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Gold (not goldtop) Les Paul Authenticity Suspicion


coffeecupman
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Hi Guys,

 

I bought this Les Paul last week on ebay, and was rather excited about this model and finish. Here was the blurb in the listing:

 

"Early 80's Gibson Les Paul Custom in a very rare run of 50 guitars. There have only been a few of these that have come on the market. This guitar is not mint but in normal wear condition for its vintage. In addition to the serial number, there is a small plate indicating this was number 9 of the total run. All gold finish on front, back and neck. Usual greening of the gold finish typical of this era. Frets and action are in great shape. Still lots of life left in the frets, no need for any work. Has the usual few scratches, nicks, etc but is a great playing guitar. I am including two sets of pickups with this guitar. It had a 1979 T Top humbucker in the neck and a 81 T Top in the bridge when I acquired the guitar. I put in my favorite set of Seymour Duncan JB humbuckers in it and both sets are included with the guitar. I get 9lbs 14 oz. on my scale. Pretty typical for this era. Has the original case. See pictures for condition. Works fine and could use some of the edge covering to be glued down but I leave that up to you."

 

I know the pickups aren't orginal on this one - I don't care about that.

 

It was only after I bought it that I noticed that the serial number appears to be painted over on the back of the headstock, which to me pretty much means this is a refinish job. I thought it could have been legit since it looks like the harvest gold or goldburst finish, and it seemed logical that they might have done a few of these during that same period.

 

I couldn't find any information anywhere on a limited run of 50 gold Lesters, but any search for gold and Lesters obviously gives you a mountain of gold top keyword spam.

 

The "Reg No" plate on the back of the headstock - has anyone seen this type of language for limited Gibson runs before?

 

Also, on the back of the headstock pic, you can see where there have been dings that go through the paint. This also shows what appear to be prior paint coats, but I'm unsure if that was a primer layer for the gold finish. Anyone with a beat up goldburst/Harvest Gold LP that can confirm that they've got a similar undercoat?

 

I have more pictures but apparently I've got a 500K global upload quota. Maybe I'll get to add more in another post below this...

 

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I do remember all Gold Les Pauls, but from recent times, last 10 years or so, maybe turn of the century. I do not remember any all Gold Les Pauls back then, but that doesn't mean much. The paint does look funny, and that Reg. No. 9 isn't something I've ever seen before, but that doesn't mean much.

 

rct

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Gibson made one, in 1980 as a (rare) custom finish (only 50 produced), of the LP Custom.

 

Reverb had one, for sale, on their site, at one time.

 

Does your's have a volute, on the back of the headstock? If so, it may be one of those

50? You could try calling Gibson CS, and see if they can match the serial number, with

their records. IF the electronic's (pots, etc.) are original, you could check those for

dates, as well. Although...your's has the more current "horn" shape, whereas my 1980,

and most Customs around that time, had a more "pointed" horn shape. ??? Your's and

mine do have the same model/style turners, however.

 

My 1980 LP Custom, is in "Cherry Burst!" Never seen the little "tag" you're

referring to, under the serial number. Could have been put there, by Gibson, by a

dealer, or even the original owner, for some reason??

 

Good Luck!

 

 

CB

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Hi Guys,

 

Charlie, it does have a volute.

 

What's continuing to freak me out is that the serial number looks painted over. It's not readable. Is it even possible that one left the Gibson factory like that? I'm getting cold feet that there's been some fakery going on here.

 

 

Well, the neck and headstock COULD have been refinished? But, until you talk to Gibson, I wouldn't give up, yet on it

being a "real" Gibson LP Custom, if that helps any??? Check the pots, and see what their dates are. It had (before the

pickup change) the right kind of T-Top pickups, for LP Custom's of that era. Unless you paid an extra premium, for the

"all Gold" finish, the most important thing (IMHO) is whether or not, the guitar is solid, plays and sounds Great! My

experience is that 1980 or "Norlin" era Gibson's don't command nearly the prices, that pre-Norlin, or even post Norlin

era guitars do, in the Vintage/Used market. There were some Great guitars made, back then...and, some "dogs" too. I

was lucky, I guess, in that my 2 Norlin era LP's (1976 Deluxe, and '80 LP Custom) are both really nice guitars...heavy

as a anvil, but great playing and sounding instruments, none the less. Oh, and the serial number being lightly indented,

is not that unusual. Frustrating, for sure, but not unheard of.

