- Gibson Les Paul
Infobox Guitar model|title=Gibson Les Paul
caption=2005 Gibson '58 Reissue Les Paul in 'Heritage Cherry Sunburst'
period= 1952 — 1960, 1968 — present
pickups=2 Burst Bucker Pro
Humbuckers[http://www.gibson.com/en-us/divisions/gibson%20usa/products/lespaul/standard/ Gibson USA: Gibson Les Paul Standard Guitar, The Les Paul Standard Electric Guitar Facts and Pictures ] ] on the standard Les Pauls (originally P-90s)
colors=Various (often natural-type finishes), Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Honey Burst, Vintage Sunburst, Ebony, Wine RedThe Gibson Les Paul is a solidbody
electric guitaroriginally developed in the early 1950s. The Les Paul was originally designed by Ted McCarty and endorsed, named and used by then popular jazz/pop guitarist Les Paul.
The Les Paul model was the result of a design collaboration between
Gibson Guitar Corporationand pop star, electronics inventor, and accomplished jazz guitarist Les Paul. In 1950, after the introduction of the Fender Telecasterto the musical market, electric guitars became a public craze. In reaction, Gibson Guitar president Ted McCarty brought guitarist Les Paul into the company as a consultant. Les Paul was a respected innovator who had been experimenting with guitar design for years to benefit his own music. In fact, he had hand-built a solid-body prototype called "The Log", [ [http://www.dkimages.com/discover/Home/Performing-Arts/Music/Instruments/String/Guitars/Electric-Guitar/Les-Paul/Les-Paul-01.html "Image of "The Log"] ] a design widely considered the first solid-body Spanish guitar ever built, as opposed to the "Hawaiian", or lap-steel guitar. This guitar is known as "The Log" because the solid core is a pine block whose width and depth are a little more than the width of the fretboard. Although numerous other prototypes and limited-production solid-body models by other makers have since surfaced, it is known that in 1945-1946, Les Paul had approached Gibson with "The Log" prototype, but his solid body design was rejected.Fact|date=May 2008 [cite book |last=Freeth |first=Nick |coauthors=Charles Alexander |editor=Ray Bonds |title=The Illustrated Directory of Guitars |year=2004 |publisher=Barnes & Noble, Inc. |isbn=0-7607-6317-8 |pages=290-293 ]
In 1951, this initial rejection became a design collaboration between the Gibson Guitar Corporation and Les Paul. It was agreed that the new Les Paul guitar was to be an expensive, well-made instrument in Gibson's tradition.Fact|date=May 2008 Although recollections differ regarding "who" contributed "what" to the Les Paul design, it was far from a market replica of the competing Fender models. Since the 1930s, Gibson had offered electric hollow-body guitars, such as the ES-150; at minimum, these hollow-body electric models provided a set of basic design cues to the new Gibson solid-body, including a more traditionally curved body shape than offered by competitor Fender, and a glued-in ("set") neck, in contrast to Fender's bolt-on neck joint design.
The significance of Les Paul's contributions to his Gibson guitar design remain controversial. The book "50 Years of the Gibson Les Paul" limits Paul's contributions to two: advice on the trapeze tailpiece, and a preference for color (stating that Paul preferred gold as "it looks expensive", and a second choice of black because "it makes your fingers appear to move faster on the box", and "looks classy—like a tuxedo").Fact|date=May 2008
Additionally, Gibson's president Ted McCarty states that the Gibson Guitar Corporation merely approached Les Paul for the right to imprint the musician's name on the headstock to increase model sales, and that in 1951, Gibson showed Paul a nearly finished instrument. McCarty also claims that design discussions with Les Paul were limited to the tailpiece and the fitting of a maple cap over the mahogany body for increased density and sustain, which Les Paul had requested reversed. However, according to Gibson Guitar, this reversal would have caused the guitar to become too heavy, and Paul's request was refused.Fact|date=May 2008 Another switch: the original Goldtop was to be all mahogany and the later Custom was to have the maple cap/mahogany body. Beyond these requests, Les Paul's contributions to the guitar line bearing his name were stated to be cosmetic. For example, ever the showman, Paul had specified that the guitar be offered in a gold finish, not only for flashiness, but to emphasize the high quality of the Les Paul instrument, as well.Fact|date=May 2008 The later-issue Les Paul models included "flame" (tiger stripe) and "quilted" maple finishes, and once again contrasted the competing Fender line's range of car-like color finishes. Gibson was notably inconsistent with its wood choices, and some goldtops or customs have had their finish stripped to reveal beautifully-figured wood hidden underneath.Fact|date=May 2008
Models and variations
The Les Paul guitar line was originally conceived to include two models: the regular model (nicknamed the Goldtop), and the Custom model, which offered upgraded hardware and a more formal black finish. However, advancements in pickup, body, and hardware designs allowed the Les Paul to become a long-term series of electric solid-body guitars that targeted every price-point and market level except for the complete novice guitarist. This beginner guitar market was filled by the Melody Maker model, and although the inexpensive Melody Maker did not bear the Les Paul name, its body consistently followed the design of true Les Pauls throughout each era.
