Short little Les Paul
heard about paying for the name. But this one takes the cake !!!!
We all know that Gibson has used Les Paul's name
to sell tons and tons of guitars. Most of us know that Les Paul was a
certifiable genius when it came to music related inventions. But most of us
don't know that Les Paul did not invent or design the famous
Les Paul Guitar. In Ed Roman's opinion Les Paul had much better
designs, Gibson did not use them, probably because of cost
I am going to go back to the original theme of
this rant, which is Gibson has used Les Paul's name to sell
tons and tons of guitars.
Consider if you
A young Paul Frehley or Zakk Wylde becomes
infatuated with the Les Paul Guitar at an early age. He reaches an even higher
level of fame than Les Paul did and deserves a guitar model design to call his
own. Gibson, in their infinite wisdom, proposes an endorsement deal to play Les
Paul's guitar and make some minor cosmetic changes or simple wiring gimmicks to
effectively, ever so slightly, change the guitar. The Gibson Les Paul, Ace
Frehley model is born and the Gibson Les Paul Zakk Wylde model follows
Now Consider This
Young Johnny J. Jibroney from the new up and
coming band Megatallica hasn't got enough of a spine to fly his own colors. He
goes out and buys a brand new Gibson, Les Paul, Zakk Wylde Guitar. After a
couple of years go by his band puts out a new song "Mommy I Needs More Crack."
"Mommy I Needs More Crack" sells 406 million
copies and Gibson is at his doorstep with an endorsement
Lo and behold... The Gibson Les Paul, Zakk Wylde,
J.J. Jibroney Guitar is born. It still has a Bullseye on it with Johnny
Jibroney's smiling face inlaid in the headstock. Wow I gotta go out and
buy me one right now.
Count the names Better yet, let me spell it out
so that even a retarded person could grasp the concept of this
The Guitar lists for $6,000.00 and sells for about
1. Gibson 40% is approximately what the
consumer pays for the name $1,560.00
2. Les Paul 5% is approximately what the consumer
pays for the name
3. Zakk Wylde 15% is approximately what the
consumer pays for the name $585.00
4. Johnny J Jibroney 20% is approximately what
the consumer pays for that name $780.00
Ok, let's do the math. Those figures, which
are of course my educated guess based on my 32 years in the business, add up to
a total of $3,120.00 which leaves a whopping $780.00 that you are
actually paying for the guitar. I would also venture a guess that the actual
cost of manufacturing the Les Paul Style Guitar even in the USA is about half of
that $780.00 which is $390.00.
Ok let's keep going.
As you are reading this a young kid by the name
of Jason J. Jamoke is watching a Johnny Jibroney video on MTV. He's dreaming
about getting a Gibson, Les Paul, Zakk Wylde, J.J. Jibroney Guitar and writing a
song about how many Maggots can live in a cowpie.
I predict that Gibson will have to raise their
prices even more to pay for the new Gibson, Les Paul, Zakk Wylde, J.J. Jibroney,
J.J. Jamoke Guitar.
And a partridge in a pear tree....
Resistance is futile......
The Reason I know approximately what it costs to
build a Les Paul is because I have been building guitars for 15 years. I am a
pretty good cost analyst and the guitars in the picture above were all sold to
me at a base price of $660.00 from Heritage. Heritage must be making a
profit on that. Furthermore Heritage only makes a total of 6 guitars a day. I
would bet that Gibson is building hundreds of guitars daily. And I am positive
that Gibson is paying a lot less than Heritage to make a Guitar.
Even More Les Paul
Written 12 years ago
Reprinted from a 1992 article in ECMM
When the Steinberger headless bass was introduced, it caused
a sensation worldwide with it's unprecedented combination of form and
function... a complex engineering feat which produced a super simple, road tough
instrument with amazing performance and features.
Later innovations included the headless guitar, fretless
bass, trans trem, 12 string track tuner, doubleneck, tripleneck, active EQ
circuit, and DB tuner. Steinberger also offered some more traditional shapes,
many of which were short lived and some that were deemed classics.
Some of the reasons for Steinberger's "must have" status, was
its ability to stay in tune while playing whole chords and depressing the
tremolo in unison, and its ability to withstand temperature and humidity
changes, dramatically improving balance, active circuitry, excellent sustain,
ease of playability, full fret access, double octave neck, and its ability to
withstand severe shocks.
Ned Steinberger, a true genius, is credited wrongly for the
invention of the headless neck, even though the US Patent number he holds is
#RE31722. However, from what I have been able to gather, the original inventor
was Les Paul.* The problem Les Paul would have had in the early 1950ís was that
the technology did not exist for calibrating the strings to pull from both ends.
