During my friendship with Ace, he would call me at work and we would just chat, or he would call me with a question on his gear. I repair guitars for a living, and work at a place that also fixes amps and related gear. He had a lot of problems with the laney amps, and I figured out that the cabinets weren't properly wired, causing them to quickly go through tubes or just blow the output transformers. We went out to lunch together one day, and I was telling him about a guitar I was working on, when he said that he had an old Gibson Les Paul Junior that he wanted to use, but it needed a lot of work. I told him that I would make it like I thought he would want it. I completely stripped it of parts, and pulled out the frets. Then I leveled the fingerboard, and refretted it with Dunlop 6000 fretwire. (It's the largest size they make.) With a new set of tuners, new bridge and tailpiece, and a new hand cut graphite nut, the guitar played like a dream. I didn't see Ace for a month or two when it was done, so I had some fun playing it, photographing it, and showing it off.

Around the same time, I had 2 guitar straps made. They were just like his old KISS ones, with the lightning bolt, but these had glitter bolts. One was for me, because Fractured Mirror was starting to play out more, and the other was a Christmas present for Ace. (He used it all through the rest of the solo tours, and into the KISS reunion - along with a duplicate I later had made for him.) Ace was very happy with my work, and the next assignment was his #1 guitar, the cherry sunburst Les Paul. He wanted it to play as good as the Junior. Again, I stripped it of it's parts, pulled out the frets and went to work. I also had to clean up the wiring attempts from previous pickup installations. I upgraded some of the parts, (of course I saved the old ones!) and I delivered the guitar to Ace's hotel room the before a show in Spring Valley, NY. He had called me that day very excited to get it. When I got there, he was like a kid waiting for his present. He sat on the bed and played it every way he could think of, and then looked up and had a big smile on his face. "It's perfect" he said. Richie Scarlett was there too, and he and I showed each other some Hendrix licks while Ace was on the phone. I took some great pictures that night of a happy Ace with his "new" guitar. My payment for doing that work, was his very first KISS costume, the eagle shirt, worn at The Coventry (look at the bonus clip on KISSOLOGY). While I had the guitar, I took some pictures of it surrounded by the original LOVE GUN outfit. It was sort of a reunion. I've done some guitar tweaking for him here and there, picked up and delivered the amp heads so they could be gone over, can you imagine meeting up with Ace and he has a car load of amps for you?

The last guitar I did for him was another Les Paul. Gibson had given him a new one, but it was just a standard. Well, he wanted me to make it just like his #1. That meant tuners, (Grover Pearl Button ones that are hard to find), installing a middle pickup as well as all new pickups, (his middle and neck pickups were not wired, just so you know), and a refret. It was a big job and required many hours of work, but it came out awesome. I also made him a custom pearl truss rod cover that I hand engraved a planet with stars into. I also carved his name into the inlay at the 12th fret. He was very happy with this one. When Kiss got back together and they were on the cover of Guitar World, he was holding this guitar in the picture. (You can see the pearl truss rod cover.)

Like I said before, Ace rejoined KISS and I never heard from him again. But, it was a fun time hanging with him, going to the shows, and doing the work for him. We had some great times together and I have some great memories. I'm still doing guitars today and its been over 30 years doing it. Its something i love to do, maybe i can do something for you too.


Need guitar work?....
billvis77@theacefrehleyarchive.com