The mighty Yngwie J. Malmsteen is heading to Australia this December for clinics in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. This is an unprecedented opportunity to see two hours’ worth of the master demonstrating his skills up close. This isn’t something Yngwie does very often – ever?!? – so I can certainly imagine folks making the trip to Australia from other countries to be a part of this. And if that sounds like something you’d consider doing, might I recommend Melbourne as your clinic of choice? We can do beers afterwards.
Here are the ticketing details: Continue reading
On January 18, 2010, rock guitar icon Yngwie Malmsteen came to the Seymour Duncan factory for a post-NAMM factory tour. During his visit, Yngwie wound his first ever electric guitar pickups: a set of three true single coil pickups for Stratocaster® guitars. Tutoring him on winding technique was Seymour Duncan Custom Shop manager, Maricela Juarez.
The pickup’s design is based on Leo Fender’s vintage pickups designs for the Stratocaster®. The magnets are sand-cast Alnico 2. The bobbins are hand-fabricated from forbon vulcanized fiber. The magnet wire is vintage-correct Heavy Formar. The d.c. resistance of the neck and middle pickups are 6.40K ohms each, which makes them vintage voiced. At 9.70K ohms, the bridge pickup is over-wound for a hotter, higher-output sound. Each pickup comes with an aged white cover and is ready to install into a Stratocaster® or similar type electric guitar. Each pickup has been wax potted by Yngwie for squeal-free performance. Yngwie signed the bottom plates of each of the pickups as well as the description labels for each (six signatures total).
You can hear Yngwie talk about his experience winding the pickups and even see Maricela giving him tips on the YouTube video that documented this very special day and these unique electric guitar pickups. Seymour Duncan’s CEO, Cathy Carter Duncan also appears in the video. Whether you are a collector of rock star memorabilia or a guitar tone aficionado, this one-of-a-kind set of working pickups hand-wound by the King of Shred himself will be the crown piece in the winner’s collection.
As Yngwie mentioned on the video, all proceeds from the auction of this very special set of pickups will be donated to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the international humanitarian aid organization that is providing aid to Earthquake devastated Haiti. More than 700 MSF staff members are working to provide emergency medical care to survivors in and around Port-au-Prince. Yngwie and Seymour Duncan are doing their part to help out. You can too. And you’ll end up owning an amazing set of pickups.
There was lots of great stuff on show at the Seymour Duncan booth at NAMM this year, and I was pretty excited to meet Evan Skopp and Rick Turner. Unfortuntately my booth visit didn’t coincide with Yngwie’s, but hey, there’s a great interview with Yngwie by Evan a little bit down the page here, so I’ll just enjoy that instead.
Here are Seymour Duncan’s NAMM press releases, interspersed with videos where available:
Santa Barbara, California Relentless pursuit of the perfect tone. We’ve all experienced it. It never subsides. When Yngwie said he wanted to take his tone to the next level, we listened. No other guitarist unleashes the fury like Yngwie J. Malmsteen. His influence is undeniable. His technique is unparalleled. His pickups? Seymour Duncan. Yngwie needs a pickup that responds to his unique playing style. After hundreds of hours of intense tone pursuit, their labor or love yielded the STK-S10 YJM Fury.
Beginning with Seymour’s original Stack® pickup design, these hum-canceling single-coil-sized pickups were designed to meet Yngwie’s personal tonal desires. The YJM series includes a dedicated bridge pickup and separate neck/middle pickup. It’s recommended for neo-classical, shred, hard rock, power metal, and heavy metal. Dedicated bridge and neck/middle pickups represent two highly customized voices. In the bridge position, Yngwie wanted more aggression, more power. The neck pickup needed to balance Yngwie’s fluid left hand technique with his broad mix of right hand pick attack. The result is a pickup that’s sweet and fluid, but with more articulation and responsiveness to dynamics.
The YJM Fury is available with white, off-white, or black covers and can directly retrofit most single-coil equipped guitars. It also comes pre-installed in the signature series Fender® YJM Strat® guitar but works well with any guitar that utilizes traditional single-coil-size Strat pickups.
All Seymour Duncan and Basslines pickups, are hand built in the USA and include all necessary mounting hardware.