Beyond shaping and body design, there are a number of characteristics that distinguish the Gibson Les Paul line from other electrics. For example, in a fashion similar to Gibson's hollow-body instruments, the strings of Les Paul guitars are always mounted on the top of the guitar body, rather than through the guitar body, as seen in competitor Fender's designs. The Gibson also features a variety of colors, such as Wine Red, Ebony, Classic White, Fire Burst, and Alpine White. In addition, the Les Paul models offered a variety of finishes and decorative levels, a diversity of hardware options, and an innovative array of electric pick-up options, some of which significantly impacted the sound of electric music. For instance, in 1957, Gibson introduced the
humbuckerwhich revolutionized the sound of the electric guitar, and eliminated the 60-cycle noise which had previously plagued guitars with magnetic pickups.
The 1952 Les Paul featured two P-90 single-coil pickups, and a one-piece, 'trapeze'-style bridge and tailpiece, with strings that were fitted under (instead of over) a steel stop-bar. The weight and the tonal characteristics of the Les Paul were largely due to the mahogany and maple construction: both are quite heavy woods. In addition, the 1952 Les Pauls were never issued serial numbers and are considered by some as "LP Model prototypes". Interestingly, the design scheme of some of these early models varied. For instance, some of the Les Pauls of this issue were fitted with black covered P90 pickups instead of the creme colored plastic covers that are associated with this guitar, even today. Of note, these early models, nicknamed "Goldtops", have begun to gain the interest of collectors, and subsequently, the associated nostalgic value of this instrument is increasing. In fact, re-sale prices of the vintage Les Pauls have begun to compete with already high priced, but more practical (and usable) Les Paul versions issued in later years.
The second issue of the Les Paul guitar was introduced to the public in 1954. [citenews|url=http://www.zuitar.com/guitars/Gibson/Solid_Body/Les_Paul_Custom/index.html|title=Les Paul Custom Guitars|publisher=Zuitar.com|accessdate=2008-08-12] Called the Gibson Les Paul Custom [citenews|url=http://www.zuitar.com/guitars/Gibson/Solid_Body/Les_Paul_Custom/index.html|title=Les Paul Custom Guitars|publisher=Zuitar.com|accessdate=2008-08-12] , this entirely black guitar was an expertly decorated work of art, and dubbed the Black Beauty. The Les Paul Custom featured a mahogany top to differentiate the instrument from its Goldtop predecessor's maple top. It also featured the new
Tune-o-Maticbridge design and a pickup with an alnico-5 magnet in the neck position. In addition, since 1957, the Custom was fitted with Gibson's new humbucker pickups, [ [http://www.gibson.com/en-us/divisions/gibson%20usa/products/lespaul/lespaulclassiccustom/ Gibson Les Paul Classic Custom Guitar, Black Beauty Custom Style Guitar Pictures and Specs ] ] and later became available with three pickups instead of the more usual two. The three pickup model retained the standard Gibson 3-way switch so not all pickup combinations were possible. The neck and bridge-only settings were retained, but the middle was changed to switch in the middle and bridge pickups. [citenews|url=http://www.zuitar.com/guitar/100685-Les_Paul_Custom.html|title=Les Paul Custom (1957)|publisher=Zuitar.com|accessdate=2008-08-12] A common modification was to restore the standard neck/both/bridge switching combination and add a switch to enable the middle pickup on its own.Fact|date=May 2008
