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Historic Les Paul “Number One” Goes Up for Auction

On Wednesday, 13 October, Christie's in New York will auction the first mass-produced Gibson Les Paul model, which designer, guitarist, composer and inventor Lester William Polsfuss (Les Paul, 9 June 1915 - 12 August 2009) nicknamed "Number One" in 1952.

At the time, the early Gibson Les Pauls were mainly signature models of this player, who was known for the technical innovations that were applied to guitars like "The Log"—a prototype with removable acoustic guitar-shaped body wings and a central block fitted with a pair of pickups.

In the 1950s, the early series of Les Pauls with gold lacquer aimed to compete with the Fender models on the market that were increasingly in demand, and it's no secret that Gibson invited Les Paul to consult on the development of the new product—also because the instrument would bear the then-famous guitarist's name on the headstock, which the Nashville company obviously saw as a marketing advantage.

Although the first piece—whose final price is estimated by Christie's at around 100 to 150 thousand dollars—already has a typical shape and construction, Les Paul has modified this specimen many times. The P90 pickups have been modified, including a Q-Coil for the noiseless mode originally activated by the L-switch; a second, this time high-impedance output was added, located on the arched top; a two-position rotary switch has been installed to select the outputs; and a Kauffman Vibrola vibrato has been added to the simple bar-steel bridge without octave adjustment.

In addition, thicker frets, a hand-carved plastic brace screw cover or a rectangular pickguard were installed, covering the opening for the aforementioned Q-coil, the necessary wiring, and DynaSonic electronics. In the first two videos, Gene Paul (Les Paul's younger son) and Tom Doyle (the guitarist's longtime collaborator and guitar technician) recount the origins of the "Number One" LP. Doyle is also the author of the third video, devoted to The Log prototype and the original version of the LP, which was equipped with a trapeze tailpiece back then.

Tagy Gibson Gibson Les Paul „Number One“

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For Insounder, I am mainly responsible for the news section and articles covering the gear of well-known musicians. I have been playing guitar in various bands for years and I also teach this beautiful instrument.