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Classic Rock History: Signature Sounds of Classic Rock: 

The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most iconic and revered electric guitar models in history. Its rich history spans over several decades, beginning in the early 1950s. Here's a brief overview of the Les Paul's history:

Development and Introduction (1950-1952):
The Les Paul model was developed by Gibson in collaboration with renowned guitarist and inventor, Les Paul. The initial prototype, known as "The Log," was created by Les Paul himself in the late 1940s, named for the pine block running through the middle of the guitar. Hollow guitar sides or "wings" were added to achieve a conventional shape. Paul had brought his prototype to Gibson, but it was rejected.

In 1951, Gibson president Ted McCarty and his team began work on what would eventually become the Les Paul model. The intent in developing the guitar was not so much to compete with Fender's solid body electric as it was to outshine it; Gibson's would be a well-made-- and expensive-- guitar. McCarty's intent in approaching Les Paul for the right to imprint the musician's name on the headstock was mainly with an eye toward increased sales.

In 1952, Gibson officially introduced the Les Paul Goldtop model. It featured a solid mahogany body with a carved maple top, a glued-in mahogany neck, two P-90 single-coil pickups, and a trapeze tailpiece.

The Gibson Les Paul Custom (1954-1960):
In 1954, Gibson introduced the Les Paul Custom, also known as the "Black Beauty." It featured an all-black finish, multiple binding on the body and headstock, gold hardware, and an ebony fingerboard with mother-of-pearl inlays. The original Customs were fitted with a P-90 pickup in the bridge position and an Alnico V "staple" pickup in the neck. In 1957, the Custom was fitted with Gibson's new PAF humbucker pickups, and later became available with three pickups instead of the usual two.

When the original Les Pauls were discontinued in 1960, the Custom model's features and designation were transferred to a new SG Custom model.

Evolution and Innovations (Late 1950s-1960):
Gibson continued to refine and evolve the Les Paul model throughout the late 1950s and into the 1960s. In 1957, Gibson introduced the PAF (Patent Applied For) humbucking pickups, which provided a warmer and thicker tone compared to the original P-90 pickups. The Les Paul Standard was introduced in 1958, featuring a sunburst finish, a tune-o-matic bridge, and a stop tailpiece.

For all its innovations, the Les Paul Standard didn't sell well. The guitar was heavy, and Gibson was still marketing primarily to an older, jazz-oriented audience. As a result, fewer than 2000 of the model were sold 1958-1960.

In 1961, Gibson made some design changes to the Les Paul, giving it a thinner body and a double-cutaway shape. These models are commonly referred to as the "SG" (Solid Guitar) series. Les Paul did not approve of the changes, and asked his name be removed from the guitars. Even so, many press and promotional photos, and even album covers exist showing both Paul and his wife Mary Ford with 1961 SG Custom model guitars. And, for a period of time, some were still sold with "Les Paul" inscribed on the truss rod covers.

Discontinuation (1960) and Reintroduction (Late 1960s-1970s):
Despite its initial success, sales of the Les Paul declined during the late 1950s due to competition from other guitar manufacturers. As a result, Gibson decided to discontinue the Les Paul model in 1961 and replaced it with the aforementioned SG series.

In the mid-1960s, seeking to emulate their American blues guitar heroes, British rock guitarists began to embrace the original Les Paul models. Subsequently, popular demand prompted Gibson to reintroduce the Les Paul in 1968. This reintroduction included both the "Standard" and "Custom" models, featuring the original single-cutaway design and a range of finishes.

The Gibson Les Paul Deluxe (Late 1960s-1985):
In the late 1960s, Gibson also released the Les Paul Deluxe, which had mini-humbuckers instead of full-sized humbuckers. The pickups were surplus Epiphone inventory, and were fitted into pre-carved P-90 size cavities by means of an adapter ring. Several notable guitarists used Deluxes over the years, although many opted to switch the pickups to full-size humbuckers. The Deluxe went through multiple neck and body construction changes over the years, but was eventually discontinued in 1985.

Professional (1969-1971) and Recording (1971-1979) Models:
In 1969, the Les Paul Professional was introduced. The model forewent the cosmetic embellishments of the Standard and Custom and was aimed at the studio musician. Low impedance pickups replaced standard humbuckers, and two toggle switches provided additional tonal controls. The model was not popular, however, and was discontinued after selling less than 120 units. It would be replaced by the "Recording" model.

The Les Paul Recording differed from the Professional in only minor ways, primarily the controls layout. It was, however, the model Les Paul himself preferred.

