Kirk Hammet steps on stage. Feedback flies through the PA Speakers as he plugs in his custom Frankenstein Jackson guitar. The warmth of his amp hums over the silent stage during soundcheck. He presses his foot on his wah pedal illuminating notes in preparation for that night’s show. To other guitarists filling in the hall to watch this legend thrash through hit after hit, they fascinate over the skill of their guitar hero. Their eyes fixated on every movement, every note and the equipment he plays through. My journey to the stage began similarly, knowing that the equipment is part of the brand.
Back in high school playing music become an integral part of my life since those first guitar notes were struck. Creating music was now a necessity for me to be true to myself. As part of that journey, discovering new gear was, and is, always a welcome and fun side adventure. It became clear that the instrument and gear one used while playing was just as important as the composition being written. In many cases, the gear could influence the songwriting! Over the years I have compiled a preferred arsenal of tools that I use in my creative and professional process.
Schecter Hellraiser C7 Guitar
• 4 out 5 Pyriel Heads [$949.00] LINK •
Because of the stock EMG 707 pickups, the Hellraiser has a lot of diversity. This is why I found myself gravitating towards the Schecter Hellraiser C7. It has a strong core tone that gives it a distinct personality that easily shines through. The clean tone is warm and inviting. Each note is soothing to the ear and easily rolls into the next. The Hellraiser is also able to handle ample amounts of gain when it comes time to kick it up a notch. Each note and chord is extremely clear and articulate under heavy distortion. One of the best characteristics of this guitar is its ability to handle the extended range of the low B string.
An issue that some seven-string guitars have is that the lower notes can get muffled. The EMG 707s in the Hellraiser is more than capable of handling the low frequencies and maintaining definition while playing. Whether on the bridge or neck pickups, articulation is always at its peak. The body is well balanced and rests easy whether sitting with it in your lap or if it is being worn. The mahogany material also allows for a rich natural tone and resonance. The fretboard is smooth and allows for the hand to easily glide with precision.
• Gloss Black
• Schecter Locking Tuners
• Rosewood Fretboard
• Mahogany Neck
• Mahogany Body
• Mother of Pearl Fret Inlays
• 26.5” Scale
• String Through Body
• EMG 707TW Pickups
• Volume (Push-Pull)
• Volume (Push-Pull)
• Tone 3-Way Switch 9-volt
• Clip-in Battery Compartment
Line 6 Spider MKII
• 3 1/2 out 5 Pyriel Heads [$707.96] LINK •
Line 6 has a history of creating super affordable gear with ridiculously high quality. The Spider MKII combo amp is no exception. Combining the diversity of digital technology with the power of tube amps, the Spider is able to mimic most other specialty amplifiers. It is able to replicate styles from the Marshall JVM to the Mesa Boogie Road King, to the Peavey 5150. Having such diversity in a single piece of gear provides the ability to jump into any band or style with ease. It also saves a ton of space in a studio or home setting. The Spider MKII is a versatile and compact amp that gets any job done.
• 40 watts
• Class AB tube amp with two 12AX7 preamp tubes and two 6L6 power tubes
• 1×12″ Celestion Vintage 30 speaker
• 16 of the most advanced Line 6 amp models to date
• 20 Smart FX (up to 4 at once)
• Quick Loop: 14-second sound-on-sound looper
• Noise Gate, Boost (up to +8dB pre, post or both), Volume routing
• Advanced routing and full adjustability up to 7 effect parameters
• Oversized two-line LCD
• MIDI input and output/thru for seamless integration into MIDI switching setups
• Line 6 foot controller compatibility
• 128 user presets
• Bass, Mid, Treble, and Drive knobs
• Channel volume
• Manual mode for a traditional front-panel amplifier experience
• XLR Output supports two output modes: Performance Mode and Studio Mode
• Oversized LCD is easy to use and easy to read
• Tuned three-quarter closed-back cabinet
• Built-in front-panel tuner
• 1/4″ speaker outputs (single and dual)
• 1/4″ power amp input and preamp output jacks
• Weight: 45 lbs.
• Dimensions: 22.5″ L x 22″ H x 11.25″ D
Line 6 FBV Express MKII 4-Button Foot Switch
• 4 out 5 Pyriel Heads [$119.99] LINK •
Having a footswitch for live performances makes switching channels very easy and super convenient. Line 6, to go along with their Spider amps, has the FBV footswitches. My go-to has been the 4-button model. The Line 6 FBV Express MKII 4-button footswitch allows you to access any four of your preselected built-in channels that you prefer, or that you have customized in your Spider MKII. This particular footswitch is easily transportable and easy to carry to and from performances as well. The volume pedal allows for greater sound control while playing to ensure each performance has the proper intensity.
