100th birthday of Les Paul

Today is the 100th birthday of Lester William Polsfuss, or better known as Les Paul.
Beside being a great composer and jazz guitar player, he was one of the most ingenious innovators of the early history of electric guitars.

 

 

 

 

Les Paul (1915-2009)

Les Paul (1915-2009)

He dedicated his life to find the perfect guitar tone and recording techniques.

 Les Paul with his first guitar

Les Paul with his first guitar

When he was a child he created his first instrument using a piece of rail, a string and the microphone of their phone.

His first instrument

His first instrument

Three patents assigned to him: the original string anchoring bridge of Les Paul guitars and two pickups.
But his influence was way more than those patents.

Here are some of his inventions:

LesPaul with the Headless guitar

LesPaul with the Headless guitar

Headless guitar (yes, he did it in the forties: a guitar with aluminium body and tuning keys on the back of the body. He showed it to Gibson but they refused his idea. Later he also showed it to Ned Steinberger, inspiring him to start the development of the famous Steinberger headless guitars.)

First Gibson Les Paul models

First Gibson Les Paul models

Of course, he inspired and/or developed many features of the iconic Gibson Les Paul guitars. Actually, he was the one who convinced the management of Gibson to build a solid body guitar.

Les Paul with his disc-cutter in his home studio

Les Paul with his disc-cutter in his home studio

He made the first multitrack recording in his studio in 1948. His hit “Lover” contained 8 multiplied guitar track layers. That time he used a kind of acetate discs and he made his own cutting device himself using car parts.

The Ampex tape recorde modified by Les Paul

The Ampex tape recorder modified by Les Paul

Later he received and modified an Ampex Model 200 tape recorder adding an extra head. Ampex decided to follow his idea and released multi track studio recorders.

The Les Paulverizer

The Les Paulverizer

Looper: it might sound weird but he was also the pioneer of loopers on stage. He invented the device called the “Les Paulverizer” in 1956 that was an early remote control for a tape recorder that he could use on his guitar. He played live multiple layerered music on stage!

See how he plays and explains the way he use it in the seventies!

Les Paul Recording prototype

Les Paul Recording prototype

His own Les Paul guitars were heavily modified compared with the well known models. Actually, he didn’t like those commercially successful guitars. Gibson always served him with custom instruments. Les Paul defined what kind of neck, body, electronics he needed, he even described precisely what magnets and winding to use in his pickups.

He was very active and played a lot on stage until he died 6 years ago.
Watch and listen how amazing he played in age of 90!

Sources I used:

Wikipedia
Les Paul foundation
Ultimate-guitar

 

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