Friday, August 14, 2009

RIP lester william polsfuss (les paul)

06.19.1915 - 08.13.2009

i learned to play on borrowed guitars.
first was my sister's acoustic ... a nylon string job.

the first electric i learned to play on was a borrowed les paul.
it was black.
30 pounds.
mother of pearl inlay.
i borrowed it for two years from a friend of a friend.
i could wax poetic about all of the great musicians that played les pauls, but in truth the experience of playing one... of learning electric on one... that means more to me.

les paul guitars feel substantive. heavy. solid. yet the strings and their relation to the pickups are incredibly delicate. the experience of learning on one was an immersion in dichotomy... path of least resistance...

there is reportedly a point in any mechanism, no matter how powerful, that can stop the mechanism with the slightest touch. i've read that a train can be stopped with a finger if you know where to put that finger.

a les paul guitar feels like every fret, every finger touch has that power.

the video shows two greats exercising that power, but also (and more importantly) that restraint. which just may be the definition of mastery.

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