Lester William Polsfuss known to most of us as Les Paul passed away on August 12, 2009 at the age of 94. Les Paul was not only a world-class guitarist, but was widely acknowledged for his developments of the electric guitar. His work is credited with paving the way for the sounds that made rock music possible. Les Paul’s patents include US Pat No. 2,737,842 (trapezoidal tailpiece and bridge), US Pat. No. 3,018,680 (electro-magnetic pick-up) and US Pat. No. 3,725,561 (electrical pick-up).
In the early 1950s Gibson released the Les Paul guitar, a design resulting from the collaboration of Ted McCarty and Les Paul. See US Pat. No. 2,714,326. The Les Paul guitar was marketed to compete with Fender’s Telecaster. See US Pat. No. D164,227. In about 1955 these guitars were equipped with a humbucking style pickup designed by Seth Lover known as PAF or “Patent Applied For” See US Pat. No. 2,896,491.
The list of guitarists who have played a Les Paul guitar reads like the who’s who of rock and roll including: Duane Allman (Allman Brothers), Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day), Jeff Beck (The Yardbirds), Buckethead, Eric Clapton, John Fogerty (CCR), Peter Frampton, Ace Frehley (Kiss), Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac), Steve Hackett (Genesis), Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule), Mick Jones (Foreigner), Mick Jones (The Clash), Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), Paul Kossoff (Free), Alex Lifeson (Rush), Bob Marley, Ted Nugent, Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Randy Rhoads (Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne), Keith Richards (Rolling Stones), Tom Scholz (Boston), Neal Schon (Journey), Slash (Guns n Roses, Velvet Revolver), Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones), Pete Townshend (The Who), Leslie West (Mountain), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne), and Neil Young, but none more famous than Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.
Some of Paul’s lesser known inventions may have made a larger impact on music recording industry than his renowned guitars. Les Paul’s multi-track recording machine allowed separate lines of instrumental music and vocals to be blended together. Other revolutionary engineering techniques attributed to Les Paul include various miking techniques, echo delay, and overdubbing.