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Les Paul's birthday


JefferySmith

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Well we will all wish him a very happy (and healthy) birthday. It's not

too many of us that can boast to reach that ripe old age and still be

able to play guitar. Wish we could all be there to gather around and

hear him play on his numerous LPs and other guitars that he owns. 8-[

 

While he may not be the inventor of the LP, (Ted McCarty and his Gibson

employees were), Lester's name adds credibility to one of the most famous

guitar shapes and marques in the world.

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I wonder if he is pleased by the kinds of pickups that are going on that Les Paul model. As I recall' date=' he probably wouldn't like major distortion and growl in his music.[/quote']

 

Well I heard he gets some kind of yearly stipend from Gibson for use of his commercial

name and a guitar to play with.

I'm sure that the custom shop will put on anything on his heart desires. From what little

there is written about him, (mostly Tony Bacon books), he was winding his own using the wiring from an electric

clock back in the late 40s. I don't think the copper wire was #42 awg back then,

but something a lot thicker in guage. However, he was into tinkering back then,

and maybe still does a bit now, but his eyesight might be a problem these days

as far as soldering.

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Of course Uncle Al will beg to differ on the last part of the above statement' date='

but..could you see yourself playing an 'Uncle Al"/Iconic-clast model if things

had turned out differently in guitar history? :- [/quote']

 

Huh?

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Read on another forum that Les still holds over 600 patents:

 

Well I find that hard to believe. You can't do a search for patents Les Paul

 

First of all, that's not his real name which is LESTER POLFUS.

All you get from the search engine is anything in the patent office that is a result

of parts of peoples names like "Les" and "Paul"....I'm sure he had nothing to

do with a humidifier or a vehicle safety restraint or crash barrier..etc.

 

EDIT: 11/06 The online information available is confusing, but some appears to be factual.

So far, I've been able to find 3 patents accredited to Lester P.

1956 Slideable pickup US 3911777

1962 Patent for electric solid body US 3018680 (Ref: MIT info)

1973 Electrical pickup US 3725561

and possibly another pickup design change US2737842

 

He also filed for a combined tp/bridge (wraparound) on July 9, 1952,

but so did Ted McCarty of Gibson in 1953, which was granted to Gibson

in Aug 1955 US 2714326

 

 

here's an excerpt from one of the online sites..

"He created a prototype using a railroad tie and an Epiphone guitar neck he called ìthe Log.î He performed with his own specially designed guitars but no one else seemed particularly interested. He even approached the Gibson Musical Instrument Co. with his designs in the early 1940s, but the company was doing well with their arched, hollow-body electric models, and so, they rejected his proposals. "

 

Pretty much consistent what what my book says. Uncle Al may have more to say on

this.

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Happy Birthday Les!

[

 

RE: Youtube video of Les Paul.

12 tracks of guitar and 12 tracks of vocal?..but I only saw a couple of portable

Ampex two track recorders...maybe he mixed down on some kind of mixing

console.

 

What kind of pickups on his LP?...They appear to be larger than the standard hbucker

and don't look like P90s. They look like early De Armond with the adjuster magnet

pole pieces grouped together in twos.

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Not even worthy of comment. Happy birthday to the biggest con man and fabricator of fiction in modern musical history.

 

"Oh well, I'm sure those grapes are probably sour anyway." (Aesops Fables)

 

I see him a an opportunist. He loved to tinker, played reasonably

well, and banged on CMI's door with his "broomstick with pickups" at the

right time. Timing is everything as they say. The fact that he was willing to

play and appear in public with a solid body, at a time when very few players would even touch

it, and was willing to sign up with Ted McCarty's lucrative contract at the time, pretty much

says it all. Guarantees his place in guitar musical history. The shape of the guitar is

synonomous with his name, no matter what guitar god or hero plays it these days.

 

It seems that he did manage a patent for a pickup, but I'm not sure about "the solid body" patent

that a particular site is describing. Any details on that, and if there is, did it every go anywhere?

