NAMM 2020: D’Angelico Mini DC

Big Things Come in Small Packages

Developed in direct response to customer feedback over the last two years, the Mini DC is a fourteen-inch-wide double cutaway semi-hollow boasting warm and punchy tone. Sibling of the crowd favorite DC, the Mini DC’s undersized body, sleek headstock design and slim C-shape neck profile combine to create unprecedented comfort for every player.

Excel Mini DC

Brand new for 2020, the Excel Mini DC is a fourteen-inch-wide double cutaway semi-hollow boasting punchy vintage tone and unparalleled comfort. The Mini DC’s undersized body, sleek headstock and slim C-shape neck profile combine to create a lightweight design perfect for players who want total control over their instrument. Strapped with Seymour Duncan 59 humbuckers and coil-splitting push/pull tone knobs, the Excel Mini DC offers a remarkable variety of rich tones and sweet sustain. Available in Black, Trans Cherry and Vintage Natural.

Premier Mini DC

Brand new for 2020, the Premier Mini DC is a fourteen-inch-wide double cutaway semi-hollow boasting warm and punchy tone. Sibling of the crowd favorite Premier DC, the Mini DC’s undersized body, sleek headstock design and slim C-shape neck profile combine to create unprecedented comfort for every player. Equipped with Seymour Duncan Designed humbuckers and a standard three-way toggle switch, the Premier Mini DC offers rich, natural tone and sweet sustain by way of its centerblock semi-hollow design. Available in Ocean Turquoise, Champagne, and Fiesta Red.

Available in stores & online on Thursday January 16th, 2020

The Ultimate Guitar Pickup Guide

Pickup Basics

The simplest way to think of a pickup is “like a microphone for an electric guitar.” And have you ever noticed that if you pluck the string close to the bridge the note will sound bright and twangy, whereas if you pick right down by the neck you’ll hear a softer, rounder tone? Well if you place a pickup near the bridge of the guitar it will sound sharper and brighter compared to one that’s placed near the neck. This is why the majority of guitars have more than one pickup: so you can select different sounds from the full and warm to the thin and snappy.

From a mechanical perspective, a pickup is simply a magnet with a bunch of copper wire wrapped around it. The magnet creates its own magnetic field. The vibration of the metallic guitar string interacts with that field, and the changing magnetic flux induces a voltage in the coil of wire. This then gets sent to your amp where it’s turned into music. There are two main types of pickups: single coils and humbuckers. Let’s have a look at each, and what they do.

Single Coils
Single coils (like you might find on a Fender Telecaster or Stratocaster) have a clear, twangy sound, and they tend to sound really great through a clean, un-distorted amp setting. This type of single coil pickup is made by wrapping wire around six ‘slug’ pole pieces (which are held in place by flatwork to create a bobbin). A cover is usually placed over the pickup to protect the wire.

But single coils have a drawback: you’ll notice a bit of background buzz which is just part and parcel of the single coil experience. Some players swear by this sound because it’s a link back to guitar’s vintage past. Others want to get rid of it so they can only have the pristine single coil sound minus the hum. Various noiseless single coils are available from companies like Fender, DiMarzio, Kinman and Seymour Duncan. Single coils are great for country, blues, indie and alternative styles.

Humbuckers
The idea behind humbuckers is to use two separate pickup coils, each wound in a different direction, over a central magnet. The hum is cancelled out by the two different coil directions, and the overall tone is generally thicker, louder, warmer and fuller than single coils. Humbuckers are great for heavier styles like classic rock, hard rock and metal, and they can add some toughness and raunch to blues too. And the softer, smoother tone of humbuckers makes them great for jazz as well, especially if you use a humbucker in the neck position on a big hollow-body guitar.

You can use single coils and humbuckers in the same guitar. Popular configurations include a humbucker in the bridge position with single coils in the middle and neck spots; humbuckers in the bridge and neck with a single in the middle; or a single coil in the bridge position of a Telecaster with a humbucker in the neck position.

But What Are P90s?
The P90 is a single coil too, but it’s larger than a Stratocaster-style single coil, and its sound is edgier, rattier and hotter. It’s a great choice for alternative, punk, country and blues, goes great with slide guitar, and is even suited to styles like stoner rock and vintage metal: flip to the neck pickup of a P90-loaded guitar and play Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” to see what I mean. Because they’re single coils, P90s are prone to the same noise issues. And just like other single coils, various companies also make noiseless versions to counteract this.

