Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul (1915–2009)

Les Paul. His contributions to music definitively shaped the sounds and bands we've grown to love and continue loving each day. The name means first class and top of the line as does the man himself as well as the guitar bearing his name. In a industry where there are very few active living legends, Paul did what he loved until the end, inspiring many musicians along the way.
Above being a musician and well respected guitarist, Paul was a pioneer whose innovations are still being used today in concerts and on various recordings and have been for decades now. It was Paul who invented a harmonica holder to wear around his neck as a means to play the instrument as accompaniment to guitar playing. The basic design is still used for current versions of the device.

Paul is also credited as one of the inventors of the first electric guitars. His guitar known as The Log consisted of nothing more than a single pickup, a neck, a bridge and some wood. It was this guitar that he took to Gibson to market only for the design to be rejected. Years later, Gibson would consult with Paul on ideas for an electric guitar that would rival the Fender Telecaster. This guitar would bare his name and the Gibson Les Paul would launch numerous careers over the next 40-plus years, most notably being Jimmy Page and Slash.

In addition to these great things, Paul's use of multi-tracking reinvented the way albums and singles are recorded throughout all genres of music. Paul would record multiple guitar tracks at varying speeds and layer them on top of each other each with a different riff to accompany the previous recorded track. To this day, Paul's multi-tracked techniques are used by many guitarists and on many recordings and, in a way, brought forth the title of "rhythm guitarist".

These are only a few of his contributions to music but his biggest contribution was simply deciding to pick up a guitar. This one thing helped create a lot of what we love about music, past and present. Not many people can claim that by doing one thing, it led to lifetime of accolades, respect from peers, vast influence over younger generations and would shape the world of music. Les Paul could.

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