• 4 channel switches: A, B, C and D
• Full-sized volume/wah pedal features plenty of grip
• Chromatic tuner display
• Bright LEDs show active channel, tap tempo, and volume/wah
• FBV Control software allows for easy and unlimited mapping of FBV controls via USB (Mac/PC)
• Durable footswitches and chassis
• Self-powered via included locking RJ-45 cable
• USB jack and RJ-45 jack
Peavy 6505 Cabinet
• 5 out 5 Pyriel Heads [$898.95] LINK •
Spending the time to find an instrument and a head that have the distinct characteristics you are looking for requires a cabinet that will allow them to shine. The Peavey 6505 guitar cabinet stands out among its peers because it highlights your desired tone while adding power behind it. This ensures that you get nothing short of your fully desired expression. Having a heavy center on mid-range is the key to the 6505 having such diversity in letting the desired tone come through with ease. Combined with the 4×12 speakers, the volume this thing cranks out is crushing even with your head at it’s lowest settings.
• Power handling 240W
• Speakers: 4×12 Celestion Vintage 30
• 1/4″ and XLR jacks
• High-density plywood construction
• Recessed handles
• Heavy-duty casters
• 16 ohms
• 30″W x 32-3/8″H x 14-1/8″D
• 96 lb.
Ernie Ball 7-String Regular Slinky Strings
• 4.7 out 5 Pyriel Heads [$6.99 – $10.50] LINK •
Having a low register guitar means that you need strings that can handle the extra work. Not only do the Ernie Ball 7-String Regular Slinky sets allow for normal register guitar work, but the low end cuts through while maintaining that strong low tone presence. Because of the precision in the manufacturing of each set, I personally find that Ernie Ball strings tend to last longer than any other string sets I have used. They also handle a lot of bending and aggressive guitar playing. These strings also keep their bright clarity while being run through heavily distorted guitar tones.
• The nickel wound strings are made from nickel-plated, steel wire wrapped around a hex-shaped steel core wire
• The plain strings are made of specially tempered, tin-plated, high-carbon steel
• Gauges: 10-13-17-26-36-46-56
GLS Audio 20′ Guitar Cable
• 4 1/2 out 5 Pyriel Heads [$13.99] LINK •
Having the proper instrument and amplification system is integral. Having sturdy cables that can be relied upon to connect all the pieces together is just as important. The GLS Guitar Cables are my go-to for just this! Having a strong cloth outer coating ensures that these cables will have secure protection from breakage while still having total flexibility. Whether on tour or in a studio, these cables work wonderfully in any environment. The 20′ cable is a great length that gives you the ability to be mobile on stage or in the studio without getting in the way as well.
• Braided Tweed Cloth Jacket
• OFC Insulator Shield & Conductive PVC Shielded
• ONLY 38 Picofarads Per Foot
• Super Durable & Flexy
• Very Low Capacitance
Jim Dunlop Jazz II Nylon Guitar Picks – 24 pack
• 4 1/2 out 5 Pyriel Heads [$15.02] LINK •
Finding picks that can allow for versatility and precision while playing is another important task for any guitarist to take on. The Jim Dunlop Jazz III guitar picks do just that! The nylon material of the Jazz III allows for the quality of the guitar strings to shine through untainted by the pick. This allows for clarity of chords when strumming. The small size of the Jazz III allows for speed and precision while playing leads and solos. The bright red color also comes in handy if you happen to drop it on a dark stage floor. Which, for anyone that has done so, knows that rummaging around in the dark in front of an audience is never a fun moment.
• Small, broad grip
• Sharp jazz tip style
Dunlop Blue Flame Strap
• 3.4 out 5 Pyriel Heads [$11.59] LINK •
Lastly, you want a guitar strap that you can rely on. A strap that you know will keep your guitar safe and attached to you. One of the worst things that can happen while playing is having a strap fail and having your guitar fall to the floor right before your eyes. I have only ever owned one strap during my entire music career, and that is the Dunlop Blue Flame guitar strap. I got it because the strap that came with the starter guitar did not seem very trustworthy. Almost twenty years later, this strap has held up better than a good chunk of the other gear I’ve used.