A Fool and His Money

PT Barnum is famously quoted as having coined the phrase, "There's a sucker born every minute." While the attribution may not be verifiable, it is nevertheless a true statement, and never more so than in the world of "Modern Art."

While I understand that "art is in the eye of the beholder," I have made the assertion several times over the years that much of what passes for "art" these days is nothing more than a clever con job by fast-talking hucksters of today's Imperial New Clothes.

Never more has than been true than in the following article, wherein an "artist" convinced some hapless dolt to part with $18,300 for... absolutely nothing:

An Italian Artist Auctioned Off an 'Invisible Sculpture' for $18,300. It's Made Literally of Nothing

Proverbs 21:20 tells us that "A fool and his money are soon parted," and the above article is a perfect example of that simple statement's self-evident truth.

I am clearly in the wrong line of work.

Transcribing Girlfriend in a Coma by The Smiths

It's been a while since I posted a transcription, so I though that I'd share something that I transcribed a while ago but never got around to posting on my website. With that in mind, today's offering is one of my favorites from back in the 1980s: "Girlfriend in a Coma" by The Smiths. I'll admit, the topic sounds a little creepy, but it's a catchy song that I've loved ever since I first heard it. To be honest, The Smiths released a lot of music in a genre that a friend of mine collectively labeled as "Depression Pop." If you listened to enough of The Smiths' albums, you'd swear that nothing ever goes right for their singer, Morrissey. (Seriously. It's like listening to Eeyore sing.)

One of my favorite guitarists is Johnny Marr, who was the driving force behind The Smiths' unique sound. Marr has a great way of creating layered textures with his guitar sound that is very reminiscent of another favorite guitarist, Matt Slocum. (I might say more about Matt in a post at some other time, but today is all about Marr.)

Without further ado, here's my transcription of "Girlfriend in a Coma."

Here are my notes about this transcription:

  • Probably the biggest omission from my transcription are some really cool volume swells that Marr added as layers to the piece. Those would have been easy to add to the transcription, but I just didn't feel like it.
  • I didn't spend a lot of time trying to dial in the synth sound on the choruses; I'm pretty sure the notes are fairly accurate, but as always - I spent far more time trying to get the guitar parts to sound correct.

As always, this is a free transcription. So if you're upset that I left something out, then it sucks to be you.

NOTE: See https://youtu.be/3GhoWZ5qTwI for the official video for this song.

Foreign Responses to the United States’ Withdrawal from Afghanistan

It is interesting to see what our allies across the Atlantic think of the United States' recent handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The following quotes are from the article British Parliament Unloads On Biden: Biden May Have Condemned The World To Chinese Domination In Future; although, to be clear, these quotes are from the British House of Lords, so one should take the source of these quotes into account when considering their worth.

Lord Dannatt: "First, notwithstanding his attempted explanation on Monday, the manner and timing of the Afghan collapse is the direct result of President Biden's decision to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of 9/11. At a stroke, he has undermined the patient and painstaking work of the last five, 10, 15 years to build up governance in Afghanistan, develop its economy, transform its civil society and build up its security forces. The people had a glimpse of a better life, but that has been torn away. With US forces withdrawing, other NATO allies, including ourselves, had no option but to leave too, denying the Afghan national army the technical and training support that it needed and the moral support of friends who encouraged them to take the fight to the Taliban. Until a few weeks ago, the Taliban was being contained and may even have been persuaded over time that a military victory was impossible and a negotiated settlement was the better course. Those possibilities are now a closed chapter of history, an opportunity lost, and the world's western superpower is looking enfeebled. The only glimmer of hope today is that the Taliban of 2021 is not the Taliban of 2001."

Lord Howard of Lympne: "The responsibility for the decision to withdraw rests with President Biden. Up to now, many of us have been rather impressed with the president's performance in his first few months in office, although that may in large part be due to the relief at the absence of his unlamented predecessor. But I am afraid that President Biden's decision to withdraw from Afghanistan is, and will be seen by history as, a catastrophic mistake which may well prove to be the defining legacy of his presidency."

Lord Robathan: "...we should not underestimate the disaster and humiliation that this has been. It is on a par with the first Afghan campaign, which humiliated the East India Company and then the British Empire when Dr Brydon returned alone from Elphinstone's army. This is a humiliation of the West, of NATO, of us, of course, but especially of the US - which, apparently, leads the free world, or so we are told. President Biden said that 'America is back'. Robert Gates, Defense Secretary to the Administrations of both George W Bush and Barack Obama, said in his memoirs that Biden had been on the wrong side of every national security issue of the past 20 years. I agree very much with what my noble friend Lord Hammond - who I worked under as Minister for the Armed Forces - said on this point. The humiliation and disaster of the West is appalling. The West is seen as an unreliable ally."

