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. And I went with standard instead of multiscale because my multiscale heart belongs to Ormsby Guitars. Heh.
* 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

Schecter Robert Smith UltraCure-XII

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Schecter has plenty of great Robert Smith models (as you may have seen in this article) and they’ve just added another: the UltraCure-XII, a 12-string version of his signature guitar featuring a Diamond Adjustable-12 bridge, Schecter locking tuners, Seymour Duncan ’59 humbuckers with push-pull coil splits, mahogany body and mother-of-pearl block inlays. Head to this link for more info. Read More …

REVIEW: Seymour Duncan Catalina Dynamic Chorus

 

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Chorus is kind of a weird effect. Sometimes it can be sweet, delicate and organic. Sometimes it can be bold, crisp and hi-fi. It’s difficult to find something new to do with the effect after all these years, especially something that honours the established chorus sound we’ve all grown to love, but Seymour Duncan has taken a particularly unique approach with a new dynamic feature. Read More …

PRS Releases Limited Custom 24 8-String!

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(STEVENSVILLE, MD) August 18, 2016 – PRS Guitars is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Private Stock with a revival of the program that started it all: Guitars of the Month. Each month in 2016, the Private Stock team will be offering a unique design in limited numbers that will highlight the fine craftsmanship and remarkable playability that the Private Stock team is known for while utilizing some of the most deluxe materials available. For August, PRS is introducing the Custom 24 8-String model. Inspired by an 8-String designed with Periphery’s Mark Holcomb, these instruments allow players’ creativity to take over with no limitations. Thanks to their extended range, 8-string guitars inspire new technique and unorthodox compositions that can work with any musical style. The inclusion of Holcomb’s signature Seymour Duncan Alpha and Omega pickups offer a snarling and aggressive tone that is also glassy and articulate. Read More …