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Gibson '57 Custom Les Paul Black Beauty

Gibson Custom Shop 57 Custom Les Paul Black Beauty Electric Guitar Gold Hardware
Gibson '57 Custom Black Beauty

Les Paul Voodoo
Gibson Voodoo Les Paul

The Voodoo comes with a swamp-ash body that makes the guitar lighter weight. The fretboard is ebony that has a red pearl voodoo skull at the 5th fret.

The Les Paul Custom was first introduced in 1954 and was the deluxe version of the Les Paul regular. It is also known as the 'Fretless Wonder' and of course as the 'Black Beauty'. The 'Fretless Wonder' name came about because of the advertising which stated that the frets where low and smooth and give the guitar fast playing action. So it didn't mean that it had no frets. This guitar has a bit of history to it which is pretty interesting. In 1961 (4 years after this reissue model) the single cut-away LP body was actually replaced with the SG double cut-away ultra-thin body. In 1963 it appears that Gibson and Les himself had a disagreement which was temporary. It resulted in this double cut-away model being renamed the Gibson SG Custom. So there are some variations in this guitar which would normally go unnoticed because of the two distinctly different body shapes being used.

The '52 version had an LP body shape (single cut-away) and was made of mahogany with carved arched top. There was a 7-ply binding around the top and body edges. The bridge was a Tune-O-Matic with stud tail piece. There were other models that included the Bigsby tremolo (some nickel plated). The LP regular had a carved maple top while this version had an all mahogany body.

 57 Custom Bigsby The 24.7 5 inch scale length neck was made of a single piece of mahogany with an ebony fretboard. The fretboard had 'block' (rectangular) pearl inlays as position markers and 22 frets. The neck joined the body at the 16 fret. On the headstock was a split diamond inlay that slightly larger than usual. The words ' Les Paul Custom' was inscribed in the bell shaped truss rod cover. The original tuners used where Kluson Super tuners which were replaced with Grover Roto-matics in 1958. The hardware was gold plated with a few excepts where nickel plated were used. One thing about the '52 version is it used two single coil pickups, an Alnico in the neck position and a P-90 at the bridge. Both had black covers with the Alnico pickup having famous rectangular pole pieces while the P90 had the adjustable pole pieces. There were a few guitars made with three P-90 pickups in place of the humbuckers. The wiring on this three pickup model is also different in that it had three volume controls with a single tone control. The tone control was placed where the toggle switch normally was located (this version didn't have a toggle switch). Another thing about the 52 version was that it didn't have a serial number. They weren't added until 1954 and where found on the top edge of the headstock.

The Black Beauty offers a variety of tones not found on other LPs. This was done by adding a third humbuckers. In 1957 one of the main changes was the introduction of the PAF humbucker pickup. Three of these were put on the LP Custom with most pickups be wired differently than other LPs of the time. Instead of having the middle position of the 3-way pickup selector activating the center pickup it actually had both the bridge and middle pickups on with the middle pickup out of phase with the neck pickup. The result is a unique yet vintage sound. There are some that have only two humbuckers while there are also others that have the three humbuckers but with different wiring and control setup. It had three volume controls that were lined up in a straight line with a tone control located where the toggle switch was located.

In 1961 the body of the custom was changed to the ultra-thin SG double cut-away body and was painted white. This marked a significant change so much so that in 1963 they changed the name to the SG/Les Paul Custom. Also there is a non-historic version of the Black Beauty which called the Les Paul Custom.

This reissue is one Gibson’s VOS series guitars (VOS - Vintage Original Spec) and includes an all mahogany body with mahogany carved top. There a white and black multiply binding around the top and back side. The finish is all black gloss and has gold hardware. The bridge is either an ABR-1 bridge (Tune-O-Matic O-Matic) with stud tailpiece or a Bigsby tremolo. The 24.7 5 inch scale length neck is made of a single piece of mahogany with a long tenon that sets into the body. The profile of the neck is the early 50's rounded type. The fretboard is ebony and had 22 frets and Pearl block inlays. You'll find a single ply white binding surrounding the neck and headstock. The tuners are Vintage Tulip tuners. The headstock has Pearl split-diamond Inlays. The electronics and pickups consist of a CTS pots, bumble bee capacitors, and Burstbucker model 1 and 2 pickups. The neck pickup is a Burstbucker 2, the bridge pickup is a Burstbucker 1, and the middle pickups are a Burstbucker 1 as well.

The PAF pickups have a unique sound because of the inconsistent number of windings around each coil. This is one of the reasons that gave the Black Beauty its unique sound. The Burstbucker 1 has a slightly more edgy vintage sound while the Burstbucker 2 has more a creamy tone.


  • 3 Classic humbuckers
  • Mahogany body with Carved Mahogany top
  • Single-piece mahogany neck
  • 22-fret ebony fretboard
  • Pearl block inlays
  • tune-o-matic bridge with stopbar tailpiece
  • Body, neck, and headstock binding
  • Classic Black Gloss finish with Gold Hardware
  • ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic o-matic Bridge with Stopbar Tailpiece or Bigsby Tailpiece
  • Vintage Tulip Tuners
  • Includes hardshell case


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