Les Paul 1915 – 2009

By now you’ll have heard the very sad news that Les Paul has died, aged 94. There’s little I can add here to the glowing tributes that have already come from some of the biggest names in the business. Except to say this: stop for a moment and try and imagine how the last fifty years would have sounded without the guitar Les Paul designed and the multi-track recording he invented. Rock and Roll and the music it spawned would have been very different.

Here are some tributes:

Joe Satriani: ‘Les Paul set a standard for musicianship and innovation that remains unsurpassed.’

Slash: ‘Les Paul was a shining example of how full one’s life can be. He was so vibrant and full of positive energy. I’m honoured and humbled to have known and played with him over the years.’

Joan Jett: ‘He was a genius inventor, musical innovator and a wonderful person. Without the advances he pioneered, the recording sciences and the electric guitar would have been left years behind. I will miss him so much.’

Billy Gibbons: ‘Les Paul was an innovator, a groundbreaker, a risk taker, a mentor and a friend. Try to imagine what we’d be doing if he hadn’t come along and changed the world. There will always be more Les to come. That’s certified.’

Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B0002CZURY” locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31HTfw9v5qL.jpg” width=”184″]The Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top is an Epiphone version of the Gibson Les Paul Standard. Originally made in Korea and now manufactured at Gibson’s Epiphone factory in Qingdao, China, it has two-piece flame maple (it’s the flame effect that differentiates the Plus Top from other LP Standard models) top. As you would expect from an Epi Les Paul, attention to detail is acute. Cream bindings, pickguard and pick-up surrounds? Check. Chrome pick-up covers? Check. Green tulip-head tuning pegs? Check.

Also present and correct are the ubiquitous humbuckers, chrome bridge and stopbar tailpiece, and trapezoid fretboard inlays. The set mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard, and mahogany body are all authentic Les Paul.

The Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top is available in Honey Burst, Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Trans Amber, Trans Blue, and Vintage Sunburst. And there’s a left-handed model.

In 2008, Epiphone released the Slash Les Paul Standard Plus Top, a special edition which had features specified by Slash himself, such as a long tenon neck and LockTone stopbar.

Reviewing the original Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top back in 2004, Maximum Guitar Magazine’s Nick Bowcott said “Ultimately, what we have here is a well-made, eye-catching instrument that plays like a dream, sounds as good as it looks and wont drain your bank account. If you’re looking for a Les Paul but don’t have the funds, this affordable Epiphone axe is highly recommended.”

If you’re interested in purchasing an one of these great guitars, you can find them here on Amazon.

Epiphone Launches Slash Les Paul Goldtop

Update: The Epiphone Slash Les Paul Gold Top is now available, in-store only, from Amazon.com. You can find it here

Epiphone has announced the introduction of its second Slash signature Les Paul, the Slash Les Paul Gold Top.

Like the Slash Les Paul Standard Plus Top, the Goldtop was designed and built in collaboration with the Guns n Roses and Velvet Revolver guitarist and is limited to only 2, 000 units worldwide.

Highlights of the Slash Les Paul Gold Top include the same Slash custom neck as the Plus Top, profiled from the neck on Slash’s own Les Paul, a pair of Seymour Duncan Alnico Pro II pick-ups, and a Locktone Tune-o-matic bridgae and tailpiece. There’s also vintage nickel hardware, classic tulip tuning pegs, and a custom Slash truss rod cover.

The body is solid mahogany with a grade-A maple top, the glued on mahogany neck has a long-neck tenon which was originally found on early Les Pauls from the 1950s and 1960s. As well as giving extra strength to the neck, the long-neck tenon provides more ‘wood to wood contact’ between neck and body which gives longer sustain and a sweeter tone, according to Epiphone.

The Goldtop is the same as that introduced on the original Les Paul in 1952. Achieving the finish involves one coat of primer, two coats of gold paint, and four coats of polyurethane, applied over nine days.

Each Slash Les Paul Goldtop comes with a hardshell case with Slash logo, a certificate of authenticity signed by Slash, a laser-cell print of Slash, both of which are presented in a leatherette booklet, a leather metal-studded strap, and 24 Slash picks.

Gibson 1957 Les Paul Goldtop VOS Electric Guitar, Antique Gold

The five best guitar teachers on YouTube (Guitar Lessons)

ouTube is a fantastic resource for guitar lessons. Not only are there dozens of highly-skilled guitar players demonstrating chords, lick, styles and songs. But some of the world’s best, and most well-known guitar players, some of them sadly no longer with us, are right there giving lessons.

So I thought that it would be great to put together a kind of video notebook of some of the best lessons I could find on there and keep it so that when I get some time (ha!) I can watch the videos and learn a few new tricks.

