Google honours Les Paul with playable guitar home page

9 Jun 2011

Google has gone all musical on its current home page with an interactive doodle in the shape of an electric guitar that allows you to play and record your own riffs.

The musical doodle is up online for the next 24 hours in honour of the late guitar hero and inventor Lester William Polsfuss’s 96th birthday.

Otherwise known as Les Paul, he was an American guitarist and inventor who helped pioneer the solid-body electric guitar and techniques such as licks, trills, chording, fretting and timing that inspired jazz and rock music and which feature in many of today’s chart music.

For the next 24 hours on the Google homepage, you’ll find an interactive, playable logo inspired by the guitar developed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee that made the sound of rock and roll possible.

As well as his guitar work, Paul experimented in his garage with innovative recording techniques, like multitracking and tape delay.

In keeping with this spirit of tinkering, those of you in the US can click the black “compose” button to record your own 30-second track. Just strum the strings or trigger notes with the letters or numbers on your keyboards. Clicking the button again will display a link to share the songs you’ve made.

The doodle was made with a combination of JavaScript, HTML5 Canvas (used in modern browsers to draw the guitar strings), CSS, Flash (for sound) and tools like the Google Font API, and App Engine.

Update: Due to popular demand, Google is leaving the Les Paul Doodle up on its homepage in the US through Friday, 10 June.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years