Les Paul (from April 2008)

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When I imagined Les Paul’s own personal club in New York, I was thinking of something grand – the set of a Frank Sinatra picture, maybe. But this is Manhattan. Space is at a premium. It’s still a great place, I’m not trying to knock it. Just a little tight. Bob, Les and I all enjoyed his spacious 24-square-foot green room as the two of them talked and I recorded. The gobsmackinest part of the whole experience came during sound check. Les was on stage with his band – bass, piano, rhythm guitar – and something just wasn’t working. So he called for a different guitar, and promptly received a stunningly pristine, beautiful Les Paul Gibson in exchange for the stunningly pristine, beautiful Les Paul Gibson he was holding. And all at once I realized just how vast and glittering his personal collection must be. It was the guitar version of Joshua Bell rejecting one Stradivarius for another.

(Editor’s Note: In the original hour of programming, the Les Paul interview was followed by a tour of a Gibson Guitar Factory.)

So imagine my wonderment at touring the Gibson Factory in Memphis. The next time you’re in Nashville, Memphis or Bozeman, Montana, I highly recommend a tour. You can tell that all the craftsmen there really take pride in their work.

It’s a great experience to see scraps of wood transformed into these sexy instruments. When you see them all lined up, freshly painted, waxed and buffed, you’re going to want to reach for your wallet, even if you don’t know a guitar pick from a toothpick.

-Geoffrey Redick

Watch a sample of Les Paul playing at the Iridium.