 

Edit: I noticed it has the "Made in USA" indent, as well, midway between the tuning machines.

Mine does not have THAT. But my serial number indent is very shallow/light! So, with the thicker

Gold paint, that could have been a problem?

 

Hope you get the answers you need, from Gibson, before you make a decision, on keeping or returning it.

 

Good Luck!

 

CB

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The fact that the paint is over the serial number indents shouldn't really bother you as that was often done. I am a little surprised at the "Made In USA" as I thought that only came in much later years, but the volute and the correct pickups from the era would seem to negate that.

 

I am not an expert on Norlin era LPs, but from what I can see in your photos everything looks OK. As CB says the main thing is that is plays and sounds good - and if it does then I don't think you've been fooled in any way.

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I hadn't heard about this particular '50-off' run but everything appears legit to me.

 

'Made in USA' was stamped into the head from '70-'75 and from '77-on so that's fine.

Volute was a feature up to circa '81 so that's fine.

Serial number is stamped into the wood before painting and if the coating is thick the number can be hard to read so that's fine.

Everything else hardware-wise (p'ups duly mentioned) seems fine too.

 

The pearloid number? Haven't seen that exact pattern but I have seen other limited-run Gibsons with (usually oval) perloid plaques with the number of the run marked thereon so my guess is that's an original Gibson fitment. I could well be wrong but if it were my guitar I'd have no trouble accepting it as being 100% 'correct'.

 

Pip.

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EDIT: In the last few hours, I have found out that fraudlent guitars isn't as simple as I thought. I will let someone with a better trained eyes than mine decide, so I don't make you believe this is real judged by me. However I will leave this information, for other to see and compare in a quote:

 

 

I believe what you got there is a 1980 Gibson Les Paul Custom All Gold nr. 9 of 50.

 

Here is the one on reverb.com just for reference.

 

And you know what, all the details matches. The square pearloid plaque, the color and the black and white stripes on the edge, the tuners, the volute and everything, except the pickups (these were originally two Tim Shaws pick-ups dated 1979). Judging by the picture of your guitar, it also have the same first digit as the reverb.com guitar. Only that one says number 23 on the plaque. But here you can decide for yourself.

 

https://reverb.com/item/39050-gibson-les-paul-custom-custom-shop-1980-all-gold

 

The guitar dater project says this about the reverb guitar:

 

Your guitar was made at the

Kalamazoo Plant, MI, USA

on March 5th, 1980

Production Number: 107

 

 

I also found this of the number 45 in this video on youtube:

 

 

The guitar dater project says this about the youtube guitar:

 

Your guitar was made at the

Kalamazoo Plant, MI, USA

on April 30th, 1980

Production Number: 9

 

 

Here is another one, but not easy to verify it is exactly the same model except the text at the bottom of the picture:

 

http://www.rinideguitars.it/index.php/en/gibson

 

I hope this will make you relax a little. It would be nice if Gibson could verify the existence of these too ofc. =)

 

If this by any chance is a forgery, the forger has gone to great lengths to find all the details for this particular model. Looking at other forgeries, they usually have obvious signs, like bad paintwork, wrong covers, wrong or badly fitted inlays, wrong head stock and so on.

 

Judging by the evidence found, I feel confident enough to say have gotten yourself a real jewel.

Edited by JAF
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Hi Guys,

 

OK, so the guitar has arrived and I've had a chance to check it out in person.

 

I now have no doubt that this is an original of the 50 gold series, with many thanks to you guys for your links to similar guitars (good ol' Trogly).

 

I also have a The Les Paul, which has a serial number plate that uses "Reg no. X", so that confirms Gibson's use of that nomenclature.

 

What is now clear with the guitar in person is that it has had the back of the headstock re-painted, down to around the back of the first fret.

 

So worst case I've got to suspect a neck break/repair here.

 

There is no crack line on the front (black) side of the headstock, but that wouldn't rule out a break that runs along the nut seam. Indeed, the nut HAS been replaced, as the original one was white and this one is black.

 

Is there anyone who does guitar X-rays of this kind of stuff? I'd like to be sure.

 

It plays well and stays in tune.

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If it's a good, sturdy, and (basically) invisible repair, don't worry about it (too much). The repaired

area is likely as sturdy if not more so, than it was originally. It would explain, however, the repainted

look, shown in your photos. Hope you get the information, and/or scan, you seek, for your own peace of mind.

