History of golden tones on the guitar

colores dorados

At NitorLACK we currently offer five different versions of metallic gold lacquer: Gold Top, Aged Gold Top, Shoreline Gold, Firemist Gold and Aztec Gold. Why so many different shades of gold, you may ask? Well, as with almost every colour we offer, there is a historical background behind it.


In this article, we try to show you with a chronology, how the evolution of time made new gold/metallic colours appear and how the tastes of guitar enthusiasts also changed the trends in the sector.

goldtop natural

Generally, during the 1940s and early 1950s very few guitars and tops were finished in gold, but for the Les Paul model introduced in 1952 Gibson used Goldtop as the standard colour. Les Paul also claimed the creation of the ES-295 model with this gold finish.


He allegedly called Gibson and told them to paint an ES-175 gold for a young man Paul met in a hospital. Still, neither model sold very well, partly because  at the time gold was not a favourite colour for many guitarists. As a result, both models were discontinued in 1960.


Nowadays guitarists have recovered the taste for this colour, becoming one of the classic Gibson finishes preferred by those who have a special taste for vintage models. It is often combined with the Dark rich mahogany tone on the back.

shoreline gold color real

During the same year that the aforementioned colours were discontinued, Fender introduced and made official the launch of a new colour: Shoreline Gold. This was a subtle pale greyish-gold as a custom colour.


During the 1950s, Fender had already produced several uniquely coloured instruments at the request of customers. But to rationalise and market its colour range, in 1960 Fender published a catalogue of 14 available custom colours.

As part of this catalogue Fender introduced and made official the launch of a new colour: Shoreline Gold. This was a subtle pale greyish-gold as a custom colour.


These custom colours were used by car manufacturers, so they were widely available. Pontiac used Shoreline Gold for its ’59 and ’60s models, but by 1965 it was no longer widely used and therefore harder to find.

firemist gold guitarra

In 1965 a new gold colour came into fashion. This was the Firemist Gold colour.

This colour replaced the beloved Shoreline Gold. This colour with a more golden and shiny tone was used by Cadillac at the time.


Envious of Fender’s success, Gibson also released a catalogue of custom colours in late 1963. Although these colours were also available for the SG and ES-335/345/355 semi-solid models, the range was specifically intended to complement the Firebird guitars and Thunderbird basses.


As proof of this, in this copy of the new colour range we found the gold (Golden Mist Poly) was exactly the same as Fender’s Shoreline Gold.

aztec gold real

In 1969, both Fender and Gibson stopped using custom colours because they were no longer popular. So where does Aztec Gold come from?


Well, when Fender introduced its Elite Series guitars (made in Japan) in 1983, it offered them in a range of custom colours, including Aztec Gold. Based on the colour of the legendary 1972 Buick GSX muscle car, Aztec Gold has a brighter, yellower tone than Shoreline and Firemist Gold.


After the end of the Elite series in 1986, Fender continued to use Aztec Gold ever since for the USA American Vintage and Custom Shop models.

We hope this article has helped you to understand the historical differences between these golds. Apart from the history, it is up to you to choose the right gold tone for your instrument, which can range from subtle (Aged Gold Top, Shoreline) to more striking tones (Gold Top, Firemist, Cooper metallic, Aztec Gold).


Although we haven’t talked about the history of all these colours, the range of golden colours is wider in our catalogue. Below you will find pictures of the remaining 2: Cooper Metallic,  Aged Goldtop.

guitarra cooper metallic
aged goldtop color

*Collaborative article written in collaboration with Martijn Vink – Product Manager Guitar in THE MUSIC ALLIANCE*.

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