A Totally Original and Near Mint 1956 Les Paul TV Special
1956 Gibson Les Paul "TV" Special
This mid 1956 12 3/4-inch-wide, 1 3/4 inch deep, solid mahogany bodied guitar weighs just 7.70 lbs. One-piece mahogany neck with a fat nut width of just over 1 11/16 inches, a scale length of 24 3/4 inches and a wonderful thick profile. Bound Brazilian rosewood fretboard with 22 original thin frets and inlaid pearl dot position markers. Headstock with inlaid pearl "Gibson" logo and "Les Paul Special" silk-screened in gold. Single-line Kluson Deluxe strip tuners with white plastic oval buttons. Serial number "612810" inked on in black on the back of the headstock. Two nicely balanced P-90 pickups with outputs of 8.20k and 8.13k. Two black plastic pickup covers, each stamped on the underside "UC-452-B / 2". Five-layer black over white plastic pickguard with four screws. Four controls (two volume, two tone) on lower treble bout, plus three-way pickup selector switch on upper bass horn. Black plastic bell-shaped "Bell" knobs. The potentiometers are stamped: "134 622" (Centralab June 1956). Original combination wrap-over bar bridge/tailpiece with two intonation adjustment screws. This remarkable sixty-three year old 'screamer' is in near-mint (9.25) condition and is one of the cleanest and totally original examples that we have ever seen. There is the bare minimum of belt-buckle rash on the back (nothing through the finish) and a few very small 'dings' on the back and the edges of the body. There are two small 'dings' on the top and a slight scratch (again not through the finish) just south of the bass side of the bridge pickup. The original frets show a small amount of playing wear which is perfectly consistent with some slight finish loss on the treble side of the neck by the first five frets. Otherwise this guitar is as near mint as you could ever wish for, the wheat finish being fresh and unfaded. Complete with the original Gibson tri-folding hang-tag stamped in blue "Les Paul Special", the original orange "Gibson Sonomatic Strings" hang-tag, the original Gibson "Professionals Attention" hang-tag, an original ca.1954 20 page "Gibson Electric Guitars and Amplifiers" catalog, an original brown leather guitar strap and a box of Gibson Sonomatic low E strings (and receipt from 1969). Housed in it's original Gibson three-latch, shaped brown 'aligator' softshell case with brown felt lining (8.75).
"In 1955, Gibson launched the Les Paul TV, essentially a Junior but with a finish that the company referred to variously as 'natural', 'limed oak' and (more often) 'limed mahogany'. Surviving original TV models from the 1950s reveal a number of different colours, with earlier examples tending to a rather turgid beige, while later ones are often distinctly yellow. Today there is much debate about where the model's TV name came from...One such theory says that the TV name was used because the pale colour of the finish was designed to stand out on the era's black-and-white TV screens. This seems unlikely, not least because pro players appearing on television would naturally opt for a high-end model... Others say the guitar followed the look of fashionable contemporary furniture, where the expression 'limed' was used for a particular look. Certainly Gibson promoted the Les Paul TV as being 'the latest in modern appearance'. There's also been a suggestion that 'TV' might be a less than oblique reference to the competing blond-coloured Telecaster made by Fender. But in fact the name was coined to cash in on Les Paul's regular appearances at the time on television on The Les Paul & Mary Ford Show. This was effectively a sponsored daily ad for a toothpaste company, for which the couple signed a $2 million three-year contract in 1953. Gibson reasoned that if you'd seen the man on TV, well, now you could buy his TV guitar. Following a reader's enquiry to Guitar Player in the 1970s, a Gibson spokesman confirmed that 'the Les Paul TV model was so named after Les Paul's personal Listerine show was televised in the 1950s'… In 1955, the original line of Les Paul models was completed with the addition of the Special, effectively a two-pickup version of the Junior, finished in the TV's beige colour (but not called a TV model -- a cause of much confusion since). The Special appeared on the company's September 1955 price list at $182.50" (Tony Bacon, 50 Years of the Gibson Les Paul, pp. 28-29).
The Gibson shipping records show that out of a total of 3,649 Les Paul TV Special (single-cut) models made between 1955 and 1958, and that 1,345 were shipped in 1956.
"Carlos Santana's first album in 1969 featured numerous tracks recorded on a single-cutaway Les Paul Special. John Sebastian also favors an old Special single-cut. Reggae star Bob Marley played a well-worn and refinished Special for many years. Jimi Hendrix's incredible recording of "Voodoo Chile" was done on a single-cutaway Special, accounting for those amazing bends and that thicker Gibson tone he achieved." (Robb Lawrence. The Early Years of the Les Paul Legacy p. 192). (#2120)
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