Junior (1954-1960) and TV (1955-1960)
In 1954, to widen the solid-body electric market still further, Gibson issued the Gibson Les Paul Junior. [citenews|url=http://www.zuitar.com/guitars/Gibson/Solid_Body/Les_Paul_Junior/index.html|title=Les Paul Junior|publisher=Zuitar.com|accessdate=2008-08-12] Although previously the Melody Maker was marketed toward the novice guitarist, Gibson targeted to the beginner again with a Les Paul Junior design. Over time, this Gibson design has proven well-suited for even professional use. [ [http://www.gibson.com/en%2Dus/divisions/gibson%20usa/products/lespaul/billie%20joe%20armstrong%2057/ Gibson USA: Gibson Billie Joe Armstrong '57 LP Junior Electric Guitar, Pictures and Information, Buy Electric Guitar Online ] ] [ [http://www.gibsoncustom.com/inspiredby/Lennon.html gibsoncustom.com ] ]
There were marked differences between the other Les Paul models and the Les Paul Junior. For instance, although the Junior's body outline was clearly reminiscent of the original upmarket Les Paul guitar, the Junior issue was characterized by its flat-top "slab" mahogany body, finished in traditional Gibson Sunburst. The Junior was touted as an inexpensive option for Gibson electric guitar buyersFact|date=May 2008: it had a single P-90 pickup, simple volume and tone controls, and the unbound rosewood fingerboard bore plain dot-shape position markers. However, as a concession to the aspirations of the beginning guitarist buyer, the Junior did feature the stud bridge/tailpiece similar to the second incarnation of the upscale Gold-Top.
Later, in 1955, Gibson launched the Les Paul TV model [citenews|url=http://www.zuitar.com/guitar/100403-Les_Paul_Junior.html|title=Les Paul Junior|publisher=Zuitar.com|accessdate=2008-08-12] , which was essentially a Junior with what Gibson called a natural finish. This finish was actually more of a translucent mustard yellow through which the wood grain could be seen, and was not unlike the finish that competitor Fender called butterscotch yellow. The idea behind this TV Yellow was that white guitars would glare too much on early black and white television broadcasts, whereas TV Yellow guitars would not cast a glare. [citenews|url=http://www.provide.net/~cfh/gibson5.html|title=Vintage Guitars Info's Gibson Solid Body Model|accessdate=2008-08-16]
In 1958, Gibson made a radical design change to their Junior and TV models [citenews|url=http://www.zuitar.com/guitar/100536-Les_Paul_Junior_Double_Cut.html|title=Les Paul Junior Double Cut|publisher=Zuitar.com|accessdate=2008-08-12] : with the design change came cosmetic changes to these guitars that would later take on enormous importance.Fact|date=May 2008 To accommodate player requests for more access to the top frets than the previous designs allowedFact|date=May 2008, Gibson revamped both these electric guitar models with a new double-cutaway body shape. In addition, the Junior's fresh look was enhanced with a new cherry red finish, while the re-shaped TV adopted a new, rather yellow-tinged finish for its new design.
In 2005 Gibson worked with Green Day's lead singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and released a signature Les Paul Junior. It is modeled after "Floyd" his original 56 Junior. It has a H-90 which is like a P-90 but hum cancelling.
The Les Paul Special was released in 1955 [citenews|url=http://www.zuitar.com/guitars/Gibson/Solid_Body/Les_Paul_Special/index.html|title=Les Paul Special|publisher=Zuitar.com|accessdate=2008-08-12] , featuring two soapbar P-90 single coil pickups, finished in a TV Yellow variation (but not called a TV model).
