History of Les Paul Guitars

History of Les Paul Guitars

History of Les Paul Guitars

Gibson Les Paul:

Gibson Les Paul is a solid body electric guitar. It was sold by Gibson Guitar Corporation. It was designed by the President of Gibson, Ted McCarty, the factory manager John Huis and their team along with inventor and guitarist Les Paul. It was designed in response to the increasing popularity of Fender Telecaster.  When it was introduced, the new model had a pair of single-coil P-90 pickups, clumsy tail-piece, and a mahogany slab body with a carved maple top. It was endorsed with a solid gold finish to make it look luxurious and high-end by the creator, Les Paul himself.

Les Paul Guitars


The Gibson Guitar Corporation contacted Les Paul for the permission to add the guitarist’s name in the guitar hoping for more sales.  In 1951, Gibson gave Paul a nearly finished guitar for his approval. The design discussion with Les Paul and McCarty were narrowed down to the tailpiece and to fit a maple cap over the body of the guitar. However, this suggestion would have caused the guitar to become too heavy to handle, and Les Paul’s suggestion was refused. Les Paul claims that the original model should have had the Goldtop with full mahogany and the maple cap. The custom model was not released in the market for two years on the release of the Goldtop. By June 1952, the guitar made its public debut, when Les Paul used it onstage at the Paramount Theatre in New York.

1953 Les Paul custom:

In 1953, the Gibson’s introduced a second Les Paul model, called the Les Paul custom. This black guitar was called as black-beauty. Different bridge and tailpiece designs were added to it, including the famous Tune-o-Matic Bridge. The custom models had no significant changes until 1957. In 1957, new humbucker pickups designed by Seth Lover replaced Les Paul’s P-90 pickups. This modification becomes the fore-runner pickup design most associated with the Gibson. Many other guitar companies replaced their electrics with humbucking pickup versions.

1958 Les Paul custom:

The Les Paul had its first major change in design in 1958. The new model, named the standard, withheld most of the features of the previous Goldtop model. But it had a cherry-red sunburst finish. These guitars cost higher than the Goldtop models and lower than the custom models.

These guitars were said to be too heavy and old-fashioned. They were also not the favorite model of the guitarists. Later in 1961, the company stopped producing the Les Paul models in reference to a lighter designed model which was called the SG.

Iconic Les Paul players:

  • Keith Richards, the founding member of the Rolling Stones rock band, used a 1959 Les Paul standard.
  • Slash, Gun’s N’ Roses’ former guitarist used a sunburst, Gibson Les Paul.
  • Joe Perry used his custom-made Gibson Les Paul.
  • Bob Marley, the most influential reggae player, used a Gibson Les Paul.
  • Steve Jones, the Sex Pistols guitarist, used his own signature version of the Les Paul. He is one of the few musicians to have their own signature version of the Les Paul.