Les Paul was an American jazz and country guitarist,
songwriter and inventor. He was the inventor of the
solid-body electric guitar which made the sound of rock and
roll possible. He is credited with many recording
innovations. Although he was not the first to use the
technique, his early experiments with overdubbing (also
known as sound on sound), delay effects such as tape delay,
phasing effects and multi-track recording were among the
first to attract widespread attention.
Paul's innovative guitar, "The Log", built after-hours in
the Epiphone guitar factory in 1940, a 4" × 4" chunk of pine
with strings and a pickup, was one of the first solid-body
electric guitars. Paul Tutmarc of Audiovox Manufacturing Co.
built a solid body electric bass in 1935 and Adolph
Rickenbacker had marketed a solid-body guitar in the 1930s
and Paul A. Bigsby had built one for Merle Travis in 1948
and Leo Fender also independently created his own (the
Fender "Broadcaster" later changed to "Esquire" for
copyright reasons, a single pickup model) in 1948. Although
Paul approached the Gibson Guitar Corporation with his idea
of a solid body electric guitar, they showed no interest
until Fender began marketing its Esquire which later had a
second pick-up added and became known as the Telecaster.
The arrangement persisted until 1961, when declining sales
prompted Gibson to change the design without Paul's
knowledge, creating a much thinner, lighter and more
aggressive-looking instrument with two cutaway "horns"
instead of one. Paul said he first saw the "new" Gibson Les
Paul in a music-store window, and disliked it. Although his
contract required him to pose with the guitar, he said it
was not "his" instrument and asked Gibson to remove his name
from the headstock. Others claimed that Paul ended his
endorsement contract with Gibson during his divorce to avoid
having his wife get his endorsement money. Gibson renamed
the guitar "Gibson SG", which stands for "Solid Guitar", and
it also became one of the company's best sellers.
The Gibson Les Paul, one of the world's most popular
electric guitars, was named after the man who invented it.