Rare iconic sunburst Les Paul guitar for sale has roots in Memph - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Rare iconic sunburst Les Paul guitar for sale has roots in Memphis

(SOURCE: Walter Carter/ Carter Vintage) (SOURCE: Walter Carter/ Carter Vintage)

The earliest known Gibson iconic Les Paul guitar is believed to be owned by British-American musician and songwriter Saul Hudson, known professionally as Slash, the famous guitarist of Guns N' Roses. However, Nashville based instrument shop Carter Vintage Guitars said they have acquired a model of the the iconic cherry sunburst Les Paul guitar that predates the one owned by Slash.

Originally called The Les Paul Model, it was introduced in 1952 and featured a gold finish on top. However, Gibson began experimenting with the cherry-stain finishes in 1958 and, only after several trial runs, shipped two guitars on May 28 of that same year to their parent company, Chicago Musical Instrument, to gain approval for the cherry-stain finishes. 

Maintaining meticulous records through their daily shipping ledger, the guitars were described as "LP Spec. Finish." They featured the yellow-to-red "sunburst," hence gaining their name later, that became the standard finish on the model.

One of the guitars in the shipping entry featured the serial number 8 3096, that one fell into the hands of musician Slash. However, the guitar that has now made its new home at Carter Vintage and is up for sale has a serial number of 8 3087, pre-dating the one owned by Slash.

However, before making its way to Nashville, its home was in the Bluff City for many years. It all began as a Christmas present for a young boy.

According to the Examiner, Walter Carter said the original owner still resides in Memphis and sent photos with the serial number and photos of himself at the age of 14, taken just after the guitar was purchased.

Carter is the proprietor of Carter Vintage and a former historian for Gibson Guitar Corp.

This early "First 'burst" has a specific and key indicator of its significance in history.

It has a three-piece maple top, rather than the two-piece top.

Subsequent sunburst Les Pauls have a two-piece top, but the three-piece is an indication it was supposed to be a 'goldtop', but was pulled off the production line for the experimental finish.

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