There are only a handful of players more closely associated with the Gibson Les Paul than Aerosmith’s Joe Perry. Yet, as he reveals in a new interview, much of his classic recorded material was recorded using Fender Strats.
In his interview in the new issue of Total Guitar, Perry discusses his longstanding love of the LP, but reveals he saw the Strat as a superior studio tool.
“I played Les Pauls pretty much throughout the ’70s,” says Perry. “But I recorded most of my stuff with Strats. I always loved having the vibrato arm, and it seemed easier to get different tones out of a Strat.”
Nonetheless, it wasn’t a straightforward live/studio divide.
“I was more concerned about writing songs than I was about the particulars of which amp I used or whatever,” says Perry.
“That said, I would say with a fair amount of confidence I used a Les Paul on Eat The Rich [from 1993’s Get A Grip], Toys In The Attic , Pandora’s Box [from 1974’s Get Your Wings] and Nine Lives . I would bet that at least one of my [guitar] tracks on Walk This Way [also from 1975’s Toys In The Attic] is a Les Paul, and then everything I did after that was with the Strat.”
By process of elimination, that means the famous Perry lines on the likes of Aerosmith hits Sweet Emotion, Dream On, Crazy and much of Walk This Way were recorded using Strats. Which all makes absolute sense when you listen to them.
Live, though, Perry maintains he felt the LP was superior.
“The tone you could get out of a Les Paul was heavier,” reflects the Aerosmith man. “And it was easier to get to get distortion with less noise. I think a lot of the reason that guitar plays so well in general is because it has its roots in Spanish guitar.”
Perry is not alone when it comes to iconic Gibson players who leaned on Fender in the studio. Jimmy Page preferred his Tele in many of Led Zeppelin’s early sessions, while in 2021, Carlos Santana told Guitarist he’d switched to Strats in the studio throughout a big chunk of the 2010s.
Elsewhere in the same Total Guitar interview, the Aerosmith icon cautions that although on his famous ’59 Les Paul “they just got it right”, guitarists should always trust their ears first, particularly as Perry notes that even some of ’59 Les Pauls he’s played “did not feel that good or sound that good.”
To read the full interview with Perry – in which the guitarist also discusses the signature Les Pauls he's released with Gibson over the years, and what inspired him to choose Les Pauls in the first place – pick up a copy of the April issue of Total Guitar over at Magazines Direct.