Fender and Strat are registered trademarks of FMIC with which Seymour Duncan is not affiliated.
Alnico II Pro Slash
Santa Barbara, California He is, by many accounts, history’s all-time greatest guitar hero. With the ubiquitous top hat and shades, mop of black curls obscuring his face, and a blazing electric guitar tone blasting through a wall of amps, Slash epitomizes the very reasons we first air-strummed a low-slung tennis racquet in the privacy of our bedroom. He is the seminal rock guitar god. And for over three decades he has relied on Seymour Duncan pickups for his guitar tone. Now Seymour Duncan honors their guitar hero with his first signature pickup, the Alnico II Pro Slash.
The tone of this pickup will be familiar to all who have heard Slash’s recorded tone. Though he has dozens of amazing guitars, since 1986 Slash has used pretty much one very special Les Paul® for all recording. The Alnico II Pro Slash was designed to give Slash’s other Les Paul guitars-what he calls his “live guitars”-the exact tone of this legendary instrument.
Like the standard APH-1 Alnico II Pro, which he has used for years, the Slash model uses an Alnico 2 magnet. However, the Alnico II Pro Slash is wound with just enough boosted output to push a stock Les Paul toward the sweet sustain and rude crunch that characterizes Slash’s sound as heard on hundreds of recordings. In addition, it comes with some of the same appointments found on the Duncan pickups in Slash’s ’86 recording axe, including single-conductor cable, long-legged bottom plate, and wooden spacer. For the true fan, or the player who wants to capture Slash’s recorded tone, this pickup is a critical part of the tone chain.
While designed for use in a Les Paul, this pickup works well in any well-balanced humbucker-equipped guitar including hollow and semi-hollow body guitars. The Slash aficionado will use a pair of these pickups to capture that unmistakable tone. This pickup matches well with Seymour Duncan’s SFX-04 Twin Tube Blue all-tube overdrive-distortion stompbox for singing leads and authoritative chording.
The Alnico II Pro Slash is hand built in Seymour Duncan’s Santa Barbara, California workshop and including all mounting hardware.
Les Paul is a registered trademark of Gibson USA with which Seymour Duncan is not affiliated.
Now, Seymour Duncan introduces the SHPR-2b P-Rails® Hot, delivering the same tonal flexibility as its predecessor, but specifically designed to provide a punchier, more aggressive tone in the bridge position. The P-Rails Hot features a beefed up coil wind and 2 powerful Alnico 8 magnets, which rival ceramic magnets in power but maintain the sweet sustain Alnico is known for. The P-90 coil in the P-Rails Hot is wound with a special wire type, selected for output and clarity. This P-90 is loud! The rail mode is hotter thanks to the power of the Alnico 8, and the series humbucker mode is huge!
P-Rails Hot are a direct humbucker retrofit and can be used in any guitar set up for a traditional humbucker or Trembucker spacing. To maximize P-Rails Hot’s unique splitting capabilities and get the most tonal versatility, it is recommended for use in tandem with a standard P-Rails in the neck position with a two-way switch (push-pull or mini-toggle) to get both humbucker and P-90 tones. Use a three way switch (DPDT on-off-on) to bring in the single coil Rail tones. Or for the ultimate in versatility, use Seymour Duncan’s Triple Shot switching mounting ring.
P-Rails Hot is recommended for all styles of music. They are built in the USA at the Seymour Duncan factory, come with black, white or cream covers
Vintage and Custom Staggered 7-String
Santa Barbara, California The Seymour Duncan Custom Shop has been custom-building 7-string electric pickups upon request for years. Now, to keep up with the demand for 7-string pickups, the company is introducing production versions of some of their most popular models, including the SSL-1 Vintage Staggered 7-string and the SSL-5 Custom Staggered 7-string, specifically designed with a modern stagger for the needs of the 7-string player.
The Vintage Staggered 7-string delivers a deep punchy tone with bright sparkle for single-coil strat.® guitars, recommended for country, pop, surf, rockabilly, blues, ska, classic rock and any player that wants to marry a vintage sound with the new era of 7-stringed guitars. Complete with hand-ground Alnico 5 magnets, it compliments a humbucker like the SH-4 JB 7-string in the bridge position, along with a neck pickup like the SH-1n ’59 7-string. Add an all-tube overdrive like the Seymour Duncan SFX-11 Twin Tube Blue for the ultimate tone.
