Buddy Blaze is a legend in the guitar world. Y’know Dimebag Darrell’s ‘Dean From Hell’ guitar? It was Buddy who acquired that guitar in its original state, then modded the iconic axe with its Floyd Rose and distinctive look before giving it back to Dime. The Kramer Nightswan signature model for Vivian Campbell? That started life as a Buddy Blaze Shredder. Throw in tech work for the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Great White among many, many more, and Buddy has earned a rightful place in metal and hard rock guitar history. Buddy has been making killer rock and metal guitars for years now (the Shredder, the Makani, the Evanator, the K2), and a seven-string version has been high on fans’ wish lists. Buddy displayed two seven-string prototypes at the the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California this January.
The seven-string’s outline is similar to Blaze’s K2 model, although if I had to liken it to any other guitar it would be a Washburn N4 Nuno Bettencourt signature. Both seem to have slightly undersized outlines, along with H-H pickup configurations and a single volume knob paired with a three-way pickup selector. But the Blaze is still a world away from the Washburn in all but the most general of ways.
Gibson’s 50s and 60s Studio Tribute series is a kind of odd one. They’re not exact recreations of actual models, but rather they tap into the spirit of instruments from that era, with lower-cost satin finishes and less ornamentation. But the 50s and 60s Tributes I’ve played have been great guitars, especially the 60s Studio Tribute Les Paul I reviewed a while ago. Now Gibson is releasing the 70s Studio Tribute line containing three models: a Les Paul, an SG and a Firebird. These models aren’t based on actual 70s guitars (no Norlin-era pancake construction, thankfully!) but they’re cool axes in their own right, and each features newly designed Dual Blade Alnico Mini Humbuckers.
Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares is a pioneer of modern metal guitar technique. His ultra-tight picking, monstrously heavy tone and pioneering use of Ibanez seven and eight string guitars helped to solidify the combination of mechanical precision and brutal riffing that spurred an industrial metal revolution and eventually fed into the development of the djent sound. And Dino’s riffage is in fine form on the band’s new album, The Industrialist [Riot]. The collection is perhaps the most pure representation of the Fear Factory philosophy yet, with Dino handling guitar, bass, and drum programming, and vocalist Burton C. Bell dishing up the kind of anthemic melodies and brutal textures that made albums such as Demanufacture and Obsolete such classics.
“We’ve been getting that a lot,” Cazares says of the Demanufacture/Obsolete comparison. “I think part of that is just because it’s me and Burt! I think it’s the purest you’re going to get of Fear Factory.” The Industrialist marks a departure for Fear Factory in its use of programmed drums in place of a live player such as Raymond Herrera or Gene Hoglan. But the move is not entirely out of character for the band. “When me and Burton started the band in 1990 we were using a drum machine to record our demos” Cazares explains. “Over the years we’ve never been a band that has shied away from technology. We’ve never been a band who hid what we did in the studio. Over the years we’ve used drum machines on certain songs and certain albums, and even though we’ve had live drummers we have edited the drums to be like a machine, and we’ve changed the sounds to machine sounds. So either way it would not have made a difference if we used live drums or not. It would have been the same outcome. Some people are kind of shocked by it, like they didn’t realise that’s part of our schtick. That’s who we are. It’s what we do! Again, even if we had a live drummer it would come out to be the same outcome. And one of the benefits of using a drum program on your Mac laptop is it’s much more cost-effective. And with the way the music industry is going these days, it’s getting really hard to make a solid income because record companies are going down, and the amount of money you would spend in an actual recording studio to record the album, nowadays it’s still pretty expensive. So using a drum program is definitely a much more cost-effective way than hiring somebody to do it.” But Dino remains coy on the exact drum program used on the album. “Oh, I don’t want to promote any kind of drum program that doesn’t give it to us free,” he laughs.