Lord Ricketts: Confidence in NATO has been damaged. China is the main beneficiary of President Biden's decision. 'America is back' now sounds rather hollow - 'America is backing down' fits the case better. The British priority must be to address the damage done to NATO, to rebuild effective political consultations within NATO, and to focus on European security and the risk of Islamic terrorism in Europe. Rather than tilting to the Indo-Pacific, that is where the UK needs to put its national security energies."

Lord Stirrup: " President Biden has suggested that the Afghans are not prepared to fight for their own country. But this ignores two facts. The first is the very large number of Afghan security forces personnel who have been killed on operations over the past two decades, and the second is that Afghan society has always placed much greater importance on loyalty to family, village and clan than to a central Government. In such a society, a military force modelled on the US army could never, in the short term, endure without the logistical, technical and moral support of the US armed forces. ... President Biden purportedly wishes to withdraw from Afghanistan in order to concentrate on China. Yet his actions have immediately benefited China on several fronts. China is increasingly engaged commercially in Afghanistan and has been negotiating with the Taliban. Taken together with Pakistan's increasing reliance on China, this creates a disturbing nexus of power in the region. Even more important is the perception of other countries. If the western powers are to resist China's assault on the current rules - based international order, they will require strong political, economic and technological allies in the Indo-Pacific region. Who now, though, will be prepared to throw in their lot with a US-led effort, when that country's leadership has proved such a fickle friend to Afghanistan? Perhaps the Minister can say what the implications are for the UK's own tilt to the Indo-Pacific, which was such a prominent feature of the recent integrated review."

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: "It is very hard to overestimate the scale of the catastrophe following the Biden Administration's disastrous implementation of the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. ... It was utterly disingenuous for President Biden to present the Afghans as unwilling to fight for their country, after having withdrawn vital US support services without an agreed ceasefire, precipitating the collapse of the Afghan state."

Lord Blencathra: "My Lords, all my life I have been pro-American and favourably disposed to the United States, but not any more at this moment. What Biden has done in Afghanistan will go down in ignominy as one of the most shameful and despicable acts of betrayal by any American President. Tens of thousands of men will be slaughtered, thousands of young girls forced to marry these Taliban brutes and 14 million women driven back into slavery. Afghanistan was emerging into the light with freedoms for women and children, who will now be ruled with 500 year-old barbaric religious laws. That is Biden's legacy. He cannot blame it on Trump; Biden boasted that in his first 100 days he issued a record 24 executive orders, all of which were direct reversals of Trump policies. He should have listened to his generals and changed this policy also. This is not like Saigon; it is far worse. First, the retaliation against the population by Islamist fanatics is likely to be far greater than what the North Vietnamese did to the beaten south. Secondly, the appalling humanitarian crisis described in this House today will centre on Afghanistan but the terrorist consequences of this US sell-out will affect us all. The Viet Cong had no agenda outside Vietnam but Afghanistan is now under the control of Islamist fanatics who want to wage war on every western democracy. ... Biden has put America back, all right - back into the bunker. The lesson for China is this: play a long game and America will not have the stomach to stick it out. China is a threat to world peace, but how can we now trust the US to lead the long battle against it? Biden may have condemned the world to Chinese domination in future and the end of western liberal democracy."

Lord Anderson of Swansea: "What is the Government's best analysis of the reasons for the rapid defeat? What are the geopolitical consequences of that defeat? President Biden, alas, will be diminished, certainly abroad. Do the Government see any danger of the US retreating into a new isolationism, abandoning the aspirations of nation building, spreading democracy and human rights, and a corresponding loss of trust in the US?"

Lord Dodds of Duncairn: "President Biden's speech the other day, blaming everyone and everything except his Administration's precipitative pull-out, was truly awful. ... I fear that the US decision to pull out in the way that it has will have dire consequences. It sends a message to the terrorists and rogue states that the West can be defeated. It sends a message to our friends that, at the end of the day, they can be abandoned. It sends a message to those who want to live in freedom and with human rights guaranteed, especially the women and girls of Afghanistan, that we cannot be relied upon."

