Les Paul's 97th birthday is coming in June but why not start celebrating the Wizard of Waukesha (Wisconsin, that is) now? Our friends at GuitarZonline published a great article on Les and his contributions to Epiphone that's worth checking out.

Also, Epiphone.com recently took a look back at Chester and Lester, the collaboration with Les and his old friend Chet Aktins. (Les gave Chet his first guitar.)

And, Julien's Auction House has announced they will hold the Les Paul Estate Auction June 8 and 9 at their Beverly Hills office. Les kept everything so this auction is really going to be special.

Among the items listed are Les' Klunker #3, formerly an Epiphone Zephyr and one of Les' three early electric prototypes. Les' L-5 that he used as Rhubarb Red will be there, along with an unnumbered 1952 Goldtop --possibly the first off the Kalamazoo factory floor before production started. Julien's has estimated the price for the Goldtop at $16,000 but that is conservative at best. Some of the items not listed in the press release that could very well be there include Les' hand-made tube mixing board, the "octopus" 8-track Ampex tape machine, and numerous electric gadgets invented in Les' living room that went on to worldwide fame.

If Les were here, he’d say check out the Ultra III, which is full of the kind of technical advances that Les put in his own guitars at home. The Ultra III features an on-board tuner, Pro-Bucker™ pickups, a Shadow NanoMag™ low impedance pickup, and one-of-a-kind Native Instruments GuitarRig software along with USB and stereo outputs. Les' own modifications to factory-made Les Pauls shared the same spirit as the Ultra III. They used to say Les was crazy to try to put all that stuff in one guitar. Crazy like a fox.

After you check out the Ultra III, take a gander at Les having fun with the "Sheik of Araby" and "Mack the Knife" on the David Letterman show (and scaring the wits out of the band, too). That's Anton Fig on the drums, who recently played on the new Joe Bonamassa record cut in Las Vegas.