A selection of electric guitars entering their seventh decade.

1952 Gibson Les Paul No Serial, 1953 Gibson Les Paul Serial No. 0602
Gibson launched their first solidbody Les Paul in 1952 priced at $210. Available in a gold finish top with natural finish back and sides, this model was better known as a Goldtop, with all-gold versions also available. Dealers began to receive the new Les Paul Model by June of 1952. These early versions from the collection both have the "Trapeze" combined bridge and tailpiece, which was originally designed to have the strings over the top. Unfortunately, this would have caused the action to be much too high due to the shallow neck pitch on early Les Pauls; Gibson's only choice was to have the strings wrapped under the bridge. This made intonation and playing difficult, and the "Trapeze" was subsequently replaced during 1953. In early 1952, Les Paul Goldtops did not have serial numbers. In 1953, a five-digit, ink stamped numbering system located on the back of the headstock was implemented. The first digit, spaced slightly to the left of the other four, signified the year of manufacture. Upon closer inspection of the 1952, notice the use of standard slot screws used on the pickguards and the bridge pickup. These early models also have taller speed knobs, which were replaced in 1953 by shorter versions. Also, note the non-existent toggle switch's rhythm and treble ring and the double ring replacement tuners. This 1952 example features an unbound Brazilian rosewood fingerboard. The 1952 Gibson logo is also positioned a bit lower on the headstock and has the dot of the "I" joined by the "G". The bridge pickup has mounting screws in the opposite corners, which were later redesigned to be inline with the pole piece adjustment screws, such as the ones on the 1953. Credit: Tim Mullally & Dave Rogers, Dave's Guitar Shop, La Crosse, WI.

Rig Rundown: Adam Shoenfeld

Whether in the studio or on his solo gigs, the Nashville session-guitar star holds a lotta cards, with guitars and amps for everything he’s dealt.

Adam Shoenfeld has helped shape the tone of modern country guitar. How? Well, the Nashville-based session star, producer, and frontman has played on hundreds of albums and 45 No. 1 country hits, starting with Jason Aldean’s “Hicktown,” since 2005. Plus, he’s found time for several bands of his own as well as the first studio album under his own name, All the Birds Sing, which drops January 28.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.

Advanced

Beginner

• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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