Oozing mojo, this excellent 1956 Gibson Les Paul TV Special comes to us via the workshop of Neil Ivison of Ivison Guitars, resurrected in quite dramatic fashion. Read on and see our forthcoming YT video for full details…
The body shows very little signs of wear. The colour has faded a little though by 1956 they had started to yellow the finish a little more than the previous year. There are a few dings along with a stretch of case wear that has been patched at some stage in the past. Overall this guitar is in fine condition.
When we first bought the guitar it had a section on the back of the neck which looked to be thick, opaque paint. The decision was taken to have it refinished by Neil so it better blend it with the rest of the guitar. On starting the work, he made the discovery that the neck had been shaved a bit too far…! There was very little wood left so a decision was obviously made to build it back up using a floor tile and builders putty...
Safe to say the only way for this guitar to speak again was a new neck and the results, you must agree, are stunning. Thankfully the original fretboard and headstock (with original finish) were saved and spliced onto the new neck at the first fret. Neil used some old growth mahogany for the repair to better match the grain of the original wood.
The original fretboard is in excellent shape, the binding having also been rescued, as is the original headstock which has not been refinished and retains its original serial number and decal etc. The frets are original and there's still some life left in them. The original nut has been retained. Everything else on the neck is new with a fantastically well matched refinish done to the back of the neck. The Grover tuners are a later addition and one of the cases is lifting but still works fine.
Elsewhere, the hardware and plastics on this guitar have survived well. The tailpiece shows some signs of use as do the studs. The pickguard and jack plate are in great shape.
Electrically Neil managed to leave the majority of the solder joints alone as they had been untouched since they left Kalamzoo. As he only needed to remove the neck pickup for the repair, this was achieved by desoldering at the pickup.
The guitar comes with a hardshell case
This guitar has a nice acoustic resonance with the new neck carved using templates taken from a 1956 Special so feels just the same. The real fun comes when plugged in as both P90s deliver a fantastic gnarly tone when full tilt, cleaning up nicely with the volume and tone controls. Gibson produced some brilliant pickups in the 1950s and this guitar is certainly blessed with a well matched pair.
This guitar goes a long way to show that ‘student models’ of the 50s were certainly not just thrown together by the craftsmen of Kalamazoo and that even when things look to be quite dire they can be repaired and new life breathed into them. There are many more miles left on this guitar for sure and with current LP Specials what they are, this one is a bit of a bargain…