In 1959, the Special was given the same new double-cutaway body shape [citenews|url=http://www.zuitar.com/guitar/100538-Les_Paul_Special_Double_Cut.html|title=Les Paul Special Double Cutaway|publisher=Zuitar.com|accessdate=2008-08-12] that the Junior and the TV received in 1958. However, when the new design was applied to the two-pickup Special, the cavity for the neck pickup overlapped with the neck-to-body joint. This weakened the joint to the point that the neck could break after only moderate handling.Fact|date=May 2008 The problem was soon resolved when Gibson's designers moved the neck pickup farther down the body, producing a stronger joint and eradicating the breakage problem.
This stabilized version of the Special is currently offered as part of Gibson's Faded series in Cherry or TV yellow.
In 1958, Gibson changed the top finish on the regular Les Paul model from the gold color used since 1952 [citenews|url=http://www.zuitar.com/guitar/100404-Les_Paul_Standard.html|title=Les Paul Standard|publisher=Zuitar.com|accessdate=2008-08-12] to the Sunburst finish already being used on Gibson's archtop acoustic and hollow electric guitars.Fact|date=May 2008 These Sunburst-finished guitars were later referred to as Les Paul Standards to differentiate them from the earlier Goldtop. [citenews|url=http://www.zuitar.com/guitar/100404-Les_Paul_Standard.html|title=Les Paul Standard|publisher=Zuitar.com|accessdate=2008-08-12] The hardware specification was the same as that of the '57 Goldtop, featuring the new
humbuckerpickups. Today, the Gibson Les Paul Standard has BurstBucker pickups on the Vintage Original Spec models and Burstbucker Pro on the lower end models bearing the 'Standard' name.
2008 Standard (2008-)
Gibson's new version of the Les Paul Standard. Released August 1st 2008, it features built-in lock on strap buttons, larger neck tenon, an asymmetrical neck profile to make for a comfortable neck, frets levelled by Plek machine, and locking Grover tuners with an improved ratio of 18:1. With the 2008 model Gibson has introduced their "weight relief" chambering, which includes
routing"chambers" in specific areas of the mahoganyslab body as specified by Gibson R&D. Previously this was only available on custom models such as the Cloud 9. [http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Lifestyle/Features/Chambering%20the%20Les%20Paul_%20A%20Mar/]
1961 Les Paul SG
In 1960, Gibson experienced a decline in electric guitar sales due to their high prices and strong competition from Fender's comparable but much lighter double-cutaway design: The
Stratocaster. In response, Gibson modified the Les Paul line. This 1961 issue Les Paul guitar was thinner and much lighter than the earlier models, with two sharply pointed cut-aways and a vibrato system. However, the redesign was done without Les Paul's knowledge. When the musician saw the guitar, he asked Gibson to remove his name from the instrument and parted ways with the company. Although this separation occurred in 1960, Gibson had a surplus stock of "Les Paul" logos and truss rod covers, and so continued to use the Les Paul name until 1963. At that point, the SG guitar's name was finally changed to "SG", which stood simply for Solid Guitar. In addition to the SG line, Gibson continued to issue the less expensive Jr's and Specials (and the Melody Makers) with the newer body style. These were the standard Gibson electric models until the reintroduction of the Les Paul Standard Goldtop and the Les Paul Custom guitars to the market in 1968. [citenews|url=http://www.zuitar.com/guitars/Gibson/Solid_Body/SG/index.html|title=SG|publisher=Zuitar.com|accessdate=2008-08-12]
Renewed interest in the Les Paul models
In 1964, The
Rolling Stones' Keith Richardsobtained a 1959 sunburst Les Paul. [cite journal |last=Burrluck |first=Dave |year=2007 |month=September |title='The Keithburst Les Paul' |journal=Guitarist Magazine |volume= |issue= |pages=55–58 |id= |accessdate=2008-01-26 |quote= ] The guitar, outfitted with a Bigsby tailpiece, was the first "star-owned" Les Paul in Britain and served as one of the guitarist's main instruments through 1966. [cite book |last=Bacon |first=Tony |title=Electric Guitars:The Illustrated Encyclopedia |publisher=Thunder Bay Press |id=ISBN 978-1-59223-053-2 |pages=pg. 123] [cite book |last=Bacon |first=Tony |title=50 Years of the Gibson Les Paul |publisher=Backbeat Books |id=ISBN 0-87930-711-0 |pages=pg. 38, 50] In 1966, Eric Claptonalso recognized the rock potential of the late '50s Les Paul guitars (particularly the 1958-1960 Standard sunburst models), and gave them wide