Lord Touhig: "By withdrawing US troops, not only has President Biden destroyed the hopes of people in a fledgling democracy but he has made the world less safe. If ever there was a country that knows how dangerous a less safe world can be, it is the United States. That is even more so now, as we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Here in Britain, we too know how a less safe world takes the lives of men and women on our streets, of children and young people at a Manchester concert and of a brave police officer guarding this Parliament. Britain fell into line behind President Biden. In doing so, our Government have increased the risk of terrorism globally."

Lord McColl of Dulwich: "Although President Biden has tried to shift the blame on to President Trump, that simply does not work. President Biden had the power to stop the withdrawal of the troops but failed to do so. To be fair, this situation may not be easy for President Biden to deal with because he does not seem to me to be in good health. There are many examples of the disease of a national leader having a disastrous effect on a country, a continent or even the world."

Lord Bruce of Bennachie: "For President Biden to say that the collapse of the Government and the defence capability was the Afghans' fault is truly sickening. With limited allied troops and strategic air cover, the country was functioning, if imperfectly. The rapid withdrawal demoralised the domestic forces, who were often deployed far from home with no protection or support for their families against the Taliban, so it is hardly surprising that they chose not to fight. Now the cost of failure could outweigh by many times the cost of maintaining a minimal presence."

Lord Godson: "The role of the United States has been central to this and the Biden Administration have been rightly criticised, I think unanimously - as least, I have not heard any speaker defend their decision here today. It is a uniquely personal decision of this President ... However, the Biden Administration are not the totality of America. Through much of my political life, having been born an American citizen, I have noted many pessimistic predictions for the US after previous debacles, although perhaps none quite as serious as this, which rolls in many of the features of past debacles into one fell swoop. ... But because the Biden Administration are not the totality of the United States and its polity, America has an enormous resilience and ability to bounce back, to reappraise, regather and regroup."

Memories of Better Days Gone By

Facebook just reminded me that two years ago - before the pandemic wreaked havoc across the globe and killed 4.5 million people, before the domestic rioting and burning of our cities, before the collective meltdown of all mainstream news outlets into the primary sources of worthless and biased drivel, before the woke apologists began their Orwellian campaign of rewriting history and manipulating the English language in order to foster division between the classes, and before the second humiliating defeat of our armed forces at the hands of career politicians who have no idea how to fight/win a war - I was standing on a mountain in the Alps, looking across the glaciers and valleys at the Matterhorn. There are some days when I need to be reminded that there is beauty in this world that is worth seeing, and activities that bring you joy that are worth doing.

matterhorn-memory

Those Who Do Not Study History

In the 1980s, the Mujahedeen forces in Afghanistan beat the USSR by simply outlasting them. The USSR withdrew its forces in embarrassment after failing to achieve its military objectives despite a decade of fighting, and the USSR imploded a few years later.

32 years after the USSR’s humiliating defeat in Afghanistan, the Taliban forces have beaten the USA by simply outlasting them. The USA is withdrawing its forces in embarrassment after failing to achieve its military objectives despite two decades of fighting, while the USA is slowly imploding for its own reasons…

Facebook Community Standards Suck, Part 2

Just when I start to think that the collective level of ignorance that is shared by those who enforce Facebook’s “Community Standards” cannot sink any lower, Facebook manages to surprise me yet again. And with that in mind, here’s my story of the latest entry in Facebook’s never-ending stream of social stupidity.

One of the anti-mask / COVID-deniers that I know posted the following the following disinformation image about vaccines to Facebook:

Vaccine-Disinformation

This image was another in a long series of paranoid posts from a person who believes that wearing a mask is somehow a violation of his constitutional rights, and COVID19 vaccines are part of a multi-national conspiracy involving the governments and scientific communities from every nation on the planet to inject him with microscopic mind-control robots. His point of view is, of course, nothing but nonsensical drivel.

With that in mind, here is what I posted in response:

The vaccines are safe, and here are the actual figures as of two days ago, broken down by country, population segment and vaccine: https://bit.ly/2Wp6BuH. So really, this is the image that you should be posting.

Vaccines-Are-Effective

However, imagine my surprise when I logged into Facebook today and was rudely informed that my post has been taken down, while the original disinformation post was left.

facebook-community-standard-stupidity

Note: the reason for three comments was that Facebook refused to show
my response when I posted it, so I reposted thinking that was in error.

In other words, my attempt to stop misinformation about vaccines by citing actual facts from the CDC was blocked by Facebook’s “Community Standards,” and yet the misinformed, paranoid drivel that prompted my response was given a free pass by Facebook.

So if anyone from Facebook should happen to read this blog, I say this with all sincerity: your “Community Standards” people are rock-stupid, brain-dead, imbecilic morons.

