“Do you remember when you got your magic Les Paul?”
So asked Andy Ellis of Peter Green in the November 2000 issue of Guitar Player. The guitar in question was none other than Green’s 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard, a legendary instrument that the Fleetwood Mac founder used to write and record many of the group’s seminal blues cuts, including “Black Magic Woman,” “Oh Well” and “The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Prong Crown).”
Green’s Les Paul was considered “magic” for its out-of-phase sound, a nasal tonality missing from the typical Les Paul repertoire.
Oddly, Green didn’t think much of the assessment.
“I never had a magic one,” he replied to Ellis. “Mine wasn’t magical.
“It might have looked similar to others from a distance, but it was an old-fashioned one with a funny-shaped neck—a kind of semicircle neck. It just barely worked. The pickups were strong, but I took one of them off. I copied Eric [Clapton]. I heard him play one night, and he was on the treble pickup all night long. It sounded so good, I thought I’d take my bass pickup off altogether. Try and wait for the same luck. As if it was luck! It takes a lot of genuine practice and worry to get a sound like that.”
ELLIS: But judging from all the Fleetwood Mac photographs, you must have put the pickup back on your Les Paul.
GREEN: I put it back on the wrong way around so that the poles—the pickup screws—were facing in the opposite direction. People would say to me, “You got that special out-of-phase sound.” I don’t know what out-of-phase is. Phase for what? Phase—it sounds like a good name for a group. Mind you, it didn’t make any