The Custom Staggered 7-string pickup provides a distinct vintage tone with greater sustain and full sounding harmonics that cuts through the mix, but cleans up nicely when you back off the volume. It’s 6-string counterpart has been championed by countless artists over its long history for its strong, overwound Strat tone, most recently making an appearance on Fender’s David Gilmour Signature Series Strat®. Pair this pickup with a high output bridge pickup like the SH-10 Full Shred 7-string, and a moderate output neck pickup like the SH-2n Jazz 7-string, for great tone when playing Texas blues rock, classic rock and heavy rock.
Both pickups come with a black cover, are produced at the Seymour Duncan factory in Santa Barbara California, and will make their debut in January at the 2010 NAMM show.
Fender and Strat are registered trademarks of FMIC with which Seymour Duncan is not affiliated.
Custom 5 and Full Shred 7-String
Santa Barbara, California Seymour Duncan is announcing the release of several of their most popular pick-ups, specifically re-designed to capture the deeper tones and wider range of sound found in the new generation of seven-stringed instruments, including the SH-10 Full Shred 7-string and the SH-14 Custom 5 7-String humbucker.
The 6-string Custom 5 was developed in part by contributors on the Seymour Duncan web user group forum who replaced the magnets in their Custom or Custom Custom with Alnico 5 magnets. The versatile Custom 5 7-string is a moderate to high output humbucker, perfect for pop, country, blues, classic rock and heavy rock with its deeper bottom end and expanded output. Recommended for the bridge position, add an SH-1n 7-string in the neck position for real deal P.A.F. tones.
Shredders and metal-heads will elate in the high output that the Full Shred 7-string offers. For years, the Seymour Duncan Full Shred has been revered for its top end clarity, crisp, well defined low end, and aggressive midrange, great for capturing clear, tight tone during heavy rhythms and speed riffs. Two symmetrical coils and short Allen head pole pieces produce a more intense, focused magnetic field while the Alnico 5 magnet maintains an organic attack and feel. The Full Shred is perfect for rock, heavy metal, speed metal, and any music featuring fast, aggressive, solo playing. It comes with a four-conductor hookup cable for various switching options, in both bridge and neck versions, and matches well with the SFX-04 Twin Tube Mayhem for ultimate heaviness.
Both pickups will debut in January at the 2010 NAMM show in Anaheim along with several other pick-ups redesigned by the Seymour Duncan company, to meet the growing fan base of seven-stringed guitar players.
Mick Thomson Signature Blackouts EMTY
Santa Barbara, CA -Seymour Duncan announces the release of the latest addition to our popular Blackouts Humbucker series the Blackouts AHB-3 Thomson EMTY. Like its predecessors (The AHB-1 and AHB-2), the Blackouts AHB-3 EMTY provides distinctive, screaming metal tones, packing a serious mid-range punch, thicker, darker chords than other humbuckers and hard-hitting driving leads. The 9-volt active Blackouts are designed specifically for more aggressive playing styles including players using extreme low tunings. The EMTY takes it a step further, created to meet Mick Thomson’s personal specs and metal desires. Mick asked for tighter bottom, and more searing top end cut, and Seymour Duncan delivered.
The AHB series conveys a less compressed tone, with a more extended frequency response helping to cancel hum by using balanced inputs. Blackouts are up to 14dB quieter than any other active pickups, while producing more lows, more highs, and more output. Simply put, Blackouts have more tone than other active pickup. And players have noticed the benefits of the reduced hum, especially during recording. Thomson was already an avid fan of the Blackouts when he met Seymour Duncan Head of Artist Relations, Evan Skopp during a discreet backstage meeting at the 2008 Loud Park festival in Japan. Mick stayed involved every step of the way from the precise wiring configuration to the logo and printing on the pickup including his renowned “seven” imprinted right on the side of the cover. Now he depends on EMTY to execute his completely psychosocial tone that defines the Slipknot sound; because to play extreme metal, you need extreme metal tone.