Les Paul Studio (1983-present):
The Studio followed the Recording as a model designed to appeal to those who wanted the classic Les Paul sound at a lower cost than Standard or Custom models, again primarily studio musicians. Unlike the Professional and Recording, the Studio was basically a stripped-down Standard with a slightly thinner body. Features such as body binding, neck binding, and headstock inlays were not available.

Over time, revisions were made to the Studio to improve playability and reduce weight, a complaint often lodged against the Standard and Custom. Ironically, Studio models gradually began to be offered with most of the cosmetic features the model was originally intended to eschew.

Modern Era and Variations (1980s-Present):
Since the 1980s, Gibson has continued to produce various Les Paul models, offering different finishes, pickups, and features to cater to the preferences of modern guitarists. Some notable variations include the Les Paul Classic, Les Paul Traditional, Les Paul Custom Lite, and Les Paul Custom Pro. Gibson has also collaborated with famous guitarists to create signature Les Paul models, such as the Jimmy Page Signature and the Slash Signature Les Pauls. Gibson also offers Les Paul models under their more economical Epiphone brand.

The Gibson Les Paul's timeless design, powerful tone, and notable association with legendary guitarists have made it a highly sought-after instrument, securing its place in music history as an iconic electric guitar model.

Classic Rock History: Signature Sounds of Classic Rock: 

The invention of the humbucking electric guitar pickup revolutionized the world of electric guitars by eliminating unwanted electrical interference and producing a rich, noise-free tone.

In the early days of electric guitars, single-coil pickups were commonly used. While these pickups were effective in converting string vibrations into electrical signals, they were also susceptible to external electromagnetic interference, commonly known as hum. This interference caused an audible hum or buzz in the signal, particularly in environments with electrical equipment or strong radio waves.

The humbucking pickup was invented by Seth Lover, an engineer working for Gibson Guitar Corporation in the 1950s. Lover's goal was to develop a pickup that would cancel out the unwanted hum while maintaining the tonal characteristics of a single-coil pickup.

The key innovation in Lover's design was the use of two coils instead of one. Each coil was wound in opposite directions, with one coil connected in reverse polarity to the other. This arrangement allowed the coils to capture the string vibrations but cancel out the hum by virtue of the opposite winding and polarity.

The first commercially produced humbucking pickup was introduced by Gibson in 1957 as the "PAF" (Patent Applied For) pickup. These early PAF pickups were featured on Gibson's high-end electric guitars, including the Les Paul models. The PAF pickups gained popularity due to their ability to provide a warm, full-bodied tone while effectively eliminating hum.

Gibson sought to protect their invention by applying "PAF" stickers to the backs of their humbucking pickups. Later, they applied stickers with a patent number to the pickups, and they came to be referred to as "patent number" pickups. This was actually a bluff, however, as the patent number referred to on the stickers was for the patent they had secured for the adjustable bridge on their guitars.

Over the years, other guitar manufacturers started incorporating humbucking pickups into their instruments, recognizing their benefits. The humbucker became a defining characteristic of many iconic electric guitars, including the Gibson SG, Fender Stratocaster HSS (Humbucker/Single-Coil/Single-Coil) models, and countless others.

As time went on, various variations and improvements were made to the original humbucking pickup design. These modifications included changes in magnet types, coil winding techniques, and the introduction of different wiring options, such as coil splitting and tapping. These advancements allowed players to achieve a wider range of tones and versatility.

Today, humbucking pickups remain a staple in the electric guitar world. They are favored by musicians across different genres for their noise-canceling capabilities and the distinct, fat tone they produce. The invention of the humbucking pickup by Seth Lover continues to shape the sound of modern electric guitars and has become an integral part of the instrument's evolution.

Signature Sounds of Classic Rock: 

The Valley Arts Super Strat guitar is a high-end electric guitar model that was originally produced by Valley Arts Guitar in the 1980s and 1990s. The company was founded by luthier Mike McGuire in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California.

The Valley Arts Super Strat has been used by many professional musicians over the years, including Steve Lukather, Larry Carlton, and Lee Ritenour, among others. Its versatility and high-quality components have made it a popular choice for players who require a high-performance instrument for a variety of musical styles.

The Valley Arts Super Strat is modeled after the Fender Stratocaster, which is one of the most iconic electric guitars of all time. However, the Valley Arts version features several upgrades that make it unique. For example, it typically has a thinner, more contoured body, which makes it more comfortable to play for extended periods. It also typically has a flatter fretboard radius, which makes it easier to play faster and more complex guitar parts.

