Abstract Ninja Guitar

Ninja Model


 This guitar may look like a BC Rich

In fact it isn't, This guitar was designed by Rick Derringer around 1979. The original model was actually built by Gibson. Rick took the design to them first because he felt it would sell the best with their name on it.
According to the story Gibson built the first couple of guitars to Rick's specs. Then they tried to pull the same thing they did to Les Paul, when he took them the SG in 1960. They wanted to make it a glue on neck instead of the original neck thru body design. Rick wanted no part of that deal. He ended up having BC Rich make it but the design never officially belonged to them and they never trademarked it. Rick could probably sue them for reissuing it but I doubt he will because Rick is a true born again Christian and wants no part of any bad Karma.

I spent the better part of two hours many years ago, talking to Lester Polfus "AKA Les Paul" about what Gibson did to his original SG design. surprisingly he told me how they tried to get out of paying him his royalties. He went on to tell me he was in the midst of suing them to get his Epiphone royalties. He said he never would have allowed them to build the guitar after 1961 but as he said "They came crawling back in 1968 begging him to use his name again"  He told me how he was able to "renegotiate a much better deal." 

He said "The SG was supposed to be a neck thru body design with a longer scale,"  He even confirmed to me what I already knew that the SG has all those tuning problems due to the instability of the glue on neck. The neck tenon was way too short  and over the years he had seen nightmarish changes to that neck joint.
He started talking in Algebra & I lost him but the jist of it was clear to me that the frets were not positioned correctly with the current scale and the pickup was currently placed at the node. He told me his personal guitar was a slightly different scale. If you have ever listened to Les Paul his guitar sound has always been very bright & clear almost bell like or Telecaster sounding.

Why is then that, Les Paul Guitars are always very dark and muddy sounding. Remember this guy invented the multi-track tape recorder, He was a bigwig at Ampex and his specialty was getting the machines to have good clear separation. That would be real hard to do with a muddy sounding guitars that were and to this day  fraught with dead spots.
He went on to tell me that he felt Gibson had screwed him on the design and royalties of the SG. The original first year SG said Les Paul right on it. They were all recalled and the name removed except that many were already sold & never went back. In 1962 the Les Paul designation was gone and at that time there were no guitars called Les Paul's (in 1968 Gibson had to bring it back because numerous companies were making copies because Jimmy Page was making the guitar famous.

Years later I attempted to have another conversation with Les Paul, I sat down next to him and reintroduced myself. There was a younger man with him who stopped him from talking to me about anything technical, In fact it was painfully obvious that I wasn't going to get any information other than thanks for using a Les Paul guitar and as many autographs as I wanted.  I found out that the younger man was his son and that he might have been an attorney.  Too bad because this time I was prepared with all the right questions.

I have surmised, based on the fact that I have never seen Les Paul at any NAMM shows, I cannot remember him appearing in too many if any at all advertisements for Gibson over the past 30 years, My own analysis of his attitude when we discussed Gibson as a company many years ago. These and other facts that I know to be true makes me believe that Les Paul & Gibson are not the best of friends, I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

If you are a paid endorser for a company you are usually expected to be at the booth at the NAMM show. You are expected to play a little guitar for the bigwig dealers and smile and have your picture taken with all the rubes & their wives.  Van Halen does it, Santana does It, In fact I've even seen Jeff Beck at NAMM shows. It seems funny to me that the worlds most well known endorser sans genius guitar god is never at the Gibson booth. In all my years as a Gibson dealer I never met Les Paul, when I worked for Gibson, I never met Les Paul,

I actually met Les Paul in a crowded night club In New York many years ago over a couple of drinks well before I ever worked for Gibson.  It was quite easy for me to reach my conclusion that they they have a profitable business arrangement and they endure each other for the monetary compensation. No one talks about it, but there is friction there to be sure!!!

On my site you will see numerous references to the fact that the scale is incorrect on a Les Paul & on 97% of all the Gibsons made. Incorrect might not be the exact term. A 25" scale is the only mathematically correct scale. That is, if you care about eliminating dead spots on the neck.
Paul Reed Smith was the first boutique company to come out with the 25" scale. Paul Reed Smith is a bona fide genius just like Leo Fender, Ned Steinberger and Bernie Rico Sr. but knowing Paul as well as I do.  I would suspect he had a similar conversation with Les Paul, just as I did. The very first time I heard about a 25" scale it was out of Paul's mouth. I have engaged a mathematical engineer to help me put together a technical article explaining this phenomenon.  See it on my tech article page. I write many of my own tech articles, and I fully understand the concept. I have had trouble putting it to paper where someone else can easily grasp or understand the principle.

Ed Roman

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