Active vs Passive Pickups
A passive pickup is the most common kind (to the point where people rarely even use the term ‘passive pickup’ unless they’re comparing it to an active pickup: they simply say ‘pickup’). An active pickup is usually wound much weaker than a passive pickup, but its signal is amplified from within the pickup itself, usually via an internal 9 volt battery. There are several advantages: the output is usually more powerful; there’s often more sustain; and the sound will stay intact even if you use a really long cable (whereas the signal of a passive pickup will degrade more and more the longer your cable is). Active pickups are available in humbucker and single coil versions, and they’re both very quiet. You’ll hear active EMG single coil pickups in the hands of Mr. David Gilmour in the 80s and 90s – Pink Floyd’s P.U.L.S.E live album and DVD is essentially one huge catalog of great active single coil sounds – while companies like EMG and Seymour Duncan make plenty of humbucker models that are great for heavier styes, where the power and clarity of an active pickup come in really handy during high-speed runs and palm-muted chugs. It’s generally very difficult to install active and passive pickups in the same guitar, so usually you’ll find one kind or the other, not both. If you’d like active and passive sounds in the same guitar, check out Fishman’s Fluence series, active pickups which offer several selectable sounds, usually a more active-voiced and a more passive-voiced one. I particularly like the Devin Townsend signature set.

Magnets
Whether you choose single coil or humbucker, active or passive, the size, type and configuration of magnet/s that you use in your pickup all have a big influence on the sound that the pickup produces, as does the type of wire: how thick it is, how it’s insulated, how it’s wound around the bobbins, how many turns of wire. For instance, if you add more turns of wire then the pickup will have a louder perceived output, but will lose treble frequencies. You can counteract this by using a stronger magnet instead of extra turns, or you can raise the height of adjustable pole pieces to get more treble back into your sound. And the closer the pickup is to the string, the louder the pickup will seem to be. Raise it too close to the strings though, and the pickup’s magnetic field will negatively affect the vibration of the string, leading to weird out-of-tune notes and/or a weird ‘wub-wub-wub’ oscillating overtone. And adjustable pole pieces can also help you to refine the magnetic field and its interaction with different strings. Is the B string a little quiet compared to the rest, especially when you’re running a clean tone? Well then, raise its pole piece a little to boost the height of the magnetic field in that section of pickup. Want less bass and output but more treble? Lower the pickup a little and raise the pole pieces. Easy! But let’s backtrack a bit…

All of these factors influence the sound of a pickup, but one of the easiest to quantify is the magnet type. There are a few magnets that are typically used in pickups, and by knowing a little bit about them you can more easily figure out which one might work for the sound you’re going for. We’ll start by looking at Alnico, an iron alloy which includes iron (of course), aluminuim (Al), nickel (Ni) and cobalt (Co), as well as a little bit of copper (Cu). (I guess when they were naming it they decided against Fealnicocu). The three most commonly used Alnico magnets for pickups are Alnico II, Alnico III and Alnico V, although Alnico VIII is also sometimes used. Let’s look a few of the most popular magnets, with a focus on how they apply to humbuckers.

Alnico III
It may be a little counterintuitive, but Alnico III is the weakest of the magnets used in pickups because it has no cobalt. But I guess it’d be confusing to just call it ‘Alni.’ It has the lowest magnetic pull, which means the strings are less influenced by the pickup’s magnetic pull, and this makes it a popular choice for neck pickups. It’s a little more ‘confident’ in its tone compared to Alnico II, although both exhibit a similar ‘softness.’ Many players like to balance an Alnico III neck pickup against an Alnico II in the bridge.

Alnico II
Alnico II is associated with the original PAF humbucker, and it’s still used today in a great number of pickups. The tone is relatively soft and clear, often described as sweet, with a slight rounding off of the more brittle treble frequencies. It can sound very musical and mellifluous with a clean tone, and rather ’singing’ with overdrive. If you’re running a hotter, more distorted tone you may find that Alnico II humbuckers tend to provide excellent note separation for complex chords.