AHB-3 Blackouts EMTY are available as Mick’s two-humbucker set, or in individual neck and bridge models to mix and match with other Blackouts and Livewires Classic II active pickups. All versions come with all necessary mounting hardware, including pots, jack, and a battery clip. For players with active pickups already installed, the EMTY can plug right into the quick connection harness, making it a snap to unplug the old pickup and plug in the new EMTY.
To celebrate this new release, Seymour Duncan is giving fans the chance to win Mick Thomson’s signature Ibanez© MTM1 with Mick’s new signature Seymour Duncan Blackouts EMTY installed. Ten second place winners will receive signed sets of EMTY pickups and a host of third place winners get Slipknot or Seymour Duncan swag. To win, contestants need to go to: www.seymourduncan.com/mickblackouts and enter into the drawing. The contest runs to midnight January 31, 2010.
Seymour Duncan 8-string Blackouts
Santa Barbara, California – When six strings seem too conventional and seven strings still just aren’t enough, Seymour Duncan announces the release of the latest version of our hugely successful Blackouts series, the 8-string Blackouts for 8-string guitars. For the new generation of 8-stringed guitars, 8-string Blackouts provide more headroom while still generating thick and full lows without sounding muddy or dull. Designed from the ground up specifically for the need of 8-string players, these metal beasts contain ceramic magnets for both the neck and bridge versions, specifically voiced for heavy rock with greater dynamic range, less scooped mids, and less compression than other active pickups.
For anyone who has tried to record using an 8 stringed guitar, the biggest complaint has been that most pickups deliver a thudy sound, chopping off the dynamic range. The results can be clearly seen, like a “flatline” effect in the recording wave. 8-string Blackouts allows each register to have its own character, like you expect from any six string sound, but now with deeper bass lines and no flat-lining. It simply allows the player be more expressive.
The industry agrees that 8-string Blackouts are clearly an improvement, evident by the fact that many guitar makers like Schecter© Guitars, who are delving into the 8-string guitar world, are offering the 8-string Blackouts. Their latest, offering the Schecter BlackJack ATC-8 limited edition guitar comes with 8-string Blackouts installed.
Like the full line of Blackouts, the 8-strings provide a tone that sounds less compressed with a more extended frequency response. Blackouts active humbuckers are up to 14dB quieter than the competition, but they also have more lows, more highs, and more output.
Blackouts 8-string are designed to direct retrofit any 8-string electric guitars and are available in individual neck and bridge models, or as a two-pickup set. All versions come with all necessary mounting hardware, including pots, jack, and a battery clip.
Seymour Duncan Serves Up A Triple Shot!
Santa Barbara, California – Guitarists are always striving to conjure as many sounds as possible out of their instrument. One of the ways to do so is by altering the wiring of the pickups to split coils (also known as a “coil cut”) or change from series to parallel. Typically, when guitars are modified to add different pickup routing and tonal options, it’s necessary to add extra toggle switches and/or push/pull pots. These extra controls can be confusing, unattractive, and in the way. In some cases, permanent modifications may also decrease the resale or collector’s value of an instrument. What do you do if you need these options but don’t want to modify your guitar’s construction or appearance?
Seymour Duncan has developed a unique stealth switching system to do the job–the incredible Triple Shot which cleverly conceals the switching system inside a humbucker-size mounting ring. Now there’s no need for drilling holes for extra switches, pots or visible modifications to achieve your custom wiring wishes. Two small switches built into the mounting ring are all that’s needed to do the job.
The Triple Shot is easy to install and works with any four-conductor Seymour Duncan humbuckers, and just about any other manufacturer’s four conductor pickups. Simply connect the pickup’s leads to a small color-coded circuit board which adheres to the guitar’s inside cavity, then connect the ground and hot wires to the circuit board and you’re ready to rock. No fuss, no muss, no permanent modifications. Triple Shot is available in black and cream.
Remember a few months ago when Yngwie Malmsteen abruptly left DiMarzio? Well check this out. While it’s gonna be hard to adjust to Yngwie no longer being a DiMarzio guy, I find it endearingly hilarious that not only is the pickup called the FURY, but Yngwie’s such a force of nature that they seem to be going with an official all-caps spelling of FURY.
Yngwie Malmsteen and Seymour Duncan create a brand new signature model pick up YJM FURY.
