THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Musician and technology genius Les Paul changed the way that music was made. Now his own personal ‘Number One' guitar, the very earliest approved production model of the storied Gibson Les Paul model, is being sold at auction by Christie's New York on October 13 as part of The Exceptional Sale. It carries an estimate of $100,000-150,000.
Les Paul's Number One was the first solid-bodied electric guitar that met with his approval, was the culmination of his lifelong dream and was developed to become synonymous with guitarists as varied as Jimmy Page, Muddy Waters, Peter Frampton, Marc Bolan, Slash, Bob Marley, Duane Allman, Billy Gibbons, both Mick Joneses, James Dean Bradfield, Mick Taylor, Scott Gorham, Mick Ronson, and Neil Young. Les Paul guitars have also featured in key career moments of Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Paul McCartney among many others.
Paul's importance in music can't be overstated. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame said that he "is part of a homespun tradition of scientific wizards that includes Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison." He was both a Grammy award-winning musician and a world-changing inventor. Musically, Les Paul and Mary Ford, his wife, were household names. Their most famous record, 'How High the Moon' reached Number 1 on the US Pop Charts and they had thirteen other Top Ten hits. Aside for that, he was responsible for, among other things, the development of multitrack recording, which changed the music industry forever. He is the only person to have been inducted into both the Rock and Roll and National Inventors Halls of Fame.
Kerry Keane, Christie's Musical Instruments consultant, says, "In any creation narrative there are always multiple protagonists, but the name Les Paul ranks at the pinnacle when discussing the electric guitar. His development of multi-track recording, and audio effects like delay, echo, and reverb all profoundly influenced how music is reproduced and heard. Yet his lifelong search and development in perfecting the electric guitar would forever change the instrument. That transformation is responsible for the successful careers for generations of guitarists that performed on the Les Paul guitar. This guitar physically embodies his endless passion that produced the most iconic musical instrument in popular culture."
Les Paul's 'Number One' Goldtop guitar is being sold by Les Paul's son, Gene Paul, and Tom Doyle, Les's long-time guitar builder, engineer, and producer. Gene Paul comments, "This was the most historically significant, valuable, pivotal, and important guitar to my father, his crowning achievement."