Ebony Les Paul Custom 1954 Prototype Owned by Les Paul Sells For $23,750

1954 Ebony Les Paul Custom

A prototype ebony Les Paul custom owned by the man himself sells at auction that raises nearly $5 million

An ebony Les Paul Custom prototype, built in 1954 and owned by Les Paul was sold at an auction of the late guitarist and innovator’s possessions, in an event that raised nearly $5 million. The huge collection included an astonishing selection of rarities and oddities, from personal effects such as table lamps and coffee tables, to prototype guitars, a 1951 No-caster signed by Leo Fender, a Les Paul Standard signed by Slash and Paul’s own, legendary Epiphone Zephyr, nicknamed ‘Clunker’.

This Ebony Les Paul Custom was something of highlight however. Frankly, given its significance and provenance, the price it sold for (equating to just over £15k) seems to represent something of a bargain…

Les Paul Custom Ebony

‘Not to be played’

As previously stated, there were some real treats to be had at the auction (a 1952 Les Paul Gold Top went for $62,500). Somehow, though, it seems slightly crazy that this piece of Rock ‘n’ Roll history sold for what seems such a low price. The guitar was an LPB4 prototype for the Les Paul Custom. The guitar was conceived as a deluxe ‘tuxedo’ version of the Les Paul, for formal events, this prototype features the classic appearance of the Custom as we know it, but with some unusual features.

Ebony Les Paul Custom

The body features 3-ply binding, and block inlays, with gold hardware completing the luxurious appointments that you’d expect to see. However, the hardware is engraved, as is the scratchplate, truss-rod cover and backplates. In contrast to the modern Ebony Les Paul Custom, this guitar was equipped with an Alnico V pickup at the neck and a P90 at the bridge, as humbuckers were not introduced until 1957.

Somewhat enticeingly, the guitar has no serial number, just the word ‘Prototype’ printed on the rear of the headstock, and the case, which is the original, leather bound hardshell features tape that states ‘Not to be played: Gibson presentation guitar, Henry to Les.’

It is perhaps a testament to the fact that the Gibson Les Paul Standard and Gold Top are more collectable than Les Paul Custom’s that this appears to have sold for a ‘low’ price. However, it seems very unlikely that this piece of Rock ‘n’ Roll history will do anything other than rocket in price in the future…

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