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If it wasn't for Les Paul, I would probably never would have picked up a guitar. My parents had a copy of How High The Moon on a 78. I must have listed to it a thousand times.

I had the honour to see him at the Iridium jazz club in New York a couple of months ago. We attended the early show. When we left around 9 pm. the lineup was around the block to get in to see him. We plan on going back in the fall to see him again.

For those sour grapes folks, your names will never appear in lights on Broadway, or anywhere else.

Happy Birthday Les.

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"Oh well' date=' I'm sure those grapes are probably sour anyway." (Aesops Fables)

 

I see him a an opportunist. He loved to tinker, played reasonably

well, and banged on CMI's door with his "broomstick with pickups" at the

right time. Timing is everything as they say. The fact that he was willing to

play and appear in public with a solid body, at a time when very few players would even touch

it, and was willing to sign up with Ted McCarty's lucrative contract at the time, pretty much

says it all. Guarantees his place in guitar musical history. The shape of the guitar is

synonomous with his name, no matter what guitar god or hero plays it these days.

 

It seems that he did manage a patent for a pickup, but I'm not sure about "the solid body" patent

that a particular site is describing. Any details on that, and if there is, did it every go anywhere? [/quote']

 

To me what Lester Polfus contributed was the popularization of already existent technologies but along the way he was mistaken for having created these major technologies (electric solid body Spanish guitar, humbucking pickups, multitrack recording etc.) but rather than dispel these misconceptions, Polfus capitalized on them and over the years they became part of his story telling repertoire featuring himself at the forefront. Once upon a time I believed all the myths and hype too and then I read and researched or someone straightened me out and before long it dawned on me that this guy is a one-man, self-promoting hype machine and compared to actual inventors like George Beauchamp and Paul Barth, PA Bigsby, Leo Fender, Doc Kauffman, O.W. Appleton, Forrest White and of course the greatest of them all, Ted McCarty. Lester contributed so little that it's amazing he's even mentioned but because he was on TV in the very early days doing that electric guitar dog and pony show everyone presumed that the guitar was his invention . As far as multitracking recordings Walt Disney's cartoon movies had multiple track sound tracks as early as the thirties before there was even "stereophonic reproduction" and the technology that Lester exploited came from the Nazi war propaganda machine since the first multitrack Lester used was one Bing Crosby bought after the war that had belonged the Nasties who had sorted out that Hitler could record a speech and they could add cheering and sound effects to create a live atmosphere which could be broadcast in one location while Hitler was actually elsewhere making a different speech or doing something else. Ever listen to everything that's going on in a Spike Jones recording from the forties, some of that was recording magic and what we now call "overdubs". The idea of humbucking pickups actually began with the theory of spurious noise cancellation using phase inversion for radio broadcasting and it was actually Seth Lover who patented it for use in guitar pickups while working for Gibson. Lester through his little recollections though makes it seem like his little brain came up with these things. To me it'd be like Noel Gallagher fifty years from now sitting around talking about how Epiphone came to him and asked him to design and invent the semi hollow electric guitar and Ole Noel would have a great story about just how he did it...and that really wouldn't surprise me much. People, it isn't sour grapes. I just like to know what actually happened and not just have some guy spew his fantasies and fabrications and then have a crowd gather around him anointing him as some electronica messiah when so many other great men in the field go without their due credit. Les Paul is a showman and nothing more. Take a listen to that You Tube video someone posted. Do you really think it required twenty six tracks to come up with that mush? 50's gimmickry at its best. Sour grapes? I don't recall ever claiming to having invented anything so it's not sour grapes on my part. Perhaps on the dozen or so real innovators who had to listen to his inane blather over the years. ...and to hear the uninformed spew such accolades when they actually know so little of which they speak...like children talking about the wonders of their own personal Santa Clauses. Not sour grapes...historical accuracy. 600 patents? Name ONE Les Paul invention actually in use today. He may have made a multi track toilet paper dispenser and patented it but I can't think of anything he invented that actually was of any generalized use or lasting technological impact.

