Eddie Van Halen’s 1969 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

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S/N: 539381

Eddie’s father Jan purchased this guitar for Eddie on August 15, 1969. It was likely his second electric guitar chronologically looking.

Original receipt from 1969.

Model, Specs

Based on the photos, the guitar was a Gibson Les Paul Goldtop with two P-90 single-coil pickups. Based on the serial number shown in the receipt above, it was made in 1969, but sometimes you’ll that Eddie referred to it as a ’68.

The 1969 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop featured, as said, two white P-90 pickups, a white pickguard, one-piece mahogany neck and body, rosewood fretboard, Kluston tuner, and a Tune-o-Matic bridge. As we’ll see, Eddie’s guitar didn’t remain in this original state for long.

Mods

By the time Eddie was first photographed with the guitar, he already made some major modifications to it. Starting from the least intricate one – he removed the original pickguard and the white pickup cover on the P-90 in the neck position.

But, more importantly, we see that he completely got rid of the bridge P-90 and installed a full-sized humbucker instead. This required some modifications to the body – carving out the pickup pocket, since a humbucker pickup would be larger than an P-90.

That was the first guitar I experimented with. It originally had P-90 soap bar pickups, but I put a humbucker in the bridge. When we used to play at the Starwood and Whisky, people tripped at the sound I was getting from that guitar. They couldn’t see the humbucker on the bridge because my hand was covering it

Eddie Van Halen Shares the Guitars Behind His Quest for Tone
Young Eddie Van Halen with his 1969 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop.
Young Eddie Van Halen with his 1969 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. Photo credit: Unknown

Usage

It is assumed that this guitar was Eddie’s main for at least a few years from 1969 to around 1975, up until it was allegedly stolen and replaced with an Ibanez Flying V. [The true origins and evolution of Eddie Van Halen’s legendary Frankenstein guitar – this source is now locked behind a paywall].

It is interesting to think that the guitar could still be out there, and furthermore, it could be easily traced back to Eddie since we have the serial number (539381). So if someone happens to have a Goldtop from 1969 with a custom humbucker in the bridge position, be sure to check the back of the headstock. Also, be sure to get in touch, we won’t snitch.

Van Halen performing at a backyard party circa 1973.
Van Halen performing at a backyard party circa 1973. Eddie is seen playing his Les Paul Goldtop.
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