particular guitar's authenticity, make, and model. A small price to pay for complete peace of mind.









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