The successful sales of the solidbody Les Paul model launched in 1952 convinced Gibson to expand the solidbody line to include a variety of models aimed at players from beginner to professional. This led to the introduction of the low-priced, flat-bodied, single-pickup Les Paul Junior, and the high-priced, elaborately appointed Les Paul Custom in July of 1954. By 1955 the Les Paul line also included the Les Paul TV and the Les Paul Special.

The Les Paul TV was the same as a Junior except for having a bright “limed mahogany” finish (some early TVs had maple bodies) instead of the regular sunburst. The Les Paul Juniors and TVs may have been inexpensive student guitars, but they were playable and well-built to encourage beginners to stick with the instrument and eventually want to move up to more expensive Gibsons.

In July of 1958, the TV and Junior models received a radical makeover. A new double-cutaway shape was introduced that allowed a player full access to the fingerboard. The Junior’s color changed to transparent cherry, while the TV’s limed mahogany became a brighter yellow. Attractive tortoise pickguards rounded out the new color scheme. By 1960, the TV lost the “Les Paul” portion of its name, becoming instead the SG (solid guitar) TV. This name predated the pointed cutaway SG shape that came along in 1961.

More detailed information on Gibson Les Pauls can be found in The Early Years of the Les Paul Legacy 1915-1963 by Robb Lawrence, and in Gibson Electrics The Classic Years by A.R. Duchossoir.

Dave's Guitar Shop
Daves Rogers’ collection is tended to by Laun Braithwaite and Tim Mullally.
Photos and words by Tim Mullally
Dave’s collection is on display at:
Dave's Guitar Shop
1227 Third Street
South La Crosse, WI 54601