TCGAKKI Selection

1956 Gibson Les Paul Custom


This guitar was owned by a man named "Forbis" from Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A. in 1957, along with the deed to purchase the guitar with a loan from a local bank.
The guitar was purchased by a man named "Forbis" from Columbia, Missouri, USA, in 1957, with a loan from a local bank, and was stored with the deed.

Innovative Pickup

Designed around 1952 and developed by Seth Lover.

Solid Mahogany

Mother-of-pearl is used for fingerboard inlays.

Flagship Model

Split diamond inlays, the symbol of high-end models, are shining.

Gibson Les Paul Custom

made in 1956 - Alnico Pickups

What do you think of when you hear the word "Missouri"? The birthplace of Route 66, the birthplace of Budweiser, and St. Louis to the east, Missouri in the 1950s was a vibrant, yet still largely unexplored state.

It is tempting to imagine the dream of a young American man who bought and played a guitar in such an era. This instrument is being introduced at TC Instruments with a variety of messages.

The silver glow of the Alnico pickups shines brightly against the jet-black body that catches your eye the moment you open the hard case.
Can the owner of 66 years ago imagine us today, whose hearts are racing from the moment we see it?


Owned by Mr. Forbis

This guitar was owned by Mr. Forbis of Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A. in 1957, along with the deed to purchase the guitar with a loan from a local bank. It is a genuine one-owner guitar.

The famous modern jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker was born in Missouri, and there is a National Blues Museum in St. Louis, so one can imagine various scenes from the area that is also associated with music.

The guitar has been played a lot, and the paint on the back of the neck is peeling due to friction, and the front PU has a mark on the side where the guitarist played with a pick. There are many buckle scratches on the lower back side of the body, as if the guitar was held in a classical style.

Maybe "Forbis" was playing Jazz or Blues on this Les Paul Custom while drinking Budweiser in the dark spotlight at a bar in the basement down a narrow staircase.

The Fretless Wonder

The Fretless Wonder is a Les Paul Custom that is a different kind of guitar from the gold-top Les Paul Custom, which has a more subdued and subdued elegance. Targeting jazz guitarists who mainly used archtop guitars, the Les Paul Custom made its debut in July 1954 at the NAMM Show, one of the largest musical instrument industry events of that time.

Since this model was made for jazz guitarists, smooth fingering was more important than sustain extension, and the frets are wider and the height is lower than other Les Paul models.

In the Les Paul Custom catalog of the time, it was listed under the heading of ''The Fretless wonder'', which means that the guitar feels as if it has no frets. This is also the nickname given by Gibson itself, as the guitar feels as if it has no frets. Thus, the Les Paul Custom established its position as Gibson's top-of-the-line Les Paul model.

Les Paul in 1956

In 1956, the number of Les Paul Custom models manufactured was 489, which was the largest number of Les Paul Custom models manufactured until 1955 and 1957. Coincidentally, the production of Les Paul Junior as an entry-level model was also started in this year. The fact that the first year's production of the Junior was 3,129 pieces also shows how much effort and cost were put into making the Les Paul Custom.

There are many theories as to why Les Paul Custom was made in all mahogany, but one of them is that it is a black color, which means that the grain of the top is not visible.
There is an anecdote that Les Paul initially asked Gibson to reverse the ratio of maple to mahogany, and it is said that Les Paul was quite angry when he learned that Gibson was going to sell the Custom in all-mahogany.
It is interesting to think that these differences of opinion between Gibson and Les Paul led to many historic models.

Les Paul's Encounter with Gibson

Les Paul's first encounter with Gibson dates back to the 1940s. At the time, Les Paul was a country music guitar player and had been researching solid guitars since the 1930s. Around 1941, he built a prototype called "The Log," which literally means log. This was literally a log-like neck to which was attached a cut Epiphone hollowbody. Around 1946, Les Paul brought "The Log" to Gibson, which led to the development of the Les Paul model.

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Shin-Okubo, Tokyo Japan

1956 Gibson Les Paul Custom

Split diamond inlays, the symbol of the top model, are shining on this head.
The topcoat on the inlay has peeled off over time, allowing the original brilliance to be seen.
The laminated binding on the outer circumference of the head also shows its original brilliance.Les Paul Customis one of the features of Les Paul Custom.

Neck/Finger Plate

The neck is1Pmahogany, thickness is1Findicates certainty, emphasis, etc.22mm12FIn.25.2mm
Neck shape is gently curvedCshape with a gentle curve,1957Year3PUEquipped withCustomThe Custom model is thicker than the Custom model and can be held firmly in the hand.

