Avenged Sevenfold’s Synyster Gates has done a lot to promote the gloriously fun art of lead guitar. He’s also helped to further the cause of post-Metallica heavy metal riffage, amply demonstrated on A7X’s most recent album, Nightmare. Syn requires a guitar that allows him to flawlessly execute complex lead work as well as ballsy rhythm chunk, and for years now he’s been working with Schecter to achieve this. The Synyster Gates Custom is one of five models for the guitarist, and this particular variant is perhaps the best summary of the line. Continue reading
Although Schecter was initially known for slightly more traditional guitars, they’ve really hit their stride in the past decade-plus as purveyors of fine high-performance axes aimed at the metal market. They still cater to the traditionalists – especially with the new USA Production Series unveiled at NAMM in January), but the SLS Blackjack C-1 FR-S is a great example of how Schecter unifies a whole stack of shred-friendly features that are unashamedly pitched at those who dwell on the dark side.
The SLS has a mahogany body with your choice of Crimson Red Burst or Satin Black finish. The latter is the model on review here: the finish seems particularly well applie, and nicely offset by multi-ply binding. The neck is made of three-piece maple for enhanced stability, and there are 24 Jumbo frets on the ebony fretboard. The headstock is a bound three-tuner-per-side variant featuring Grover Rotomatic tuners with an 18:1 gear ratio for smoother tuning and a higher degree of backlash elimination. The only inlay on the fretboard face of the Satin Black version is a ‘Hell’s Gate Skull’ which looks pretty bitchen’, and definitely positions this as a metal guitar. Personally I think it’d do fine without it, as on the Crimson Red Burst model which has offset dots instead, but it’s not a deal breaker. The set neck is carved into Schecter’s Ultra Access shape, which mimics a neck-thru instrument, and the profile is the Ultra Thin spec, which is 19mm at the first fret and 20mm at the 12th.
YES! Love this! It’s about time Kenny Hickey (Type O Negative) got his own signature model. This Schecter is based on a guitar Hickey used towards the end of Type O (whose career was tragically cut short by the death of Peter Steele). It’s a 26.5″ scale baritone which comes tuned B/E/A/D/F#/B. It has a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker, a Sustainiac, mahogany body with three-piece mahogany neck, and bitchen green inlays. And here’s a nice touch: that colour is known as ‘Steele Green.’
More info here.
The Blackjack SLS range includes a variety of models with similar specs but across different body shapes, hardware features and string counts; the single cutaway Solo-6, the eight-string superstrat-style C-8, the Tele-like PT, the Floyd Rose-loaded V-1 FR V… they’re all unmistakably Schecter but they each offer something slightly different to each other. What unites them is that ‘SLS’ – it stands for Slim Line Series. These guitars feature a thinner arched top body measuring 45mm deep for a lighter feel. And many players swear by the tonal qualities of lighter guitars.
Allans Billy Hyde & Schecter Guitar Research Presents
Jeff Loomis’ complex shredding has been a central part of the progressive but powerful and thrashy edge often attributed to Nevermore’s trademark sound. Taking the classic techniques he learned from listening to legends like Jason Becker and Yngwie Malmsteen as a teen and applying his own ingenuity, Loomis has carved his own niche and created an instantly recognisable style.
Don’t miss your chance to see Jeff Loomis live and be in the audience for your chance to win a Schecter SGR C7 electric guitar.
You could also be shredding it up on stage with Jeff Loomis by entering the Schecter Shred Off Competition.
Yesterday a Schecter Blackjack SLS C-1 arrived to review for a guitar mag. The review won’t be published for a while but I thought I’d give you a sneak peek. It has a mahogany body with three-piece maple neck, ebony fretboard, 24 Jumbo frets, a set neck with Ultra Access carve (which looks and feels like a neck-thru), a TonePros TOM bridge with thru-body stringing, and either Seymour Duncan active Blackouts or passive Seymour Duncan Full Shred and Jazz humbuckers with coil split. It plays quite nicely and sounds great (the review model is the Full Shred/Jazz version, and it sounds very lively, chunky and articulate – I’m thinking of getting this pickup set for my Buddy Blaze 7-string prototype), and frankly… it looks cool! Check out the ‘Hell’s Gate Skull’ inlay at the 12th fret, which you can see below on the Blackjack SLS PT model.
For every generation of players, there’s a select few who achieve an iconic status over time.
Players who either bring something new and fresh to the table (which is a bit hard to do these days) or players who take what already has been touched upon but make it their own and expand the limits of what a guitar player is thought of being capable of doing.
One of the players who have taken the guitar and put his own stamp on it, done his own twist so to speak, of this current generation is Nevermore’s shred lord Jeff Loomis.
