This unique interactive experience showcases the innovative and creative spirit of Les Paul.
Experience Les Paul’s Innovative Sound in a Big New Way!
Mix and share music, create your own new sounds, explore Les Paul’s music and the evolution of the solid-body electric guitar, have your picture taken with Les in the “virtual photo booth”, and a whole lot more.
Les Paul’s Big Sound Experience allows you to experience the groundbreaking techniques and technologies pioneered by the Wizard of Waukesha. Discover Les Paul the musician, inventor, humanitarian, and innovator.
In the NEW interactives from Les Paul’s BIG Sound Experience you can:
- Explore Les Paul’s sound, music, and technology innovations.
- Mix and share music.
- Create your own new sound.
- Delve into Les Paul’s personal story.
- Experience Les Paul’s never-ending search for a unique musical sound.
- Discover the performance techniques that made Les Paul a legendary pop music icon.
Les Paul’s Big Sound Experience is presented in partnership with the Les Paul Foundation.
Follow Les’ timeline from 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.
Area One – Les’ Early Years
- 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.
Area Three – 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?
- 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.
- 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.