Alnico V
Alnico V pickups usually sound hotter and more ‘edgy’ than their Alnico II and III counterparts. They’re great at more aggressive tones and in situations where you need a little more ‘unity’ in your chords: notes may knit together a little more tightly when you’re chording through heavy distortion with an Alnico V pickup. It’s also a little warmer in the midrange, which makes it great for lead guitar.

Ceramic
Ceramic magnets are also used in some pickups. Their sound is usually characterised as more ‘modern,’ with a tighter low end, more ‘cut’ and higher output compared to Alnico magnets. You can usually bet that a ceramic-loaded guitar will sound pretty powerful, maybe with a little more bold midrange, especially in the upper mids. Some early ceramic pickups sounded rather flat and pinched, but as pickup companies further explored the capabilities of the magnets they discovered how to really get the most out of the tone.

Alnico VIII
Alnico VIII is probably the least common magnet type, but many players consider it to be an undiscovered gem, It gives you the power of a ceramic magnet but with the warmth and harmonics of an Alnico V, and is a great way of preserving some of the woodiness of your guitar tone while still hitting your amp with plenty of output.

What’s a split coil/coil tap?
Many players confuse ‘coil split’ and ‘coil tap,’ using the terms interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different. A coil split involves a humbucker pickup whose wiring lets you essentially switch one coil off, thereby turning it into a single coil. Many players like having the tonal flexibility of having single coil and humbucker tones available in the same guitar. Unless you’re buying an intentionally vintage-styled pickup, most pickups these days come with four conductor wiring as stock. That usually entails four separate wires (a ‘start’ and ‘end’ for each pickup coil), plus a ground wire. You can have your guitar wired so you can turn off one coil via a push-pull switch built into a volume control, or you can use a separate toggle switch, or (depending on the type of switch you’re using) special custom wiring. You will get single coil hum when using single coil mode, but not humbucker mode.

A coil tap is different: it involves a single coil pickup which is made with an extra wire coming off it to give you two different levels of output. The full output and a lower ‘tapped’ output. Again you can use a push-pull knob, a toggle switch or special wiring to engage the tapped mode. The benefit here is that you can have a ‘full-power’ sound for solos and huge riffs, then flip to tapped mode to reduce the output, distortion and volume for quieter moments when you need to drift into the background a bit.

Acoustic Guitar pickups
Amplifying an acoustic guitar can be tricky. Part of what makes an acoustic guitar great – perhaps the most major part, really – is the resonance that occurs within the body itself. But the most popular type of pickup for acoustic guitars is the piezo element, which lives underneath the bridge saddle and translates the vibration of the strings through the bridge into amplifiable sound. But this process gives you a distinctive harsh ‘quack’ tone which you then need to either live with or eliminate. There are plenty of preamps and outboard devices out there which superimpose ‘profiles’ of different acoustic guitars onto your piezo sound, thickening it up and greatly reducing the synthetic effect of the piezo pickup.

There are a few other options though (other than simply micing your acoustic guitar up with a microphone or two, which can be great in the studio but problematic in a live environment). One is a magnetic pickup, much like those used for electric guitars. These still pick up the sound of the strings themselves, rather than the strings as resonated through the body, but the effect is much warmer and less harsh and brittle than a typical unprocessed piezo element. The other option is an internal microphone system, which will give you a much more accurate reading of the actual sound of your guitar. There are some units which combine several of these options – for instance an internal mic for the resonance and a magnetic or piezo pickup for the detail, with the ability to blend between them. Some of these systems come as stock equipment in the guitar when you buy it, while others will need to be installed, either by yourself or a competent technician (depending on complexity of the job: some simply pop in while others need a little bit more work).

Technical Terms

Pole Piece: A metal slug or screw which corresponds to each individual guitar string, focusing the pickup’s magnetic field at the optimal position to do its job.

Coil: The basic structural foundation of a pickup: wire wrapped around pole pieces, either as a self-contained unit (in a single coil) or as part of a slightly more complex assembly which shares a single magnet (humbucker).

Single coil: a pickup style which provides excellent clarity and translation of the sound of the string, but which is susceptible to certain kinds of background hum.

Humbucker: a pickup designed to eliminate the hum of single coils by cancelling it out with an opposite coil. It has more power and a thicker, warmer sound than a single coil.

Trembucker: Seymour Duncan’s term for a pickup whose pole pieces are spaced slightly wider apart for a guitar with a Fender or Floyd Rose-style bridge.

