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. [geo-in country=”Australia” note=””]Shop for Schecter online in Australia at the Schecter Guitar Centre.[/geo-in]
Based on Schecter’s Avenger shape, the Syn Custom is available in three colour schemes: black with white stripes, black with red stripes (like the model on review) or white with black stripes. It features a mahogany body with three-piece mahogany set neck, carved into Schecter’s ‘Ultra Access’ shape, which provides the impression of a neck-thru instrument. The fretboard is ebony with 24 Jumbo frets and an elaborate inlay scheme which includes an Avenged Sevenfold ‘Death Bat’ skull logo and the letters S-Y-N. There’s a top-hatted skull logo on the headstock too. These features make this pretty much a ‘for fans of Syn’ guitar rather than one of those signature models that anyone can make their own. It’s a great-looking guitar and the overall look would win it a lot of fans outside of the A7X community if not for those Syn-specific inlays, and for those who like the general spec but wish it was available with less distinctive livery might dig the Synyster Gates Special, which has the same appointments but with mother of pearl Gothic Cross inlays and your choice of black with white binding or white with black binding.
The tuners are Grover Rotomatics with an 18:1 gear ratio for finer tuning and stability, although you won’t have to use them much since there’s a flawlessly set up Floyd Rose 1000 Series locking tremolo and matching locking nut. The scale length is a twangy 25.5″.
Electronics include a master volume control, a master tone control with a push-pull coil split, and a three-way pickup selector. Pickups are Seymour Duncan Custom Syn Invaders, based on the popular Invader pickup but with custom pole pieces. The Invader is made with three ceramic magnets, overwound coils and twelve custom chrome cap screws, creating a wide magnetic field to really slam your amp with a powerful signal.
So how’s it sound? Powerful! When used in mahogany like this, the Invaders have a relative smoothness to the high end compared to many high gain humbuckers, and they have a strong full midrange and low end. They’re ideal for bands who require a really thick, pounding rhythm sound and screaming vocal-like leads with a good balance of articulation and compression, and they excel at old-school thrash tones. And the ability to split them into single coils reveals a surprisingly bluesy character (which you might sometimes hear Syn explore with appropriately bluesy licks when noodling onstage in between songs). So despite its singular look, this is a deceptively flexible and capable guitar. The playability is also killer right out of the box: a perfectly buzz-free neck that holds up well to low chunky chords, super-speedy sweep picking and everything in between.
The Syn Custom is definitely not for everyone, but for those of us who are either Avenged Sevenfold fans or can get past the Syn inlay to appreciate the guitar beneath, it’s a very well-balanced, comfortable, great playing and great sounding axe.