Tracii Guns: “When it came to doing a signature guitar, there was no point in doing something ordinary, you know what I mean?”

Tracii Guns
(Image credit: Kramer)

“When it came to doing a signature guitar, there was no point in doing something ordinary, you know what I mean?” Tracii Guns says. To be sure, even a cursory glimpse at the LA Guns guitarist’s new Kramer Gunstar Voyager confirms that, yes, we know exactly what he means. 

From the star-shaped Voyager body, to the custom flame finish, to the classic-era pointy headstock with Kramer “pyramid” logo (“I wanted that really gnarly headstock where you can poke a vulture’s eye out with it”), there’s certainly nothing ordinary about the Gunstar Voyager. It’s a supremely modern metal machine that also exudes a cool throwback vibe. 

“It has this Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Dimebag-y appeal about it,” Guns says. And that’s just what he was intending in designing the instrument. Because while Guns is an incredibly versatile player, he also acknowledges that “the bulk of my fans are fans of '80s metal guitar. They want teeth and they want shredding. They want big, ringing open G chords and they want whammy bar dives. And this guitar can deliver all of that.” 

Indeed it can. Boasting a mahogany body, three-piece, slim C-shaped maple neck, 22-fret maple fingerboard and deep cutaway for easy high-register access, the Gunstar Voyager promises speed, comfort and clear, full-bodied resonance before you even plug it in.

Paired with a high-gain head or combo, the guitar comes alive via a pair of Epiphone ProBuckers, which aim to deliver plenty of aggressive cut via the bridge ’bucker and a healthy dose of rounded, bluesy tones at the neck position. What’s more, the guitar is fitted with a Floyd Rose 1000 Series Tremolo to fulfill any player’s deepest dive-bombing desires.

“We went with the two-way, so you can pull back on it, which I hadn’t done in years,” Guns says. “When I started using it live, I immediately went, ‘Ah, this is great!’”

But like Guns himself, there’s much more to the Gunstar Voyager than just being a primo shred machine.

“The idea was to have kind of a cross between, like, a Les Paul Custom or an Explorer with a hot rod guitar,” he says. Which means that in addition to the shred-ready features and graphics, the Gunstar Voyager also boasts a set neck, a rhythm pickup (“I didn’t want to just do a single-hum guitar – it wouldn’t be practical for me”) and a wealth of tonal options.

Kramer Gunstar Voyager

(Image credit: Kramer)

For starters, there are those ProBuckers, which Guns says are low-output enough to allow the amplifier to do the talking. “The guitar sounds pretty much uncolored,” he says. “And when I hit the distortion, you can hear all the high strings when you play a big chord, and you get a lot of bite and clarity.”

What’s more, each pickup has its own volume control fitted with a coil-splitting push-pull option for even more tonal flexibility.

“So it’s a serious instrument. Plus, it’s so fun to play… and it looks cool in pictures!” Guns has already been putting the Gunstar Voyager to good use onstage – “it’s really designed for [L.A. Guns] songs like Electric Gypsy and Speed, where the brightness of the guitar just makes it more ‘metal,’” he says.

At the same time, Guns continues, “it’s the nicest hot rod instrument I’ve ever had. It’s just everything I want and need in that type of guitar, and it sits proudly next to my really well-made Les Pauls. So we achieved the goal, you know? We definitely achieved the goal.”

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.