Les Paul had already cemented his place in electric guitar history with the creation
of the "Log" and had taken it to Gibson but they were not enthusiastic about the idea
because previous attempts at marketing a solid body electric guitar had failed.
was about to change, though.
The First Successful Solid Body Electric Guitar...
Leo Fender, who at the time owned a radio repair shop in Anaheim, had built a prototype solid body electric
guitar made out of oak in 1943. Fender rented the guitar out to musicians in order to get their feedback on the instrument
(always wise - if you want useful feedback on a new product, put it in the hands of experts who will be using it).
In 1949, Fender released a production version of the guitar called the Esquire.
He later changed the name to the Broadcaster
but copyright issues with Gretsch Drums necessitated another name change and the guitar became known as the Telecaster. The guitar
had all the sonic characteristics of Les Paul's - great sustain, no feed back or unwanted overtones(harmonics in the lingo) The Telecaster
was not all that popular with Jazz musicians, who preferred the rounder, more mellow tones of Gibson's Es 150 but it
was extremely popular with the country and blues musicians of the day.
Later on it became very popular with rock musicians. Its
"trebly" sound made it an excellent choice for the emerging rock and roll musical style and established the Telecaster as the first
true rock and roll guitar. Another piece of electric guitar history was born.
Gibson Re-enters The Scene...
1954 Gibson Les Paul
Fender's success with the Telecaster caused Gibson to re-assess the situation.
Gibson took a second look at Les Paul's solid body design and in 1952 decided to build a solid
body guitar that would become the industry standard.
Although the inspiration
for the Gibson guitar came from Les Paul and was ultimately named after him,
the design for the solid body guitar actually came from the company's new
president Ted McCarty, and more closely resembled 1800's model Gibsons
than the ES-150.
The pickups were P-90's, originally developed in 1946.
They had a warm, mellow sound and were very versatile. These original Les Pauls
are some of the most highly sought after guitars on the market today and
regularly sell for many thousands of dollars. The Les Paul is one of the most iconic
instruments in electric guitar history.
Both Gibson and Fender continued to make electric guitar history by creating some of the most
iconic instruments in the industry.
Fender released the Stratocaster, which was to become one of the
most recognizable and emulated designs in the business and was also to become a favored guitar of
rock musicians from its inception until the present day.
Gibson went on to create many versions of the Les
Paul as well as the rock legend, the SG(originally a version of the Les Paul, but Paul did not like the styling
so the guitar's name was changed). Gibson also released the Explorer and Flying V in the late 1950's. They
were not very popular at the time but have since become iconic as favored weapons in the Metal and Heavy Metal
genres. Original models of all these guitars can now cost more than most people can afford to pay for a house
if they are in good condition.