Do you like Les Pauls? Of course you do – we all do to some degree or another. To say that you don’t like Les Pauls would be like saying you don’t like the third leg of a barstool: It may not be your thing, but you’d be hard-pressed to live without it.
The Les Paul is one of the electric guitar’s base guitars that so many of our heroes took up as their own and made incredible music with. It was pictures of them that adorned our walls as young teens and it’s because of those pictures none of us would turn down a Les Paul if someone offered. I mean, come on: It’s a Les Paul for crying out loud.
The history of the Les Paul is fairly significant, and people have tried to tackle it in the past, but those people weren’t Dave Hunter. Hunter lives in the guitar world, writes for guitar magazines, and has even released a string of successful books about the guitar – most memorably one about MY favorite electric guitar: the Telecaster. He’s a guy who found the magic formula for writing a fantastic guitar history book, and he did it again with the Gibson Les Paul: The Illustrated History of the Guitar That Changed Rock.
Step 1: Make it big. This book is sizable in length and height. One COULD say it’s a coffee table book, but I like to think of it as a history textbook instead.
Step 2: Make it lengthy, not TOO lengthy. Look, history – particularly of a guitar model that was there in the formative stages of the electric guitar – is long. If you cut too much out, it will be a laughable attempt to gloss over important details, but if it’s too long, you’ll bore the audience. Hunter walks that fine line well and the book is 217 pages (not counting the index).
Step 3: Make it interesting. Hunter basically wrote two books that revolved around the Les Paul and jammed them both between two covers. One is about the history and construction of the guitar, one is about the biggest names who play(ed) the Les Paul and little stories about them. Rather than put one after the other, he breaks up the history with a few bio pieces, then slides the history back in, basically peppering the book with the two sections so any readers who may not want to stay on one track for too long don’t lose interest.
Step 4: Lots and lots of beautiful pictures. The electric guitar is art that appeals to almost all of your basic senses. The reason there are so many shapes, sizes, colors, and styles, is because we like to look at them. Beautiful photographs on high-quality paper means that you can ogle the guitars until the cows come home.
Step 5: Make it durable. Durability to a guitarist is key and a nice hardcover book with stitched binding means that it will last for a long, long time with minimal protection.
Hunter did a great job (again) with this book and I’m glad to add it to my collection of his. You can purchase The Gibson Les Paul – The Illustrated Story of the Guitar That Changed Rock as well as lots of other awesome guitar and music oriented books from http://www.voyageurpress.com/.