Like no other guitar, the Les Paul has stood the test of time. Beautiful, powerful, and comfortable, it delivers an authentic and utterly unique warmth, and an unmistakable hard rock crunch that no guitar can match. Players from across rock’s spectrum have found it to be the ideal vehicle to drive both raging riffs and swirling atmospherics—and lately, plenty of them have been driving those tunes straight to the top of the charts. More than ever, the sound of great new music is powered by the mighty Les Paul.

My Chemical Romance

Last year, My Chemical Romance's major label debut, Welcome to the Black Parade, proved that not only does this New Jersey band have the blustering ego to attempt a concept album, but they've got the theatrics and the talent to pull it off. Gerard Way’s clever storytelling plays a huge role in the band’s appeal, but it’s lead guitarist Ray Toro’s  work on his Les Paul that's put My Chemical Romance on the map and all over the charts. Citing Brian May and Jimmy Page as primary influences, Toro's guitar playing is a whip-smart mix of classic rock tradition and off-kilter metal styling. He showed his real worth when he first joined the band, taking some of the heat off of Way. When Toro first joined My Chemical Romance, Way struggled to sing and play the guitar at the same time, but with Toro backing him, he doesn't have to anymore.

Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy

Patrick Stump’s Fall Out Boy bandmates have described him as “a musical mad scientist” for the way he manages to combine old-school punk with ear-damaging arena rock—and just a dash of cutting-edge hip-hop—in order to create a sonic splatter painting that’s instantly recognizable. Stump’s more than just a Name That Tune kind of guy, however: He wields his Les Paul Classic with a bricklayer’s power and a sculptor’s meticulousness, placing rhythm lines with a precision that would earn begrudging approval from even the most jaded of punk purists.

Underoath

Florida natives Underoath opened a lot of eyes last summer when they debuted at the No. 2 spot on the Billboard album chart with their fifth album Define the Great Line—no mean feat for an independent Christian metalcore release. Though the band's undergone considerable personnel changes, lead guitarist Tim McTague has consistently set the tenor for the band with his SG Special-powered leads, which have grown more angular and dissonant without sacrificing any crispness. "The SG is definitely my favorite guitar," McTague recently said. "It’s light. It plays better, to me." His flights of fancy are enabled, to a large extent, by Les Paul Classic-toting rhythm guitarist James Smith, who's helped the band move beyond its straight-ahead metal-core roots to more artful expressionism.

The Killers

The Killers

The Les Paul Custom has long been prized by musicians looking to create a sound that’s as alluring and as dangerous as a pool of quicksand—which is exactly the modus operandi of Killers guitarist Dave Keuning. Based out of Las Vegas, Keuning met Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers through a newspaper want ad that called for band members, and the two quickly found they were kindred songwriting spirits. "He was the only person to reply to my ad who wasn't a complete freak," Keuning has said. "He came over with his keyboard and we started going through song ideas straight away. I had the verse to 'Mr Brightside,' and he went away and wrote the chorus. That was the first song we wrote together and remains the only song that we've played at every single Killers show." While Keuning isn’t a terribly fussy technician, his affection for echo and chorus pedals lends an instantly recognizable air to his playing on hit Killers songs.

Interpol

Interpol

Interpol’s Paul Banks takes a decidedly different approach with his ebony Les Paul Custom, from which he coaxes a dark, claustrophobic tone reminiscent of the early work of Bernard Sumner—whose spare riffs were a pivotal element in Joy Division’s hypnotically pulsing songs. This summer Banks ventured out of his comfort zone a bit more on the New York quartet’s third release and their major label debut, Our Love to Admire, engaging bandmate Daniel Kessler, who favors an ES-345, in sharp exchanges that are alternately unsettling and melodic. Recorded in New York City, where Interpol are the reigning kings of indie rock, the album introduced atmospheric keyboards to great results—their highest chart debut yet.