Yngwie Malmsteen will also be attending the Namm show. You lucky fans will get a chance to meet the guitar legend up close and personal..
Come meet Yngwie Malmsteen in person at the Seymour Duncan and at the Fender Guitar Booths:
Meet Yngwie Sat Jan 16th…
Fender Guitars Booth 4:00 PM Saturday, Booth 304 A 3rd Floor
Seymour Duncan Booth 5:00 PM on Saturday, Booth #4358 in Hall C.
When Yngwie J. Malmsteen set out on a quest to bring his tone to a higher level, he turned to Seymour Duncan. The result of hundreds of hours of intense tone pursuit is the YJM Fury: only available from Seymour Duncan.
Hum-canceling single-coil-sized pickup based on our original Stack® pickup design. Recommended for rock, neo-classical, shred, hard rock, power metal, and heavy metal.
The bridge pickup is aggressive and handles Yngwie’s hard-hitting chordal onslaught. The neck pickup balances Yngwie’s fluid left hand technique with his broad mix of right hand pick attack for a tone that’s sweet and fluid, but with great articulation and responsiveness to dynamics.
The YJM series includes a dedicated bridge pickup and a separate neck/middle pickup. Pickups can be purchased individually, in a three-pickup set, or in a pre-wired pickguard ready to drop into your Strat guitar with an 11-screw hole “USA” pattern. The loaded pickguard includes a “no lube” volume potentiometer that meets Yngwie’s demands for a very fast and responsive pot.
The YJM Fury will directly retrofit most single-coil equipped guitars. Though originally designed for a Fender® Strat with a scalloped maple fingerboard, the YJM Fury will work well with any bolt-on guitar that utilizes traditional single-coil-size Strat pickups. The YJM Fury is the same pickup that Fender installs in their YJM Strat guitars.
Available in off-white, white or black.
Yngwie J. Malmsteen
Check out this awesome contest by Boss. Hey can I move to the US so I can participate?
Grand Prize Wins Four Autographed Pedals and $1,000 in BOSS Gear
Los Angeles, CA, November 2, 2009 — BOSS is giving the tone freaks everywhere the chance to win autographed BOSS pedals by top guitar heroes and $1,000 in BOSS gear with The Big BOSS Giveaway.
To enter, contestants should visit www.BossUS.com/BigBossGiveaway, listen to the featured riff, and pick out the BOSS Distortion or Overdrive pedal that is used to make that particular tone.
The riff will change every two weeks, and a different signed BOSS pedal from a famous guitar hero will be given away, as well as $1,000 in BOSS gear. In addition, a grand prize of $1,000 in BOSS gear and one signed pedal from each of the four guitar heroes will be given to any contestant who enters the contest between November 1 and December 31, 2009. Contestants can enter once every two-week period, giving them up to five chances to win.
The Big BOSS Giveaway Prize Lineup:
One signed pedal for each guitar hero (four in all) and $1,000 in BOSS gear
11/1/09–11/14/09 Dave Navarro signed DS-1 and $1,000 in BOSS gear
11/15/09–11/30/09 Frank Gambale signed TU-2 and $1,000 in BOSS gear
12/1/09–12/15/09 Yngwie Malmsteen signed NS-2 and $1,000 in BOSS gear
12/16/09–12/31/09 Lincoln Brewster signed DN-2 and $1,000 in BOSS gear
Contest eligible in the U.S. only. For more information, visit www.BossUS.com/BigBossGiveaway.
Here’s an interesting release coming up from everyone’s favourite donut-denier, Yngwie Malmsteen. Originally released in Japan in 2002, The Genesis is a collection of recordings originally made in 1980, when Yngwie was 16 or 17. It’s a rare chance to hear Yngwie’s wild fretboard skills before he shifted to the US, joined Steeler, jumped ship to join Alcatrazz, left Alcatrazz, recording Rising Force, then proceeded to hire and fire every backing musician ever to pick up an instrument.
Release date for the US edition of the album is August 25, and it will come with a bonus video from the same era.