Hipshot Bass Xtender on a 6-String Bass

I just finished modding my Ibanez 6-string bass with a Bass Xtender from Hipshot Products; having Drop-A tuning at the flip of a switch is great.

I've been using Bass Xtenders on two of my 4-string basses for a while now, and since I play in Drop-D for 99% of the time, modding my basses with these tuning keys have been some of the best investments that I've made for my playing style.

That being said, it took me a while to get around to modding my 6-string, but now that I have, I wonder why it took me so long.

hipshot-bass-xtender-on-a-6-string-bass

It Was the Most Something on Record

Science tells us that planet Earth is approximately 4,568,200,000 years old. Science also tells us that the fossil record shows that Earth goes through massive heat and cold fluctuations, which are often several magnitudes greater than what the doomsday prophets are predicting if CO2 levels skyrocket and everything falls apart. Science also tells us that we've only been making semi-accurate readings of the Earth's temperature and other weather-related information for the past 1½ centuries, which is a mere 0.000003% of the Earth's age. That is why climate alarmists like to use phrases like "This was the coldest/warmest year on record," which is designed to sound scary, but any single year only represents a period that is 0.00000002% of global history. In other words, whenever someone says "This was the coldest/warmest year on record," they are deliberately misleading you with junk science, because the "record" is little more than a statistical blip that is re-interpreted when necessary to back up a pre-existing point of view and to manipulate public opinion. (e.g. "Numbers never lie, but liars always use numbers.")

Science also tells us that it is incapable of predicting weather patterns, which is why scientists here in Arizona couldn't tell us if we would have a Monsoon season last year (which we didn't), or if we would have a Monsoon season this year (which we did), or if we will have a Monsoon season next year (which is anybody's guess). In other words, most scientists - despite their years of study and academic accolades - are admittedly making nothing but educated guesses, and the only solid FACTS that we have are: the Earth is warming, as it has done in the past, and it will do in the future. After which the Earth will cool, as it has done in the past, and it will do in the future.

However, there is one additional point that I would like to make: I do not care whether climate change is real. From my perspective, someone would have to be a card-carrying idiot to disbelieve that humanity is leaving an indelible mark on the planet. There are currently 7 billion people on the planet, and we are consuming the Earth's resources faster than renewables can keep up, and that says nothing about the resources that are not renewable. Every day humanity discards millions of tons of garbage, pours millions of gallons of toxic filth into our water sources, and belches millions of pounds of toxic filth into the atmosphere. In short, we are killing the planet.

Let's say for the sake of argument that man-made climate change is real. In the grander scheme of things, it doesn't matter, because the planet is amazingly resilient and the climate will eventually bounce back from humanity's many transgressions. Our planet has survived asteroid impacts, global ice ages, super volcanoes, and mass extinctions. What we humans do or not do now is going to have little to no impact on where the Earth's temperature will be measured a century from now, and to disagree with that reality is pure folly.

However, there are regions of this planet that have already been rendered so toxic that life will NEVER grow there again, and there are several places where spending more than a few minutes in close proximity is fatal to anything that lives. With that in mind, climate change isn't the problem - pollution is. The earth can sustain a CO2 spike and a few extra degrees on the thermometer, but it CANNOT survive humanity poisoning everything out of existence.

Scripting the Task Scheduler to Create System Restore Points

I ran into an interesting situation the other day: I had a hard drive that was going bad, and thankfully I had most of my data backed up on a schedule. However, before I removed the old hard drive, I wanted to log into the system to double-check a few settings. Unfortunately, several of the operating system files had become corrupted and the system wouldn’t boot.

I didn’t think that was a big deal, because I could try a system restore. However, I had forgotten that Windows 10 creates far less restore points than previously, so I had fewer to work with. In the end, I wasn’t able to boot the system that final time.

Now that I have my newly rebuilt computer up and going, I set out to create a scheduled task that will create system restore points on a schedule. However, I wasn’t content to create the task; I wanted to create the task using a batch file script so I could easily run the script to create the same task on any new systems that I might build.

