LES PAUL AND LEO FENDER . TWO OF THE FOREMOST CONTRIBUTORS TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ELECTRIC GUITAR.
                  
                                     
    
                           
   : A Guitar Legend : Born Lester William Polfus  1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin.  Millions of people know the name Les Paul. From Timbuctoo to Kalamazoo, from Rio by the Sea-o to Northern Siberia, Les Paul is not only a legend in guitar history, but what he created is still alive and well today, and shall be for countless years to come, in the shape of the "Les Paul" Gibson guitar.  For those who have never heard Les Paul play, do yourself a big favour and get some of his tracks and marvel at the beautiful sounds he has produced, including the tracks he made 50 years ago. The quality of the production, the sheer joy of the sound of the electric guitar. Innovative in all aspects of the development of the Electric Guitar, Les  was equally involved in electronics. He built his first crystal radio at the age of nine, and there we can see his early aptitude for the development of electronics. He built his first solid body guitar in 1941 and spent the next decade refining it. He was into close miking, amp tremolo, echo, multi tracking, panning, all of 50 years ago. His first attempt at multi tracking involved hooking up eight separate one track tape recorders and running them in Sync. Just think about that. 
 
In 1948 he shattered his right arm and elbow in a near fatal car accident and on his instructions the surgeons set his arm in a playing position.  He had a string of hits with his wife, Colleen Summers { a.k.a. Mary Ford }  Two of the biggest hits being " How high The Moon" 1951 which reached #1, and "Vaya Con Dios" 1953 which also reached #1. In 1952 Les made two enormous contributions to the world of guitar/electronics - He launched the "Les Paul" solid body guitar, built and manufactured by "Gibson" , and introduced us to the first 8 track tape recorder, manufactured by "Ampex" and designed by Les. Les has continued to contribute to the advancement of both throughout the years including the  development of low impedance pick up technology. He cut a Grammy Award winning Album of duets with Chet Atkins, -"Chester and Lester" in 1977. He also remained active in performing at New York Jazz clubs  and still works on his "Inventions" in the basement of his home. For examples of his honest, beautiful guitar playing listen to " Time to Dream " recorded with his wife Mary Ford, a lovely album of Standards. Check out the numerous sites for Les on the Web, it's a rewarding experience.     LES PAUL : A Legend Indeed.    (c) Joe Moretti.
 
 
Leo Fender
LEO FENDER : Born 1909 near Arnheim California. Leo was an electronics buff & radio repair man who realised the potential of the solid body guitar. Like Les Paul He knew that a solid body and a metal bridge meant greater sustain could be achieved. And getting the tuning pegs in one line running to the nut of the fingerboard meant less friction when a tremolo unit was added. This was in the days before "locked nuts".  The country guys loved Fender guitars, especially the Telecaster which had a lovely edge to it, but the Telecaster also had a very warm sound on the front pickup and Joe Pass played a Telecaster at one time. It's a very versatile guitar, and it sounded great. It also looked great. That design changed forever peoples' ideas about what the shape of a guitar should be. Up until then guitars were still built purely along acoustic lines, traditional designs etc - two of the more distinctive being the Arch top or cello body guitar with it's "f " holes, relating it to the classical string family eg violin,cello etc and the flat top Jumbo guitar which has a design more along the lines of the classical "Round hole " guitar. Early clip-on pickups became available for both and Gibson and De Armand showed the way in the development of pick-ups, especially in cello body " Jazz " guitars, but it wasn't until Leo Fender and Les Paul made their ideas and designs a reality that the traditional accepted ideas of Guitar Design changed forever. I love them all. But it's Leo Fender we're talking about here, and that means solid guitars in the main. Yes, Fenders looked very Groovy and the Western World was getting more and more into "Space Age " ideas and designs. To me the Telecaster and The Stratocaster were the symbols of the New Age called Rock and Roll.
                                                                                                                                           
 
    
In 1960 Every Rock guitar player in the world wanted a Fender or a Les Paul Gibson guitar, especially that early gold model. The Stratocaster gave the guitarist 5 tone positions on a flick switch - bass,middle, treble, and two in between. And it could kick ass powerwise. And if you had a Fender Amp, then boy, you  had a quality product. In the session days of the sixties in the UK the guys mainly used Gibson and Fender, - Amps and guitars.  Also their guitar cases were great, good and strong, and travelled well. The Stratocaster seemed impervious to being abused, it could survive anything, except Jimi Hendrix with a can of petrol and a box of matches. You know, there's an important point to be made concerning who actually designed the first solid body guitar. I've seen photgraphs of the guitar which Mel Travis designed and it resembled the telecaster in many ways, and was, I believe, getting known around the same time. But there's no doubt that Leon Fender  was the the first to successfully design and market the solid body of that design when he launched the " Fender Broadcaster " in 1948. This became the " Telecaster " in 1950. In addition he brought out the Precision bass, also in 1950. Every bass player wants one of those. The Stratocaster made it's appearance in 1954. These 3 instruments alone are legendary for their great sustained qualities of performance, durability,quality, electrics, and the finest craftmanship in the business. The company was sold to CBS in the mid sixties,and sold again by CBS in 1985. The Fender brochure in 1992 pictured 44 different Stratocasters. Need I say more ?  Too Much Mr Leo Fender, too too much. We all thank you for your wonderful contributions to the World of music.  Leo fender was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1992.     (c)   February 2002. 
 
all articles (c) JoeMoretti music International
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