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1968 Goldtops vs 50s Goldtops?

TImk1964

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Mar 28, 2024
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Are you asking if you should make your '68 into a humbucker based LP? The guitar I have was already pre-converted. I had no choice in the matter. If you have a totally original '68 I wouldn't suggest doing anything, as unless you can access original '50s PAFs, you will only hurt the value of your guitar. A nice original '68 is worth a lot more than one that's been tinkered with. Once you go to humbuckers, you really can't go back, as the P90 routes are smaller. I was just fortunate enough to have found a guitar someone had already messed with and stripped the gold top and was attempting to make it a Burst like guitar and failed miserably! As such, I got a tremendous deal, as the guitar had '57 PAFs installed with '58 harness. I had Steve Hague, a master luthier and true artist, repaint and relic the top for the look I have now. As such, I have a beautiful conversion that started as an ugly duckling (as pics show). Now, it is a true work of art! But you already have a very nice guitar!
 

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Red Baron

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Very nice!

Gibson using old wood for 68's is pretty much proven to be a myth, and it's even questionable whether they used the same species of mahogany as they did in the 50's.
You're pretty lucky to have one that weighs only 8.8lbs. The average '68 weighed well over 9lbs, with most being around 9.5lbs, so they're generally not as lightweight as 50's LP's.
 

TImk1964

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Mar 28, 2024
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Very nice!

Gibson using old wood for 68's is pretty much proven to be a myth, and it's even questionable whether they used the same species of mahogany as they did in the 50's.
You're pretty lucky to have one that weighs only 8.8lbs. The average '68 weighed well over 9lbs, with most being around 9.5lbs, so they're generally not as lightweight as 50's LP's.
Wether a it is a myth or not, the flyers released by Gibson for the 1968 specified Honduran Mahogany, same as the older '50s LPs. Yes, I am fortunate to have a nice weighted version...and one piece at that! :) The biggest difference between late 50's and these '68s is the headstock pitch, at 14 degrees. And the truss rod cover is closer to the nut. Other than that, and the undercut binding covering the maple strip, almost identical dimensions and build as those '50s LPs.
 

Red Baron

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There are quite a few other differences, including headstock shape, heel shape, cavity routing shape, truss rod sheath, glues, and even the way that they were constructed in 1968 differs from the 50's (and from 1969-on).
 

TImk1964

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There are quite a few other differences, including headstock shape, heel shape, cavity routing shape, truss rod sheath, glues, and even the way that they were constructed in 1968 differs from the 50's (and from 1969-on).
...yes, you are correct about all those details, except the headstock shape....it is accurate to the '50s, including the logo...but now we're getting into fractional details. The neck tendon was also a bit different. And the neck shape is a bit thinner at the heel area. LOL. But I do have the meat of the '57 in my guitar with the pre-sticker PAFs and '58 wiring harness. I can live with the other differences, especially the $100k PLUS I still have in my pocket! :cool:
 

Red Baron

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...yes, you are correct about all those details, except the headstock shape....it is accurate to the '50s, including the logo...but now we're getting into fractional details. :cool:
Yes, very minor details, however I've overlaid several 68 headstocks with those from the 50's and they are different and not hard to pick when you know what to look for. The 68 tapers in a little more (near the truss rod cover), slightly more rounded (next to both of the E string tuners), and the shaping on the back is not as sharp as the 50's LP's.

Anyway the bottom line is that 68's are their own thing, and although different, they can be just as good, better, or worse than a 50's LP, it's all subjective. 🤟
 

S. Weiger

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Wether a it is a myth or not, the flyers released by Gibson for the 1968 specified Honduran Mahogany, same as the older '50s LPs. Yes, I am fortunate to have a nice weighted version...and one piece at that! :) The biggest difference between late 50's and these '68s is the headstock pitch, at 14 degrees. And the truss rod cover is closer to the nut. Other than that, and the undercut binding covering the maple strip, almost identical dimensions and build as those '50s LPs.
Don't trust company info / cataloges as gospell, especially not from Gibson / CMI.
 

bern1

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Some would consider the difference in headstock angle between the 50’s and late 60’s to be the most significant factor in the character of the guitars of those two eras.
 

