Les Paul: Inventor, Manufacturer, Guitar God

By May 25, 2005General

Not sure how many of you caught this, but Les Paul, the man who lent his name to the journeyman’s ax, the Gibson Les Paul, one of the classic electric guitars, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio earlier this month. Paul — now almost 90 — tells the story of playing his acoustic guitar in the 20’s at an outdoor barbecue restaurant, realizing that the instrument just wasn’t loud enough to be heard. “I’ve got to make the guitar louder”, he said, and make it louder he did. His first attempt was little more than a chunk of wood with frets and strings and — of course — electricity. Appropriately called, “The Log“, it sits in the Smithsonian today, a true piece of Americana.

The story of Les Paul is just a great story of American manufacturing. Here’s a guy, driven by his passion for music, who innovated, innovated, innovated, until he changed the face — and the sound — of music. He saw it and heard it in his mind, then went about the business of building it. Bravo to the Inventor’s Hall of Fame for recognizing this true genius and great manufacturer and guitar god. Yes, you can be a nonagenarian and still be a guitar god. Kudos to Les Paul for what he wrought and for doing all manufacturers proud.

Here’s a link to a story by Guy Gugliotta that ran in the San Jose Mercury News yesterday. Better still, click here to watch a video of a Gibson guitar being made.