The rich tradition of the Les Paul remains very much intact with today’s trove of young guitarists. The thread that connects these talented up-and-comers, varied though they may otherwise be, is a love of classic rock, pop, and soul—and a lust for the instrument that their idols all played. In interview after interview, such musical giants as Paul McCartney and Jimmy Page fall trippingly off the tongues of this new generation of artists. With such legends as their primary touchstones, each of the following Les Paul players is pushing modern music to new heights.

Rose Hill Drive

No less an icon than Pete Townshend has spoken of how much he loves the guitar-centric sound of this on-the-rise band. Formed in Boulder, Colorado in 2003, the power trio is already earning comparisons to heavyweights like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Mountain. On Rose Hill Drive’s self-titled debut, guitarist Daniel Sproul sounds as if he’s using his Les Paul Custom as a conduit to the glorious history of ’70s rock. Shades of Jimmy Page, Leslie West, and Cream-era Eric Clapton abound—showcased in riffs and songs that veer from classic psychedelia to metal thunder. With Sproul’s brother Jacob on vocals and bass, and high school mate Nathan Barnes on drums, Rose Hill Drive also exudes the chemistry of a jam band, albeit with a more structured-song approach.

The Lonely H

Gibson Guitars - The Lonely H

Hailing from Port Angeles, Washington—80 miles from Seattle—Lonely H has a style that’s been called “a celebration of classic rock, endless-summer melodies, and unabashed nerdiness. ” And indeed this teen quintet comes off like a quixotic blend of the Beach Boys, the Strokes, Badfinger, and vintage 10cc. Guitarists Colin Field and Eric Whitman use their Les Paul Standards to weave a rich tangle of riffs and rhythms, while subsuming their egos to serve the song at-hand. On Hair, the group’s new CD, the twin-guitars comprise the backdrop for hook-laden pop, vintage-sounding power ballads, and artful rockers that sometimes sound like Yes coupled with Thin Lizzy.

Gibson Guitars - Hold Steady

The Hold Steady

In the words of front-man Craig Finn, The Hold Steady aspires to be “a ‘smart-rock’ band that embraces the ‘rock’ elements of music—riffs, Zeppelin, and so forth—but brings a Cheap Trick-like intelligence to the process.” Hold Steady guitarist Tad Kubler is the perfect partner with whom Finn can achieve that goal. Citing Thin Lizzy, the Replacements, and Bruce Springsteen as influences, the Les Paul Standard devotee brings a no-nonsense approach to his playing. Riff-heavy, economical, and based more on feel than finesse, Kubler’s style has garnered the Hold Steady a reputation as “the best bar band in America.” Fittingly, the band’s latest album, Boys and Girls in America, showcases what Kubler calls “blue collar” music and themes.



Band of Horses

Band of Horses mastermind Ben Bridwell sometimes grows tired of being compared to Neil Young and Crazy Horse, but there’s no denying the similarities run deeper than the band names. Gibson Guitars - Band of Horses Employing his trusty Les Paul Standard, Bridwell specializes in ramped-up guitar rock fitted with winding melodies and laced with a dreaming, reverb-laden vibe. In addition to evoking Crazy Horse, the group’s 2006 debut, Everything All the Time, brings to mind such diverse artists as the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, and the pastoral side of Big Star. Bridwell approaches his Les Paul in the manner of a painter—offering up spare, delicate lines in one instance, and jagged, broad-stroked colors the next. Currently based in Charleston, South Carolina, the band also features Creighton Barrett on drums and Rob Hampton on bass.


Gibson Guitars - Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell

As a former member of the acclaimed Southern rockers the Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell fleshed out a three-guitar line-up reminiscent of the heyday of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Since leaving the Truckers in April of this year, Isbell has released Sirens of the Ditch, a solo album skewed toward the pop-rock side of his work with his former band. On his Les Paul Standard, Isbell emphasizes crisp rhythm playing and hook-laden riffs that bring to mind the melody-driven guitar rock of Alex Chilton—albeit with a Southern vibe. Recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, the album also evidences the sort of rootsy flavors one would expect.


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