exposure. He'd started using Les Pauls because of the influence of Freddie Kingand Hubert Sumlin. Soon artists such as Peter Green, Mike Bloomfield, Mick Taylor, Jeff Beckand Jimmy Pagebegan using the Gibson model. These 1950s models featured the thicker, more sustaining tone of Gibson's humbuckingpickups with the original units known as "Patent Applied For" (PAF) pickups. These PAFs were designed by Seth Loverwhile working for Gibson in 1955 (US patent|2896491), and debuted on Les Pauls in 1957. This innovation became a standard pick up design for Gibson, and subsequently, many other guitar companies followed suit, outfitting their electrics with copycat versions of the humbucking pickup altered to avoid infringing Gibson's patent. Gretsch had their Filtertron pickups, and when Fender entered the humbucker market in 1972, it was with the radically different Fender Wide Rangepickup. "Standard" humbuckers from other guitar manufacturers and third party replacement pickups from the likes of DiMarzioand Seymour Duncanwere only offered after Gibson's patent had expired. Over the years, authentic 1950s Les Pauls have become some of the most desirable and expensive electric guitars in the world. It is estimated that less than 2000 original examples survive.Fact|date=July 2008 Although in re-sale today, a 1959 Les Paul in good condition can be easily priced between $200,000 and $750,000, even by the mid 1960s prices for Les Paul guitars had begun to increase. (However, a reissue of the 1958, 1959, or 1960 Les Paul can be purchased for less, between $3000-$6000.) With this value in mind, and with increased pressure from the public, Gibson re-introduced the single cutaway Les Paul in 1968.
Les Paul models in the Norlin era
Subsequent years brought new company ownership to the Gibson Guitar Company. During the "Norlin Era", Gibson Les Paul body designs were greatly altered, most notably, the change to the neck volute. Because the Les Paul had the reputation of having an easily broken neck joint, the volute strengthened the neck where it joined the headstock to avert breakage. To further increase the strength, the neck woods were changed from mahogany to a three-piece maple design. The LP body was changed from a one piece mahogany with a maple top into multiple slabs of mahogany with multiple pieced maple tops (also called a "pancake body').
In this era, as well, Gibson began experimenting with new models such as the Les Paul Recording. This model is often eschewed by guitar puristsFact|date=May 2008: considered "too full of gadgetry".Fact|date=May 2008 The Recording featured low-impedance pickups, many switches and buttons, and a highly specialized cable for impedance-matching to the amplifier. Less noticeable changes included, but were not limited to, maple fingerboards (1976), pickup cavity shielding, and the crossover of the ABR1 Tune-o-matic bridge into the modern day Nashville Tune-o-matic bridge. During the 1970s, the Les Paul body shape was incorporated into other Gibson models, including the S-1, the Sonex, the L6-S, and many other experimental models.
The Deluxe was among the "new" 1968 Les Pauls. [citenews|url=http://www.zuitar.com/guitar/100393-Les_Paul_Deluxe.html|title=Les Paul Deluxe|publisher=Zuitar.com|accessdate=2008-08-12] This model featured "mini-humbuckers", also known as "New York" humbuckers, and did not initially prove popular. The mini-humbucker pickup fit into the pre-carved P-90 pickup cavity using an adaptor ring developed by Gibson (actually just a cut-out P90 pickup cover) in order to use a supply of
Epiphonemini-humbuckers left over from when Gibson moved Epiphone production to Japan. The Deluxe was introduced in late 1968 and helped to standardize production among Gibson's USA-built Les Pauls. The first incarnation of the Deluxe featured a one-piece body and three-piece neck in late 1968. The "pancake" body (thin layer of maple sandwiched by two layers of Honduran mahogany) came later in 1969. In late 1969, a small "volute" was added. 1969 Deluxe's feature the Gibson logo devoid of the dot over the "i" in Gibson. By late 1969/early 1970, the dot over the "i" had returned, plus a "Made In USA" stamp on the back the headstock. By 1975, the neck construction was changed from mahogany to maple, until the early 1980s, when the construction was returned to mahogany. Interest in this particular Les Paul model was so low that in 1985, Gibson canceled the line. However, in 2005, the "Deluxe" was reintroduced with more popularity due to its association with Pete Townshend[http://www.thewho.net/whotabs/equip-signature.htm] .
