Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Gibson Les Paul Guitar Story

By: Gareth Owen

In 1950, there was a big boom in the world of music when the
Fender Telecaster (electric guitar) was introduced in the
market. Another breed of guitars led the world of music after
this with Gibson Les Paul. As the name suggests Gibson is the
leading musical instrument manufacturer and Les Paul was one of
the most respected guitarists in history. Les Paul has been
known for his innovation in musical instruments and it was for
this reason that the president of Gibson Company, Ted McCarthy,
got Les Paul to be a consultant for Gibson.

Les Paul made a solid body prototype, which was known as The
Log. Les Paul had approached Gibson in the year 1945 with this
prototype but this idea was refused, but then again in 1951 Les
Paul and Gibson worked together and Les Paul's innovative idea
gave birth to a marvel that rocked the music world. The line of
models for the Gibson hollow-body electric guitars provided
ideas to create Gibson Les Paul, which differed from Fender in
having a more curved body and a glued-in neck.

There are different controversies regarding the role of Les Paul
in Gibson. One of the controversies is that the president of
Gibson Corporation approached Les Paul and asked him for the
right to print his name on the headstock of the guitar so that
they could increase the sales of that specific model and name it
Gibson Les Paul.

It was also claimed by McCarthy that they only had discussions
with Les Paul regarding the tailpiece and fitting of a maple cap
over the mahogany body for increased density and sustain. Les
Paul also wanted the new model to have a gold finish but the
Gibson gave flame and tiger maple finishes for it to compete
with the Fender.

The Les Paul guitar started out with two models, the regular
model, which was then nicknamed as the Goldtop and the other was
the custom model in which up gradation of the hardware was
offered with a black finish. There was a constant improvement
seen in the pickup, body and hardware patterns that truly pulled
lots of guitarists towards it.

There are different features that distinguish the Gibson Les
Paul from the rest of the brands. Gibson Les Paul is known for
mounting of its strings, which are always mounted on top of the
guitar body and not through the guitar body as was seen in the
Fender's models. Gibson Les Paul has offered a wide range of
decorative models, customized hardware, and electric pickup
options. The humbucking pickup completely eliminated the
60-cycle humming that previously beset the amplified guitars.

Gibson Les Paul has gone through an evolutionary process over
the years and has brought on unique models to gear up with state
of the art advanced technology and style. The line of Gibson Les
Paul models are Goldtop (1952-1957), Custom (1954-1960), Gibson
Les Paul Junior (1954-1960), Gibson Les Paul TV (1955-1960),
Gibson Les Paul Special (1955-1960), Gibson Les Paul Standard
(1958-1960), Gibson Les Paul SG 1961, Gibson Les Paul Deluxe
1968, Gibson Les Paul Studio 1983, as well as the modern Gibson
Les Paul guitars.

It was in the 1960 that the icons in the world of guitarists
such as Mike Bloomfield, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page as well as
Eric Clapton acknowledged the professional capability of Gibson
Les Paul's late 50s guitars because they had the thicker and
more sustaining tone of Gibson's humbucking pickups. This
innovation just gave Gibson Les Paul the unique standing in
electric guitars and then there were a lot of companies that
followed the lead of Gibson in making the humbucking pickups.
Following these icons, a lot of other bands and artists made
Gibson Les Paul their choice and now a 1959 Les Paul can cost in
a range of about $100,000 to $500,000.

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