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To me what Lester Polfus contributed was the popularization of already existent technologies but along the way he was mistaken for having created these major technologies (electric solid body Spanish guitar' date=' humbucking pickups, multitrack recording etc.) but rather than dispel these misconceptions,

 

snip!snip!,,Uncle Al, a paragraph space or two might help with the reading...

 

. As far as multitracking recordings Walt Disney's cartoon movies had multiple track sound tracks as early as the thirties before there was even "stereophonic reproduction" and the technology that Lester exploited came from the Nazi war propaganda machine since the first multitrack

 

snip! snip! snip!.." Nazis , I hate Nazis..." Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

 

and what we now call "overdubs". The idea of humbucking pickups actually began with the theory of spurious noise cancellation using phase inversion for radio broadcasting and it was actually Seth Lover who patented it for use in guitar pickups while working for Gibson.

 

snip! snip! ...whew!

 

Take a listen to that You Tube video someone posted. Do you really think it required twenty six tracks to come up with that mush? 50's gimmickry at its best.

 

snip! snip!

 

Name ONE Les Paul invention actually in use today. He may have made a multi track toilet paper dispenser and patented it but I can't think of anything he invented that actually was of any generalized use or lasting technological impact.[/quote']

 

Uncle Al,

Well, it's obvious that you and Lester will never see eye to eye. =D>

 

I don't know enough about his contribution to multi-track recording, but I do know (working in a large recording

studio in Toronto in 1970, that Ampex multi-track tape recorders (16/24 trk) had sel-sync to allow artists to

record on more than one track while listening to the previously recorded trks they had already laid down.

Perhaps Lester was playing around with this concept around the time of that video, but maybe he didn't

invent it..Ampex or some other big recording apparatus outfit may have.

 

As far as Disney's multitrack. I'm familiar with that as well. These were analog machines that were used for

the audio portion of the audio-animatronics displays that they had in the 70s. They used 1/4 inch magnetic

tape on cassettes..MacKenzie..I think they were called.

 

Whether it is true or not , (I did see one patent on his movable drum/guitar pickup), the other "patents" do

have US patent numbers assigned..not patent pending, so I would think that he did submit at least 3,

even if they are not used currently.

 

There is no dispute over Seth Lover's invention of the humbucker..he got the patent.

 

The interesting aspect here is whether Lester actually applied for a patent on the endstop wraparound bridge,

(combined bridge/tailpiece for stringed instrument in July 1952?) Ted McCarty filed for a similar invention

in 1953 and got the patent for it in Aug 1955.

(Around the same time, Paul Bigsby filed for a patent on his vibrato in Nov 1952 and got it in Mar '53.)

 

I would have liked to be a "fly on the wall" at G*bson back then to see whos idea (combined bridge/tp)

it really was but G*bson got the patent on it.

Lesters idea of using the trapeze style tp and wrapping strings over it..was workable, not very effective compared to

the t-o-m and stoppiece that was designed in '52 or '53.

and finally I'm curious as to what kind of solid body guitar Lester got a patent for in 1962.

(I can't get at the patent:3018680, to view it, but MIT is saying that he got one, and claim in their writeup on him

that Lester "contributed" to the TWO pickup solid body guitar design.

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Patent Number 3' date='018,680 for a guitar pickup. Filed Dec 3, 1959. Inventor Les Paul. Patent was granted Jan 30 1962.

I'll bet if you dig deep enough, you will find others.

Happy Birthday Les[/quote']

 

It's a bit confusing, depending on which web site you visit:

According to MIT, 3,018,680 is for " a solid body guitar" (1962?)

 

but he filed 3,725561 as a "third patent" for a pickup in '73

and 3,911,777 as a "slideable pickup" in '56

and 3,737,842 as a pickup design of some sort

 

so it would seem that he applied (and got at least 4 patents on pickups?)

 

I wonder if any or all of these were to do with the low impedance pickups he was

experimenting with?

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