Page last updated at 18:16 GMT, Thursday, 13 August 2009 19:16 UK

Les Paul's 'beautiful' guitar

Les Paul
Les Paul designed his first solid-body electric guitar in 1941

Stephen Lawson, editor of Total Guitar magazine, considers the impact of Les Paul, who has died aged 94, and his iconic guitar.

Everyone we know who spoke of him, like Slash, said he was a real gent. Everyone really respected his guitar playing. Quite often we forget that he was a really great guitarist because he invented the Les Paul guitar and multi-track recording.


It was a beautiful guitar… it was hand crafted, it was carved, it was a really beautiful looking instrument. It was produced in a completely different way - it had a set neck - not a bolt-on neck, so when it came out, people were rather impressed and it's continued to be one of the most popular models, even though it was discontinued for a while.

The great thing about a Les Paul was that you get loads of sustain - it's a powerful sound but it's also quite refined, depending on which pickups are fitted. It's pretty versatile, if you use the neck pick up and back off the treble you can get a really decent jazz sound, but then it's also known for being a real rock guitar with the likes of Jimmy Page and Slash and Joe Perry.

For the last half hour I've been trying to imagine a world without Les Paul. It would be so different - he's the man who invented multi-track recording. Until he did that, you had to make a record gathered round a microphone in the middle of a room.

It's really mind-boggling to imagine what the world would be like without him. Guitar music would be very different, the Les Paul does have a very recognisable sound and it's often played because of the way it looks.

One of the most obvious classic Les Paul Guitar solos is Sweet Child of Mine by Guns N' Roses - that intro has such a distinctive Les Paul sound to it.

It can go all the way from a mellow beautiful sound that really hits you in your soul all the way to a shredding searing led guitar tone.




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