And if I’m building a list of great videos for myself, seems kinda logical that I should share it here. So, here are my five favourite all-star guitar lessons from some of the best players ever to pick-up an axe.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

The late, great Texas bluesman talks in detail about the blue that influenced him and the differences in style between the Chicago blues he grew up listening to and the British blues bands of the Sixties.

Eric Clapton

A long-haired, moustached Slowhand, filmed in the late sixties, talks about how he gets those amazing tones, and how he used the Wah Wah to such great effect. Playing a rather funky SG, too.

Slash

The leery grinned one explains how to play Velvet Revolver’s American Man.

Angus Young

Angus the legend unlocks the secrets of those classic AC/DC riffs.

Andy Summers

Has to be filed under dull, but worthy, this one. A pretty disinterested Andy Summers demonstrates some Police riffs while making it clear that that’s not what he does anymore.

 

Two great Slash Les Paul videos

It’s been a while since I posted any videos, so I thought I’d make up for it by posting two great ones today.

They both feature Slash. In the first — which is an Epiphone promo, so is a little ‘in your face’ — he talks about the Epiphone version of the Slash Signature Les Paul and how he suggested it to Gibson as a way of making it available to those of us who can’t afford to drop $4,000 on one guitar.

In the second, an interview with Sky News, Slash goes into greater detail about signature guitars in general and the three Slash signature models in particular. He also tells how when he was an up and coming guitar player, he wrote to Gibson asking if it would send him a guitar for free. To Gibson’s credit, it didn’t just file his letter in the bin — it offered to sell him a guitar at cost. Not sure it would do that today. Might be worth a try, though.

< Update: Sorry, the videos have been removed from Youtube >

Video: Learn to play the Slash way

Whatever your view of the man or his music, there’s no escaping that Slash is an icon. One of the most recognisable guitar players on the planet, both physically and in his playing, Slash has built an army of fans and would be imitators over the last 20 or so years.

His influence is so great, he’s the cover star for one of the biggest video games of the decade, Guitar Hero III, and has had a Slash signature model guitar made in his honour by both Gibson and Epiphone — and very fine guitars they are too.

Whether it’s the angst-driven riff in the intro to Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child o’ Mine, the metal power chords of Paradise City, or the crunching rhythm playing in Velvet Revolver’s Slither, Slash has a sound all of his own.

It’s a sound that only a Les Paul could produce and in the video below, the guys from The Next Level Guitars show you how to replicate it. It’s a bit long and rambling, but well worth watching if you’ve always wanted to play like the curly-haired one.

Epiphone Slash Les Paul Standard Plus Top

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B0002CZURY” locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31HTfw9v5qL.jpg” width=”184″]The Epiphone Slash Les Paul Standard Plus Top is one of two guitars, the other by Gibson and costing twice as much, released to celebrate the man who Total Guitar magazine credited with reinventing the Les Paul.

Cast your mind back to 1988 if you can remember that far back. Blues and rock guitarists alike were ignoring the great guitar in favour of Fender Strats and variations on the Strat body shape from the likes of Ibanez and Charvel. Think of the big name guitarists of the time Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Vai, Joe Satriani, SRV, Clapton, and there’s not an LP among them. Then along came the curly-haired, top-hatted, chain-smoking, goofy-grinned genius sporting a Les Paul and playing what would become some of the greatest riffs of the decade on Guns n Roses seminal album, Appetite for Destruction. The Les Paul was back.

Fast forward nearly twenty years to the launch of Guitar Hero III and there he is again. On the front of the box, in the adverts, on the marketing material, playing a Les Paul.

Is it any wonder Gibson released special editions as a tribute?

But what of the Epiphone Slash Les Paul Standard Plus Top itself? Well, it’s as true to the great man as you would expect. Specified by Slash himself and finished in tobacco sunburst, the Les Paul Standard has a special Slash-profile mahogany set long tenon neck, LockTone tun-o-matic bridge and stopbar which has clasps to stop it coming loose while you change strings, and twin Seymour Duncan Alnico Pro II humbuckers.

Click here to see a list of Epiphone Slash Les Paul Standard Plus Top guitars currently for sale on Amazon.

Total Guitar magazine in the UK gave it four stars out of five, and Guitar World said “Epiphone’s Custom Shop Slash Signature Les Paul Standard Plus Top lives up to the hype, delivering the Slash sound at a price that average players can afford.”

At around $1200, its several hundred dollars more expensive than a regular Epi Les Paul Standard, but it’s also less than half the price of the Gibson Slash signature. Whether or not you’re a Slash fan, elements like the long tenon neck, LockTone stopbar and Duncan humbuckers make this a great guitar.