Alex Lifeson and the Gibson Les Paul

For over 40 years now Alex Lifeson has been a part of one of the most original rock music acts in the world. The concept of the super trio, or power trio was exemplified by Cream just prior to the band's inception; but Rush wouldn't be limited to any such short duration or ego battling as Cream. Alex's original two band mates would not stick around long. Since 1974 the band's lineup has been stable.

The first Rush recording would be heavy blues very much in the vein of a Led Zeppelin, but soon their sound and subject matter would change drastically. The music of Rush is intellectual stuff in every way. Their complex musical compositions are those of virtuoso musicians, their lyrics, high-brow stuff for the consumption of active minds.

History, philosophy, science fiction, the pressing political issues of the day, are often the subject matter for Rush compositions. Time signatures are often irregular, and shifting. Rush is classic rock, sure, but they're progressive rock, or even art rock. They have sold over twenty five million records in the USA alone. It takes a high level of intelligence and a ton of dedication to reproduce Rush music on any instrument, takes that much more to conceive of it to begin with.

Alex Lifeson on the cover of Guitar Player magazine

Alex Lifeson is actually the stage name for Alexandar Zivojinovich. Alex is Canadian by Serbian extraction, and the surname Zivojinovich translates as 'son of life.' So you can see how his stage name makes perfect sense. Alex is not 'just' a guitarist, he plays keyboards, sings backup vocals, and he plays other stringed instruments such as the mandolin, and other instruments from the mandolin family.

Alex started in music early in life. Such is the best recipe for success in something as difficult as music to succeed in. Initially he was training to play the viola, but dropped that for guitar.

Rush has been around for a very long time now, and over the years Lifeson has used huge amounts of different equipment. He is by no means a guy who sticks to only a Gibson Les Paul, or even Gibson guitars as a brand. That all said, he has probably used Gibson guitars the most, and of those, the Les Paul the most.

Besides his signature riffing, Alex is a highly technical player, as are his other band mates in Rush, but he's not especially given over to showing off. He uses unorthodox chord structures, and employees a wide range of guitar effects.

Rush and its three master musicians were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013; but Lifeson has earned many honors as a musician. He and his mates are also honored by their home nation of Canada as Officers of the Order of Canada.

You don't have to look very hard at Alex Lifeson to see the guy is someone who takes care of himself. He spends some time in the gym, and there was also the incident in Naples, Florida. Well, he's not a guy to trifle with.

The music of Alex Lifeson and Rush has been compared to Star Trek, its fans to 'trekkies.' Folks tend to either love Rush, or hate Rush. Calling it nerd music would have been somewhat of an insult in years past, but all things nerdy are becoming increasingly honored as what they are, smart things, intellectual things.

Alex Lifeson Axcess Les Paul

From the very start, the Gibson Les Paul was an expensive guitar. A Les Paul is a bit of a status symbol. Typically out of the range, in price, for the average player, the LPs are forever lusted after. Things aren't going to change any time soon. Gibson does make some Les Paul models in the under one thousand dollar category, but those don't have nearly all the features of the Standard and up issues do.

The Alex Lifeson Axcess Les Paul is not a traditional one for more reasons than one can see from looking at images of them. You see straight away there is a Floyd Rose tremolo arm and a locking nut instead of a Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop bar tailpiece paired with a conventional nut. There is a whole lot more going on here than just those changes from the norm.

The top notch staff at Gibson worked quite a lot with Mr. Lifeson on hand to create these guitars. The entire circuitry of these guitars are unique to them only. No other Gibson Les Paul is wired with anything like the features these have. That is not to say this is a better guitar, but for someone who wants what these have to offer, there is only one place to get them.

Amazingly enough, this solid body electric guitar has the capability to impersonate a fine steel string acoustic via the Piezo circuitry. This takes nothing away from the bark and the growl, the metal crunch, that Gibson's Les Paul is most known for providing. This may be the single guitar offering the most wide array of tonal diversity Gibson has ever produced. You already know such a guitar won't come easy, nor cheaply. This is a five thousand dollar instrument; but what base does this not cover?

Coil taps to split the humbuckers into single coil pickups have long been favorite circuitry of Gibson and Gibson like guitars. Those are, of course, included in this model. The additional circuitry here is due to advanced signal routing and the addition of one output jack. You get a typical Gibson output jack, and a 'Life of Sound' output jack. The pickups are a 496R with ceramic magnet in the neck position, and a 498T Alnico V in the bridge position.

Only the finest tonewoods are used on the Alex Lifeson Acxess Les Paul. The body and neck are of mahogany, the top is of finely figured maple. A rosewood fingerboard with trapezoid inlay for fingerboard positioning are evident. There is an access heel or contour carved into the body on the backside of the guitar which allows for much more ease of access to the upper register of frets on this guitar than on other models of Gibson Les Paul.  A hard shell case, of course, is included.

This is easily one of the finest Gibson Les Paul guitars to have ever been offered to the public. One hopes they remain in production so perhaps a mere mortal such as myself, or yourself, could aspire to own one on a fine future day.