The Gibson Goldtop, i.e., "Les Paul Number 1", not because it was the first Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, but because it was his "go to" guitar in the 1950s, sold this week at Christie's Auction House for $930,000. It was also, according to Gene Paul, Les Paul's son, the guitar "the legendarily inventive guitarist continued to tweak and modify after receiving (it) from Gibson".

This story on last weekend's CBS Sunday Morning will give you a good look at the Kalamazoo-made instrument. It meant everything to Paul, according to his son, Gene.

"This was his crowning achievement. This was thirty years of experiments, of his dream, and his obsession with Gibson to make it.".

(CBS Sunday Morning)

It was, like Mary's guitar, manufactured by Gibson with custom wiring requested by Paul but now with a bound fingerboard that would be standard on all Les Paul Models going forward. Unlike the Gibson Les Paul Models sold to the public, the present guitar was equipped with only one master volume control and one master tone control. Also deviating from Gibson's standard design is the output jack which is located on the face of the body. This last requirement by Paul was to alleviate the danger of disconnecting his output jack while on stage. Paul was later said to have claimed that this instrument was the first that felt right to him and fulfilled all his ideas of what an electric guitar should be and lead him to dub it his "Number One". - Christie's Auction House lot essay


(Tom Doyle via YouTube)

According to, it's not the most expensive guitar sold at auction, but given its history and its connection to Kalamazoo, it is important.

WKFR logo
Get our free mobile app

A Peek Inside Kalamazoo's Heritage Guitar Factory Where Music History Was Made

Heritage Guitar Factory, which was the Gibson Guitar Factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan

LOOK: Things from the year you were born that don't exist anymore

The iconic (and at times silly) toys, technologies, and electronics have been usurped since their grand entrance, either by advances in technology or breakthroughs in common sense. See how many things on this list trigger childhood memories—and which ones were here and gone so fast you missed them entirely.

More From WKFR