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Les Paul History

Introduced in 1952, the Gibson Les Paul has become one of the most iconic and recognizable guitars ever made, forever bearing the name of one of the most innovative minds in guitar and music history.

Les Paul, born Lester Polsfuss, was an American jazz, country, and blues guitarist, and was as much an inventor as he was a musician. In the 1930s, a time when the acoustic guitar was all that was available, Les would experiment with amplification. Ripping apart his parents' phones, radios and record players, he was able to amplify not only his voice, but his acoustic guitar as well. Not satisfied with how his amplified acoustic guitar sounded, Les sought to find a way to amplify a guitar so that only the strings could be heard without hearing the acoustic resonance of the guitar itself.

This led to a project now known as "The Rail". Les took a 2-ft discarded piece of rail from the railroad tracks across the street from his house, stretched a guitar string along the length of it, and used the microphone from his mothers' phone as a primitive guitar pickup. What he heard was exactly the sound he had been looking for, a guitar string with no acoustic resonance or feedback. Unfortunately for Les, a piece of rail is not an ideal guitar. This led to what is arguably his most revolutionary creation, "The Log".

In 1940, Les was living in New York and had become dissatisfied with the acoustic-electric instruments that were on the market. He wanted to replicate that tone he had created with "The Rail". He had friends at the Epiphone factory (before they were a Gibson entity) who let him use the factory after hours to work on what would be dubbed "The Log". One of the first solid-body electric guitars ever made, Les Paul built "The Log" out of a common 4x4 piece of wood, his own homemade pickups, and various Epiphone parts that were available. Since the look of the 4x4 on its own wasn't exactly eye-catching, Les cut an Epiphone hollowbody in half and attached it as wings to the 4x4 body so that "The Log" would look like a more traditional guitar.

Although Les had brought Gibson the idea for the solid-body electric guitar in the mid-1940s, it would be years (after a competitor released their own solid-body electric guitar model) before Gibson would call and hire him to help create what is now one of the most renowned instruments of all time, the Gibson Les Paul. First put into production in 1952, the Les Paul has been heralded by many as the pinnacle of guitar innovation design.

Gibson Les Paul Features

No matter what version of the Gibson Les Paul you have, there are some key design features that will carry over to each and every one.

First and foremost, the instantly recognizable body shape. The timeless singlecut design produced by Gibson and Les Paul has become the company's signature shape and, despite countless imitations, will forever be tied to the Gibson brand. If you're looking for a slightly different aesthetic, you can opt for a Les Paul Double Cut model.

A true Gibson Les Paul will normally feature set-neck construction, a 24.75" scale length with 22 frets, and a dual volume, dual tone, 3-way toggle switch control layout allowing you to get the most out of a dual pickup design. You'll find that some models, such as Jrs and artist models, might deviate from this, and every now and then you might find one loaded with three humbuckers. Most models will feature either a stop bar or Bigsby tail piece, though Gibson might throw a Floyd Rose model into the mix just to shake things up.

Gibson Les Paul Models

Like most other brands, Gibson offers a wide variety of styles and price points, guaranteeing that every player can find their perfect Les Paul. Let's take a look at some of their offerings:

For those players on a tight budget, the Epiphone Les Paul models are your best bet. Available in a variety of styles and configurations, these are quality instruments used by guitarists of all skill levels.

Now let's turn our attention back to Gibson. Looking for a Les Paul that stays true to its roots? Gibson's Original Collection features a line of instruments that pay tribute to their iconic past. Choose from a Les Paul Standard '50s or Les Paul Standard '60s if you're wanting that classic humbucker-loaded Les Paul tone. If humbuckers aren't your thing, opt for a Standard '50s P90, Les Paul Special, or Les Paul Junior for some P90 growl.

For today's guitarist, Gibson has introduced the Modern Collection. This line of instruments features Les Paul models that combine a classic look with modern feel and functionality. The Les Paul Tribute, Les Paul Special Tribute DC, and Les Paul Junior Tribute DC are the bare bones models of this collection, presenting modern feel without additional bells and whistles, while the Les Paul Studio, Les Paul Classic, and Les Paul Modern provide the versatility that many of today's musicians are sure to welcome with open arms.

Famous Les Paul Players

Aside from the man whose name they bear, the Gibson Les Paul has found its way into the hands of many famous guitarists and can be heard on countless hit records.

Though he played other brands, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page is one musician that became closely associated with the Les Paul. Slash, guitarist of bands such as Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver, is rarely ever seen without a Les Paul when performing. You've also got Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Alex Lifeson of Rush, Ace Frehley of KISS, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Joe Bonamassa, the list goes on and on.

Why A Gibson Les Paul

Built with high quality materials, and with the utmost care, the Gibson Les Paul is a reliable instrument that has been the go-to for many guitarists time and time again. The Les Paul is suitable for all genres, but there is something about its sound and style that screams rock and roll!

Sam Ash is a fully authorized Gibson Les Paul dealer, so you can buy your Les Paul with confidence knowing you will receive a factory-fresh, fully warrantied item. Plus, we guarantee that you will get your Les Paul at the guaranteed lowest price - and we back that up before and after the sale. Fast, free shipping, too!

Want advice from real guitar players on which Les Paul model is the perfect fit? Call us at 1-800-4SAMASH or chat with us online to speak to one of our experts. They can help you figure out which model Les Paul is best for you.