In the Limelight: the Alex Lifeson ES-Les Paul

By Michael Leonard ,, July 28, 2017

When you get the renowned craftsmanship of Gibson Memphis blending with the specifications of one of rock's premier guitarists, you're bound to get a fabulous instrument. So it is with Gibson Memphis's Limited Edition Alex Lifeson ES-Les Paul.

The build of this guitar is absolutely top-notch. The body is an ES-Les Paul's usual maple-poplar maple three-ply, plus you get a quarter-sawn, thermally engineered Adirondack spruce bracing and a thermally engineered Mahogany center block.

The two PAF-like humbuckers are MHS (Memphis Historic Spec) models with matched potentiometers. The MHS 'buckers are slightly "underwound" compared to more modern-voiced models, for the most authentic PAF-alike tone you can get: they're perfect for a semi-hollow Gibson. You get a historic truss rod, titanium bridge saddles, a bone nut and more, while rolled neck binding delivers a sublimely comfortable playing feel. It's a superb mixture of old and new, and all in a beautiful high-gloss nitro Classic White finish with 7-ply binding.

It's built in association with Rush legend Lifeson, and you can see why he loves it. Visually, it echoes the ES-355 he played for much the 1970s on classic Rush album such as 2112 and A Farewell To Kings. This new ES-model has that visual appeal, but in the more compact Les Paul format he's favored for Rush's recent years. Indeed, Gibson's ES-Les Paul design itself could have been built with Lifeson in mind ? it's versatile and full of different tones. In this finish, it's just right for him... and anyone who likes a stunningly different guitar.

The ES-Les Paul: A Modern Classic

If you've never tried an ES-Les Paul, do so! The ES-Les Paul "hybrid" design has been a terrific hit since its introduction.

Guitar Player magazine says, "the ES-Les Paul is a terrific guitar. Lighter than either a standard Les Paul or a typical ES-335, this instrument provides a slew of iconic Gibson sounds in a familiar form that will appeal to blues players, fusion jazzers, and hard rockers."

Over at Vintage Guitar, certainly not ones to settle for something new just because it's new, they say "When you pick it up for the first time, two things you may notice about the ES-Les Paul are its bright, unamplified tone and light weight ? factors you don't associate with most Les Pauls. Plugged in and on the job, however, the guitar gives plenty to work with." In conclusion, Vintage Guitar reckons, "we'd be surprised to find any guitarist who didn't dig the vibe of this clever design. It's the best of both worlds, featuring sweet tone, an excellent build, and looks to beat the band. We're pretty sure that both Ted McCarty and even ol' Les himself would dig it."

Praise indeed. And when this ES-Les Paul comes with the spec and respected approval of Alex Lifeson, you know you're getting a superbly built and versatile guitar. Best order one soon if you like it. Dare we say there'll be a rush for this one?