Viceroy brown finish specified and approved by Alex
1 Piece Mahogany Back
Figured Maple Top
1 Piece Mahogany Neck
Bound Rosewood Fingerboard
Pearloid Trapezoid Inlays
Green Key Tuners
Graphtech™ Ghost® piezo system-equipped Floyd Rose® licensed double-locking tremolo system
496R ceramic-magnet neck humbucker
498T Alnico V bridge humbucker
3 Volume controls: 2 push-pull volume pots for series/parallel wiring of each respective magnetic pickup, 1 volume pot for piezo
1 Master Tone control: magnetic
3-way toggle pickup selector switch (magnetic pickups only)
Dual output jacks:
“Regular” – magnetic and piezo signal outputs combined
“Life-O-Sound” – piezo signal output only (“Regular” then has magnetic signal output only)
As a big Rush fine I had some reservations about buying this guitar still... The fact is, the resale value on this is always going to be terrible. And if you're reading this review you should know that. If you ever want to sell yours, don't buy it.
The guitar itself is basically a Les Paul with some uh...modifications. To be exact, this appears to be a Les Paul Standard with some modified chambering. And the finish is pretty nice too. Can't complain about the flame. Obviously this is going to be a lighter les paul due to the trem. The control setup is pretty weird at first to get used to. After a couple hours playing with it you get the hang of things. I appreciate how they integrated the piezo into the traditional les paul knobs instead of adding a bunch of switches and ruinging the look of the guitar. The hardware all seems great. There's not a lot of skimping on this axe and the price should prove it. Gibson has been suspect to cut corners but not here.
You can say goodbye to the classic les paul sustain of course. The trem essentially takes away that advantage. Oh well. First of all I am not a big fan of the pickup set used for this guitar. The neck is okay for solos but not much else. It's not useful for cleans to my ears. The bridge is pretty harsh. I can see it working for certain styles but I like a smoother more ceramic response in my humbuckers. I just don't see how Alex uses these though. Maybe I got some of the notorious bogus gibson failure pickups.
The piezo on the other hand sounds really good and the control set works great. It sounds better than the Petrucci piezo system to my ears. Really clear and balanced.
Build wise, I think this guitar is worth the price. Better than your typical Gibson underachievement. If I didn't know better I would say it was custom shop. It plays quite well. Unfortunately the stock pickups are kind of meh, which is unacceptable for an artist guitar like this. Although it's not like I'll be hurting the resale value if I put some new pickups in it. The hardware and electronics are top notch though. I'm on the fence about returning mine. If I keep it I will definitely be replacing the pickups.
This variant of the Gibson Les Paul Axcess was designed for RUSH guitarist Alex Lifeson, so it has some tweaks on the original version. The most notable difference between this one and the original Axcess is that this model runs stereo using two output "Life-O-Sound" jacks to toggle between the magnetic pickups and piezo pickups. There are a few other unique features overall, but for the most part the core features of a mahogany body and neck, rosewood fretboard, flamed top, Floyd Rose Tremolo, dual humbuckers with coil taps, 22 frets and two beautiful Gibson stain finishes. It is made in the good ol' USA in Gibson's Custom Shop, renowned for their quality and attention to detail.
This guitar solves a lot of the problems I had with other Les Pauls like the Standard or Traditional that were clunky and hard to get around. The Axcess is quite easy to play due to a few different factors. Firstly it's very light in weight and it sits on the body a little bit easier than a typical LP. Also, the contouring on the body provides a WELCOME change in the design of the Les Paul. Finally upper fret access is unrestricted, AND no longer does the back of the guitar dig into my ribs! Combine that with all the versatility that this guitar offers with it's tremolo, piezo, custom wound humbuckers and coil splitting, and you have a true modern warrior's Les Paul!
I've tried the Axcess models through various different American and British voiced amps. The cleans on this guitar are great. I'm not normally a huge fan of the cleans on a Les Paul unless I'm using more of a jazzier neck pickup sound. However, using the coil taps on this guitar really allowed me to tap into some inner Tele and Strat type sounds, which instantly made things more appealing. The dirty sounds were great as to be expected. I've always liked Alex Lifeson's tone in RUSH and this guitar certainly has great tone. Chords respond with a thickness and attack that you'd expect from a Les Paul, and lead lines have near endless sustain, especially when mixed with usage of the Floyd Rose. The coil tap gives things a bit of a brighter sound that works for jangly Fender-y textures. Also, having the piezo onboard is great too because it allows for some of those quasi-acoustic tones to really shine through.
All in all I feel that the Gibson Les Paul Axcess Alex Lifeson is a true winner. It takes nearly every feature I don't like about Les Pauls and remedies it. The tones are stellar and you can go through many styles with ease. It's a fairly expensive guitar (about $6,000 new) but it's definitely well worth it. If you get a chance to check one out, do so by all means! It's truly the definition of a modern Les Paul.
I am a big fan of Rush and a big fan of Alex Lifeson. I love this guitar for a couple reason, and some of them are obvious and some are just biased towards Rush. Gibson has made some scratch your head type guitars that makes me wonder what are they thinking and then they come together and take and existing product and make it better. They have taking a classic American guitar and compounded upon its glory. The features that has impressed me is simply the axcess part of this guitar. If you have ever played a Gibson Les Paul or just picked one up at a local shop or store you have felt a study piece of wood. What you have also found is that unlike a Gibson SG where you have complete and utter access to the upper frets, you don't with this a Gibson Les Paul. Now with the axcess features you can rip up the fretboard with speed and not be confined to limitation of the higher frets. PLus you have the Floyd Rose tremolo so you can get those 80's squeals on a Gibson Les Paul.
* Viceroy brown finish specified and approved by Alex
* 1 Piece Mahogany Back
* Figured Maple Top
* 1 Piece Mahogany Neck
* Bound Rosewood Fingerboard
* 12" radius
* Pearloid Trapezoid Inlays
* Green Key Tuners
* Graphtech™ Ghost® piezo system-equipped Floyd Rose® licensed double-locking tremolo system
* 496R ceramic-magnet neck humbucker
* 498T Alnico V bridge humbucker
* 3 Volume controls: 2 push-pull volume pots for series/parallel wiring of each respective magnetic pickup, 1 volume pot for piezo
* 1 Master Tone control: magnetic
* pickups only
* 3-way toggle pickup selector switch (magnetic pickups only)
* Dual output jacks:
* “Regular” – magnetic and piezo signal outputs combined
* “Life-O-Sound” – piezo signal output only (“Regular” then has magnetic signal output only)
These guitars make me want to play and play with extreme passion. I love Gibson Les Paul so much that they have been my favorite guitar for years. I always had one problem though, not being able to reach the higher frets. This was so limiting to me compared to the Washburn N4 which had a cut away and allowed my to reach the 20th fret with not complication at all. Now added on to it the ability to have a Floyd Rose and this has become my favorite guitar for the week at least. Some people don't like the tone of a FLoyd rose and I don't blame them. It is for some and not for others.
This has not been a must own for me. The deep mahogany tone and now with the fret access is a dream guitar. This is a custom piece so it is expensive but it is Gibson's gift to guitar players around the world. So this guitar will sustain better in the higher register because of your fingers not being able to press the notes accurately.
These guitars come in new at around $3999, which isn't that bad compared to other Gibson Les Pauls and many other signature guitars from other buiders. This is still a lot of money for most people including myself but well worth the price if you can score one. A Gibson Les Paul will be handed down to your kids one day because you tend not to sell them. They are lifer guitars and just absolute tone monsters. PLus one that is a signature of one of my favorite guitarists is a plus as well.