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.
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.