Where Did the Solid Body Electric Guitar Originate?
Well let’s just get right to the point Les Paul is one person you cannot remove from the discussion. The solid body electric guitar had definitely made its mark on music. Without this instrument we would not have epic solos from artists like Jimi Hendrix, Slayer or Pink Floyd to name a few.
In Jazz, the first electric guitars on the forefront were just arch-top acoustic guitars that had pickups. The feedback on these was terrible if they had the volume turned up. At playing at a large scale venue was impossible since the sound had to be low. And, let’s face it, at a small venue you can’t bring in as much revenue because less paying bodies attend. Also, acoustic guitars simply use the vibration of strings for volume so a note could not go on as long as one would like. So a better solution was definitely needed.
Enter Les Paul, he cast a guitar out of wood taking a railroad tie to make what we now a days often call The Log. Steel and aluminum were alternatives but didn’t quite make the cut. With Les Pauls Log he like to say you could strum a few notes and go out to lunch and come back to the sound of your note still going.
So the leftover issue was that the thing was not visually or aesthetically appealing. Let’s face it no one wants to see someone playing wood with strings attached. Les Paul decided to saw it down and mounted either side with a half of the wood to make the thing look more like a guitar and make it easier to handle at the same time.
So in 1950 Gibson Company followed Les Paul’s blueprint and came out with a solid body electric guitar. The model was approved an endorsed by Les Paul and given his name. The Les Paul model has evolved since the day in 1950 to become thinner when sales dropped. Paul wasn’t a fan of the thinner version so he decided not to endorse the latest version which would be called the SG or Solid Guitar.
The Gibson Les Paul model started to gain popularity once people started to notice rock legends handling and using the model. Gibson then resumed the manufacturing of the Les Paul with his approval and the guitar has been marked with great sales ever since. The guitar will be marked by history and almost every knowledgeable guitarist can recognize the shape and relate it to Rock and Roll.
So crank up the Les Paul the next time you pick one up and take a road down memory lane with the inventor himself. Les Paul created the guitar to be loud and proud and to have a lasting sound. This is a guitar that was made to be played with some amp and energy, don’t be afraid to have a good time and let the rest of the neighborhood enjoy some of the tunes right along with you.