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RE: Guitar

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Les Paul is the inventor of the "electric" guitar. His invention did not simply "Amplify" the sound like a microphone nor did it require a power source on the guitar body. Yes, his invention did not use a solid body guitar like the Les Paul Standard I play, but basically a Chet Atkins special we would call a Gibson ES if we went and bought one today (and it also has Les Paul's name at the top of the neck). It used pickup and is very similar to todays guitar. Remeber the scene in Back to the Future when Marty McFly starts playing (its actually Eddie Van Halen) at the Enchanment Under the Sea dance during the Johnny Be Good solo? That is basically what Les invented, and is still basically the same today. The pickups have evovled, but the body and electronics are virtually unchanged. Just as Marty was able to make that old guitar scream so could anyone else. THe amplifiers and distortion effects have evolved, not the guitar for the most part.

Clapton is a good player. He is a white version of BB King who can't sing as well, is a little faster, and had the benefit of hanging around Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck in his youth from whom he borrowed what he could.  I don't consider him great. Stevie Ray Vaughn makes Clapton look like an amature. The world was robbed of a true talent.

I guess because my list is made up of primarily "Heavy Metal" guitar players, people think I equate speed with greatness. The top 5 greatest on my list I would all consider average to above average in speed. Page was quick for his day, but if I can play along with everything he has done note for note, he ain't that fast. None the less, he is the greatest. Led Zeppelins most popular songs are not even their best. Zeppelin & Page are the greatest band in history. No Beatles, no Backstreet Boys, no Stones ... the LZ baby. 

Fenders are not my cup of tea. You need to have long & skinny fingers to play them. The neck on a Les Paul is thick and the fret board is nice and wide. The tone is much deeper (due to the humbuckers and the better quality of wood) and it sings with just a simple amp. Strats are okay, if you like to bend strings and play between the 8th and 14th fret all day, have a lot of effect pedals or digital enhancers. 

Oh yeah, Paul Reed Smith is a guitar manufacturer. They make Santana's and Ted Nugent's to name a few. A very good guitar. Other great guitars are all the Gibsons, ESP, Martin, Guild, and Ernie Ball.

If you engineers take one thing out of this discussion, it should be to encorage as many children as you can to learn to play an instrument. I was lucky that I learned Saxophone in the 4th grade. Although I grew to hate it (lugging around a Bari Sax everywhere is annoying) it made me want to try the guitar, not quit music. I only wish I began playing at birth. Guitar playing is pure heaven. The first few years are tough, but that 3rd year, you just surprise yourself over and over. I also believe that music makes you smarter. Call it coincidence, but a large percentage of engineers I've met can play an instrument. My daughters will both learn an instrument of their choosing, even the drums. 



I better lay off for now... I'm sure the 15 or so people truely interested on this topic are bothering all the non-musicians who think there cell phone rings are catchy. Email me privately to lambast me further or to name your greats.


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