The Genesis track listing:
01. Birth Of The Sun (9:25)
02. Plague In Lucifer’s Mind (4:30)
03. Dying Man (8:47)
04. Black Music Suite Op.3 (instrumental) (12:52)
05. Merlin’s Castle (4:55)
06. Voodoo Nights (instrumental) (8:42)
07. Hello (1:51)
08. Voodoo Child (jam) (12:18)
09. On A Serious Note (instrumental) (5:54)
I Heart Guitar: What is your writing process like? Derek Sherinian
I Heart Guitar: What is your writing process like?
Derek Sherinian: It goes differently each time. A lot of it is influenced by who I decide to collaborate with. Most of the time I’m collaborating with either Simon Phillips, your fellow Australian Virgil Donati, or Bryan Tichy on drums. For some reason I gravitate towards drummers who are musically inclined, and I seem to work better in that environment. So the sound of the overall album is always gonna go in the direction of who I collaborate with at the time.
IHG: How much of the album features Virgil Donati?
Sherinian: Virgil and I co-wrote the trilogy that opens up the record. Virgil is just amazing as a writer. We first met during my first solo record, Planet X, in 1999, and we enjoyed the collaboration so much that we formed the band Planet X, and later recruited Tony MacAlpine. But Planet X hasn’t made a record in a couple of years and I really wanted to work with Virgil on my solo record, so it was cool to work with him again.
IHG: Do you have your own studio?
Sherinian: I own my home studio, it’s called Beechwood Manor, and it’s in my house. I make all my records there. I have a separate room where I have all my studio gear, and all my keyboards. It’s nice to have the studio in your house, because if you want to take a break you can go up and watch TV or just chill out, and just work as you’re inspired. It’s good. There’s no clock ticking.
IHG: When you’re composing, especially for this album, do you come up with things out of jamming, or do you write it down on paper first? What do you do?
Sherinian: I never write it on paper. Some songs come from jamming, a lot of songs start with a riff or one person will come up with something and you just keep expanding and developing it, and then before you know it you have a full song. You just keep putting ideas down and eventually you have an album’s worth of material. And you keep refining it, and you do overdubs, and usually after a year it’s done.
IHG: So Brian Tichy is playing both drums and guitar on the album?
Sherinian: He’s playing drums on five songs, and he’s playing some rhythm guitars.
Sherinian: There are two new guitar names that I’ve never used in the past: Rusty Cooley – he’s known in the guitar community, but he hasn’t played in any famous bands or anything. He and I worked on a song called Frozen By Fire that’s on my record, and I think Rusty sounds amazing. I can see myself doing a lot more work with him in the future. And also a Japanese guitar player named Taka Minamino, who is featured on two songs. I think he’s a great talent. He has beautiful vibrato, and bending a la Yngwie, and I think he’ll have something special once he develops his own style more.
IHG: Are you planning to tour on this album?
Sherinian: No, it’s very difficult, and very expensive to do an instrumental tour, but every once in a while an opportunity will come up where I’m able to play some shows. But as of right now my solo career has been pretty much limited to just the studio.
IHG: Yeah, it sucks with the economy the way it is now: it seems nobody can afford to tour at the moment.
Sherinian: I know, and it’s unfortunate. I love playing in Australia. When Planet X played down there we made a live album, and it’d be great to go down there and play again.
IHG: So I thought we could talk a little about how guitarists influence your playing. Like I hear some things and I think, ‘Oh I recognise that!’
Sherinian: Who do you hear? Lemmie hear it from your perspective, what do you hear?
IHG: I kinda hear a bit of Van Halen in some of the stuff.
IHG: Especially in some of your rhythms.
IHG: And I think I hear a bit of Al DiMeola.
Sherinian: Okay! Yeah! Cool! Anyone else?
IHG: Well that’s all I’ve picked out so far.
Sherinian: Oh okay. Cool!
IHG: So have you actively studied guitar players?
Sherinian: I’ve never transcribed people’s solos, but there are certain guitar players who have always moved me since I was young, and the first one who really made the biggest impact was Eddie Van Halen. He had such an identifiable style, and it was so heavy, and everything was so cool, that he was my first real musical hero. I had the pleasure of playing a gig with him at a private party at his house in 2006. That was the highest point of my career, playing with my hero. The coolest thing he said to me was that there’s only 12 notes, do what you want with them. I thought that was a really cool thing. Also Yngwie was a big hero of mine when I was a kid, and I’ve played on two of his records and he’s played on two of mine – and I was in his band over the last eight years, on and off, so a part of him has come through in my style. I was also into guys like Al DiMeola, Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Beck. These are my main guys.
