Gallery: 1950s Letters with Gibson Concerning One Doctor's Electric Guitar Purchase

We see a lot of stunning vintage guitars get posted on Reverb boasting that coveted "all original" label. Some of these marvels even include original paperwork and tags from their guitar shop of origin. What's rare even among this best-of-the-best vintage class is what we found on a recent listing for a beautiful 1956 Les Paul Custom.

For sale by The Real Deal Guitar Shop out of New York, this particular black beauty includes a series of letters between the original owner, a Dr. Haddock of Kalamazoo and various personnel from Gibson. Within the correspondence, Gibson reps and engineers help the good doctor choose his next guitar purchase and figure out the differences between the various options.

Two things stand out from the exchange most of all. One is the absolute commitment to informing the customer shown by the Gibson staff, including Chief Engineer Walter L. Fuller, a patent holding guitar electronics pioneer. Even more striking perhaps is the perspective of how new solid body guitars were as musical technology in the '50s. This is only five years after the first Les Paul rolled off the line, and at the time, many players would have never so much as touched a solid body guitar.

"Solid body electrics are best suited for country-western style of playing," Fuller explains in the letter. Of course, at this time, rock 'n' roll was in its very infancy, and even if it was something Gibson considered, it wouldn't be any sort of selling point for a respected M.D.

It's important to remember that in those days, buying a guitar through a catalog was the norm for players in many parts of the country, and buying an instrument before holding it is not a new phenomenon of the internet age. While these days it might be tough to get a Gibson engineer on the line to help make up your mind, there are still plenty of smaller builders selling on Reverb who offer this same sort of experience. In that way, it seems like electric guitar buying has indeed come full circle.

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