Alex Lifeson on his guitars: "What I'd like to do sometime in the near future is to sell my collection"

Alex Lifeson
(Image credit: Future)

Alex Lifeson is one of the all-time guitar greats so the idea of the Rush man selling the key guitars from his career to benefit charity like David Gilmour and Eric Clapton before him is tantalising to say the least. Well, it looks like it could happen – and we've got word straight from the Lifeson's mouth.

Lifeson was asked by Make Weird Music about whether he'd like to do his own guitar version of bandmate Geddy Lee's Big Book Of Bass, documenting his collection. And the guitarist had an interesting response.

"I would keep a handful of instruments, but I'd love to sell my collection for some charities that I'm involved with"

"Not really, no," Lifeson admitted. "I saw what he went through, and it's a little different for him because it became just this whole exploration for him of all things bass guitar. So he started collecting before he did the book. It's not like he was collecting for 40 years - most of his collection is more recent.

"And once he got into the book, he wanted to get specific instruments, or specific models, and write about those things in the history, and all of that stuff. I'm a little lazy, I'm not that committed or feel a need to jump in that deeply into something like that."

It was then that Lifeson revealed what plans he does have for his guitars. 

"In fact, what I'd like to do sometime in the near future is to sell my collection," Lifeson added. "I would keep a handful of instruments, but I'd love to sell my collection for some charities that I'm involved with.

"I think that would be really a great way for these fabulous instruments that have been so sweet and dear to me to carry on and do something very powerful and positive for the world. So that's something that I've been exploring in fact in the last uh, few days."

Alex Lifeson

Lifeson's live guitars when we met him for a rig tour in Birmingham, UK back in 2011 (Image credit: Future)


(Image credit: Future)

Gibson Alex Lifeson ES-Les Paul

So it's hot off the press news, and he was forthcoming about exactly what guitars he's been buying in recent years too. Lifeson has had acoustic and electric guitar signature models with both PRS and Gibson over the years, so we're assuming any potential sale would feature those brands heavily but the guitarist told Make Weird Music he's become more of a collector over time…

"I was never a collector in the early days - I regret that because in the 70s I would have had greater access to a larger number of vintage instruments that weren't particularly vintage at the time - like older Les Pauls from the 50s and particularly from 1960.

"So I never kind of took advantage of that; I always believed that guitar is what you do with it and it doesn't really matter. So most of my guitars from back then are vintage now only because I'm this old and they are old as well.

"But in the last seven or eight years, I did start to vary my collection a little bit and got a couple of older vintage guitars, some Gretsches, a '57 Les Paul Goldtop, and as I said, the 335, a couple of those actually, a few from that era.

Alex Lifeson

Lifeson with his Les Paul Axcess in 2011 (Image credit: Future)
Guitar lesson

Lifeson also revealed the guitar that he uses as his writing muse – and it's not a Gibson. 

"I have a Tele that I use, it's a '58 Reissue," he explained, "and I bought it in the early 80s. I traded an SG that I wasn't crazy about at the time, and I traded it in for this guitar at a music shop that we used to deal with. And I'll tell you, I've probably written 80% of our music on that guitar. It's so comfortable to work on.

"I took all the finish off the neck so it's just bare wood and it feels great - I love the sound of it, my hands just feel so comfortable on that guitar. And for writing, that was really the one for me that was the kind of the standard writing guitar.

"And of course, I used it a lot on records, but typically back then, it was a Les Paul on the left and the Tele on the right or some sort of combination like that. I had lots of guitars and they're my tools, and I use them and I know them. But there's nothing that I feel like I miss that one, or an amp, or anything like that, really." 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.