on 22 January 2010
For fans of the late, great Les Paul and Mary Ford and the Gibson guitar in general, this book is a real treat. It's partly a resumé of the great duo's career, but mostly looks in great technical depth at the various Gibson Les Paul guitars and their development up to 1963.
I first heard Les and Mary's 78 r.p.m. Capitol records as a youngster back in the mid 1950's and was fascinated. These days I've put together a pretty comprehensive collection of their material on CD - I'd recommend "The Legend And the Legacy" box set which gives a lot of technical background to their records in similar vein to the approach of this book.
Les Paul was a great pioneer and inventor as well as a highly successful musician, and I get an overall impression of him as a lover of life, an extrovert, and probably in his heyday a bit of a "cheeky chappie" driven by his ambitions. I admire his tenacity in returning to the music business after a horrendous motor accident which almost cost him his right arm. All of this is related in the book and there are copious illustrations and anecdotes from his various associates.
I must admit I'm not very knowledgeable about the subtle differences with the various solidbody guitars, so probably the second half of the book is a bit lost on me, but the history of the instrument is very interesting. Les Paul played a major role in its development, although whether he was actually the inventor is open to question. The Rickenbacker Company had a patent on a solid guitar with pickups back in 1934, when Paul was 19 years old. Leo Fender was another highly influential figure with his Stratocasters and Telecasters but the reader will have to look elsewhere for a Fender history - this book concentrates solely on Gibson.
Excellent value for the money and the sort of book you can dip into from time to time and enjoy the little nuggets of information. If like me you're "of a certain age" and remember the music of the 1950's, it's a must buy. If you're a younger reader and maybe a guitarist as well, this book would give you a fascinating insight as to how today's guitar sounds came to be created in the first place.
on 8 January 2010
I have a particular interest in the construction of what are now vintage guitars, so to me this book was worth buying just for the close up colour photos of early Les Paul models. However, the book also gives a fascinating insight into Les' beginnings in the industry and his phenomenal influence on modern guitars and indeed music. The book is written with a genuine affection and contains many great contemporary photos of Les and his peers, along with invaluable shots of the guitars. I'm a guitar maker and repairer, so it fits my requirements perfectly, although I can imagine that others may find some of the photos (eg. a close up of the control cavity in a Les Paul Junior) somewhat superflous. I can only speak for myself, and this book gets five stars from me.