This Heavily Customized 1953 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop Just Sold For $35,000 – And It Has An Amazing History

This week, a 1953 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop electric guitar was purchased on Reverb.com for $35,000.

Now, vintage Les Pauls are bought and sold all the time on Reverb, but this one was a little different.

This Goldtop comes from the collection of Linda Lee, an accomplished guitarist from the Chicago area who owned the guitar for nearly 70 years. Additionally, Lee made a number of modifications to it – some were quite common, but others were way ahead of their time.

After purchasing the Les Paul—serial number 31581—brand new from Biles Music Co. in Hot Springs, Arkansas in February 1953, Lee continued to make some modifications to it to suit his needs.

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Gibson Les Paul Goldtop 1953 by Linda Lee

(Image credit: Linda Lee/Reverb.com)
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Gibson Les Paul Goldtop 1953 by Linda Lee

(Image credit: Linda Lee/Reverb.com)
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Gibson Les Paul Goldtop 1953 by Linda Lee

(Image credit: Linda Lee/Reverb.com)
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Gibson Les Paul Goldtop 1953 by Linda Lee

(Image credit: Linda Lee/Reverb.com)
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Gibson Les Paul Goldtop 1953 by Linda Lee

(Image credit: Linda Lee/Reverb.com)

Like many Les Paul owners before and after her, Lee replaced the guitar’s original trapeze tailpiece with a Bigsby tremolo in the early ’60s. What stands out, however, is another of the changes Lee made to the secondary market.

“I had to get up and play a four hour gig in treble/treble care and it was hard to press the reverb and vibrato pedals,” Lee writes in his Guitar Reverb List. “So there are toggle switches to turn on/off whatever you want to use with your right thumb.”

The pair of toggle switches sit near the upper body, just above and between the guitar’s P-90 pickups (another of Lee’s post-purchase modifications.)

Lee says the Les Paul’s gold top was professionally refinished and a crack near its nut was repaired at some point. After decades of gigging, however, it’s got some deserved wear (no artificial aging needed here!).

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Linda Lee (second from right) with her band

(Image credit: Linda Lee/Reverb.com)
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A document detailing the history of Linda Lee's 1953 Goldtop Gibson Les Paul

(Image credit: Linda Lee/Reverb.com)

Even still, for $35,000, its eventual buyer got a hell of a deal. A beautiful vintage Goldtop with very unusual (for its time) modifications and an amazing, documented history to boot. What more could you ask for in a vintage purchase?

You can hear the guitar in action and learn more about its backstory from Lee herself, in the video at the top of the story.

To see the full list, head over to Reverb.

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