1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Did Gibson invent the Les Paul shape or copy O.W. Appleton's App Guitar?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by etype, Jul 2, 2019.

  1. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,597
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    Location:
    Dallas
    With Gibson making the news with their ham-handed threat to "play authentic" I found this about the App Guitar which O.W. Appleton brought to Gibson in 1943 in an attempt to get them to buy the idea from him. They didn't, saying that no one would ever buy a solidbody electric guitar. And then 9 years later they came out with the Les Paul. I think Gibson needs to pay the O.W. Appleton family $10 for each Les Paul ever made by Gibson or Epiphone!!!

    (BTW, Gibson did not steal the neck design, Appleton bought the neck from Gibson to make this one).

    http://www.owappleton.com/

    [​IMG]
     
  2. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,597
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    Location:
    Dallas
    BTW, I should add that economists (of which I am one) have longed argued that copyright intellectual property duration has gotten way too long. What started as 27 years to provide an incentive to innovate and create easily stolen intellectual property has now gotten to over 100 years. As monopoly causes societal loss, it needs to be limited so that society can eventually fully benefit. What duration strikes the right balance? Trademarks are different, but that should be confined to logos and names, not the creative output itself. Policymakers have conflated real property (which can only be owned by one person at a time) with intellectual property, which can be used by multiple people simultaneously without taking away from anyone else's use.

    And about the Gibson head stock shape, the "open book" detail has been around for centuries on mandolins etc. Just because you are the first to claim it should not give you exclusive rights to it. That would be like me claiming exclusive rights to the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
  3. Uncle_Battuh

    Uncle_Battuh TDPRI Member

    Age:
    46
    Posts:
    67
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2017
    Location:
    BRZL
    Then that greek dude Aesop would sue your ass off!!
     
    Chino, etype and nojazzhere like this.
  4. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,829
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2007
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Based on everyhing that I've read, Gibson actually based the Les Paul on an existing Gibson acoustic design, downsizing the body in order to keep te weight of that much mahogony under control. They were even able to carry most of the hardware, tuners, tailpiece, etc, into the solid body concept. How far back the acoustic design goes is anybodies guess since each subsiquent designer modified the previous accepted design.
     
    Paul in Colorado likes this.
  5. ftbtx

    ftbtx Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,586
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2016
    Location:
    The west side of Texas
    Cool sounding guitar and a great story! Must have weighed a ton though!!
     
    verb boten likes this.
  6. Dave W

    Dave W Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    73
    Posts:
    4,766
    Joined:
    May 15, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    The only part of the Appleton story I believe is that he built the guitar. No evidence he ever approached Gibson, and I sure don't believe that he got such a letter from Gibson years later and just threw it out. Yeah, right.

    Rickenbacker and Audiovox had solid body Spanish guitars on the market by about 1935-36, so to claim that his was the first is more BS.

    Even if his story were 100% true, Gibson owed him nothing. He never marketed it.
     
    SheldonP and savofenno like this.
  7. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,821
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2015
    Location:
    europe
    Not sure. The Slingerland electric guitar was on the market in 1936 or 38 or earlier (the accounts vary), way before the APP was built.
    [​IMG]
    https://www.seymourduncan.com/blog/...-songster-model-401-the-first-electric-guitar


    The APP does have the arched top and cutaway. Also the glued neck, I think the Slingerland was neck-through. It doesn't have the binding.

    Neither look that much like a Les Paul in contour.

    Slingerland was actually bought by Gibson in 2003.



    Audiovox is also interesting. Not only first electric bass guitar, but an early humbucker as well.
     
    verb boten likes this.
  8. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,597
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    Location:
    Dallas
    I don't disagree with any of what you said (and it's hard to prove that he took a trip to Gibson), but these creative ideas were floating around and I don't t think Gibson has any moral authority to lay claim to these body shapes now.
     
    savofenno likes this.
  9. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,597
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    Location:
    Dallas
    I assume there were single cutaway jazz boxes before the Les Paul. If that design was common, then shrinking it to make a solid body version should not be so notable as worthy of copyright protection.
     
    SheldonP, savofenno and Chunkocaster like this.
  10. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,384
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2015
    Location:
    Nashville
    Doesn't matter, IMO. Gibson is trademark trolling, pure and simple. The Les Paul shape is just the normal archtop then add a cutaway. Single cut electric guitars like the Broadcaster & Merle Travis were already out there along with Gibson's single cut jazz boxes.