F-Spaced: DiMarzio’s term for a pickup whose pole pieces are spaced slightly wider apart for a guitar with a Fender or Floyd Rose-style bridge.

Coil Split: A type of wiring option which ‘turns off’ one coil of a humbucker to approximate the sound of a single coil. Usually requires a pickup with four conductor wiring.

Coil Tap: A type of wiring available with certain kinds of single coil where a ‘tap’ is run off the wire at a certain point, giving you two selectable power levels.

Introducing the Cort X700 Duality

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — With the introduction of the X700 Duality, Cort has designed an electric guitar that can seamlessly transition from shred machine to chic refinement. The new flagship of the venerated X Series brings together boutique-quality materials and hardware components with custom-wired electronics that unleash the beast or quickly reign them in, making this guitar suitable for virtually any musical genre and style.

At first sight, the design of the X700 Duality conveys “speed,” with its flamed maple top on a swamp ash body. These materials complement each other to produce a warm, yet punchy high-midrange sound that cuts through the mix with authority. Imaginations will be sparked by the Light Blue Burst finish and chrome hardware, but there’s so much more to the X700 Duality than its visual pizzazz.

The X700 Duality’s Seymour Duncan TB4 bridge humbucker and SH2N neck humbucker, combined with a special 5-way wiring, present all of the modern and classic humbucker tones as well as two exceptional single-coil sounds for unmatched versatility. The X700 Duality achieves clarity and depth, whether the player is tearing it up on a metal riff or riding the wave with a sparkling, clean tone. This model’s “duality” comes into play through its unique electronics. The 5-way switch is custom-wired to provide glassy and sparkling single-coil sounds in the second and fourth positions, as well as full-bodied and powerful humbucker sounds in the bridge, middle, and neck positions. So as the player is driving with over-the-top metal tone, they can just as easily dial down to a jazzy warmth. A simple, yet versatile control layout, 1 volume and 1 tone knob, allows the player to focus on making music.

The X700 Duality’s hardware also has a significant influence on its sonic character. This guitar features the Cort CFA-III Tremolo System made from a metal injection molding manufacturing technique with stainless steel on the saddle, bridge plate and block for a big, solid, bold and articulate sound as well as enhanced sustain. The recessed tremolo bridge allows for pull-ups to raise the pitch as well as for push-downs to lower it, providing even more sonic versatility. Staggered locking tuners provide excellent tuning stability by eliminating string slippage at the posts while facilitating quick string changes.

Cort’s world-class craftsmanship is evident throughout the X700 Duality, but especially with high-quality materials where they matter. On the neck, the strength and brightness of the 3PC maple is balanced by the warm midrange of panga panga, resulting in super playability, feel and tonal definition. The ebony fingerboard provides jet-black beauty and slick smoothness, while the Luminlay side dot position marks make it easy for players to see the fretboard position markers while performing on dark stages. As another road-friendly feature, the 24 stainless steel frets (25.5’’ scale) boast excellent resistance to corrosion. The wide and tall fret-type offers a quick response with good articulation when playing chords as well as a clear tone when playing single notes.

Learn more about Cort’s X700 Duality and watch demos by world-renowned guitarist Hedras Ramos at www.cortguitars.com.

MSRP $1299.99 USD

Seymour Duncan Blackened Pickup Booster

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The Pickup Booster is one of Seymour Duncan’s ‘must-have’ pedals, and I loved relaunching it in its new design when I worked with Seymour Duncan a while back. Now that same kickass pedal is available in a limited edition ‘Blackened’ finish which matches that of pickups like the Nazgul, Sentient, Pegasus and the mighty Blackened Black Winter.

The Pickup Booster is a clean boost pedal with a few tricks up its sleeve in the form of a three-way voicing switch which can either fatten up weak single coils or brighten up dark humbuckers – although I found that the ‘beef up a single’ setting works great on humbucker lead tones too.

More information here.

Meet The Moniker Guitars Rival Series

Moniker Guitars has just unveiled the new Rival Series, a really unique chambered guitar that is made in the USA and features Seymour Duncan pickups for a mere $879USD. I think this is a great way to offer a certain degree of customisation while keeping costs down: essentially it’s the same basic guitar but with different faceplate and pickup options, and Moniker appears to have put a great deal of thought and care into designing and instrument that will effectively ‘become’ whatever pickup configuration you order. Go for some Duo-Sonics and you’ll have a great indie instrument. Select the Hot Rodded Humbucker option and you’ve got a powerful rock or metal machine. Other options include Strat, Tele, Lipstock or Phat Cat (P90 in humbucker housing) style pickups. I’ll be reviewing one soon, but in the meantime here’s a video and the press release.