IHG: How would you say guitar influences your keyboard sound?
Sherinian: Definitely in the soloing, I always have a little bit of overdrive, and the phrasing is very guitaristic. I hear that all the time. I like more aggressive keyboard sounds. One thing I always try to avoid is, I think a lot of keyboard players use sounds that remind me of video games or are very cheesy. I always try to make sure there’s no cheese factor, and everything has balls, and it supplements the sound and brings heaviness. It’s always gotta be coming from a place of heaviness and no cheesiness.
IHG: Yeah, one thing I’ve always loved about your playing is that it has a lot of personality, it’s not stuffy.
Sherinian: Yeah, it’s very hard to do for a keyboard, and that was one of the things that was important to me in listening to Van Halen. You knew as soon as you heard it who it was. You know Al DiMeola, you know Yngwie. You know Allan Holdsworth. And on a keyboard you have to work a little harder to distinguish yourself from the pack. And I think I’m one of the few guys that, if you’re familiar with my style, if you hear it you know it’s me. Individuality should always come before technique, and if you’re able to have both, then that’s really cool. I would rather be like Jeff Beck, who can’t play a million notes but has such beautiful sound and style. Style will always come first.
IHG: So let’s talk about some of the guitarists you’ve worked with. Zakk Wylde is on this album, and he adds some cool Ozzy-meets-Alice In Chains vocals to the last track. Tell us about working with Zakk.
Sherinian: Zakk is amazing. He’s been a friend of mine for the last 20 years, and he’s played on my last five solo records. We always have a great time working together, and we both share the influences of Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Yngwie, DiMeola. I think it’s a cool departure for Zakk when he plays on my records, because he can be himself but he’s playing over a completely different musical backdrop than he would playing with his own band or Ozzy. Zakk is always welcome to play on my stuff, and I’m very appreciative of the relationship. He’s a great guy, he really is.
IHG: Al DiMeola.
Sherinian: That was one of the high points of my career. I was in Miami working with Yngwie on my Black Utopia record in 2002 and I wrote this epic song called Sons of Anu where Yngwie laid down his tracks, but I ran out of time with Yngwie but there was still this acoustic part that needed to be laid down. Then someone told me Al DiMeola lived in Miami, so I got his number, called him, and got Al in the studio. It turned out amazing, and it’s the first time ever with Yngwie and Al DiMeola on the same song.
Sherinian: He’s great. He’s really a maestro, a total natural. He’s the real deal of a guitar hero. The guy is just incredible. When he was in the studio doing the tracks for Sons of Anu, watching him do his thing and how fluid and effortless it is, it’s pretty amazing to watch live.
IHG: And finally, Steve Lukather.
Sherinian: Lukather is amazing. I met him through Simon Phillips. Simon called him up to come and play on the Inertia album that Simon and I co-wrote and co-produced in 2001. Lukather is just such a pro. He can hear a song and listen phrase-by-phrase, and he just takes care of business. He’s in and out of there in two or three hours, and he’ll lay three songs and make it sound like he’s been playing the song for twenty years. He’s a funny guy and I’m honoured to be on record with him.
Look for Molecular Heinosity on RiotAct.com.au soon, and thanks to Riot! for arranging this interview.
Angels of Love is released on March 10 in the US, and April 1 in Japan.
The track list is:
1. Like an Angel
2. Save Our Love
3. Prelude To April
6. Miracle of Life
7. Forever One.
Yngwie seems to be cranking out new stuff now that he has his own label. On March 10 (US) and April 1 (Japan) he’s releasing Angels of Love, a 7-track set featuring new acoustic recordings of instrumental ballads.
The track list is:
1. Like an Angel
2. Save Our Love
3. Prelude To April
6. Miracle of Life
7. Forever One.
Just a heads-up, Mixdown 176 is out now here in Australia, featuring my interviews with Michael Angelo Batio and Erik Mongrain, as well as reviews of the Krank Krankenstein + and Revolution +, Fishman Loudbox, and a bunch of Roger Mayer pedals.