The "Studio" model was introduced in 1983 and is still in production. The intended market for this guitar was the studio musician; therefore, the design features of the "Les Paul Studio" were centered around optimal sound output. This model retained only the elements of the Gibson Les Paul that contributed to tone and playability, including the carved maple top and standard mechanical and electronic hardware. However, the Studio design omitted several stock Gibson ornamentations that did not affect sound quality, including the binding on the body and neck. A notable exception to this is the Studio Standard, a model in the mid 1980s that included body and neck binding, though with dot fingerboard inlays instead of more ornate trapezoids.
Custom Shop models
Due to the popularity of the Les Paul guitar, hundreds of unendorsed imitations or copycat versions began to sell in the U.S. and overseas. Due to the lack of U.S. legislation addressing patent infringements or restricting import sales, the cheaply priced imitations created legal and financial problems for the Gibson Guitar Corporation. Although troublesome, there were overseas copycat companies that produced very high quality Les Paul and Stratocaster imitations. In fact, during the 1970s and early 1980s, a Japanese company, Tokai, made superb replicas of the 1957-59, accurate reproductions of early Les Paul designs constructed in a Gibson Guitar Custom Shop. A custom Les Paul guitar painted by race car illustrator Sam Bass is presented to the winners of NASCAR Nationwide Series races at the Nashville Superspeedway.
Modern Les Pauls
In the mid 1980s, Gibson changed ownership and began manufacturing a range of varied Les Paul models to suit different user needs. The 1980s also saw the end to several design characteristics that were classic to the Les Paul, including the volute and maple neck. However, due to consumer demand, The Gibson Les Paul guitar is available today in an array of choices, ranging from guitars equipped with modern digital electronics to classic re-issue models built to match the look and specifications of the guitar's earliest production runs from 1952 to 1960.
Les Paul's guitar
At 93 years old, Les Paul himself still plays his personal Les Paul Guitar onstage, weekly, in
New York City. Paul prefers his 1972 Gibson "Recording" model guitar, with different electronics and a one-piece mahogany body,and which, as an inveterate tinkerer and bona fide inventor, he has modified heavily to his liking over the years. A Bigsby-style vibrato is currently the most visible change although formerly his guitars were fitted with his Les Paulverizer effects device.
Epiphone Les Pauls
EpiphoneCompany makes around 20 models of the Les Paul, which are copies of the original. Made in places outside the U.S., the Epiphone Les Paul's are made from more commonly-available woods and have less hand detailing than the Gibson models, and, as a result, sell for a lower price. Epiphone also offers their version of the Junior.
Gibson Robot Guitar
In 2007, Gibson announced an idea to create a computerized Les Paul, dubbed the "Robot Guitar". It was released on December 7, 2007. The guitar has a computer integrated into the body with a "master control" knob next to the volume knobs, which can be pulled out, turned, or pressed to issue different commands to the guitar. One of the more notable features is the ability to tune the guitar to
standard tuningsimply by pulling out on the master control knob and strumming the guitar, while the tuning pegs adjust themselves to standard tuning. Another use of the master control knob is to be able to tune the guitar to alternative tunings, such as drop D, by pressing on the control knob to fit the setting. The new Les Paul has a new custom silverburst blue finish. [cite news|author=Yuri Kageyama (The Associated Press)|date= December 3, 2007|title=World's first robot guitar takes care of the tuning|publisher=Seattle Times|url=http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2004051225_guitar04.html|accessdate=2007-12-04] While the product was advertised in the American popular press as a "world's first", similar systems, some external, have been in use for decades.
