Offered as the entry-level, or student, model Les Paul, these slab bodied single pickup guitars with wraparound tailpieces have also stood the test of time really well.
Launched in ’54 with single cutaway, the double cutaway version appeared in 1958 as an early pre-echo of the SG range to be introduced in 1960/61. These are sometimes called ‘Les Paul SG’s’, as opposed to the later ‘SG Les Pauls’, the first SG-shaped guitars which still carried Les Paul’s endorsement before it was withdrawn.
The yellow ‘TV’ finish was allegedly designed to show up better on black and white TV shows of the day, though I don’t buy this as it’s an entry-level model whereas one would imagine that Gibson would hope most users getting as far as appearing on TV would be using the higher-end Goldtop, Sunburst or Custom models.
That said, the alternative explanation that it was the same ‘limed mahogany’ finish as offered on a number of domestic TV sets doesn’t really work for me either – did people really buy yellow TV sets?
This one has a virtually-mint finish all over with no fading. Although it has a higher serial number than the Les Paul Special TV model, it has a huge, fat neck redolent of the ‘58/’59 profiles. This helps confirm the batch manufacture system Gibson and others operated at the time, where some components could remain on stock for months before being assembled and shipped.
This is the best example of one of these I’ve ever seen, not even any fading of the ‘Les Paul’ silkscreen on the headstock. It plays beautifully – and unlike many of these guys, all the way up the neck. The all mahogany slab body and neck and hot pickup all contribute to a screaming tone. No wonder these are the favoured guitars of ‘gunslingers’ like Leslie West, Johnny Thunders, Keith Richards etc.
One of the 419 of these shipped in ’60, their last year before the SG’s took over. Comes with original snakeskin cardboard case in excellent condition.