    It wasn't exactly far out but what is far out is companies using their legal departments to get every inch of market share they can by abusing certain aspects of IP law. Even more so, when they have no standing they still can scare you with threats of lawsuits, ceast & desist letters, etc.
     
    etype likes this.
  11. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,421
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2014
    Location:
    South London UK
    Wow. A new one on me. Yes that's a precursor for sure.
     
  12. drf64

    drf64 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    56
    Posts:
    9,049
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Location:
    Ada, MI
    Great googly moogly, that thing is about 4 inches thick. Has to be over 20 lbs.

    The first recording is supposedly made in the 40's. That's a trippy trem circuit. Is he playing through a Leslie?
     
  13. dazzaman

    dazzaman Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,373
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2011
    Location:
    Gent, Belgium
    That website has probably had more hits in the last week than in the previous years that it has been up.
    It is (genuinely) a pity that very little about that guitar can be independently verified, and that no serious examination has been made of it. Whether it was taken to Gibson in 1943 or not, enough of the facts of the development of the Les Paul are known to establish that the App formed no part of Gibson's thinking. The decision to make a solidbody came after they saw Fender produce the Esquire, and that instrument came after Leo Fender borrowed a Bigsby instrument. The first solidbody prototype (called the Ranger) was a flat top, non cutaway mahogany instrument, and the first "successful" Les Paul prototype was based on the ES140 shape.
    That said, I would love to know more about the App. The website strongly implies that Appleton did not make the pickup himself (since they credit to him everything they possibly can), so I can only assume he put a purchased pickup into his own cover, and therefore it would be very interesting to know what the actual pickup is. And, to my knowledge, the first amplifier with tremolo was made in 1947, which would suggest the recording was made after then.
    That is not meant as a put down to Appleton - clearly the guy was very inventive, quite aside from the guitar in question - it would just be good to get some proper scrutiny to help establish the claims.
     
    etype and savofenno like this.
  14. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    23,351
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    R.I.P. 2019
    It's kind of late in the game to make claims. The idea was in the air, Gibson, Bigsby and Fender all came out with their take on it. Les Paul got involved. Maybe this guy pre-dates them, but his guitar looks like a lot of guitars that were around back then. There were cutaway jazz boxes available. Sure, let's add him to the story, but to say he was first and invented the solid body electric guitar is a stretch.
     
    etype likes this.
  15. verb boten

    verb boten Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    719
    Joined:
    May 12, 2019
    Location:
    Indiana
    First i've seen the Slingerland name in a long time, wonder if it's still around?
     
  16. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    25,841
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    Location:
    Montana
    It seems to me that Gibson is just taking a page out of the computer/semiconductor industries regarding copyrights, patents and intellectual properties. This is the game today like it or not. I know a retired judge and these are the things that even they are trying to figure out as well by getting more educated in this special field.
     
    etype likes this.
  17. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,597
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    Location:
    Dallas
    Yeah, once it was decided that computer code could be copyrighted, there was a mad dash to get rights to previously open-source shared code that had been around for decades... so counter-productive.
     
    Obsessed likes this.
  18. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    25,841
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    Location:
    Montana
    Yup, I left a bunch of friends behind working in Silicon Valley and today the craze is copyright and patent anything ... just in case down the road it could be useable. Sort of preemptive strike with intellectual properties. It's nuts.
     
  19. Cysquatch

    Cysquatch Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    863
    Joined:
    May 2, 2019
    Location:
    Grovetown, GA
    I thought the Les Paul shape had its roots in The Log? Les made the log, and cut an ES-something up to stick the wings on it so it was more comfortable.

    Les' family should see if they could sue Steinberger for ripping off the square log design!
     
    PCollen likes this.
  20. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,125
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    Godzone
    You can all argue what you want about who came up with a solid Electric Spanish first.

    Gibson's lawsuit isn't about the shape, or even the carved top. It that other companies are copying the entire look of the guitar down to the control stagger, pickguard shape and finish.

    I remember a few years ago when Gibson took on PRS - it wasn't for any feature of the PRS except the look of the singlecut McCarty, which was tapping into Gibson's heritage including name of a significant personage in Gibson's history to sell high end competing guitars.

    I'd be interested to see the reactions if Fender sued PRS for it's recent dead-on Strat recreation.

    I know Gibson is the 'evil empire' around here but Billy Bob lawyers mounting straw men arguments is really a bit silly. They'll go to court, and I'm betting Gibson will win - I thought they wouldn't against PRS. I have no skin in this game, I own one Melody Maker and two Fender branded products.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.