Wow! Moog is rereleasing the very cool Taurus Bass Pedals, as used by Rush’s Geddy Lee, Yngwie Malmsteen, and a whole bunch of other guys. Essentially the foot pedals of an organ, you can use these to create pedal tones to solo over or, if you’re sitting down or are a bit of a dancer, to play actual bass lines.
Here’s the press release:
1. Play it like you say it. Sometimes one might speak in a low, sexy Barry White voice, like “Heeeeeeeeey baby… how YOU doin’…” Other times, it’s more like ‘ohmygodyoutotallywon’tbelieveitIjustsawagiganticspidereatingachicken” Both are valid forms of communication but you don’t wanna be saying “heybabyhowyoudoinletsgobacktomyvanbythewayyougotrealprettyeyes” when “Heeeeeeeeeey baby…” would do.
2. Play the pick as much as you play the guitar. Experiment with different pick types and grips, and with picking in different areas of the string. Pinch harmonics, percussive clacks, faux-wah sounds, imitation 12-string textures and grinding metal sludge are all yours for the taking.
3. Put the pick down. After you’ve mastered the pick, chuck it into the audience, Yngwie-style, and learn to pick with your fingers. A frequent pick-misplacer in my younger days, I learned to pick with my fingers quite early and developed my own voice that way, much sooner than I developed my ‘pick’ voice. You can hear an example in my song ‘Mistral’ which is played 100% with the fingers (even what sounds like pinch harmonics, using the edge of the thumb and the thumb nail).
4. Train your ear by playing along with the TV. Whether it’s picking out the melody to the Flintstones, adding chords to the Seinfeld closing credits or breaking out of a rut with the Conan O’Brien theme, this is a great way of learning intervals, melody construction, and transcribing.
5. Practice in front of a mirror. No, not guitar hero poses, Johnny Bravo. Watching your hands in a mirror is a great way of checking if your vibrato is smooth and even: if it looks right, it will sound right. Mirrors also help to make the transition from staring at the fretboard to looking out into the audience by reducing reliance on looking directly down at the guitar.
6. Steal from singers. If you’re just starting out on this technique, Ozzy’s phrasing is easy to replicate on guitar, and the way he sings behind the beat and slides between notes is very useful when applied to guitar melodies. After you’ve done that, try to replicate the vibrato of your favourite singers. Extra points if you can nail that Alanis Morissette squealy thing at the end of each phrase.
7. Play with the band, not just at the same time as them. This sounds simple but it can take a while to learn. Lock in with the kick drum, the high hat, the bass player, whatever you need to do to make sure you’re fully aware of the song and your place within it. When I was younger, I found this kind of advice to be boring – why should I focus on the drums when I’m enjoying the sound of a raging guitar amp? But it only takes one good rehearsal or gig to realise that stuff like this makes you sound better.
8. Play your song with PRIDE (Phrasing, Rhythm, Introduction, Dynamics and Endings). This is a lesson my Aunty Barbi, a music teacher, instills in all her students and it’s great advice whether you play guitar, violin, piano or whatever. They’re all obvious, and yet it’s easy to forget one or even all of them in the heat of the moment. Catch the audience’s attention and imagination with the introduction, leave them with a clear sense of finality at the end, and make sure you do everything to keep them there in between.
9. Use gadgets as much as you like, but don’t NEED to use them. It’s all well and good to chain together a dozen pedals and try to replicate the sound of a unicorn belching through a megaphone into the third circle of hell, but a truly well-rounded player should be able to conjur up the same vibe (even though the sound itself might only be attainable through a few feet of transistors) with just their fingers.
10. Do. Or do not. There is no try. This immortal advice comes from Yoda, and whether you’re a whiny little bitch like Luke Skywalker or a seasoned guitar vetaran like Steve Lukather, Yoda’s message is clear, even though his syntax may be a little shaky. If you tell yourself that you can’t play something, you’re probably right. If you tell yourself you can play it, you’re probably right about that too. Check out the book The Inner Game of Music by Timothy Gallwey and Barry Green for advice on how to locate that little voice inside you that says “I can’t,” roll him up into a carpet, and throw him into the river.