Ace Frehley and his Epiphone Ace Frehley model Les Paul Guitar
Credit: http://www.acefrehley.com/store/af02.php

The original Les Paul guitars ran in the 1950s and were discontinued due to poor sales. This is worth mentioning because it is so hard to comprehend how it could be true, and yet it is true. It wasn't until the mid 1960s when British invasion guitarists like Eric Clapton and Keith Richards started playing Les Paul guitars that the public took serious notice.

Les Paul himself was playing rock and roll before the name had been coined. He was maybe the most respected and well known guitarist in the world until the British Invasion, and all those mop topped people started playing black folk music to white audiences. Well, Clapton was a dedicated bluesman; and his soloing with a 1959 Gibson Les Paul was so powerful people could cry when hearing it.

The essential elements of the guitar make it expensive to produce. The body is a thick slab of mahogany, but there is a carved maple top on top of that. Mahogany slabs aren't light weight, and maple, as a material, is straight up heavy. Then the carving of a maple top is something involving some definite time to do. When you think of all the inlay and binding added to the thing, and you start to realize why these instruments were both too heavy, and too expensive to compete with Fender guitars until those Brits came along and caused everyone to want one for themselves.

The Epiphone Ace Frehley Les Paul Guitar
Credit: http://www.epiphone.com/Products/Les-Paul/Ace-Frehley-Budokan-Les-Paul-Custom-Outfit.aspx

Epiphone is a subsidiary of Gibson, but this was not always the case. Epiphone was an independent American musical instruments manufacturer, they were Gibson's number one competitor for many years, and specifically, the competition was in the realm of arch-top acoustic guitars. Well, the management of Epiphone got the company into a bit of financial trouble, Gibson swooped in like a great horned owl after a mouse, and bought the company out.

Today Epiphone is an Asian guitar manufacturing operation. Where in Asia they manufacture instruments has changed a few times over the years. There are heated debates about whether or not the Chinese made Epiphones are as good as the Korean made ones. Everyone with any sense at all will tell you the Japanese made are the best of the best, but they, of course, cost quite a lot more too.

The point of it all is that Gibson owns Epiphone, and Epiphone provides the customer with a terrific amount of value for the money they spend. Gibson USA makes an expensive product because you've got to pay people quite well to build guitars in the USA. Korean laborers don't get paid nearly as much, but you can bet their cost of living is significantly less than what it costs to live in the United States of America. The market rules us all, and that's how it is going to be.

Epiphone makes a lot of different models of Les Paul guitar. All of them represent a great value concerning what you get for what you pay for it, that's the beauty of globalization. Globalism is a bad word in some circles these days, but when you're talking about Epiphone guitars, you're talking about something that benefits greatly the poorer boys and girls, men and women who want to own a nice electric guitar, but can't afford a Gibson. But make no mistake here, the Epiphone Ace Frehley Les Paul is not one of the more inexpensive ones, in fact, it is one of the most expensive Epiphone Les Paul models.

Ace Frehley in KISS makeup with Epiphone Ace Frehley Les Paul guitar
Credit: http://www.harmonycentral.com/forum/forum/guitar/acapella-41/1105010-

Who Ace Frehley is, is something one probably needs not be told, especially after seeing him in his KISS makeup, but he is the original lead guitarist for the band KISS. KISS, of course, also has Paul Stanley as a guitarist, but Paul's role has always primarily been that of a vocalist. Paul absolutely has a distinct singing voice, and without it, KISS would likely have never become such an iconic glam rock party band.

KISS, after an initial run in the 1970s where they were huge commercial successes, had the inevitable personality conflicts, and became something of a vehicle for just Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. They got rid of Ace Frehley, and to be fair, Ace Frehley likely made that very easy for them to do. Space Ace was always a great showman, but he's probably not the easiest fellow in the world to get along with, and he's been reported to be not so reliable either.

So either KISS ditched Ace, or, depending on who you ask, Ace ditched KISS; and a long line of replacement guitarists ensued. As the reunion band tours from geriatric rock and rollers became a thing in recent decades, Ace reunited with the two Jewish mega egos in the band, and Peter Criss, to do some original lineup of KISS shows. KISS, if nothing else, is reliably entertaining.

The Epiphone Ace Frehley Les Paul Guitar
Credit: http://www.epiphone.com/News/Features/Features/2012/The-Ace-Frehley-Budokan-Les-Paul-Custom-Outfit.aspx

There are a lot of Epiphone signature series Les Paul guitars, and a lot of those have much more expensive versions made by Gibson. Some are unique only to Epiphone, but the Ace Frehley Epiphone LP does have a Gibson counterpart, and in fact, as the years roll on, there have been several editions.

The Ace Frehley Les Paul models are instantly recognized for many reasons, first and foremost among them is the fact you've got three humbucking pickups on a sunburst guitar. Typically the only Les Paul models with three humbuckers are customs, and they're typically black with gold plated hardware. The second thing you notice about Ace's six string electric fiddle are the fingerboard positioning marker inlays are lightening bolt shapes, something Angus Young of AC/DC also uses.

Epiphone Les Paul models sometimes have more of a maple veneer than an actual top. The more money you spend the more of the maple you will get. The Frehley guitar not only has a maple top, but one with some pretty serious flame figuring. This guitar typically costs around nine hundred bucks new, and comes with a hard shell case too.

What about the pickups? Most high end Epiphone electrics have actual Gibson pickups instead of Epiphone ones, but the Ace Frehley model, often called the 'Budokan' model, features DiMarzio PAF style pickups. The bridge humbucker is DiMarzio's well known super distortion model.  There were just one thousand of these produced, and they were sold worldwide. It is quite possible Gibson decides to do another run sometime.