Washburn Paul Stanley PS2012 Time Traveler
Price: $8,665.33 (retail)
Inspired by Kiss co-founder Paul Stanley’s appreciation for vintage instruments – and loosely based on Washburn’s Paul Stanley Starfire model – the PS2012 Time Traveler is hand-built in Washburn’s Custom Shop in Chicago and relic’d by Washburn’s Gord Miller to look and play like a 50-year-old instrument.
Clearly inspired by the Gibson Firebird but with adaptations including an exaggerated upper horn, in several ways, the Time Traveler offers a number of improvements on the original. The guitar’s most noticeable feature is its funky tailpiece, milled from aluminum and hinting at the Stanley-as-Starchild connection. The body is a solid piece of mahogany with a raised center, further lending itself to the Firebird aesthetic. Because of the set-neck design, however, the bound ebony fingerboard, with its oversized pearl-and-abalone block inlays, sits higher from the body compared to the Firebird, with its neck-through design. The Time Traveler’s neck is of medium width, featuring a 243/4″ scale and 14″ radius. Other improvements on the original include the Buzz Feiten tuning system, a Tone Pros tune-o-matic-style bridge and traditional (versus banjo) Grover tuners.
Plugged in, the Time Traveler is a knockout. Its low action makes for easy lightning-fast runs and access to every note on its 22-fret neck. When A/B’d with a vintage Firebird III, the Time Traveler played more easily, was lighter (at 71/2 pounds) and better balanced (no propensity to neck dive, thanks to the lighter Grovers), and simply sounded better! Rockers and blues cats will dig its variety of sounds, courtesy of its high-quality construction and electronics. The excellent-sounding Seymour Duncan SM-3 mini humbuckers provided enough output to overdrive a non-Master-Volume amp, yet remained crystal clear regardless of volume. In the middle pickup position with both Volume controls set to 8 through a ’66 Fender Vibrolux Reverb, it offered effortless transition from clean rhythms to singing leads.
Washburn is positioning the guitar as a limited edition, and as such its price is a good bit beyond entry-level. Still, if you’re a Firebird player with a strong penchant for favoring a vintage model, it makes a great alternative.
This article originally appeared in VG February 2014 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.