The frets are thicker than those of the Custom, which was also the target of the time.Jazzguitarist at that time."Fretless Wonder"and finished so low that there is not much overbinding left.
Many of them have had the frets replaced because they are directly related to the playing surface, but this one has been firmly fretted."Fretless Wonder"This one retains the "fretless wonder.

The fingerboard is made of ebony, which was used for the higher-end models of the time.
The wood is so black that it is as black as the paint.
Mother-of-pearl is lavishly used for the block position marks.
The side position marks are not just black dots, but tortoiseshell-patterned ones, which gives the color a non-uniform taste.


The body is carved from a single piece of mahogany, and the top has a beautiful handmade curve (arch).
This was the general specification until 1961, when the Les Paul Custom was discontinued, and was changed to a maple top and mahogany back in 1968.

The custom binding is laminated around the body as well as the head.
Unlike the standard model, the binding is also wrapped around the back of the body, which gives it a high-class feel appropriate for a higher-end model.
The arches on the left and right sides of the body have been carefully applied to reflect the light in a uniform manner, giving it a look that is truly worthy of being called a "Black Beauty.


The pegs are Kluson 501VX (aka waffleback) with pearloid buttons.
Many of the buttons from this period are deteriorated, but this one remains in relatively clean condition.
Later, due to specification changes, the 501VX would not appear again until 1969, but the buttons were changed to metal ones.

Bridge & Tailpiece

The non-wired ABR-1 (also called ABR-2 for the gold-plated one) bridge is equipped with an aluminum stop tailpiece.
The same bridge and tailpiece were used until production was discontinued in 1961, but when the instrument was reproduced in 1968, the saddle was made of nylon and an ABR-1 with a wire was installed. The tailpiece continues to be made of aluminum.

Barrel knobs were installed when the instrument was first released in 1954, but from 1956, they were replaced with the bell knobs shown here.

Pot & Condenser

At least two of the pots are made by Centra Lab, although there is some rust on the side of the pots that cannot be confirmed.
Bumble bee" capacitors, which were first used by Gibson around 1956, are mounted. The tubular base of the capacitor is said to be a mid-period specification.

Pickups (PU-480)

A pickup with rectangular magnets used in some models such as Birdland.
It was designed around 1952 and developed by Seth Lover, who is also famous for developing P.A.F.
It is also called by other names such as "Alnico V" or "Alnico Magnet" because it uses an Alnico V magnet.
The construction is similar to the Dynasonic PU developed by De-Armond (see the photo on the right below), in which the pickup is raised and lowered by turning the flat-blade screw attached to the side of the pickup.

Pickup (P-90)

Single-coil pickup developed by Walter Fuller in 1946, also used on Les Paul Standard until 1956, and familiar on Les Paul Junior and Special.
When it was first developed, it used a bar-type pole piece, but around 1950 it was replaced by an adjustable pole piece.

Sound Impression

The P-90 has a warmth and mellow mid/low range that rivals humbuckers, and the mellowness of the treble range cannot be found in the current P-90s. It also has the tightness of a single coil.

The PU-480 has the same tightness as the P-90, but the midrange is stronger and more boxy than the rear. In the mix, the P-90's treble and the PU-480's midrange push are combined perfectly to create a sound that is truly a combination of the best of both worlds.

When the Tone is turned down, the treble is of course reduced like on other electric guitars, but the sound remains tight, especially around 3~4 on the P-90 and 5~6 on the PU-480.

The neck shape is a U-shape with a little thickness and a mellow R.
Compared to the 3 humbucker Les Paul Custom released in later years, which had a relatively thin neck shape, this guitar feels instantly comfortable in the hand when you grip it.
You can feel it especially when you grip it in the shake hand style.

The body weight is about 3.7 kg, which is relatively light for a Les Paul, and the body balance itself is exactly the same ratio of neck to body, so there is no head drop or pulling to the body side.

I usually play Fender type guitars such as Strat, but this Les Paul Custom instantly fits in with my body in both sound and playing comfort.

Summary / Postscript

I have only played PAF-equipped Les Paul Custom before, but I often felt that it was different from other Custom guitars. However, despite the difference in age, the Les Paul Custom has a nuance of sound that is common to all Les Paul Custom models, and I felt that both models are worthy of the name "Custom".

Also, the weight balance of the body and the neck shape are similar to the mid-1950s Les Paul Standard, and I felt a sense of unity as the Les Paul Series.

While it is becoming more and more difficult to find a chance to touch vintage instruments, I was able to touch the "ancestor" of the current models, and I understood the value of vintage instruments and the reason why artists who use them must have them.

It is a good thing about vintage pieces that you can think about how the previous owner played and in what style, and you can get a different feeling from a beautiful vintage piece, a so-called mint condition piece.

Body: 1P Mahogany
Neck: 1P Mahogany
PU:Front PU-490 Bridge:P-90

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