One of the most notable features of the Valley Arts Super Strat is its pickups. Many models come equipped with Seymour Duncan pickups, which are highly regarded in the guitar community for their clarity, versatility, and ability to handle high gain situations. Some models also feature active electronics, which allow for greater tonal flexibility and control.

Other features commonly found on the Valley Arts Super Strat include a Floyd Rose locking tremolo system, which allows for extreme whammy bar usage without losing tuning stability, and a locking nut and locking tuners to further ensure tuning stability.

Several companies produced their own versions of Super Strats. Fender and Gibson both responded to the Super Strat fashion in the mid-1980s, producing a number of models modified from the standard Stratocaster configuration.

In the 1990s, as heavy metal and shredding declined in popularity in favor of grunge and alternative, so did the popularity of Super Strat style guitars. Companies who had built their business model around them either went out of business or were absorbed by other makers.

Signature Sounds of Classic Rock: 

The Moog synthesizer is a type of analog synthesizer that was invented by American engineer Robert Moog in the 1960s. It is a type of electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals using electronic circuits and modules that can be manipulated to create a wide range of sounds.

The Moog synthesizer was one of the first commercially available synthesizers and was popularized in the late 1960s and early 1970s by musicians such as Wendy Carlos, Keith Emerson, and Rick Wakeman. It has been used in a wide variety of music genres, including rock, pop, electronic, and experimental music.

The Moog synthesizer is known for its distinctive sound, which is characterized by its warm, rich, and fat analog tones. It typically features a keyboard interface, various modules such as oscillators, filters, envelopes, and amplifiers, and patch cords that allow users to connect the modules together and create unique sounds.

Over the years, many variations of the Moog synthesizer have been produced, including the MiniMoog, the Moog Modular, and the Voyager. Today, Moog synthesizers are still being produced and used by musicians and music producers all over the world.

Signature Sounds of Classic Rock: 

The Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar is a musical instrument known for its distinctive chiming sound and unique design. It was first introduced in the early 1960s by the Rickenbacker company, and quickly became popular with guitarists looking for a brighter, more jangly sound than what was possible with a traditional 6-string electric guitar.

One of the key features of the Rickenbacker 12-string is its unique "Rick-o-Sound" wiring, which allows the guitar to be split into two separate output signals - one for each pick-up. This allows the player to control the tone and volume of each signal separately, giving them a great deal of flexibility in creating their sound.

In terms of its design, the Rickenbacker 12-string is characterized by its distinctive "shark fin" inlays on the fretboard, its distinctive headstock shape, and its unique "slash" soundhole. It is available in a variety of finishes, including natural, black, and the iconic "Fireglo" sunburst finish.

Some notable guitarists who have used the Rickenbacker 12-string include George Harrison of the Beatles, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Tom Petty, and Johnny Marr of the Smiths.

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Signature Sounds of Classic Rock: 

The talk box is a guitar effect that creates a distinctive vocal-like sound by shaping the guitar's tone through the player's mouth. It was first popularized in the 1970s by musicians such as Peter Frampton and Joe Walsh. The effect can be heard in songs such as Frampton's "Do You Feel Like We Do," and Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way." In the 1980s, Richie Sambora used the effect on Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer."

The talk box works by routing the guitar's signal through a small speaker driver connected to a plastic tube that is inserted into the musician's mouth. The musician then shapes the sound with their mouth, producing vowels and consonants to create the desired sound. The resulting sound is then amplified by a vocal microphone through a guitar amp or PA system.

The talk box can create a variety of sounds, from a classic wah-wah effect to more vocal-like sounds. It is often used in funk, rock, and electronic music, and is a popular effect among guitarists. After the success of his album "Frampton Comes Alive!", which featured the talk box extensively, Peter Frampton marketed a version under his "Framptone" brand.

It is important to note that the talk box requires some practice and skill to use effectively, as it involves both playing the guitar and shaping the sound with the mouth simultaneously.

Signature Sounds of Classic Rock: 

The Fender Precision Bass, also known as the P Bass, is a popular electric bass guitar that was first introduced by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation in 1951. It was the first commercially successful electric bass guitar, and it revolutionized the music industry by providing bass players with a more practical and versatile instrument that was easier to play and amplified better than upright basses.

The Fender Precision Bass features a solid body made of ash, alder, or other tonewoods, a bolt-on neck made of maple, and a fingerboard made of either maple or rosewood. It has a scale length of 34 inches and typically comes with 20 or 21 frets. The instrument is equipped with one split-coil pickup that is positioned in the middle of the body and controlled by a volume knob and a tone knob.

