(01/19/12 – gibson.com) Gibson Custom has recreated one of the most famous guitars in music history – the Ace Frehley “Budokan” Les Paul Custom. The master craftsmen at the Custom Shop have forged this tribute to the KISS guitarist’s most famous axe. Frehley nicknamed his Les Paul “Budokan” because it was the very guitar he played when KISS broke The Beatles’ sell-out record at Japan’s legendary Budokan arena in 1977. It also was Ace’s main touring guitar throughout ’77 and ’78, was his go-to studio guitar after that and was used in the 1996 KISS reunion.
With the Ace Frehley “Budokan” Les Paul Custom, Gibson Custom has painstakingly recreated every single one of the idiosyncrasies of Ace’s customized guitar, drawing on digital scanning technology and working closely with Frehley and the guitar’s current owner, Matt Swanson. When Frehley recently took one of the guitars for a spin, he was amazed at how much the guitar felt, played and sounded like the real deal.
When KISS hit the stage at Nippon Budokan in Japan in 1977 with guitarist Ace Frehley behind a Cherry Sunburst, three-pickup Les Paul Custom, the entire package—band, guitarist, guitar—embodied the height of glam-rock excess and success for the ’70s. This was the ultimate marriage of pop and heavy rock, driven to meteoric heights by the record industry marketing machine, and ultimately attaining that otherworldly presence that great stadium rock should achieve: unbridled fantasy and party-hard reality rolled into one glorious explosion. In celebration of Ace Frehley’s unquestionable status as a rock icon, and the epitome of glam-rock stardom that KISS represented at this crystalline moment in time in 1977, Gibson Custom proudly announces the release of the Ace Frehley ”Budokan” Les Paul Custom, produced in a strictly Limited Edition of 50 hand-aged guitars signed by the artist, with a further 100 hand-aged guitars, and 150 guitars treated in Gibson Custom’s VOS process. Offering everything you’ve come to expect from Gibson Custom’s artist replica guitars, the Ace Frehley ”Budokan” Les Paul Custom is a painstaking recreation of Frehley’s modified Les Paul Custom, based on intimate examination of the instrument’s current condition.
The Ace Frehley ”Budokan” Les Paul Custom has been created with close cooperation between Gibson Custom, Ace Frehley and the guitar’s current owner, Matt Swanson. Digital scanning technology was used to capture every minute detail of the actual guitar.
In the image of the original Les Paul Custom, the guitar has a four-piece maple top glued to a mid-’70s ”sandwich” body made from a middle and back section of solid mahogany joined by a thin maple veneer, with no chambering. The top is hand-sprayed in nitrocellulose to give it the same Heritage Cherry Sunburst finish as the original, with 150 hand-aged to match the wear of the existing guitar. The three-piece mahogany neck has been made made to match the original’s thin profile. Decorative elements include mother-of-pearl block fingerboard inlays, multi-ply body and headstock binding, mother-of-pearl Gibson headstock logo and split-diamond inlay, and a cream pickguard.
To match Ace’s original guitar, the Ace Frehley ”Budokan” Les Paul Custom is loaded with three period-correct double-cream DiMarzio humbucking pickups—two PAF models in the neck and middle positions, and a Super Distortion in the bridge. And just like on Ace’s guitar, the traditional 3-way toggle switch has been modified to only allow the use of the bridge pickup, allowing you to be able to accomplish one of Ace’s most noted effects. The DiMarzio Super Distortion pickup offers searing lead tones and fat, chunky rhythm for the ultimate hard-rock performance. Hardware includes the classic pairing of chrome ABR-1 bridge and stopbar tailpiece, with Ace’s choice of Grover tuners with pearloid ”banjo” buttons and Dunlop straplocks to keep the guitar securely strapped on through the wildest on-stage antics. In short, the Ace Frehley ”Budokan” Les Paul Custom is the ultimate embodiment of mid-’70s arena-rock balls and bluster, and it’s available in strictly limited numbers. Check it out today at your authorized Gibson Custom dealer.
All guitars include a Gibson Custom hardshell case silkscreened with Ace’s signature. Aged/signed guitars (limited to 50 worldwide) are all played by the artist during final approval, and include a leather-bound Certificate of Authenticity; aged guitars (100) include a leather-bound CoA, and VOS guitars (150) include a standard CoA.
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