New Guitar Day: The ultimate Gibson Les Paul

You may remember this post from last week, where I pondered the need for a Les Paul for work-related purposes. I’ve always felt a little bit uncomfortable with not having a Les Paul when writing reviews: the LP is a standard (pardon the pun) and it just didn’t feel right reviewing amps without being able to explore what they sounded like with a chunk of mahogany, a slab of maple and a pair of humbuckers. And it would certainly help in pickup reviews, lesson articles for Gibson.com and my column in Mixdown to have a nice LP on hand. So yesterday I visited Sky Music here in Melbourne and tried out a whole bunch of Les Pauls to find The One.

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The greatest guitar solo ever

I’ve thought about this a lot lately: what’s the greatest guitar solo ever? I know that’s a purely subjective thing, so really what I’m asking is, what’s the greatest solo ever to me? Well, that’s surprisingly easy: Frank Zappa’s lead on “Any Kind Of Pain” from Broadway the Hard Way. In true Frank style this solo is improvised, and I’ve heard bootlegs of various shows from the 1988 tour which are cool, but not as magical as this one. The take heard on the Broadway The Hard Way album is actually an edited version of this performance, chopping out a big section in the middle. Although the solo’s great in its full version, the edit on the album seems to really kick it up a notch. Here’s the solo as it originally went down.

And here’s Mike Keneally playing it at the Zappa’s Universe concert, very much like the album version.

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