If the Kiss Army were to appoint a general, it would have to be the band’s lead guitarist, Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer.
Long before he donned Ace Frehley’s iconic makeup and became the band’s official ax master in 2003, Thayer had already developed an impressive service record with the group, included writing and recording demos with Gene Simmons, managing the 1995 Kiss Worldwide Convention Tour and working as producer and editor on the Kiss films The Second Coming, Detroit Rock City and The Last Kiss.
Thayer’s signature Epiphone Spaceman continues his tradition of stellar contributions to the Kiss legacy. It’s a souped-up tour de force of tone and certainly one of the most thrilling and well-balanced Les Pauls created in recent years. In addition to featuring a pair of Gibson’s hotter 498T pickups, it has an ultra-cool retro-style silver-flake finish. Epiphone is making only 1,000 of the limited-edition Spaceman, and at a street price under $700, they’re sure to go fast.
Epiphone’s Spaceman is a true example of harmonious design, where each component’s special tonal characteristics purposely and appropriately complement the instrument’s ultimate response and sound. Vintage-style Grover tuners contribute to precise note definition, the thin maple top adds just the right amount of bright bite on top of the mahogany’s naturally thick midrange, and the deep-set, Sixties-style mahogany neck and LockTone Tune-O-Matic/stop-bar bridge provide extra sustain.
Playability across the rosewood fretboard’s 12-inch radius is Les Paul perfect (low action and tight string snap), and each Spaceman comes with a custom silver hard case, signed certificate, Epiphone strap locks and Tommy Thayer edition studded strap.
Gibson 498T pickups produce the Spaceman’s fiery combination of punch and crunch. Focusing on tone over a uniform appearance, Epiphone and Thayer placed a covered version in the neck position and an open-bobbin style in the lead. The cover slightly alters harmonic peaks and overtones, enough so that the pickups will harmonize when played together rather than sound muddy or washed out.
I had a hard time putting the Spaceman down long enough to write this review. I was absolutely entranced by its rare combination of spacious note separation and sustain. More than so many other guitars, it captured my musical intent and clarified difficult passages, elevating my performance and confidence. My favorite tones came from using the 498T pickups in unison. They blended seamlessly, leaving no tonal gaps and producing an energetic mix of attack, three-dimensional imaging and midrange howl.
The Bottom Line
Kiss fan or not, whatever your musical style, Epiphone’s Spaceman Tommy Thayer signature Les Paul defines the modern classic ideal.
List Price $1,165.00
Manufacturer Epiphone Guitar Corp., epiphone.com