Rick Gaeta’s Visit to Les Paul’s Home
Being a typical ‘gear head’, I’m always perusing the want ads for guitars and other musical equipment. Back in the early 80’s I saw an ad in my local paper that featured quite a sizable collection for sale. Judging from the instruments listed and the local exchange number I knew instinctively that the owner could be only one person – Les Paul. So I called him up and made an appointment to see the items he had for sale. As I drove up the winding Route 202 that snaked through the Ramapo Valley in Northern New Jersey, I wondered what was in store for me once I got to Les Paul’s home. For years I had heard of him and had recently purchased my first Gibson Les Paul guitar, but really knew little about the man or his music. Eventually I crossed over the one-lane bridge that spanned the Ramapo River and was soon at my destination. The house looked rather rustic and practically blended into the foothills in the background. Les Paul met me at the front door and ushered me inside. At first glance it was as if I had stepped back in time. The living room furniture was circa 1950’s and as we went down to the basement I noticed the walls were knotty pine, another throwback to that era. Seeing that I was awestruck, Les generously gave me a tour of his workshop and studio. Here I was in the very place where so many classic recording had been made. Some of the items I saw that day, like his famous ‘log guitar’, are now on display in the Smithsonian Institute. Eventually we got down to business but unfortunately I could not afford to buy any of the choice instruments he had for sale. However I did walk away with a very valuable experience and a desire to learn more about Les Paul.-Rick Gaeta
In writing this piece I recalled a sage bit of advice Les gave me that day many years ago. I had asked him what was the secret to being a great guitarist like him. Expecting a long-winded answer involving a lecture on hours of practice, and years of dedicated study, I was surprised when all he said was , ‘It’s all in how you pick ,son.’, as he motioned with his right hand. Well, I guess he was right, the best things in life are free.