It took me a while to get the script parameters the way that I wanted them, but the following one-line script achieves everything that I wanted to do. Note that you need run this script in an elevated command prompt, otherwise it might fail with an access denied error.

schtasks.exe /create /tn "Create Restore Point (MONTHLY)" /sc MONTHLY /d SUN /mo FIRST /st 05:00 /rl HIGHEST /ru "NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM" /tr "PowerShell.exe -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Command \"Checkpoint-Computer\" -Description \"AUTOMATIC-$(Get-Date -Format \"yyyyMMddHHmmss\")\" -RestorePointType \"MODIFY_SETTINGS\""

Here are the different parts of that script in detail, so you can modify them for your situation:

schtasks.exe This is Windows’ command line application for managing scheduled tasks.
/create Specifies that we will be creating a scheduled task.
/tn "Create Restore Point (MONTHLY)" Specifies the name for the scheduled task.
/sc MONTHLY Specifies the schedule type, which could be MONTHLY, WEEKLY, DAILY, HOURLY, etc.
/d SUN These two parameters work together to specify how often the task runs, and the options for these values will depend on the schedule type. In this example, it is specifying the FIRST SUNDAY of each month.
/mo FIRST
/st 05:00 Specifies the starting time in 24-hour format.
/rl HIGHEST Specifies the "run level," which in this example is the highest level.
/ru "NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM" Specifies the user account to run the task as, which in this case is "NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM".
/tr "<<SEE BELOW>>" Specifies the command to run inside the task. The actual command in this example is somewhat complex, so I’ve broken it down in the following table. Note that this command needs to be within a pair of quotation marks; if you need to include quotation marks for the values inside this script, you will need to escape those characters as I have done in this example.

And here are the parameters for the task that is going to run as part of the task:

PowerShell.exe The application that we're running in this application is PowerShell.exe, because PowerShell has a cmdlet to create a restore point.
-ExecutionPolicy Bypass Specifies the execution policy, which in this example specifies that nothing will be blocked and there are no warnings or prompts.
-Command "Checkpoint-Computer" Specifies the PowerShell cmdlet that creates a system restore point, which takes the following two parameters.
-Description "AUTOMATIC-$(Get-Date -Format \"yyyyMMddHHmmss\")"

Specifies the description of the system restore point, which in this example invokes another PowerShell cmdlet to specify a date/time stamp that will show when the restore point was created. The restore points created by this task will look like “AUTOMATIC-20211201015150.”

-RestorePointType "MODIFY_SETTINGS" Specifies the type of restore point, which could be APPLICATION_INSTALL, APPLICATION_UNINSTALL, DEVICE_DRIVER_INSTALL, MODIFY_SETTINGS, or CANCELLED_OPERATION.

That's about all there is to it. In a sense, this task is a bit of a script hack by invoking PowerShell cmdlets via the command line, but it works. And at the end of the day, that's all that matters.

Here are a few additional resources that provide more detail on the commands that I was using to create this script:

I hope this helps!

Gear Review: Epiphone Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess Standard

Several years ago, Rush’s Alex Lifeson partnered with Gibson Guitars to create the Custom Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess. The specs for these guitars looked amazing, but they had a limited production run, and the starting price tag of $5,499 was more than cost-prohibitive for most guitarists. Shortly thereafter, Gibson released the Alex Lifeson 40th Anniversary of Rush Les Paul Axcess, which had an even more limited production run, and a heftier starting price tag of $6,699. Needless to say, few guitarists could scrape together that kind of cash, regardless of how amazing the guitars were.

But then a strange thing happened at the January 2020 NAMM show: an Epiphone version of the Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess turned up rather unexpectedly among the collection of other guitars that Epiphone had on display. The following video from the great folks at Andertons Music Company shows a pair of reviewers who stumble across the guitar (which occurs at 16:47 in the video). This unofficial announcement generated a fair amount of chatter within the guitar community, based on the assumption that there might be an affordable version of the Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess released sometime in the future. However, COVID19 turned the year upside down, and news of this guitar faded away into the background while everyone was focused on the pandemic.

After a year-and-a-half of silence about this guitar, Alex Lifeson broke the news on his website on June 15th, 2021, that Epiphone had finally released the Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess Standard; which promptly sold out everywhere in the country. Nevertheless, I managed to get my hands on one, which arrived last Saturday, and I'll be using it for today's review.

Alex-Lifeson-headstock-FINAL-1024x683

Anyone who's been reading my blogs knows that I am a sold-out, card-carrying fanboy for Rush, but this guitar has several features that set it apart from other guitars on the market. With that in mind, even the guitarists who don't like Rush might want to take a moment to consider this guitar if they're in the market for a new axe. (And let's be honest, that includes just about every guitarist, doesn't it?)

Since its arrival, I've been putting it through the paces, and here are the big ticket items that people should know about.

