1915, Born on this day, guitarist Les Paul, inventor of the Gibson Les Paul guitar who also had a 1953 UK No.7 single with ‘Vaya Con Dios’ and the US No.7 single ‘Hummingbird’ with Mary Ford featuring his multi-layered recording techniques. He also pioneered “close miking” and echo delay recording. Paul died in New York at the age of 94 suffering from severe pneumonia on 12th Aug 2009.
His innovative talents extended into his playing style, including licks, trills, chording sequences, fretting techniques and timing, which set him apart from his contemporaries and inspired many guitarists of the present day. He recorded with his wife Mary Ford in the 1950s, and they sold millions of records.
While living in Wisconsin, he first became interested in music at age eight, when he began playing the harmonica. After an attempt at learning the banjo, he began to play the guitar. It was during this time that he invented a neck-worn harmonica holder, which allowed him to play the harmonica hands-free while accompanying himself on the guitar. Paul’s device is still manufactured using his basic design.
Paul was dissatisfied with acoustic-electric guitars and began experimenting at his apartment in Queens, NY with a few designs of his own. Famously, he created several versions of “The Log”, which was nothing more than a length of common 4×4 lumber with a bridge, guitar neck and pickup attached. For the sake of appearance, he attached the body of an Epiphone hollow-body guitar, sawn lengthwise with The Log in the middle. This solved his two main problems: feedback, as the acoustic body no longer resonated with the amplified sound, and sustain, as the energy of the strings was not dissipated in generating sound through the guitar body. These instruments were constantly being improved and modified over the years, and Paul continued to use them in his recordings long after the development of his eponymous Gibson model.
Among his many honors, Paul is one of a handful of artists with a permanent, stand-alone exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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