One of the key features of the Fender Precision Bass is its ability to produce a wide range of tones, from warm and mellow to bright and punchy, thanks to its pickup and control configuration. It is commonly used in a variety of music genres, including rock, pop, jazz, and blues, among others.

Over the years, the Fender Precision Bass has undergone several changes and modifications, including the addition of a second pickup, changes to the body shape and materials, and improvements to the hardware and electronics. Today, it remains one of the most popular and highly-regarded bass guitars on the market, favored by both professional musicians and amateur players alike.

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Signature Sounds of Classic Rock: 

The Les Paul Junior is an electric guitar model that was introduced by Gibson in 1954 as a more affordable option for players who wanted the distinctive Les Paul sound and style without the additional features and costs of other Les Paul models. The Les Paul Junior became one of the most popular and recognizable guitars of the 1950s and has remained a classic instrument in the decades since.

The Les Paul Junior (1954-1958) features a single-cutaway mahogany body and neck, with a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard. It has a simple, no-frills design with a single P-90 pickup, a single volume and tone control, and a wraparound bridge/tailpiece. In 1958, it was redesigned with a double-cutaway body style. This initial run of the model lasted through 1963.

The P-90 pickup is known for its distinctive and powerful sound. The simplicity of the guitar's design belies its ability to produce a variety of sounds, especially through a high-gain amplifier. Even when played through an overdriven amp, its sound "cleans up" well when the volume control is rolled back slightly. Coupled with a variation in picking attack, the Les Paul Junior can be a formidable and versatile weapon in the arsenal of blues, pop and rock players.

The Les Paul Junior has been used by many notable guitarists over the years, including John Lennon, Mick Jones of The Clash, Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Leslie West of Mountain, and Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke. Martin Barre of Jethro Tull recorded the entire Aqualung album with a 1957 Les Paul Junior, including the extended guitar solo of the title track.

The LP Junior remains popular with musicians who value simplicity and a classic rock and roll sound.

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Signature Sounds of Classic Rock: 

The Fender Mustang is an electric guitar model that was first introduced by Fender in 1964. It was initially designed to be a student model guitar, but it has since gained popularity among many different types of guitar players.

The Mustang features a shorter scale length of 24 inches, which makes it easier to play for those with smaller hands or for players who prefer a shorter neck. It also has a unique offset waist body shape that sets it apart from other Fender models like the Stratocaster or Telecaster.

In terms of electronics, the Mustang typically features two angled single-coil pickups, each with an adjacent on-off-on switch, and a master tone and volume control. Some models also include a tremolo bar or vibrato system, which allows players to create unique pitch-bending effects.

The Mustang was a popular choice for surf music groups in the 1960s. It was eventually discontinued in 1982. Over the years, the Mustang has been used by many notable guitarists, including Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, who famously played a Fender Mustang during the band's early years, and whose embrace of the model was likely the impetus for its reissue in 1990. Today, Fender offers a variety of Mustang models with different features and finishes to suit different players' preferences.

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Signature Sounds of Classic Rock: 

The Gibson ES series of electric guitars is a line of semi-hollow and hollow body electric guitars manufactured by Gibson. The ES in the name stands for "Electric Spanish" and the series was introduced by Gibson in the late 1940s as a response to the growing popularity of electric guitars.

The ES series has been used by many famous guitarists, including B.B. King, Chuck Berry, and Wes Montgomery, among others. The guitars are known for their warm, rich tone, which is due in part to their semi-hollow and hollow body construction.

The ES-335 is perhaps the most iconic model in the series. It features a semi-hollow body construction with a center block that runs down the middle of the body, which helps to reduce feedback and increase sustain. The ES-335 has a warm and full-bodied tone that is perfect for blues, jazz, and rock music. Legendary guitarist Larry Carlton is affectionately known as "Mr. 335" owing to his association with that particular model.

The ES-345 and ES-355 are similar to the ES-335, but they include additional features such as stereo outputs, varitone circuits, and multiple pickups. These guitars have a more complex sound and are well-suited for players who want more tonal options.

The ES series has undergone various changes and updates over the years, with different models featuring different pickups, hardware, and finishes. Gibson continues to produce the ES series today, and the guitars remain popular among musicians of all genres.

Trivia: While it's easy to assume that ES guitar models are numbered according to their feature set (they mostly are), the numbers actually directly correspond to the original list prices, in dollars, of the various models at the time of their introduction.

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