Graph Tech Floyd Rose Bridge with Piezo Pickups

This guitar has the Graph Tech Floyd Rose bridge. There are a few Les Pauls with Floyd Rose bridges, so while that might not seem unique, here's the differentiator: the Graph Tech bridge has piezo pickups built into it, so at the flick of a knob, you're an acoustic, or an electric, or both at the same time. And the sound is amazing.

alex-lifeson-axcess_front

ProBucker™ humbucker Pickups

The stock pickups for the Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess Standard are Epiphone's ProBucker™ pickups, which designed as an homage the classic Gibson PAF pickups, and the sound is quite good. I compared it against a set of Seymour Duncan Invader pickups that I have in a modded Les Paul, and I have to admit - the ProBuckers seemed to hold their own pretty well.

epiphone-probucker-clipped

Split Coil Pickup Switching

The traditional bridge and neck pickups are configured so that pulling up on the volume knob for either pickup splits the coils, so you can switch from a double-coil humbucker sound to a single-coil sound while playing. In other words, it's a Les Paul that can sound like a Strat, or a Les Paul, or a combination of the two.

With that in mind, the range of pickup configuration possibilities are: full-bridge only, half-bridge only, full-bridge with full-neck, half-bridge with full-neck, full-bridge with half-neck, half-bridge with half-neck, full-neck only, half-neck only, piezo only, or piezo blended with any of the other full/half pickup configurations.

alex-lifeson-axcess-hardware-500_500

Separate Output Jacks

The guitar has two output jacks. If you use a single output jack, then the piezo and humbuckers are wired through that. However, if you use the second output jack, you can send the piezo and humbuckers to separate effects/amps, thereby allowing you to craft a totally different sound for each output.

Sculpted Body Design

The Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess Standard features a traditional arched top of flame maple over a mahogany body, which should be familiar to anyone who's played a Les Paul. However, another feature that sets this guitar apart from the competition is that the neck and back have been sculpted like a Strat, which makes it easier to reach highest frets, and it makes the guitar a pound or two lighter, and it's also the most comfortable Les Paul you've ever played.

alex-lifeson-axcess-back-neck-500_500

Thankfully this guitar didn't have the traditional Les Paul pickguard attached, which most guitarists remove and toss in the recycle bin anyway.

Final Touch

It might seem like a small detail to have, but this is a signature edition, so it was nice to see that the truss rod cover carried Alex's signature (just like the Gibson model).

alex-lifeson-axcess-neck-side-500_500

A Kind of Demo

I tried to find a video on YouTube of Alex Lifeson switching back and forth between the humbuckers and piezo pickups, but every video that I found where Alex was playing one of his Custom Gibson Les Paul Axcess guitars he was only using the humbuckers.

However, I did manage to find a video where Alex was playing one of his older Paul Reed Smith (PRS) guitars that had a similar setup with humbuckers and piezo pickups. With that in mind, consider the first minute of the following live video where Rush is playing their song "Driven," which should give you an idea of what you can do with this concept. On the verses, Alex is just using the humbuckers for the electric sound. On the pre-choruses, it's just the piezos for the acoustic sound. On the choruses, you can hear the humbuckers and piezo pickups layered, which adds a huge amount of depth to the wall of sound that Alex is creating.

So... yes, I am aware that the video has Alex playing a PRS, not a Les Paul. Gibson designed Alex's Custom Les Pauls a few years after that video was created. Nevertheless, as I mentioned earlier, this should give you an idea of what you can do with this guitar.

Parting Thoughts

I was glad that I was able to get my hands on one of these guitars for a review before they were sold out. (Although I expect that there will be more guitars hitting the market before too long.)

That being said, the Epiphone Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess Standard is an incredibly versatile guitar. If I were to have any second thoughts about this guitar they would be pretty minor.

For example, if I were buying one of these guitars today, I would much prefer the Royal Crimson finish featured on the Gibson Custom Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess, or the "R40" Ruby finish featured on the Gibson Alex Lifeson 40th Anniversary of Rush Les Paul Axcess. However, as of this writing, the Epiphone Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess Standard is only available in Viceroy Brown finish, which is reminiscent of the classic Gibson Tobacco Sunburst finish.

One last nitpick is a personal preference: I prefer Gibson Speed knobs over the Gold Top Hat knobs that come with this guitar. But as I said, that is a minor, personal preference, so I cannot count that against the guitar. Nevertheless, if I had this guitar and the inclination, that’s a mod that I would probably make.

All in all, the Epiphone Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess Standard is a great guitar that could easily find a home in any guitarist's arsenal. Even if they're not a Rush fan.