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more... ArtistsAce FrehleyGuitaristsClassic RockApril 2010

Ace Frehley: Navigating with the Spaceman

Ace Frehley Signature Gibson Les Paul headstock. Photo by Rich Tozzoli.
You recorded some tracks on the record by yourself, too, right?

On “A Little Below the Angels,” I actually didn’t like my original vocal. I redid them because I felt like I was singing with almost a country twang. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to change it, so I took the AKG mic one night at 5 a.m. and ran it through an Avalon preamp—I actually engineered it myself. It came out very natural and not pushed, because I was really relaxed. I just dropped it onto a portable hard drive and brought it out to LA for the mix. But I don’t actually like recording myself, because you have to think too much and it can take away from the performance.

Many people may not realize how into computers you are.

[Laughs] Yeah, I had the first Mac computer. I had one of the first IBMs and a Commodore, too. I was a kid when the whole computer revolution began, so I’ve always been into them. I had the first Radio Shack 4K computer— 4K! Imagine having a computer with 4K of memory! Back then, if you mentioned 4GB, someone would’ve thought it was for the military or outer space. We didn’t even talk about that much memory back then.

So what’s next for you?

Well, I finished a successful European tour, and I’m getting ready to go out again to Australia. Dates in the States will be coming up, and I’ll be doing festivals in Europe this summer. I’ve got a “Behind the Player” DVD coming out, and I’ve already been writing for the next record. I also plan on doing a cool DVD with computer animation that I’ll score. I pride myself on thinking outside the box, and I’m probably like that because I’m not a schooled musician. One of the reasons people may think I have a unique style is because I’m self-taught and make mistakes— or I do things in a way that, if I’d been taught by a teacher, they would’ve corrected. To me, there are no rules, and there never were.

According to the man himself, Ace’s rig both onstage and in the studio has always been relatively straightforward: 
“On the early Kiss records, I used my tobacco sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard with a rewound hot pickup, through a Marshall stack or old Fender tweed amp, on most of the studio recordings. I used an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff to overdrive them sometimes. Later, I got a cherry sunburst Les Paul Custom and an old ’59 Les Paul Standard, which dominated my studio recordings in the late ‘70s. My 1978 solo album, Ace Frehley, really shows off what a Les Paul guitar can do in the studio. I recorded almost the whole album exclusively with my 1959 vintage sunburst Les Paul. I use Gibson Les Paul Customs live because they’re simply the best guitars for loud rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve always said, ‘Just plug a Les Paul into a Marshall amp and turn it up to 10!’ It’s a no-brainer.”

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