The Les Paul model represented a design collaboration between Gibson Guitar, under president Ted McCarty, and the pop star, electronics inventor and accomplished jazz guitarist Les Paul. After the debut of the Fender Telecaster series of guitars, in 1950, solid-body electric instruments became a craze, and Les Paul was brought in by the company as an innovative and respected figure who had experimented with them on his own. An early hand-built prototype of his, called 'The Log,' was once widely considered the first solid-body Spanish (as opposed to 'Hawaiian,' or lap-steel) guitar ever built, although numerous other prototypes and limited-production models have since resurfaced. Paul had earlier, in 1945 or 46, approached Gibson with this prototype, and had been "shown the door."
The new guitar was to be an expensive, well-made instrument in Gibson's tradition, in response to the plain, bolted-together construction of the Fender guitars. Recollections differ on who contributed what to the design, but Gibson had offered electric, hollow-body guitars since the 1930s, and provided at minimum a basic set of design cues, including a more traditionally curved body shape than that of Fender's futuristic-utilitarian models, and a glued-in ("set") neck, rather than Fender's bolt-on design.
As to Paul's contributions, Tony Bacon in his book "50 Years of the Gibson Les Paul" minimizes Paul's contributions to advice on colour (Paul preferred gold as "it looks expensive", and black, as "it makes your fingers appear to move faster on the fretboard", and "looks classy - like a tuxedo") and advice on the trapeze tailpiece. According to Gibson's president Ted McCarty, Gibson... [continues]
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