The Les Paul is known for its considerable weight. This is due to the thickness of the guitar (one of the thickest solid body electrics) and the kinds of woods used. This thickness contributes to the warmth of the tone; Les Pauls are known for being much deeper than many Fender guitars which have distinctive bright, open tones. The weight of Les Pauls can cause guitarists to complain of shoulder and back pains while playing standing up. The weight is also centered towards the rear of the guitar, creating a problem when the guitar is played in the seated position because the neck has a tendency to be levered-up by the weight of the rear. In recent years Gibson has started producing "weight-relieved" Les Pauls, with holes drilled into the mahogany body.
Notable Les Paul users
Les Paul imitations
Although most imitations differ visibly from Gibson's design, some companies have come close to perfecting copies. For instance, in the early 1980s, Japanese manufacturer Tokai made an imitation Les Paul called the "Love Rock" that featured such a perfect reproduction of the neck that Gibson Guitar Corporation sued them. The lawsuit ended with victory for Gibson with a court-mandate that the necks on Tokai models for the U.S. market had to be replaced. Additionally, in the late '70's,
Ibanezalso made very high quality Gibson imitations. These imitations were marketed during a time period when guitars of Japanese make were both affordable and painstakingly precise, but lacked the reputation of their US forebears.
Many guitar aficionados feel that the early- and mid-70s marked a low point in the quality of guitars from the major manufacturers including Gibson, which helped contribute to the popularity of the Ibanez copies. These guitars have become known as "lawsuit" guitars and have become somewhat collectible. The actual lawsuit referred to was brought by the Norlin Corporation, the parent company of Gibson guitars, in 1977, and was based on an Ibanez headstock design that had been discontinued by 1976. Ibanez settled out of court, and by 1978 had begun making guitars from their own designs. Fact|date=February 2007
ESP Guitarsmakes two types, the EC series and the Eclipse II, that are based on the Les Paul design. Certain EC models have 24 fret necks and active electronics using EMG pickups instead of the standard passive pickups and 22 frets found in the traditional Les Paul. Heritage Guitars, founded in 1985 by four long-time Gibson employees when Gibson relocated to Nashville, continues to build high-quality guitars in the original factory at 225 Parsons Street in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Many of their models evoke memories of Gibson's late-50s/early-60s "golden years." The H-150 and H-157, for instance, are reminiscent of the original Les Paul and Les Paul Custom, while the H-535 is a modern version of the Gibson ES-335. Because Heritage guitars are built in the original factory, by some of the employees who helped manufacturer the most sought after, vintage Gibson models, some don't consider them imitators at all, but a continuation of the Kalamazoo legacy.
In 2006 Gibson lost a lawsuit against
PRS Guitars[ [http://www.mi-pro.co.uk/news/1092/Gibson-lawsuit-ends-with-PRS-victory}] , Gibson claiming PRS was stealing the Les Paul shape and design.
The music retailer Rondo Music [http://www.rondomusic.com] produces several popular models that are similar to the Les Paul, under the Agile brand.
Gibson lost the trademark for Les Paul in Finland. According to the court, Les Paul has become a common noun for guitars of a certain type. The lawsuit began when Gibson sued Musamaailma, which imports Tokai guitars, for trademark violation. However, several witnesses witnessed that term Les Paul denotes a character in a guitar rather than special guitar model. Court found it also aggravating that Gibson had used Les Paul in plural form and that the importer of Gibson guitars had used Les Paul as a common noun. The court decision will become effective, as Gibson is not going to appeal. [http://www.hs.fi/talous/artikkeli/Käräjäoikeus+tuomitsi+Gibsonin+Les+Paul+-kitaran+yleisnimeksi/1135239205087]
Appearances in video games
The Gibson design was implemented in various
Guitar Herogames, resulting in a law suit by Gibson Guitar Co. [http://blog.wired.com/games/2008/03/gibson-sues-via.html] [http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSWEN463820080321?sp=true]
* [http://www.gibson.com/Products/GibsonElectric/Gibson%20Electric%20Guitars/LesPaul/ Gibson's Les Paul front page]
*es icon [http://www.gibson-lespaul.com.ar/ Gibson - Les Paul.]
* [http://www.mylespaul.com Les Paul Discussion Forum]
* [http://www.guitar123.co.uk/index.php?page=gibson_epiphone_lp Gibson Les Paul or Epiphone Les Paul (Buyer's Guide)]
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