Left: A 1959 Les Paul Standard owned by John Clardy. Photo by Billy Mitchell taken from Electric Guitars & Basses: A Photographic History by George Gruhn and Walter Carter, © Gruhn Guitars, used by permission. Right: A PRS SC 245. Photo courtesy of PRS Guitars.

A brief history of the peculiar behind-the-scenes war over guitar designs.

One day in 2003, music attorney Ron Bienstock was doing some routine background research for a guitar-making client when he came across something he found troubling: Fender Musical Instrument Corp. (FMIC) had applied to the US government for a trademark on the body shapes of three of its most famous and successful guitars: the Stratocaster, the Telecaster, and the Precision bass.
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Slash grips one of the three highly mythologized Les Paul replicas that he has used over the years (right)—which may or may not have been the inspiration for his new signature Gibson Appetite Les Paul (left).

Photo by Neil Zlozower

Will we ever know who built the Les Paul Slash played on “Sweet Child O’ Mine”?

Mythology is an essential part of human life. We may not spend much time discussing winged-footed Greek gods or tales of dragonslayers while we tune our guitars and haul amps into clubs. But myths and legends are still all around us. From the triumph of the Jedi in the Star Wars films to the latest heroic act on the sports field, myths inform our culture and sense of belonging. And even within a musical context, certain stories take root, grow, expand, mutate, and are shared for generations until they reach legendary proportions.

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The story behind Ibanez-lawsuit era guitars, and how much this Les Paul-style is worth.

Hey Zach, I have owned this Ibanez "lawsuit" guitar for over 25 years and I'd like to know a little more about it. The serial number on the neck plate is K7709XX and as far as I know, it is all original except for the missing pickup cover. Can you tell me more about Ibanez's lawsuit guitars and how much this is worth today?

Chris Natale — NYC

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