While the electric guitar's prominence in music is inarguable, credit for its development remains a subject rife with debate. Many believe Les Paul deserves accolades for its invention, yet the title is more popularly granted to Leo Fender for the Fender Broadcaster. Paul completed his original design in 1941, but it took Gibson more than a decade to ready the design for production. During that large window of time, particularly during 1948, Fender managed to complete, produce, and sell his design to the masses. While Gibson may have been first, many rank the Les Paul as the best. Over the past few decades, the Les Paul has become an iconic instrument – so much so that several guitarists swear by it, having played nothing else for years. Here are five distinguished guitarists that prefer to play a Les Paul over everything else.
The Allman Brother's Band's final performances featured an unlikely trio of guest stars – Duane's three primary Les Paul guitars, which had been reunited for the occasion in his honor, and in honor of the band's wildly successful existence. Two of the guitars, Duane's Cherry Sunburst and Dark Burst, were even granted a leave of absence from their usual dwelling in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while the third, Duane's Goldtop Les Paul, has been on display at the Big House Museum in Macon, Ga. Through years of research by Gibson historian Lee Roy Parnell, it has been determined that Duane's Cherry Sunburst was his "most recorded" guitar, resulting in the honorary and limited Duane Allman Cherry Sunburst 1959 Les Paul.
The legendary guitarist and Led Zeppelin founder has sworn by a Les Paul since the late 1960s when Joe Walsh sold him his first one. Eventually, Gibson even released a Jimmy Page Signature Les Paul – discontinued in 1999 and then re-released (as a newer version) in 2004, which was also later discontinued. In 2009, Gibson released the Jimmy Page ‘Number Two' Les Paul, a re-creation of Page's now-famous No. 2 that he has used since the 70s. Its safe to say, with three guitars and counting, that both Page and Paul inspired one another as guitarists and artists in every sense of the word.
One can imagine the perks of being one half of Aerosmith's iconic songwriting duo of Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. For Perry, one his greatest perks, and arguably excessive habits, is getting to own somewhere around 600 guitars. Gibson offers a quick rundown of Perry's favorite and signature Gibson models on its site. One stands out among the rest: The Joe Perry Boneyard Les Paul. This guitar is unique in more ways than one. It boasts a "Green Tiger" finish and is named after Perry's home studio in Boston, referred to as the Boneyard.
Guns N' Roses are the acclaimed creators of the biggest-selling debut album of all time, Appetite for Destruction. The record spawned some of rock's greatest hits and most recognizable riffs – performed by Slash and his axe of choice, a Les Paul. In praise of the album and Slash, Gibson created The Slash Appetite Les Paul, "The Axe That Launched a Thousand Riffs," a replica of the guitar Slash used while recording the 1987 blockbuster. True to rock star form, controversy ensued. It's believed the Gibson Appetite is actually a replica of a replica, and that the original wasn't a Gibson but a guitar designed by Kris Derrig made to look like a Gibson. Guns N' Roses manager Alan Niven actually gave Slash the guitar while recording the band's debut, and Slash continued to use it for years until it was stolen.
Zakk Wylde's custom Gibson guitar quite possibly touts the best nickname yet – The Ultimate Shred Weapon. The Zakk Wylde Les Paul Bullseye has become one of the most easily identifiable guitars due to its distinctive swirl design. Wylde had his start as the guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, but later went on to create Black Label Society, a metal band of his own. Now, with the Bullseye edition no longer available, Gibson birthed the Zakk Wylde Les Paul Custom Vertigo, a "savage" Les Paul appropriately fitting for the savage player who inspired it.
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