9. March 2019
Written by Ian S. Port
There is one person I thought of often when reading this book, so this is dedicated to my stepdad Steve. I am sending you my copy.
This book should appeal to everyone of the rock 'n' roll generation and beyond, but especially to anyone that knows a thing or to about electric guitars. And if you own a Fender or a Gibson - read this - and you'll never see it the same. Ever.
One fascinating aspect of this book is how Leo Fender and Les Paul's lives crossed leading up to the first actual solid body electric guitar being played on stage, which -spolier alert- neither one built. Their personalities were so polar opposite, it's amazing they could stand each other: Leo Fender the electronics introvert in his lab all day; Les Paul the guitarist & bullshit artist on stage all night.
The intertwined paths of those that pioneered rock and roll music is well documented. But now we have this book - it could be the first of its kind - to connects the dots regarding how those musicians got these new-fanged electric guitars (and other important innovations) in their hands - and how they used them to make their music sound even more unique.
Some not-so random quotes and passages:
"And that is where their friendship turned competitive. Soon Leo Fender and Les Paul were focused on - even obsessed with, as only people like the two of them could be - the challenges of electric guitars. They met on Les's patio [Hollywood, Ca] on Sunday afternoons to listen to the players and discuss ideas. Les had built his Log; Leo had constructed his black radio shop instrument. Both knew there was a major advance on the horizon for the electric guitar, that the present limits on its volume and tone would somehow have to be overcome. They were chasing the sound of music's future."
"At Dale's request, Leo took a Hammond reverb tank and placed in a standalone box. Dale ran his voice through it. Suddenly, he "was able to sing and sound like Elvis," he remembered. Next, almost on a lark, Dale tried tried running his Stratocaster through the reverb. Dale and Leo knew in an instant that they'd found something even more amazing. Dale's crisp electric guitar was transformed into a smear of tonal color. The sharpness of the Fender Stratocaster blurred by the wet atmosphere of the reverb made for a thrilling juxtaposition, like a knife gleaming underwater."
"Though entirely the creation of Gibson designers, not Les himself, the prototype solid-body shared profound similarities with Les Paul. Both stood as conservative radicals within their historical moment, pursuing new ideas without violating current standards of respectability."
"Even the guitar's sound was conservative, mimicking the mellow tones that hollow-body electric guitars employed in jazz. A Fender Telecaster might scream or twang or even howl; it could certainly offend some ears. As envisioned by its creators in 1951, this Gibson model was almost incapable of producing an ugly or unbalanced sound. It was a solid-body electric with non of the raffishness or bellicosity of the Fender; a guitar for tuxedos and velvet-curtained theaters rather than ten-gallon hats and dusty honky-tonks."
See it on the Simon & Schuster website: