Epiphone as unveiled a signature Les Paul Axcess for Alex Lifeson that offers a similarly fearless future-forward interpretation of the instrument as his Gibson models.
While it is one to file under 'not for purists', Lifeson's signature guitar is stacked with player-friendly features, from the ergonomic to the sonic. Let's look at the former first. The body is solid mahogany with a AAA flame maple veneer and features a considerable belly carve and a sculpted Axcess heel for better upper-fret access.
The mahogany neck is carved to Lifeson's custom profile and topped with an Indian laurel fingerboard, with trapezoid inlays and 22 medium-jumbo frets.
After switching up the time-honoured recipe for Les Pauls, the Axcess goes all in with the modifications by deploying a Floyd Rose-style Graph Tech Ghost double-locking vibrato that uses a modular piezo system in each saddle for converting string vibrations to amplified acoustic guitar tones. Yes, a floating, double-locking vibrato and a piezo system – Lifeson's Axcess is up there with the most radical of all Les Pauls.
To accommodate the piezo, the guitar has two outputs and the control system is a little different, too, with the customary shoulder-mounted three-way pickup selector joined by individual volume controls for both humbuckers – each equipped with a push/pull feature for coil-splitting – plus a master tone control and piezo volume control with a push/pull operation for switching the system on and off. The battery compartment for the piezo is secreted on the rear of the instrument.
The pickup pairing looks pretty juicy, too, with a high-output Epiphone Ceramic Pro humbucker at the neck and a PAF-alike ProBucker 3 at the bridge. As mentioned above, both can be split for single-coil tones, and blended with the piezo signal, you've got a quite comprehensive range of tones to play with, blurring the line between electric guitar and acoustic.
“The introduction of the Epiphone Alex Lifeson Axcess model based on my Gibson Les Paul Axcess model has all the same attributes and characteristics that I desired so much when we originally designed it,” said Lifeson. “The look, the sound, the playability and the utility, it’s all there for the player – at any level. I’m very proud of this guitar.”
The Epiphone Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess is available in Viceroy Brown, priced £799 / $899, and available now. See Epiphone for more details.
Lifeson also released two new instrumental tracks to coincide with the guitar's launch, Kabul Blues and Spy House - part of a special film you can watch below called Alex Lifeson and Gibson - A 50 Year Ride.