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Les Paul - The Man Who Brought Us the Guitarist Dream by Tyler Cohen

The year 2009 brought us many losses in the world of music but perhaps none hurt us as much as the loss of Les Paul, one of the founding fathers of modern music, on August 12, 2009. Les Paul gave us the electric guitar as we know it today and the technological advancements that give us the signature sound of rock music, even though the man himself was a country guitarist. His inventions altered the music world so much that Les Paul is one of the few individuals who is honored with a permanent, stand alone exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Les Paul's story is an inspiration to musicians who are striving to win in the music game. Born Lester Polsfuss, the young man took on the stage name of Les Paul early in his musical career. He began by playing harmonica, then tried to play banjo but eventually settled upon the guitar. This instrument went on to become his greatest love but he continued to push the limits of the instrument, looking for a unique sound. He used pickups made from an old phonograph to create a new life for the acoustic guitar as the electrified instrument could hold reverb for a much longer period of time.

In 1940, he brought the world its first solid body electric guitar, which he named "The Log", a 4x4" piece of lumber with a bridge, guitar neck and pickups attached. It wasn't pretty enough for performances so he disguised the setup inside a traditional hollow body guitar.

From this humble beginning, the man went on to create some of the most sought after guitars in the world. The Gibson Les Paul guitars command high prices, with original Les Paul's drawing thousands of dollars for one guitar, and have been used by some of the most notable names in rock history, including Eric Clapton.

To understand how much Les Paul loved music, there are two incidents in his life that really should be noticed. The first was his 1940 electrocution while experimenting with designs for his electric guitar. It took the man two years to recover from the incident but he continued working on the guitar because he wanted a sound that could not be rivaled by anything the acoustical instruments of the time had to offer.

The second incident reads almost like a love story, and in a way, it was. Les Paul was involved in a near fatal car accident that left his right arm and elbow in a shattered mess. The doctors informed him that they could set the arm but it would be in a fixed position. Les Paul loved his guitar so much he couldn't bear the thought of being unable to play and asked the doctors to set the arm at nearly a 90 degree angle so he could continue to play his beloved instrument. If you have ever thought of giving up on your musical career, a look at this mans life can definitely inspire you to hold the course.

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