TImk1964

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Some would consider the difference in headstock angle between the 50’s and late 60’s to be the most significant factor in the character of the guitars of those two eras.
It is a difference from 17 to 14 degrees. I can't say I notice that in playability. I do have a '59 Lemmon Burst replica made by Steve Hague to compare. The biggest difference is the neck thickness and width. There is a significant difference there. My '68 is 1.69. The '59 is 1.72 width 1st fret. The '68 is .90 at 1st fret. The '59 is .93. At the 12th fret, the '68 is 2.03 width and the '59 is 2.09. And thickness at the 12th, the '68 is .93 while the '59 is 1.03. You can fee the difference. If you just had the '68 in hand, it feels great...but then you put the '59 in hand and its a different world.
 

TImk1964

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Example: The 1959 Gibson catalog showed a Goldtop Les Paul..
It appears they printed these prior to deciding on the change in direction to Burst. The picture actually shows P90's too! It appears they used the '56 pictures. And they do describe the Gold Top as the only available option. Too funny!!!
 

Wilko

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Very nice!

Gibson using old wood for 68's is pretty much proven to be a myth, and it's even questionable whether they used the same species of mahogany as they did in the 50's.
You're pretty lucky to have one that weighs only 8.8lbs. The average '68 weighed well over 9lbs, with most being around 9.5lbs, so they're generally not as lightweight as 50's LP's.
Gibson used the same wood (the myth was "leftover bodies") for almost all of the first 1968 Les Pauls and I disagree about the weight. Late 68. early 69 is noted in a few sources (Tony Bacon, etc) that the wood suppliers changed, and with it the weight increased. I've owned a few '68s and the only one that was over 9 pounds was the first serial listed as a 69. All small headstock early cavity.
 

Red Baron

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Gibson used the same wood (the myth was "leftover bodies") for almost all of the first 1968 Les Pauls and I disagree about the weight. Late 68. early 69 is noted in a few sources (Tony Bacon, etc) that the wood suppliers changed, and with it the weight increased. I've owned a few '68s and the only one that was over 9 pounds was the first serial listed as a 69. All small headstock early cavity.
Yes I know the leftover bodies was a myth, as was using old leftover wood. It has been suggested by some (who claim to know their wood species) that Khaya was used for the reissues in '68, and when you see images of Khaya it does have a very similar grain to what you typically see in 68's.
https://www.wood-database.com/african-mahogany/
If true or not, who knows?

As for the weights, I know that yours where on the lighter side, but the vast majority that I see come up for sale are around 9.5lbs.
 

Wilko

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It's been 10 years since I was really looking at these and don't remember them being much over 9, even in ads. I do remember a lot of people wishing theirs were '68s! You're probably right. I do know that under 9 is very rare for anything 69 and later.

As for species, I never saw any reason to question the source. It all looked like honduran to me, and that seems to jive with books and rumor at the time. That African wood looks pretty much like mahogany to me. Not seeing anything that differentiates it from what is normally seen on an old Les Paul. Interesting.
 

TImk1964

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I haven't heard as to which continent the Mahogany came from on the '68's and when they changed wood sources and if there were remaining stored sources used for early '68s. But to see something for myself, I took a picture of the back of the '59 vs '68 and there is a significant grain difference. Yes, the dye colors are also different, but the '59 has a much denser looking wood pattern. The necks also have a difference in wood grain pattern too. Does that mean these are from different continents or just different ages of wood, that I cannot say, as I am NO wood expert. Both guitars are within 6 ounces of weight: 8.2lbs for '59 and 8.8lbs for '68, even though the '59 has a bit more meat on the neck. I suspect it's worth exploring as to what the actual wood used was in early '68. I am sure there are some kind of records available or knowledgable (reliable) sources to inquire. I don't know how important it is, but interesting historical information all the same.
 

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neuroy

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Mar 10, 2008
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I haven't heard as to which continent the Mahogany came from on the '68's and when they changed wood sources and if there were remaining stored sources used for early '68s. But to see something for myself, I took a picture of the back of the '59 vs '68 and there is a significant grain difference. Yes, the dye colors are also different, but the '59 has a much denser looking wood pattern. The necks also have a difference in wood grain pattern too. Does that mean these are from different continents or just different ages of wood, that I cannot say, as I am NO wood expert. Both guitars are within 6 ounces of weight: 8.2lbs for '59 and 8.8lbs for '68, even though the '59 has a bit more meat on the neck. I suspect it's worth exploring as to what the actual wood used was in early '68. I am sure there are some kind of records available or knowledgable (reliable) sources to inquire. I don't know how important it is, but interesting historical information all the same.
What are the guitars in those pics, please ?
A humbuckered 1968 LP and the other one is what ?
 
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