Rush’s Alex Lifeson Looks Back at His Early Guitars

Alex Lifeson

Since 2012, Alex Lifeson took a break from music, but now that he is promoting his new electric guitar, the Rush guitarist has resurfaced. Lifeson has always loved guitars and even said that he still would like to play one day when he is too old. Unfortunately, the death of Neil Peart in 2020 took away the motivation to play the guitar, but the two solo tracks he has recently released have most fans wondering if he is making a comeback to the music scene. Whether he does or not, there is no denying that his love for guitars will never end, so here is a look at the guitars he has had the pleasure of strumming throughout his career.

Falling in Love with Gibson Guitars

Lifeson studied the viola, but once his brother-in-law turned him on to the guitar, there was no going back. According to Guitar World, his brother-in-law lent him his flamenco guitar, which Lifeson liked. Therefore, since his parents pushed him to play the accordion, which he thought was boring, playing the guitar was his escape from the pressure. His skills must have impressed parents because when Lifeson was 12, they bought him his first guitar as a Christmas present. It was a Kent steel acoustic guitar that set them back $25, and the guitarist recalls how painful it was dealing with the guitar. So in 1966, after begging his parents to get him another guitar, they bought him a Conora electric guitar for Christmas. It cost $59, and his mother still holds on to it. Still, no matter how hard his parents tried to fulfill Lifeson’s wishes for a guitar, his heart yearned for a Gibson. He found a way to tame his longing by visiting Long & McQuade’s every weekend. He would strum the Les Paul, SG or 335 for at least an hour before the music store salesman got tired of him and chased him out. Lifeson never gave up; he kept returning, and the salesman, empathetic to the young boy’s needs, would allow him to play for an hour each time before kicking him out again.

Getting His First Gibson Guitar

During an interview with Vintage Guitar, Lifeson revealed that his first Gibson guitar was an ES-335 which he bought in 1976. He had visited the Gibson factory that year and was captivated by the guitars, so he decided it was time he used the money he had scrapped to reward himself with a Gibson. He later bought a Les Paul in 1976, and the two guitars became his primary instruments until the late 1970s. He purchased a white 355 in 1976, and it became his favorite one, using it as his main one thanks to its creamy tone. Therefore even years later, he was still fond of the instrument and carried it whenever he went. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, the three guitars led to Lifeson beginning a collection of Gibson guitars. However, that does not mean that he did not experiment with other makes. For instance, he disclosed that he adopted the Howard Roberts Fusion as his main guitar before moving on to Signature. The Signature ended up being too uncomfortable to play, but Lifeson loved the particular sound it produced. He also has experience using PRS guitars, whose production began in 1985. Lifeson praises the PRS for its small size and perfect vibrato, ensuring he did not have tuning issues.

Timeline of the Gibson Guitars He Has Used

Since 2011, Lifeson has been using the Gibson Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess. The company had noticed his love for Gibson guitars, and they invited him to participate in making a guitar that would suit his needs. As a result, the guitarist got his own Gibson Les Paul guitar. Lifeson does not like heavy guitars, so he opted to remove the chambering to reduce the weight. Its unique features made it Lifeson’s favorite, and although the guitar was made in Black, Viceroy Brown, and Royal Crimson, only Lifeson got to have the Black model. He still has the Gibson EDS-1275 Doubleneck that he has been using since 1991. Lifeson had picked it due to his admiration of how Jim Hendrix played the 12-string instrument; there was a time when the guitarist looked up to Hendrix so much that he copied everything, including the way the late guitarist dressed. He bought the EDS-1275 in 1976 and used it from 1977 to 1983 before setting it aside to pick it up once again in 1991. He still uses the instrument whenever he needs a 12-string guitar. The original he bought in 1976 was donated to a Toronto museum, resulting in him replacing it with a Signature Alex Lifeson EDS-1275. He wanted the replacement to resemble the original so much that he included the cracks and scratches. Perhaps his most prized possession has to be the white ES-355 he bought in 1976. Lifeson fell in love with the unique white finish, and it became the basis of creating the Gibson ES-355 in 2008. Although its production stopped, the guitar lives on, but it is no longer one of his main guitars.

Releasing the Latest Guitar with His Design

His collaboration with Gibson has led to Epiphone seeing the guitarist as the ideal person to help with their design. Lifeson said that the new Epiphone Alex Lifeson Axcess model is based on the Gibson model. He added that it had incorporated all characteristics and attributes he wanted during the original designing process. The guitarist has ensured that fans note the new model by releasing two new instrumental songs, “Spy House” and Kabul Blues,” to promote the guitar. The Epiphone will go for $899, quite a low price compared to the Gibson version that sells at $6,111. Lifeson was concerned about the new guitar’s quality, and although he notices the significant price difference, he said that the Epiphone is a good guitar. What matters most is that he designed an instrument that would be great for other guitarists. He said that he is proud of the guitar because of its sound, look, playability and utility.

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