Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul: 1915-2009

Lester William Polfus (Les Paul)Image via Wikipedia

When I started playing guitar in my teen years, my first guitars were acoustic, a standard 6-string guitar and a 12-string guitar. They were great and a lot of fun. However, I always aspired to rock out and go electric. There were two guitars that I desired, the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul Custom.

I eventually went with the Stratocaster because it was the model that Eric Clapton played. A good friend of mine, who I used to get together and jam with on a regular basis, had a black Gibson Les Paul Custom, the same model that Peter Frampton played on the Frampton Comes Alive album.

The Les Paul Custom was designed by the Gibson Guitar Company based on ideas of guitarist Les Paul. Paul was one of the first to develop the solid body electric guitar because he was not happy with the sound of hollow body and acoustic guitars. Paul was so pleased with the guitar built by Gibson that he signed an exclusive contract with Gibson to use their guitars. The design was said to have "made the sound of rock and roll possible."

Not only was Paul an innovator in guitar design, but he laid the foundation of modern recording techniques. Paul was the first artist to use multi-track recording techniques. He experimented with recording multiple guitar parts, including some recorded at half speed. He also used overdubbing and delay effects such as phasing and echo. These innovations were the foundations that made The Beatles Sargeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and White Album possible.

The term "legend" is probably one of the most overused labels that can be applied to a person. In reality, it should be applied to the select few. Les Paul was one of the few, and truly deserves to be called a legend. We lost a legend today as Les Paul passed away from complications from pneumonia. His career as a professional guitarist spanned eight decades and he was still playing gigs earlier this year.

Below, is a clip of Les Paul doing what he did best. He is joined at the end of the performance by another guitar legend, Chet Atkins.

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  1. Great clip.
    I was fortunate enough to inherate a Les Paul, and play it only a few times a year.
    He was one of the best

  2. lot2learn, I am in the same boat as far as playing. I rarely have the opportunity to play any more. Too many other things going on



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