Les Paul is considered to be the designer of the
Les Paul Guitar. I don't think so. Les Paul was a visionary and an innovator. A
proponent of neck through body design & other radical ideas for his day. It
is hard for me to believe that he would design an electric guitar that adopted
all the old Gibson style jazzbox designs. From the bulky, neck joint to the
archtop body and the traditional Italian Florentine cutaway, it's all just a
little too reminiscent of guitars that Gibson had been putting out for 20 years
before the Les Paul model appeared. I submit that Les Paul had little to do with
designing the guitar. After all, it's an exact copy of the old Gibson archtop
acoustic design that was just made smaller and solid. Yes, it sounds great, if
you like muddy chords and a fat thick lead tone. But, if you want it to sound
like a guitar, it simply doesn't cut it. The fact that the Les Paul sounds great
is a function of our culture.
Because we have been hearing them for so many
years we have become conditioned to the thick fat throaty tone that they
emanate. Not necessarily a bad thing. Just as long as it's a realized
thing. Remember, the Les Paul was dropped from the Gibson Line from 1960 through
1967 because it wasn't selling. Those were the glory days of Rickenbackers and
Stratocasters. Gibson replaced it with the SG which, in part, was designed by
Les Paul except that Gibson refused to make it to his design specs. Les Paul
became upset with Gibson and severed his relationship with them for a number of
years. Les Paul had designed a guitar called "The Log," a neck through body
guitar. The original SG was supposed to be a neck through body design with wings
attached to the sides of the neck. Gibson's bean counters thought that would be
too expensive so they opted to build it like their traditional, cheaper set neck
design. Even though it could have been better as a neck through design, My
opinion is that the Gibson SG is probably the best designed guitar that Gibson
ever built. The new ones seem to have lots of tuning problems, The other good
one, in my opinion, is the Explorer. Just play an Explorer standing up with a
strap and you will see what I mean. The balance is excellent.
Les Paul jokes that a lot of people don't know he plays the
guitar. "They think I am one," he says with delight. As father of the solid body
electric guitar, thousands of musicians around the globe covet Gibson's famed
Les Paul guitars. But few realize the other contributions Paul has made through
the years to the art of sound recording.
As an inventor, Les Paul is credited with creating sound-on-sound,
over-dubbing, the electronic reverb effect and multi track tape recording. He
made the first eight track recorder in the late 1940s by stacking eight Ampex
tape machines and synchronizing them. Old friend W.C. Fields dubbed the
contraption "the Octopus."
By 1952 Les Paul was not only the most popular guitar player in
America, he was also a leading innovator in guitar and electronics design. He
had been experimenting with electric guitars for as long as there had been
electric guitars. He had once mounted a guitar string on a railroad tie to
confirm his belief that a solid body guitar would maximize sustain, and he had
incorporated a mini-railroad rail-a 4"x4" piece of pine-into the body of a
homemade solid body electric guitar he nicknamed "The Log."
Les had approached Gibson in the '40s with his ideas for a solid body
electric guitar, but Gibson was already leading the industry with archtop
electric guitars. Furthermore, Gibson had always been very conservative when it
came to aligning with artists. In 50 years, only two players had their names on
Gibson models: Nick Lucas, an early guitar star and crooner whose "Tip Toe
Through the Tulips" was the biggest record of 1929, and Roy Smeck, a
multi-instrumentalist so talented he was nicknamed "The Wizard of the Strings."
In the early '50s, when the solid body guitar
first became commercially viable, Gibson designed an instrument that would
change the image of the solid body electric from a simple plank of wood to an
elegant, stylish piece of art. Such a guitar would be a radical move for a
traditional company like Gibson, but Gibson had been founded on the radical
mandolin and guitar designs of Orville Gibson back in the 1890s. This new model
would have the same carved-top contours that had set Orville's instruments apart
from all others.
With the new model almost ready for market, Gibson approached Les Paul,
the obvious choice to help launch it. Les was already intimately familiar with
the unique characteristics of a solid body electric guitar. And he was at the
top of his career. His 1948 hit, "Brazil," featured six guitar parts, all played
by Les in a virtuoso demonstration that would eventually earn him recognition as
the father of multi-track recording. When he combined his guitar and electronic
talents with the vocals of his wife Mary Ford, the result was gold-two
million-selling records in 1951, "Mockin' Bird Hill" and "How High the Moon."
The Les Paul Model, as it was originally called, has changed little since
its debut in 1952. Except for an updated bridge and humbucking pickups, the Les
Paul Standard of today is still the same guitar. The Les Paul has been the
driving force behind many changes in popular music. It powered the blues rock
sound of the late '60s and the southern rock of the late '70s. By the '90s the
Les Paul was providing signature sounds for every genre of rock, from
alternative to metal.