Jeff is currently out on a clinic tour with Schecter guitars in which he gives some insight to his philosophies regarding writing, playing and gear, as well as shredding through a nice six-song set composed of two Nevermore classics and four songs from his debut solo album, Zero Order Phase.
I heart guitar asked me to go there and to report from it, so I figured I should try and ask Jeff a couple of questions. Thankfully, he was an grade A dude, very approachable and very funny.
Jeff actually started playing drums before moving to the six-string (and eventually adding a seventh to his arsenal). Starting on a three-piece kit that had such a foul odor that he gravitated away from playing it, he eventually heard Yngwie Malmsteen and his work in Alcatrazz, which caused him to gain enough interest in guitar to pick up one of his dads instruments.
From there, he went to Jason Becker and Marty Friedman who remain big influences to this day which shows up in Jeff’s playing such him as utilizing a Becker-like approach for the whammy bar phrasing of the song Jatu Unit.
As a 16 year old, Jeff actually auditioned for Megadeth and though he was deemed as too young and inexperienced at the time by Dave Mustaine, he took him aside and told him that he really was on to something and to stick to his guns, because he would one day, according to Mustaine, become a great guitar player.
Lo and behold, Mustaine was right on the money, seeing as Jeff is one of the most revered guitar players in metal today and actually toured in his own band Nevermore with Megadeth on Gigantour in 2005!
After his audition, the young Jeff (not Jeff Young) went to see a Cacophony show and as Marty Friedman left the stage after it, Loomis told him about Megadeth seeking a new guitar player and “Marty’s eyes just lit up”, and well, we all know how the story about Marty and Megadeth went on from there.
Jeff himself struggled on, playing in death metal bands until he got tired of the vocal styling and wanted to find a singer who sung with a more traditional approach. In 1991, he was able to join the band Sanctuary as a touring member, which was where he met Warrel Dane and Jim Sheppard.
4 months after him joining Sanctuary, the good ol’ “musical difference” thing snuck up and the band dissolved. Jeff, Warrel and Dane went on to form Nevermore who, six studio albums (plus one EP), a live album/DVD-package and a new full-length on the way, have truly become a force to be reckoned with. With Jeff being the main-composer of their music, a big part of their success can be attributed to him, so I was really expecting this clinic to be something extra-ordinary.
From the get-go, Jeff comes out all guns blazin’ with the first track from his awesome solo album Zero Order Phase, Shouting Fire at a Funeral and he delivers a stellar performance, his fingers flying across the fretboard. Between the six songs played, he opens the floor for questions three times, revealing that the new Nevermore album The Obsidian Conspiracy has been recorded and it’s currently being mixed, hopefully to be out in January, as well as philosophies regarding picking. For example, he reveals that a lot of the fluid sound of his runs descending down the strings comes from his use of economy picking instead of straight alternate. On Chris Broderick, he gets a bit emotional, saying that:
- “I miss him, for sure. We were best friends and we still are” and how he thought the new Megadeth album Endgame, which Broderick performed on, was
- “killer and a bit of a return to the roots. The best album they’ve done is Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying and it was a bit like that so I really like the new album”. Jeff also dropped a fairly big bomb, revealing that he was offered the lead guitarist position of Megadeth after Glen Drover left the band. However, Jeff declined and stated that
- “I’ve been in Nevermore for over 15 years now, and though the paycheck from Megadeth would’ve been really nice, the music goes before the money”. Also addressing the fact that Nevermore live shows have been remarked as “thin sounding” due to the lack of a second guitarist;
- “I think the main problem is to find someone who can replace Chris, which is a big thing. He’s a great guy and an amazing player so it’s not easy. But yeah, we will try to find a new guitar player” (can we freeze-frame here for a couple of decades so I can practice and get good enough?).
After an hour of fretboard blazing and Q&A, the clinic’s over and it’s time for us clinic-visitors to try and take it all in which is a pretty tall order, seeing as Jeff has kindly shared a lot of cool, memorable tips with us. If Jeff has a clinic coming up anywhere near you (or if Nevermore swing by on tour), you should go, seriously. It was a lot of fun, if nothing else, and Jeff is one of the kindest and most awesome famous guys I’ve ever met.
Setlist (the order might be slightly off):
Shouting Fire at a Funeral
This Godless Endeavour
Enemies of Reality
Miles of Machines
Wow, Schecter’s really getting on board the 8-string thing. Check these out! They’ll be available in early October at authorized Schecter dealers, and only 50 of each will be produced!
*26.5” Extended Scale
*EMG Active 808 Humbucker(s)
* Custom Hipshot Bridge
* Custom Inlays
* Tuned F#/B/E/A/D/G/B/E
HELLRAISER DEVIL-8 US$1299.00 MSRP
DEVIL SPINE-8 US$1199.00 MSRP