The Gibson Les Paul – a History: background and history of the Lee Jackson mod
There are few guitar modifications that have had as much impact on sound and style as the humbucker. With the invention of this pickup, players like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Tony Iommi and others were able to coax tones from their guitars that they never knew were possible. But where did it all start?
The first electric guitar was invented in 1931 by George Beauchamp. He wanted to find a way to be heard over the sound of drums and horns. The original pickups were very basic and sounded somewhat boxy, which is why he came up with a better way to amplify his instrument. He made two separate coils that were wound around magnets. This gave a warmer tone with more sustain than the single coil guitars of that time period. In 1936 he patented his new design under US patent number 2,089,171 (see below). The patent describes how two coils are wound around magnets that are next to each other with opposite polarities so as to cancel out any stray signals coming from nearby radio stations or electrical appliances.
After some experimentation Beauchamp found out if he placed these coils adjacent one another then they would
The Gibson Les Paul, in its many forms and incarnations, is without doubt one of the most famous guitars in the world. The story of how it became so is a fascinating one, and is the stuff of legend.
First off, the Les Paul name is not just another guitar model – it represents a man who was instrumental in pushing the boundaries of electric guitar design. He was responsible for many revolutionary ideas which paved the way for what we take for granted today. This article will trace his history and influence, and look at how his name became synonymous with one of the most sought after guitars ever produced.
The Gibson Les Paul name came about after a series of meetings between Gibson executives and Paul himself. They decided that a collaboration would be mutually beneficial, as Paul’s reputation as an inventor would help to promote Gibson’s new range of solid body electric guitars. In return, Gibson offered him royalties on every instrument sold bearing his name.
Lee Jackson was born Lester William Polfuss on June 9th 1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He started playing music at a very early age, and showed great talent from an early age too. He played several instruments including banjo and harmonica before settling on guitar as his main instrument at around 11 years old.
The Gibson Les Paul: A History The term “humbucking” originates from the design of this pickup. Unlike conventional single-coil pickups, the humbucker uses two coils wired in series to cancel electromagnetic noise. The coils are placed side by side with opposite magnetic polarity (the north pole of one coil is aligned with the south pole of the other).
The coils are also connected in series. The sound signal passes through each coil in turn, and the resulting output is a combination of the two signals. Magnets in pickups are typically made of alnico or ceramic, along with steel pole pieces and a magnet wire.
The Gibson Les Paul was originally available with three different pickups: a P-90 single coil, a mini-humbucker, and a full-size humbucker (PAF), all mounted on a carved maple top. This mixture provided a wide range of sound that could go from mellow to bright and nasty.
The mini-humbucker was designed to eliminate 60 cycle hum common to single coil pickups, but retained much of their sparkle and bite. This pickup was used until about 1957, when it was replaced by the PAF humbucking pickup.
The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most popular guitars in the world. It has been played by some of the greatest guitarists of all time, and has been used on many of rock’s greatest albums. In this feature we examine the history, background and development of this legendary guitar from its unlikely birth in the early 1950s through to the present day.
The story of the Les Paul is a fascinating one, and begins in 1941 when guitarist Les Paul built his first solid body electric guitar. In 1952 Les Paul approached Gibson and suggested that they should manufacture an electric guitar based on his design. The president of Gibson at that time was Ted McCarty who, along with chief designer Walter Fuller, helped to turn Les’ ideas into a working reality. The result was the creation of what was to become one of the world’s most famous guitars – The Gibson Les Paul.
When the Les Paul was introduced in 1952, it was initially heavily rejected by guitarists. Many thought the solid body design was too radical and were used to more traditional hollow-body instruments. However, a small but growing number of guitarists came to appreciate this new design for several reasons. In order to increase the volume of the guitar, Gibson’s designers realized they could remove some of the soundbox, which would partially—and deliberately—expose the guitar strings. From an engineering perspective this heightened the volume of the note and allowed Gibson’s designers to increase the sustain of notes. In addition, the body “mounted directly onto a solid maple piece on top of a carved maple top” and gave the instrument an “aggressive attack.”
The Les Paul guitar was first manufactured in 1952 by Gibson, a company that is today a subsidiary of Norlin Corporation (founded in 1954). Norlin had acquired Gibson in 1944 following Gibson’s bankruptcy. The original Les Paul guitar featured a solid mahogany body capped with a maple top, which produced an instrument capable of many tonal variants with maximum sustain. Early Les Paul guitars were made with arched tops; when Gibson began offering them with carved tops ten years after their initial issue, models such as this were referred to as “Les
Solid body electric guitars had been in use for some time, but their popularity was mostly confined to jazz and blues musicians. In the early 1950s, the Gibson guitar company of Kalamazoo, Michigan began manufacturing solid body electric guitars. The first model introduced was the Les Paul.
The Gibson Les Paul was named after its designer and developer, Les Paul. Paul didn’t invent the solid body electric guitar; in fact he wasn’t even the first person to have one built for him. What he did do was improve upon the existing guitar design so that it became a more practical instrument.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when Les Paul’s interest in music began. As a child he’d built an upright bass from a cigar box and had learned to play on his mother’s old acoustic guitar. He also loved listening to music on the radio and would spend hours trying to figure out just what it was that made certain songs sound so good.
By the time he was 17, Paul had a regular program on radio station WISN (Milwaukee) as well as on KMOX (St Louis) and WLW (Cincinnati). While he’d started out playing country music, by this time his repertoire had expanded to include pop tunes and jazz numbers as well
The first solidbody electric guitar was built by Rickenbacker in 1931. The first commercially successful solidbody electric guitar was introduced by Gibson in 1952. It was called the Les Paul, and it was a sleek, “modernistic” guitar, with a flat top rather than the old-fashioned violin-shaped body. It had a solid mahogany body, a maple top, two “humbucking” pickups (designed to cancel out hum), and it came in four colors: gold, red, blue and black.
The Les Paul has become one of the most famous guitars in history. Its image is almost as big as its sound. In 1955 Gibson launched a second version of the Les Paul model: the Custom Black Beauty. It has become known as the “humbucker” and is among the most sought-after guitars on earth today.