Discovery World

LES PAUL

Les Paul's House of Sound

Les Paul's House of Sound

One out of every seven people is creative? Are you the one? This interactive experience that showcases the innovative and creative spirit of Les Paul is the only one of its kind in the world.

Travel along Les’ timeline to see his humble beginnings in Wisconsin to his travels around the world, innovating and experimenting at every stop along the way. Creativity, experimentation, historic guitars, inventions, songs, and the future – we invite you to explore all of these to find the Les Paul in you.

 

New additions to the Les Paul's House of Sound exhibit allow you to explore Les the Innovator and Les the Tinkerer, as well as give a glimpse into his creative spirit that lives on through Les' work and lasting innovations. You'll see more than 20 new guitars and never-before seen memorabilia.

 

Through a continued commitment to strengthen the legacy of Les Paul, Discovery World is proud to showcase a brand new collection of rare guitars from the Les Paul Foundation and The Eisner Collection.


New features include:

  • "The Bible" - Les' personal favorite recording model (courtesy of The Les Paul Foundation) 
  • One of only two Mini gold top guitars in existence (courtesy of The Les Paul Foundation) 
  • Framus 5/70 Black Rose made in Germany with signatures of Les Paul and Mary Ford scratched into the back (courtesy of The Eisner Collection) 
  • Les Paul Personal Pre-Production Prototype (1970) (courtesy of The Eisner Collection) 
  • Les Paul Spotlight Special ANT Model (Antique Natural) (courtesy of The Eisner Collection)

 

QUICK FACTS

Area One – Les’ Early Years

  • Player Piano: Young Les experimented with his Mom’s player piano by covering the holes in the player reel to alter the song; he also played with tempo at various points throughout a song, for dramatic effect. See the young innovator at work! 
  • Water Basin: Les grew up near railway tracks, as a result would constantly feel the rumble of passing trains, in turn discovering the nature of sound travel … vibration. The water displays sound vibrations in a way that reflects the trains in Waukesha.
  • Rotating-Drum Oscilloscope: Rotate the drum and pluck the guitar string to watch sound waves in motion! Horizontal white lines along the drum slow down the image visually (as a strobe light would) resulting in a visible sound wave. 
  • Phonograph and Crystal Radio Set: The young inventor experimented with both of these in his earliest days as he started on his life’s journey to chase the perfect sound.
 

Area Two – The Musician on the Road to Stardom

  • Gibson L-5 1928, Gibson L-5 1940, Gibson L-5 1944 Acoustic Arch-Top: Historic guitars that helped launch the music career of the "Wizard of Waukesha." 
  • Les Paul’s Awards: Les Paul’s Grammy Awards, Hall of Fame Award, and other notable designations he gained through the years. 
  • The Log: A reproduction (original is in Country Music Hall of Fame) of Les Paul’s first model of electric guitar. It took Gibson more than a decade to recognize this ground-breaking innovation, but Les never gave up his dream.
  • Ding-Dong: A Les Paul innovation, experimenting with aspects of strings in their relationship to sound amplifying. 
  • Klunker: Les Paul used this guitar to produce top ten hits – and gold records like the one in the case – with his wife Mary Ford in the 1950s. Les called this his “Klunker” based on his use and abuse of the guitars, and the X-ray will attest that this guitar has had some work done.
  • Guitars from Les’ personal collection: From “Les Paul #1” (the first Gibson Les Paul that was ever produced) to a headless aluminum guitar to one of the only double-necked guitars that Les ever played, take a good look at innovation in music and sound on display.
  • Les Paul’s Mad Lab: In his Hollywood Studio, Les recorded musicians using the Sound-on-Sound recording techniques he developed. But since there was no door, they had to crawl in the window!
 

Area 3 – Friends of Les Paul

  • Reactable: Developed by innovative twenty-somethings in Spain, this new age musical instrument uses disks on a translucent table to make stereo sound. Kanye West uses this in concert, so why can’t you?
  • Continuum Fingerboard: Produce unique sound on this padded, quasi keyboard with X, Y, and Z coordinates. 
  • Dexter and Lemur Technology: Touch screen capable software enables you to mix and blend pre-programmed music. The software is completely customizable and can replicate most of the effects of a DJ table.
  • Circuit Bending: At a loss for what to with those old toys? See this process of taking electronic devices and altering their behavior. 
  • Gibson Epiphone Guitars with Pedals and Delays: His name may grace a world-renowned guitar, but fellow musicians know and adore Les for his incredible impact on sound. He pioneered the use of distortion, reverb, and delay while playing music. You can let your fingers do the talking and see all of these techniques on display.