Though he died nearly three years ago at the age of 94, Les Paul’s legacy will continue on for generations. A true renaissance man, Paul was a legendary musician, the inventor of the solid-body electric guitar that bore his name, and the inventor of numerous recording innovations. Now in June, much of his personal musical gear, ranging from guitars to recording and touring equipment, will hit the auction block in Beverly Hills.
Naturally, the man’s guitars are the big marquee items, and in that regard, collectors won’t be disappointed as the offerings include prototypes, vintage six-strings going back to the 1920s and more. As a gear magazine, naturally we’re more interested in the equipment that will go up for grabs; some highlights from the auction catalog include:
• Early 1970s Ampex MM1000 (Est. $3,000 - $5,000) Sixteen track recording machine using two inch tape, with custom VSO, serial number 260, with AC cable and side block. Has been re-built in good condition. This was the first Ampex sixteen track machine and is one of the most sought after sixteen track machines to this day. This machine was used in the downstairs recording studio at Les Paul’s Mahwah, New Jersey home. 65 by 41 by 27 1⁄2 inches
• Late 1960s API Recording Mixing Console (Est. $40,000 - $60,000) Twenty eight by sixteen console believed to be one of the first few made with the desirable configuration of twenty eight mic line input channels and sixteen buss. Originally a twenty-channel mixer with an eight-channel side car added later, three 12 point patch bay main console and 144 patch bay on side car. Modules include: five – 558 EQs, one – 550 EQ, four – 553 EQs, 9 – Aengus 8 band EQs, one – old school audio mic pre 580 series size, two – 525 compressors, one – 575 oscillators, one – talk back module, four – 553 EQs, sixteen buss VU meters, and an elaborate master section with buss and cue system. The board is made by Automated Processes Inc. of Farmingdale New York, one of the most notable American made mixing consoles. Original masking tape label with channel identifications in Les Paul’s hand including, “channel 1 Les Guitar.” 45 by 99 1/8 by 35 1⁄2 inches
• Les Paul’s Touring Rig (Est. $5,000 - $7,000) Gibson LP1 guitar amplifier pre-amp controller serial number 1038. A prototype designed by Les Paul featuring Plexiglass panel on front with “Les Paul” two channel amplifier with a normal and box switch, crossover switch, vibrola switch. Les Paul’s markings in red nail polish indicated his settings on the knobs and Plexiglass panel. Additional tape markings reading Les Paul Road 1 and #1 pre-amp among others. Single fifteen Altec Lansing speaker with high frequency horn, power amp and Paulverizer attachment built into the cabinet. Topped with a Nakimichi 700, three head cassette player which Paul used to play along with pre-recorded tracks. This was Paul’s long-time tour rig and is featured on page 291 of his autobiography Les Paul In His Own Words. Sold together with a spare Nakamichi 700 and identical Altec Lansing single fifteen cabinet. Head 5 1⁄2 by 21 by 15 Cabinet 24 by 24 by 15 inches
• Boss BCB-6 Pedal Effects In Case (Est. $3,000 - $5,000). Six Boss pedals including: chromatic tuner TU-2 white, super chorus ch-1 blue, digital delay DD3 silver, digital reverb/delay RV3 grey. The case also contains tools including a pair of Les Paul’s sunglasses and has all of his settings recorded on masking tape. This is the gigging case used by Les Paul during his weekly shows at both Fat Tuesdays and the Iridium Jazz Club for decades. 3 1⁄2 by 25 by 11 inches.
The Les Paul Foundation’s auction will be held at Julien’s Auctions Beverly Hills Gallery across two days—June 8-9. For more information on the event and other items being auctioned, visit Juliensauctions.com.