Moniker Guitars launches the Rival Series, a unique chambered body guitar, designed to “rival” any other on tone, feel and price.

Austin, TX – October 23, 2017 – Moniker Guitars has launched the Rival Series, a bold electric guitar design intended to “rival” any other on tone, feel and price. In striving to build a guitar focused on those elements, Moniker has reimagined the instrument and how it can be built in the United States at a retail price that is under a thousand dollars.

Rival Series guitars feature an offset body shape made of maple with a matching maple neck and fretboard. The inside of the body utilizes a unique chambering pattern known as “Rival Ribs” to add resonance and warmth to the guitar. The Moniker website allows you to choose one of six styles of Seymour Duncan pickups to dial in the exact tone you’re looking for. On the outside of the body, the maple frames your choice of a colored Reso-acrylic faceplate. This creates a striking visual contrast between the faceplate and the natural wood. The hardness and reflectiveness of the Reso-acrylic top helps to bounce sound throughout the chambered body.

When it comes to feel, the first thing players notice is that the Rival chambering reduces the weight of the guitar to a mere 6.8 pounds. The acrylic top cuts away to allow for a contoured wood arm rest and a contoured neck heel allows easy access to the upper frets. Both body and neck are coated in a thin satin top coat to preserve the natural feel of the wood.

Customized Rival Series can be ordered through the MonikerGuitars.com at a retail price of just $879. The guitars are built in the same shop where Moniker has been building its Customer Series guitars in Austin Texas.  

“Our experience with our Custom Series line is what led us to develop the Rival Series.” says owner Kevin Tully. “We’re fortunate in that we’ve had the opportunity to speak to every single one of our customers and learn what they’re looking for. Beautiful finishes are important to many customers and on our Custom Series line, we spend a lot of time working on finish. But most people are just looking for great tone and great playability and they’re on a budget that doesn’t allow us to spend hours and hours on finish work. The Rival Series is the result of of prioritizing the fundamentals of the instrument and marrying them together in a clean and simple modern design. We’re extremely proud of how it has come out looking, playing and sounding.”

Meet My New Kiesel Vader

Kiesel Vader

Hey Meet my Kiesel Vader! She’s a V7 with Hipshot/Kiesel vibrato. One of the coolest things about Kiesel is that every guitar is essentially a custom instrument: there’s an almost overwhelming range of options from which to spec out your dream guitar. Funnily enough, there’s a pretty similar guitar to mine on the V7 gallery, but that’s pretty much coincidence: whoever ordered that guitar just happened to have similar tastes to me. There are some differences too though, and as Homer’s assistant Karl said on The Simpsons, “My reasons … are my own.” Let’s break down what I selected and why.

Karl

So. Every element of this guitar was selected for a particular reason related to synesthesia. I’ve written about this before, including this article for Guitar World. Essentially synesthesia is a condition where a sensory input will set off other sensory ‘resonances.’ For instance, the number ‘2’ is blue to me, and always has been. It tastes kind of creamy and is very smooth to the touch. My brain has just always thought of it this way, and ditto for the other numbers, letters, shapes. It can happen with anything: particular speaking voices remind me of certain times of day. Certain guitar tones can generate really specific and complex chains of association that might incorporate texture, perception of size, levels of luminance, and so on. I’ve never done mushrooms cos I probably don’t need to. My brain is psychedelic enough on its own. That’s why I dig sensory deprivation tanks.

But back to the guitar: each of my specifications were based on specific things I wanted this guitar to be for. Things I wanted to play on it, sounds I wanted it to make, feelings I wanted it to generate or represent.

