plant machinery to realize this vision, dubbing the resulting guitar “The Log.” In the
early 1950s, Gibson Guitar helped him
refine this idea into the guitar of his dreams.
Beginning with the 1952 release of the Les
Paul Goldtop, Gibson and Paul began a line
of instruments that would become objects of
desire for generations of guitarists.
Les Paul spent the past three decades playing
Les Paul Monday night in New York City, first
at the now-defunct Fat Tuesday’s, then at the
Iridum where he continued to play regularly
until the months leading up to his death.
– Michael Ross
Les Paul, 1915–2009
Les Paul, acclaimed guitar player, entertainer
and inventor, passed away August 13 from
complications of severe pneumonia at White
Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York.
Memorial services were held in Milwaukee,
WI on August 21 at the city’s science and
technology museum, Discovery World. A
private burial service followed at the Prairie
Home Cemetery in Waukesha.
listening for anyone wishing to hear how he
influenced rock guitar, from rockabilly to Jeff
Beck; his rapid-fire tremolo picking, pull-offs,
and open string work have become an integral
part of the electric guitar lexicon.
Photo courtesy Gibson Guitar Corp.
We were able to talk with the long-time
bandmates who played the Iridium every
week with Les Paul. You can read their
stories on page 118.
As guitarists we are all conscious of the instrument that bears his name, and that his (and
Leo Fender’s) development of the solidbody
guitar has shaped the way that music has been
made since the mid twentieth century. Many
are aware of his other inventions, including
tape echo and overdubbing, not to mention
an early form of live looping. Fewer know that
after a serious car accident that shattered his
right arm and elbow, Paul had his arm set
permanently in a position that would allow him
to continue to play the guitar. Fewer still know
that in the forties he ran one of the first pirate
radio stations, out of an apartment basement
in Brooklyn, broadcasting live shows by Glen
Miller, the Dorseys, and Benny Goodman.
Ever the tinkerer, Paul created his first electric guitar by jabbing a phonograph needle
into his acoustic and wiring it to his mother’s
radio. He built his own microphone, using
the mouthpiece part of a telephone and his
father’s radio. His first recording machine was
constructed from the flywheel from a Cadillac
and a belt from a dentist’s drill.
Ted Weber, founder and engineer of
died on August
14 at age 58. Ted
had been suffering
some months prior
to his death. Ted’s
responsiveness and involvement in the gear
community will not be soon forgotten.
Backing Bing Crosby in the forties, Paul had
his first million-seller, “It’s Been a Long, Long
Time.” He acquired an Ampex tape recorder
from Crosby in 1949, adding a fourth head
to the machine to enable sound-on-sound
recording. Using this overdubbing technique,
as well as some of his other innovations—
tape delay and close micing vocals—he
recorded the masterpiece “How High the
Moon.” Performed as a duo with future wife
Mary Ford, it was the first of what was to
be a string of hits for Capitol Records and it
changed the face of studio production.
Weber founded the company with his son, T.A.
Weber in 1995. Ted began building speakers
for fun, eventually moving on to designing and
distributing his vintage-flavored speakers from
home. The company now employs ten people
who hand-build speakers to Ted’s specifications.
Born Lester Polsfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin,
he was encouraged by his mother to entertain
and by his auto mechanic father to tinker. A
music teacher told his mother not to waste her
money on lessons because he wasn’t “
musically inclined,” but by age 13, as Red Hot Red,
the Wizard of Waukesha, Lester was a local
star. Soon after, he was performing hillbilly
music as Rhubarb Red and Django Reinhardt-influenced jazz as Les Paul. His trio and Jazz at
the Philharmonic series records are required
The tones he has had a part in creating will
live on in the hands of the musicians who use
his speakers, including Kenny Chesney, Brad
Paisley, Joe Walsh, Trey Anastasio, Metallica,
Derek Trucks, Rascal Flatts, Brooks & Dunn and
Dissatisfied with the thin tone, lack of sustain, and feedback problems inherent in
commercial big box electric guitars, Paul
sought a new concept. “I was interested in
proving that a vibration-free top was the way
to go,” he has said. “I even built a guitar out
of a railroad rail to prove it. What I wanted
was to amplify pure string vibration, without
the resonance of the wood getting involved
in the sound.” In 1941, Paul used Epiphone’s
T.A. says that Weber Speakers will continue
with T.A. and the current employees.
SPG Guitars, Black Cat
After a two-year hiatus from the guitar industry,
Rick Welch has taken back the reigns of the
company he started back in 2005. SPG Guitar
(also known as StarPower Guitars) is now back