Gibson Les Paul

The Gibson Les Paul model is one of the great and most popular electric guitars ever produced.  Arguably, Gibson (the oldest) and Fender, manufacture the most popular instruments used by bands around the world. Fender solids, the Stratocaster and the Telecaster as well the Gibson semi-solid ES 335 and its similar variants, together with Gibson’s Les Paul probably represent the world’s four top electric guitar models.

The first Les Pauls saw the light of day in 1952, designed by John Huis who used guitarist Les Paul as a consultant. Its typical early fifties design featured a solid mahogany body with a carved maple top and a single cutaway, a mahogany set-in neck with a rosewood fretboard, two pickups with independent volume and tone controls.

Les Paul was a respected and popular guitarist of the fifties and sixties. He is famous for creating the Les Paul ‘Log’, an early solid body made from a narrow pine log with added pick-ups and controls.. Gibson rejected the Log as a possible production model but used some of Les Paul’s suggestions for the design of the new guitar retaining a basic. no frills approach. Use of the Les Paul name was a key marketing strategy.

Not always a success, the Les Paul has had a checkered career. Not an overnight success, the model was discontinued in 1960 when a radical redesign saw a heavily modified body with a double cutaway, designated the SG. In the mid-1960s there was a resurgence of interest in the Les Paul. In 1964, bands and guitarists  like the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, Eric Clapton,  Mike Bloomfield, Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead,  Peter Green, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page began using Les Paul guitars. Responding to the instrument’s new-found popularity, in July 1968, Gibson reintroduced the Les Paul single-cutaway model which has remained in production.

I have recently acquired a Studio model that was first introduced in 1987 and is still produced. The guitar reputedly intended for the studio musician was designed to retain optimal sound output but not a flashy appearance such as body and neck binding. This model retains all the elements of the Les Paul that contribute to tone and playability, including the carved maple top and standard mechanical and electronic hardware.

In the first half hour of playing my new acquisition I was unsure and in the second half hour I loved it to bits. We shall see what we will.