* Colour. This particular Aqua Burst reminds me of a shade of blue I often see in my dreams. I have a recurring dream of a futuristic city rising out of the ocean on the horizon, and it’s always an exciting place to visit. I wanted this guitar to embody that same sense of freedom and joy I have in those dreams. That’s also why I selected a flame maple top: to give the feel of waves in the ocean.
* Fingerboard. I always feel musically influenced by the colour of a fretboard. I feel like I play more ‘sunny’ on maple, and more ‘dark’ on rosewood. I chose Zebrawood because its mix of light and dark colours will (hopefully) encourage my subconscious to blend those two approaches.
* Neck. This is a 5-piece Black Limba/White Limba neck-thru. I wanted something that had more of a natural, ‘this used to be a tree’ look, and the particular colour of Black Limba reminds me of tree bark. This is a pretty futuristic-looking guitar so I wanted to balance that with something a bit more earthy.
* Body. The body is Alder, and I chose a natural finish because, again, I just wanted to offset the futuristicness of the design. And the almost desert-like colour balances really nicely against the Aquaburst top. It kinda makes the guitar look like Scarif from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
* Satin finish. I didn’t want this one to be shiny: sometimes it feels like a glossy finish is a barrier between me and the guitar.
* Pickups. This guitar as shipped has Kiesel Lithium pickups, but I’ll be installing my Seymour Duncan Custom Shop model, the Magnetar, soon. The bridge Lithium has an Alnico V plus ceramic booster, and a DC Resistance of 13.16k, and the neck model is Alnico V with a reading of 7.78k. The Magnetar is a pickup that MJ created for me when I asked her for ‘A pickup that sounds like the look of sunshine through a glass of beer, the feel of freshly-sanded wood and the taste of creme brûlée. It has an Alnico 8 magnet and it sounds both woody and airy, with a nice kick in the upper mids. Not too hot, not too gentle. This guitar will also have the first neck version of the Magnetar, and I’m going for a Zebra look for the same reason as choosing a Zebrawood fingerboard.
* Logo. I went with a white logo with black shadow because it stands out nicely and I wanted to proudly display the Kiesel name. Also another Zebra/light-dark balance thing.
* Seven strings. You can get a Vader in 6, 7 or 8 strings in standard or baritone scale or multiscale. I selected 25.5″ 7-string because 7 feels right to me, and I tend to be most comfortable on 25.5″ 7-strings rather than longer scales because I like to think of the 7 as a 6-string with a few extra notes when I need them, rather than orienting the whole guitar design towards those lower few notes.
* Tremolo. Because whammy bars is fun.

So what does one name an instrument like this, designed to evoke both natural beauty and a certain space-age aesthetic, and to hopefully serve as a catalyst for better things?

Scarif.

Kiesel Vader

INTERVIEW: Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor

Photo by Travis Shinn

Photo by Travis Shinn

If you look in the current issue of Mixdown Magazine you’ll find my interview with Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor about the band’s new album, Hydrograd (released today). We had a great chat about the band’s incredible new album Hydrograd. But we talked about a lot more than could be fit into that article, so I thought you’d like to see some other highlights from the interview.

I Heart Guitar: One moment in the single Fabuless really made me laugh: the ‘motherfucker’ in the chorus. I have a running joke where I insert unnecessary motherfuckers in songs that really don’t deserve it. Steely Dan or the Beach Boys or something. 

Corey Taylor: [Laughs] Thats funny because I do that all the time when I’m in my car, singing. I’m always adding an unnecessary motherfucker to what I’m singing along to, where it just needs a little more, y’know? I mean I’m sure they would have gotten to the motherfucker eventually but they were too busy with the notes, so people like you and me provide the motherfucker for them.

That song is so eclectic. How did it come together? 

That song came together from Tooch (guitarist Christian Martucci) and Roy (Magora, drums) jamming together. It was one of those songs where when we heard the demo we were like ‘Holy shit.’ It took a little arranging because it was all in different spots – it originally had a totally different feel to it – but the riffs themselves all had a great vibe. I took it and did my magic on it and worked it in with the lyrics that were going on in my head and different melodies and stuff, and it came together really quickly. It was a matter of arranging the puzzle so that the song fuckin’ figured itself out.

The first few times you listen to it you don’t quite know what could happen next. 

Exactly. And that’s the cool thing. I feel like a lot of music doesn’t have that feeling any more, and you can anticipate what the next part is. With a lot of bands you can almost write the fuckin’ next riff in your head before you’ve even heard the song all of the way through for the first time. With this song it keeps you guessing right up until the last minute.

HydrogradSo this is the first record written with Christian Martucci and Johnny Chow. 

