REVIEW: Seymour Duncan Full Shred 7

One of the really fun things about being a guitarist is that once you’ve figured out how to change pickups, you’ve unlocked a really easy way to completely overhaul your guitar’s sound – or to fine-tune it. Recently I found myself going back and forth between two guitars, each outfitted with a DiMarzio Crunch Lab 7 and LiquiFire 7 set. One was my Ibanez UV777BK, and the other was my Buddy Blaze Sevenator prototype. Both guitars sounded cool, but I found myself wishing for something a little earthier for the poplar body of the Blaze. Something with a bit more hair and rock attitude compared to the very midrangey, slightly boxy quality of the Crunch Lab. Poplar has a similar tone to alder, except it seems to have a slight upper-mid crispness to my ears. I asked the folks at Seymour Duncan what pickup would give me the sound I was after (keeping in mind the poplar body) and they recommended the Full Shred, so I gave it a shot.

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REVIEW: Buddy Blaze 7-string prototype

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.

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Your Lucky Number: Seven Kickass 7-String Guitar Songs

Check out my latest for Guitar World, about the glory of 7-string guitar. This is my personal list of favourites – what are yours? Comments below or on the Guitar World post!

By the way, that pic is my newest 7-string, a killer Buddy Blaze prototype with DiMarzio Crunch Lab and LiquiFire pickups and a Floyd Rose bridge. You may have noticed me drooling over it at NAMM. Well it’s all mine and it’s incredible! Review coming soon, along with plenty of video. I’ve already written a buttload of songs with this guitar!

NAMM 2012: Vivian Campbell launches Buddy Blaze Shredder VC 25th anniversary model

2013 Update: A new ‘Lightning Storm’ version was released at Winter NAMM 2013. Check it out!

Yesterday Vivian Campbell stopped by for a signing to launch his Buddy Blaze Shredder VC 25th Anniversary model, based on the Shredder he used in his Whitesnake days. That’s the original on top in the pic above, and the new version below. Only 25 will be made, with Seymour Duncan pickups including a Full Shred humbucker which will be signed by Seymour Duncan himself. A Titanium Floyd Rose is an option. Buddy’s about to relaunch his website but you can hit up his social media links for more info or to get your hands on one.

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NAMM 2012: Buddy Blaze 7-strings

Buddy Blaze owns NAMM this year. Not only is he introducing the 25th Anniversary Vivian Campbell Shredder on Saturday (posted about earlier today here), he’s also introducing his first ever 7-string model. Check it out! Premium poplar body, Floyd Rose, 24 frets with incredible upper fret access, single volume knob and 3-way pickup selector, and it plays like a dream. Buddy has two prototypes on show at NAMM: a blue one with ebony fretboard and DiMarzio Crunch Lab and LiquiFire pickups, and an orange one with a maple fretboard and DiMarzio Blazes – although he has DMT Blazebucker pickups with Alnico 8 magnets available too. Dig those cool heptagonal inlays! Get to NAMM and check them out if you can. The blue one rocks my socks off. I’ll have more from the Blaze booth in the coming days including – good lord – the actual original shredder Vivian Campbell used in the 80s!

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INTERVIEW: Vivian Campbell

One of the coolest things to come out of NAMM this year will no doubt be the 25th Anniversary Vivian Campbell Shredder by Buddy Blaze. The original version of this guitar became the Kramer Nightswan, one of the greatest mass-produced shred guitars ever. To commemorate 25 years since the original guitar, Buddy and Vivian have teamed up to create a limited edition of 25 pieces. Buddy and Vivian will unveil the guitar at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California on Saturday at 2:30pm. Vivian was kind enough to answer some questions about the Shredder.

How did you first meet Buddy?

Buddy and I met in Dallas TX in early ’87. I was there for a guitar clinic for LaBella strings. Buddy had some of his guitars on display in the store and we got to talking about them. One thing led to another and Buddy offered to make me a guitar to my specs. The original blue polka dot guitar was the result.

At the time, there must have been millions of guitar companies chasing you. What was it about Blaze guitars that stood out?

I had actually just ended a disastrous relationship with B.C. Rich guitars – one that I was talked into by a slimy A+R rep with whom I had previously worked with at Charvel/Jackson. Having the fresh but bitter taste of ‘big-guitar-company-politics-gone-bad’ in my mouth, I was quite drawn to the idea of working one-on-one with a guy who simply wanted to build guitars as opposed to a bigger company that was more concerned with marketing.

The Shredder/Nightswan design was very innovative. What were the main design features you requested?

I liked the idea of a short scale guitar of 24 3/4 inches. I had been playing Charvel/Jackson strats for a year or two before that, and whilst I certainly appreciated those instruments there were certain features that were unnatural to me, one of which was the wide, flat and unfinished fretboard. Another, as mentioned, was the 25 1/2 inch scale; although I have big hands, I liked the idea of a smaller instrument with a smaller neck as I tend to use my left hand thumb over the top of the neck when playing bar chords and that was difficult to do with larger, wider necks.

Did you test many different pickups before settling on the final ones?

It was so long ago that I don’t recall the specifics of how many different pickups we may have tried. I vaguely remember going back and fourth with Seymour Duncan about the Full Shred and tweaking that. Perhaps Buddy’s memory is in better shape than mine!

Where’s the original Shredder today?

Buddy has been the custodian of the original guitar.

I see you with Les Pauls a lot (and that cool gold top Yamaha) – do you ever pick up the old Superstrat-type guitars and reminisce? Think they’d ever make an appearance at a Def Leppard show?

As a teenager, I started out on a Les Paul with my first band, Sweet Savage. It seems fitting to have come full-circle after all these years and having played so many different instruments. Nowadays I feel a lot more comfortable playing a fixed-bridge guitar and I could never see myself going back to playing a strat style tremolo guitar other than as a one-off experience. With Def Leppard, Phil plays strats, so the Les Paul (or Yamaha) is a good contrast – as indeed is our differing styles of playing.

Buddy Blaze introduces Vivian Campbell Shredder 25th Anniversary edition

Check this out! Vivian will be at Buddy’s booth (2395) at NAMM on Saturday at 2:30pm to introduce the 25th Anniversary commemorative edition of the Shredder that Buddy built for Vivian back in the 80s. The guitar was featured prominently in Vivian’s Whitesnake days. The Shredder evolved into the legendary Kramer Nightswan. Read my interview with Vivian about the Shredder here.

This will be limited to 25 guitars, with some very special appointments including a Titanium Floyd Rose and a Seymour Duncan Full Shred signed by Seymour himself. Let Buddy and Vivian tell you about it:

And here’s Buddy and Vivian from Buddy’s Shred Shed Facebook page.