Caring for Les Paul’s Ampex Equipment

A Lecture by Frank Rush

at Mahwah Museum

Frank Rush worked for Ampex Corporation for many years.  In this presentation he will recount his many visits to Mahwah to help Les Paul improve and troubleshoot his various recording devices.

This lecture is free for museum members; $5 for non-members.  Refreshments will be served.  Reservations are recommended; to reserve seats, please contact



Les Paul and Leo Fender

“The Birth of Loud” by Ian S. Port – courtesy

Lecture and Book Signing

by Ian Port

At Mahwah Public Library 
100 Ridge Road, Mahwah

Ian S. Port – Author of “The Birth of Loud”

Ian Port, in his highly acclaimed book, “The Birth of Loud”, tells the story of rival inventors who changed the way music was played.  This important story has never been documented as it is here.  The lecture promises to be a careful look at the contributions of each of these men.  His book will be available for purchase and signing.

Please note: This program will take place at Mahwah Public Library and will begin at 7:00 pm.  Entrance is free; refreshments will be served.


Sound on Sound(s): Exploring the Evolution of Les Paul’s Pioneering Recording Techniques

Exploring the evolution of Les Paul’s Pioneering Recording Techniques on the Road to Multi-Track Recording

A Lecture by Dr Sean McClowry

at Mahwah Museum

Dr Sean McClowry, professor of music at the College of St. Rose, will discuss Les Paul’s “sound on sound” methods.  While known as a pioneer in multi-track and multi-layering recording, Les Paul’s methods were constantly changing.  Each new method presented new advantages and challenges.  This talk will include live demonstrations, in an effort to unpack the genius at work as a recording artist and a pioneer in music technology, and also highlight the historic artifacts on display at the museum.

The program is free for Museum members, $5 for non-members.  Reservations are recommended; to reserve seats, contact or call 201-512-0099.


Annual Fundraiser “Jazz and Blues Guitar Celebration” – Sold out!


Annual Fundraiser “Jazz and Blues Guitar Celebration” presented by the Mahwah Museum

 June 4, 2016 at the Ramapo College Trustee Pavilion 505 Ramapo Valley Road Mahwah, NJ 07430

Wine, Hors d’oeuvres and live music by:

 Bucky Pizzarelli, Lou Pallo, Ed Laub, Dave Stryker and Vic Juris

Silent and Live auction of memorabilia including, autographed guitars. Raffle drawing at 9 pm for four autographed guitars.

Event Tickets $30 per person.
Tickets and raffle tickets can NOT be purchased through PayPal;all  tickets must be purchased either in person at the Mahwah Museum or by mailing cash or checks payable to the Mahwah Museum Society 201 Franklin Turnpike Mahwah NJ 07430, with the number or tickets and/or raffle tickets desired.
Raffle Ticket price: $20.00
Raffle Prizes:
1. 2014 Les Paul Traditional guitar- autographed by Les Paul (retail value $1700)
2. Fender Squire Strat guitar- autographed by Brian Wilson (retail value $350)
3. Smick Acoustic Sunburst guitar- autographed by Jose Feliciano (retail value $250)
4. Stedman Pro Dark Burgundy guitar- autographed by Mick Taylor (retail value $350)
Drawing to be held June 4, 2016 at 9:00 p.m.
Tickets and raffle tickets can NOT be purchased through PayPal; tickets must be purchased either in person at the Mahwah Museum or by mailing cash or checks payable to the Mahwah Museum Society 201 Franklin Turnpike Mahwah NJ 07430, with the number or tickets and/or raffle tickets desired.
To purchase event tickets or raffle tickets in person, please visit the Mahwah Museum, 201 Franklin Turnpike Mahwah, NJ 07430
 We are open Wed., Sat., Sun., 1-4 p.m.
NJ LG CCC # 277-5-38044 Municipal RL # RL 1821

Please check back soon for more information about the silent and live auctions!

Tom Peters- My Les Paul Story

Les Paul with the Pulverizer

Les Paul with the Pulverizer

“I lived in Mahwah in the ’70s and my father was a metallurgical scientist at a research lab in nearby Sterling Forest, NY. One day, probably in 1976 or so, Les Paul showed up at the reception desk of the research lab asking if he could speak to a metals expert.  This was rather unusual, but my dad was the metallurgist who eventually came out to help.  Les and my dad started talking and my dad found that Les had a lot of interesting questions about a metal alloy that he wanted to use for a new guitar pickup he was designing — the alloy needed to have certain properties for the pickup to work as Les wanted, but he didn’t know which alloys could work.  My dad listened and provided some advice, and Les went on his way.  But Les came back to the research lab a few more times over the next few weeks to follow up, and my dad graciously continued to provide his expertise.

At some point, my dad mentioned this at the dinner table, and mentioned that the guy’s name was “Les Paul.”  I should explain that my father knew nothing of contemporary music, unless it was contemporary in the 1700 or 1800’s.  So when I heard at age 13 that it was the great Les Paul, I said, “Dad, do you have any idea who you’re talking to??”  To which he replied, “Yeah, some guy who just wants to pick my brain.”  I proceeded to explain who Les Paul was and why he was important, but it went completely past him.

Now here’s where the story gets interesting:  A year or two later our next door neighbor, Mr. Morrison, had a health issue and found himself in the hospital in Ridgewood.  He was in pre-surgery and was coincidentally sharing a room with Les Paul.  For this part, I don’t fully know what happened and can only repeat what I was told, but the story goes that Les Paul and Mr. Morrison started talking and discovered that they both lived in Mahwah.  That broke the ice, so they were able to go a bit past being just polite “roomies”.  As they talked more and got to know each other, Les eventually told Mr. Morrison that the surgery he was about to undergo was extremely risky (I believe his condition was heart-related), and the doctors in Ridgewood were predicting only a 50% chance of success.  Mr. Morrison apparently convinced Les to get a second opinion.  As a result, Les called off the surgery, found an expert in Cleveland, and learned that he had been misdiagnosed.  So Les was eventually fine, didn’t have risky surgery, and was forever grateful to my next door neighbor for his potentially life-saving advice.

After that, Les started coming by our neighborhood in Scotch Hills fairly often to visit Mr. Morrison.  One day, he pulled up to the curb in his big white Cadillac, saw my father working in the yard, and recognized him from the research lab a couple years back.  Until that moment, neither knew that the other also lived in Mahwah.  Les was still playing with different metal alloys for his new pickup design, so he made the most of this rather unlikely coincidence — when he visited Mr. Morrison on weekend afternoons, often he would also stop by our driveway to “pick my dad’s brain” a little more.  I would sometimes listen in on the conversations, although I can’t say I understood much of what they were saying most of the time.  But Les would often acknowledge me and try to include me in the conversation.  At one point, Les Paul invited my father and our family to his house — he wanted to show us his studio!  But unfortunately I wasn’t listening in on that conversation, so I was not aware of the invitation — or my father’s “no thank you” — until several years later.  To this day I bring this up with my father, but it’s water under the bridge, so all I can do is look at the floor and shake my head.

But I’m pleased to report that my father now fully appreciates the greatness of the man to whom he contributed his metallurgical expertise.  I don’t know if any great guitar innovations resulted from their conversations, but at least I can say that I “knew” the great Les Paul, if only briefly.

It sure would have been awesome to have seen that studio, though….”

Tom Peters