Rocco and I got the opportunity to work on a 1977 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop this month. Rockstar Mike brought it in for set up, unhappy with the guitar’s “muddy” tone. We cleaned up the electronics, adjusted the pickup height, and leveled out the frets. Sounds great to us … hope Mike is happy!
Tons of Tone
This Les Paul appears to be made of two slabs of mahogany glued together. It weighs about 1,000 pounds, but sings like a songbird!
Beefy Body, Stiff Neck
Some late ’70s Les Pauls have a reputation for weak necks and poor craftsmanship. But other than standard wear and tear, this Goldtop appeared rock solid. The neck appears to be five pieces of maple glued together and shaped. The result is a super stable neck. The neck on this Gibson was straight as an arrow. It’s been that way for 45 years and will probably stay that way for another 45. This neck, topped with an ebony fretboard and big trapazoid inlays, is a pleasure to play. Not too thick, not too thin. Just right.
Super Shielded Electronics
The stock pickups in this Les Paul had been replaced at some point with DiMarzio Tone Rider pickups, which have a full bodied tone with a bit of bite.
The electronics cavity was surprising. All of the components were grounded onto a metal plate, which was covered by a screw-down metal lid. The guitar is super quiet, so I guess this odd set-up does a decent job of blocking interference.
Also of Note
A couple of the tuning pegs were bent. The guitar holds a tune, but it’s can be challenging getting it there. I’d suggest replacement tuners, but the original “Gibson Deluxe” pegs are pretty cool…and original.
Also, these is a legit cigarette burn on the side of the headstock. That’s badass!
A Sad History
Mike shared the strange and sad origin story of this Les Paul. A friend gave it to him, after their friend saw a woman tossing it on the curb for garbage pickup. Why would she toss away a Gibson Les Paul? It belonged to her husband who had committed suicide a few years prior. This instrument was a painful memory for her — she just wanted it gone.
We are currently working on a song called “Goldtop Eulogy” in honor of this instrument’s original owner. Rest in peace, my dude. You had excellent taste in guitars.