Working with those two, honestly, was so effortless. The great thing is it all starts with us just getting along. Really getting along. We all hang out, we all love hanging out and talking shit and joking, and we’re all such dorks that it doesn’t really matter. So writing together is the same thing. We just love what we do so much that we get excited when we hear what we’re doing with the music.

How’s the spine coming along after your operation? Has it affected your range? I was thinking about how when Frank Zappa got pushed off the stage and broke his neck, and after he got rebuilt his voice got lower.

Yeah, that didn’t happen to me. It’s really only a physical thing for me. I’m slowly but surely starting to get my mobility back, and that’s even after a year. It’s been pretty crazy. But luckily I didn’t lose any of my range – actually I got some back because I quit smoking over a year ago, and I’m starting to get my range back because of that. God, if I’d know that would happen I’d have quit ten fuckin’ years ago. But I’m still in the process of rehabbing all that shit, and I’m slowing but surely getting my body back. It’s a fucking pain in the ass but I’m getting there.

I don’t think people realise how physical singing is – how much of your whole body goes into it. 

Oh yeah. You can lose your chops really easily. And not only lose your chops but you can let your talent go to fuckin’ shit, and it can take you years to get that shit back. About six years ago I started to really try to keep myself in shape as much as possible, and as long as it’s worth it you just keep trying, keep going for it.

What guitars are you using at the moment? 

On the road I have three guitars that I’m using, really. I have a 2008 Gibson Firebird that has a couple of Seymour Duncan pickups in it. It has a nice chunky edge to it and a really killer clean tone. Those guitars have a great clean tone. I also have a 1987 Gibson SG out with me that smells like the dude who owned it chain-smoked around it for about 45 years! It’s got the colour, but unfortunately it’s also got the smell, so I named it Keith. So I’ve got that out with me and I’ll probably bring that down with me to Australia when we get down there. And I’ve also got a Framus and I’m thinking about working some magic with those guys. I actually have a Stevie Salas Idolmaker model that I’m using right now and they’re fuckin’ pretty dope, dude. I wanna have them use that base and make a custom for me but give it more of a hollowbody vibe, and put a couple of humbuckers in it and see what happens. I think that could be really fuckin’ cool, because it plays amazingly. It’s got such fuckin’ chunk to it. It’s really great. So those three I’m kinda rotating through, just feeling them out every night.

Seymour Duncan Releases Mark Holcomb Alpha & Omega Signature Pickups

 

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SANTA BARBARA, CA March 1, 2017 – Seymour Duncan, a leading manufacturer of pickups and pedals, announces the over-the-counter release of Periphery guitarist Mark Holcomb’s Alpha and Omega pickups in 6, 7 and 8-string versions.

“The Alpha/Omega set has been the heartbeat of my sound for the past several years,” Mark Holcomb says. “Since we developed and released the first 6-string set in the custom shop, I’ve had the same pickup set in every one of my 6, 7 and 8-string guitars, live and in the studio. It has remained one of the few components of my rig and setup that I haven’t even thought about tweaking.”

“The Omega bridge pickup came out super cool,” Holcomb continues. “It’s very, very aggressive and snarling, with that percussive quality that I like in the low mids. My style is based on really big chords with a lot of voicings, and I didn’t want to sacrifice any of that in the bridge pickup. And the Alpha neck pickup has lots of pick attack – probably the most pick attack of any neck pickup I’ve ever played. But it’s still very fat and glassy.”

“The 6-string Custom Shop release of this pickup was very popular and we heard a lot from Mark and Mark’s fans who said they wanted extended range versions of that same pickup and the ability to buy it over the counter,” says Seymour Duncan SVP of Products & CRO Max Gutnik. “We’re excited to make them available to more players, with more variety.”

Available as a set, or individual neck or bridge pickups.
6, 7 or 8-string options.
Trembucker option is available for 6-string.

Seymour Duncan Mark Holcomb Alpha/Omega pickups are made in the USA and will be available on March 1, 2017.

About Seymour Duncan

Seymour Duncan celebrates a rich history as the world’s leading pickup and pedal manufacturer. Since 1976, Seymour Duncan has helped the world’s artists develop their own unique, signature sounds. This is accomplished through a dedicated team of craftsman at their Santa Barbara, California office. For more information, please visit seymourduncan.com.

Peter