KISS Tech Session

TECH SESSION

For close to 50 years, Kiss has been entertaining us in a way that no other band can. The Rock N' Roll Hall of Famers have released 44 albums and sold more than 100 million albums worldwide – not to mention the pyrotechnic and fire breathing filled record-breaking global tours. In this issue's Tech Session, Jamie Humphries encourages you to don your spaceman suit and makeup as he takes a look at the guitar style of the legendary Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley, as well as the band's influence on rock music.


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KISS Tech Session

Lesson Notes
About The Artist

For this Tech Session, I have chosen to look at the best-loved era of Kiss from the '70s, featuring original guitarist Ace Frehley. I have chosen the classic tracks "I Was Made For Loving You", "Cold Gin", "Detroit Rock City" and "Love Gun" for my reference tracks. Ace is a classic rock guitarist, with several notable signature licks and approaches. With his feet firmly planted in the pentatonic scale, Ace would often connect shapes using repetitive sequences, allowing him to switch between different positions. He also has a certain string bending approach, where he will ben up to a note and re-pick the note with a staccato feel, as he gradually releases the note back to its original pitch. Ace also makes use of Jimmy Page inspired pentatonic repetition licks and phrases.

Bars 1-4: Introduce our groove, with a tight eighth/sixteenth note rhythm, performed on the 7th fret 4th string with tight palm muting. This rhythm sets up the groove for the verse of our demo piece, emulating the pseudo disco feel of "I Was Made For Loving You".

Bars 5-20: Includes our verse progression, and follows the chords of E minor, C major, D major and B major. Although the rhythm guitar on the track continues, our main focus is on a two notes melodic, rhythmic figure that outlines a recurring theme throughout this section. Keep this part very tight and clean, as this is vital for retaining the "disco" groove of this track.

Bars 21-28: Is classic Rock n' Roll Kiss, with a riff that nods towards "Cold Gin". Here we play a very 70's sounding power chord riff performed on the 3rd and 4th strings. Once again it's important to keep this riff tight. Here we are outlining the chords of A, with a power chord riff outlining A5, G5, and D/F#. This section concludes with the chords of D5 and G5.

Bars 29-30: Reintroduces our intro riff, building up towards the next section where we see a time signature change.

Bars 31-32: Introduce our new time signature, shifting to 12/8 for a swing/shuffle feel. This is classic Kiss, inspired by "Love Gun" and "Detroit Rock City". This section includes a tight chord figure that follows a triplet drum fill.

Bars 33-48:  Introduce our triplet feel riff, based around the chords of B5, E5, G/B, A/C# and D5, performed with a swung eighth note groove. This section concluded with a short repeating harmony figure before repeating the progression.

Bars 49-71:  Is our guitar solo and is based around the E minor pentatonic scale. I have included the classic "Love Gun" style triplet pentatonic sequence, which is a great way to link scale shapes across the neck. This solo also includes Jimmy Page inspirer repetitive sequences, open string descending pull of sequences, and Frehley's signature stuttering slow-release string bends. The solo concludes with double stops performed with a triplet rhythm following the final drum fill.

When it comes to tone, Ace Frehley is a Les Paul/Marshall guy, favouring a three humbucker Les Paul that has been released as a signature model. He has also had a slightly outlandish Washburn signature model. Frehley has used a wide variety of Marshall amps, going for a more classic tone as opposed to a high gain tone. He also on occasions uses fuzz, namely a Big Muff. For the session, I used my Music Man Axis Super Sport, into my Boogie JP2-C, into a Two Notes Torpedo Studio, using a Marshal style IR. I aimed for a mild gain, trying to achieve that classic 70's rock tone. I dialled in a little extra gain for the solo.


Kiss is, without a doubt, one of the biggest rock bands of all time, with over 30 certified gold albums and several platinum and multi-platinum albums. This hugely influential rock act has inspired countless bands, with Ace Frehley being a significant influence on such guitarists as Kirk Hammett and Dimebag Darrell. Ace is ranked as one of the top rock guitarists of all time.

Kiss was formed in New York in the early '70s by singer/guitarist Paul Stanley, bassist/singer Gene Simmons, drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley. This shot to fame and gained notoriety for their comic book character persona's, with each member wearing face paint and outlandish stage costumes. Their live shows were also known for pyrotechnics, fire breathing, and Simmons drooling blood from his mouth. Kiss was very inspired by the stage theatrics of Alice Cooper, making their shows a visual spectacle.

Although Frehley is seen as their best-loved guitar player, several other guitarists have filled the role, most notably Vinnie Vincent, Bruce Kulick, and current guitarist Tommy Thayer. Other notable guitarists including Richie Sambora, Yngwie Malmsteen and even Eddie Van Halen were all considered for the guitar job!

During the early '80s the band changed their sound and image, removing their makeup for what would be their "unmasked" period, although they returned to wearing their comic book costumes and makeup during the late '90s. Kiss have announced that they will play their final show in July of 2021.

Kiss has a huge catalogue of albums, with favourites such as "Love Gun", "Destroyer", "Unmasked", "Creatures of the Night", "Lick It Up", "Alive", "Dynasty", and "Crazy Nights".

In 1978 each member of Kiss released a solo album simultaneously and all four were marketed as Kiss albums, featuring similar album artwork with the face of each member of the band.


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