Few names are as well known to music lovers as “Les Paul.” In 70 years, these electric guitars have become a rock n’ roll staple. And yet, they weren’t destined to be so successful. While losing ground to its competitor Fender, the guitar maker teamed up with renowned musician and inventor Les Paul to develop its own solid body guitar. A particularly difficult task, according to Tom Doyle, a long-time guitar builder, engineer and music producer.
“Les brought his idea to Gibson and they initially dismissed it outright, but Les was dogged. He held strong to his ideas and his beliefs, knowing that someday they would see the light. Les kept tinkering and inventing, and making his concept better and better. Then finally after about 10 years, and after lots of trial and error, the good folks at Gibson presented this very guitar to Les. He was smitten, and he was overjoyed… and the rest, as they say, is history,” he explained.
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The instrument in question is none other than “Number One,” the first “full body” electric guitar prototype approved by Les Paul. It will go under the hammer on October 13 during Christie’s upcoming “Exceptional Sale” in New York. The auction house estimates that it could fetch between $100,000 and $150,000 (around P5 million to P7.5 million).
However, bids could go higher given the rarity of the lot on offer.
“In any creation narrative there are always multiple protagonists, but the name Les Paul ranks at the pinnacle when discussing the electric guitar,” said Kerry Keane, Christie’s consultant and musical instruments specialist. “This guitar physically embodies his endless passion that produced the most iconic musical instrument in popular culture.”
In recent years, other Gibson Les Pauls have performed well on the auction market. A prototype guitar dating from 1982 sold for $180,000 (over P9 million) in 2012 at Julien’s Auctions. JB