here you have a brief tour of how we re-created the Kiss
Alive 1 - Gibson Les Paul, and were brought to Gibson
Headquarters for Ace to sign and provide our missing links.
Don't be fooled, I'm the only one to replicate the original
Ace Frehley Smoking Les Paul, originally built by
This is that story. (left Jim Cara and
John Elder Robison)
John's designs and his work
making custom guitars were an inspiration and partially
responsible for me building guitars as my livelihood. I
remember watching Ace's guitar smoke and shoot rockets as a
teenager in 1978, and building many half-cocked replicas and
had stated building a reputation as someone who could
recreate the guitars. I would hire myself out for special
events, and also rent out the guitars to bands. I even
designed a Red, White, and Blue color changing smoke guitar
and played the Star Spangled Banner when Robbie Knievel
jumped over Marshal Amps. Through the years I've accumulated
much more information and was ready to replicate his design
In 2012, I was contacted by a World
Class Kiss expert and friend of Ace Frehley who wanted me to
design an exact replica of the 70's guitar that Ace used on
the Alive 1 tour. I jumped at the chance. Gathering all of
my notes, blueprints, and questions, I located John Robison,
who was the original designer of most of all Ace's trick
guitars. He was kind enough to review my notes and designs.
He also was happy to answer questions about items I wasn't
clear about. I was extremely proud to have John confirm most
of my designs, given I only had access to a couple of poor
quality photos. Next, once the guitar was built, Ace's
manager, Gibson artist relations, and co-author of Ace's
best selling book,
put together a presentation at Gibson Headquarters in NYC,
where Ace reviewed the guitar, made some comments, suggested
some change (that were made - see below), and signed the now
extremely rare and historically accurate guitar now residing
with a private collector, and the only working model of its
kind. (Jim Cara left - Ace Frehley right)
project started with a Gibson Historic Custom Shop
Ace Frehley Model
disassembly, the guitar was further reliced and
distressed to match the vintage color.
was routed to match the dimensions of the original
modified guitar, and to hold the trap door,
ignition, power supply and halogen lamp devices.
Here's my notes and drawings based on the two
photographs of the original guitar.
is the page I sent to John Robison to have him
review and clarify.
Routed to match the Original
Installation of the Stainless combustion chamber,
trap door control, Halogen fixtures and fire
drawn from the only two clear photos of the original
guitar known to exist .
Working out the details
view of the trap door pickup release cable, and how
we protected the middle pickup from heat and fire.
Ready to string and show to Ace.
The same guitar, after Ace's suggestions, and
signature. Note the pickup decal that is covering
the trap door.
door is a fake Dimarzio Humbucker steel flap, that
is re-covered with a decal after each use
reviewed the guitar with a Thumbs up, but not before
telling me some secrets that only he would know.
Wiring was too complex.
had an original authentic white plastic output jack
that was actually backed with metal so that it would
applied all of those changes.
With Ace Frehleys recommendation. we modified the
plastic jackplate to appear period correct,
yet is now reinforced with a modern steel jackplate
The modified and final wiring based on John Robison
and Ace Frehley's suggestion that mine was too
with clear lucite cover, heat shield, and charging