I guess you could Google for places, in your area, that do that sort of thing?

 

Good Luck!

 

CB

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As usual, the 600 pound gorilla that we are ignoring is how much you paid for it, which admittedly is none of anyone's business. If you want to know if yer gettin had it's hard to tell without the price. In my experience and opinion, refinished guitars are worth less, broke headstock guitars are worth even more less, and broke headstocks with paint put over to cover it is worth even more less than just the other two less.

 

So, if you paid for a non broke guitar and got a broke one it would be a problem for me for sure.

 

rct

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OK, I'm not keeping secrets. I got it for 2600.

 

The Norlin custom I bought recently was a nice and rare Ferrari red with no broken neck and I got it for 2200.

 

It's true people list goldies such as these for $4K, but they never sell.

 

I paid what I considered a $400 premium for the gold. That was my rationale, anyway.

 

Opinions may vary about whether or not it's still a steal with a repaired neck at $2600, but the seller must have known what he was doing here and he didn't disclose it. That's just wrong.

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OK, I'm not keeping secrets. I got it for 2600.

 

The Norlin custom I bought recently was a nice and rare Ferrari red with no broken neck and I got it for 2200.

 

It's true people list goldies such as these for $4K, but they never sell.

 

I paid what I considered a $400 premium for the gold. That was my rationale, anyway.

 

Opinions may vary about whether or not it's still a steal with a repaired neck at $2600, but the seller must have known what he was doing here and he didn't disclose it. That's just wrong.

 

I agree completely. I would not have bought it in the first place, but I'm not into vintage guitars at all. I'd return it and spend 2600 on a really nice Les Paul Today.

 

rct

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Epilogue:

 

I had the guitar X-rayed at a local medical clinic that offered "any X-ray for $50". Initially, they were not sure on whether to allow it, but the techs called the doctor and he said "sure go ahead".

 

Attached are the results. It looks as though there was no neck break.

 

The other test I performed however was a black light test. Reading around the internet, you don't need anything but a black light bulb to shine on a finish. Apparently components of a nitrocellulose coat yield luminescence.

 

Also attached are the results of this. You can see play wear differences on the two types of paint.

 

In the end the seller agreed to partially refund me 600 bucks, bringing the cost to 2k, which I regard as fair, given the instrument is intact, I like how it plays, and it's a very cool model. He was also willing to accept a return, but I'm happy it didn't come to that.

 

Thanks guys for all of your help, particularly the helpful links to the reverb listing and the Trogly video, both of which I was having trouble finding on my own.

 

I would have kept the original guitar pics up but I'm on the edge of my 500kb total upload limit just showing these final three.

 

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Not having a neck break is definitely a good thing. Many of us here use Photobucket to upload our pictures to and then link to them. Instructions can be found here:

 

http://forum.gibson.com/index.php?/topic/11005-sticky-how-to-post-photos/

 

We definitely don't want folks to have to take pictures down. I'm glad you got some money back and don't have a guitar with a broken neck. Do you still love the guitar after all that?

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  • 2 years later...

I have #41 of this same gold 1980 Les Paul Custom. I was told that more than half of these guitars were seconds, most likely because of a glitch in the finish. Mine is a second, and is stamped "Second."  I can't find any visual or playing evidence of what would have made it a second. I verified it with a couple of eminent guitar experts. They confirmed it's legitimacy, and said it is quite valuable. I love it.

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  • 10 months later...

I have one i bought new in 80 and it has black volume and tone knobs, there were 5 in the store.

They were made exclusively for guitar center only 50 made, i could have had number 2 but there were hanger dents  on all of them except the one I bought which is 29

so unless someone changed the knobs you don't have an original.

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Edited by ledboots
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On 6/15/2017 at 12:56 AM, coffeecupman said:

What's continuing to freak me out is that the serial number looks painted over. It's not readable. Is it even possible that one left the Gibson factory like that? I'm getting cold feet that there's been some fakery going on here.

FWIW I've seen serial numbers looking like that before on Gibsons I've owned that I bought new. 

Whether that helps or hurts, I dunno, but there you go. 

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9 hours ago, ledboots said:

I have one.  I i bought new in 80 ... there were 5 in the store.

I am not the biggest fan of goldtops, but - Ledboots - your guitar is making me a believer.  Wow, very nice!  Where were you where the store had 5 of the only 50 made?  Los Angeles or some other big city?

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