Saturday, February 12, 2011

Signature Guitars

Dear Alexi, Randy Rhoads called me from beyond the grave. He wants his guitar design back.
Oh, he also said to keep up the drinking. He looks forward to talking with you about this in person... 
I am here, and you are here, because we both want the same thing. I want to transform you into the single most metal creature that ever walked the Earth. I want wimps and poseurs to tremble in your wake, mosh pits to clear out upon your entry, and lightning to fire through the sky at the very mention of your name. It makes true metal glory very hard to achieve, and makes both of our lives much more difficult, when I see you playing a cheap knockoff of somebody else's guitar.

You are not Alexi Laiho. You will never be Alexi Laiho. Just between you and me, that is a really good thing. But that is beside the point... When you play a guitar with a famous guitarists' name on it, whether it be the $200 knockoff or the $2,000 replica of his instrument, you tell the world that you look up to this person, that you want to be like this person, sound like, and play guitar just like this one person. As I explained in my post about pining for autographs, looking up to people is very unbecoming of a true metalhead. We look down upon others. We have no role models and no heroes except ourselves. Never assume for a moment that any man, no matter how famous or skilled at his musicianship, is more metal than you are. 

Wasting perfectly epic guitar skills on being a wannabe.

Let's face it: the headstock on Gus G's guitar has three very different letters on it than the Gus G shaped "signature model" you bought your pathetic self at Guitar Center. That's all you're paying for kid - a shape. Since Dimebag's name is associated with a certain guitar shape, you're paying a lot more for that shaped guitar than similar quality guitars that have a shape associated with nobody in particular. Also, the guitar that Steve Vai is playing, and the over-priced piece of wood mass-produced in a factory in units by the thousand and shipped out to online retailers and local guitar shops with his name on it, are not the same guitar. They may look like the same guitar, they may be by the same guitar company, but they're not the same, not in the least. The artist in question has his guitar custom-crafted alongside a master luthier in person, until he gets exactly the sound and feel he wants out of it. That's not considering all the additional modifications the artist may make to his model afterwards. Every artist will tell everyone that asks, that they play the same exact signature model you would be able to buy. Of course they would, as they are paid to say that. If somebody can send me proof of Frank Bello playing his Squier on stage, then I'll feel a lot less like running him over with a three-quarter-ton pickup of integrity.

Congratulations to the Dean stockholders: a dead man breaks no contracts!
It's commercially on the same bullshit level as putting Derek Jeter in a Gatorade ad. PepsiCo is trying to make you subconsciously think "Hey, if I drink this beverage, I'll be as athletic as the person on the TV." It's called endorsement or testimonial; marketing with the use of celebrities. Buying Cover Girl because you think it will make you as pretty as Taylor Swift is just as brain-dead a concept as thinking that buying the LTD KH-202 is going to make you be as good at playing guitar as Kirk Hammett. Even if your only pursuit is sounding the way Kirk Hammett sounds, and you get a guitar model as close to the one that he plays on stage, you still need to buy the custom pickups, amplifier head, cabinet, distortion pedals, wah pedals, strings, picks, etc. to match his sound perfectly. People do it; otherwise, these things wouldn't sell. It also doesn't help that like every other highly-paid artist, the moment Hammett gets behind closed doors in a recording studio, he just ends up playing Gibson and Fender guitars anyway.

Speaking of which, a lot of people don't take into account that despite an endorsement with a guitar company, the moment an artist gets in a recording studio, he plays whatever he goddamn wants. That signature sound you hear on your favorite album could come from anything. Usually something higher quality and very expensive. Chances are it's probably not that piece of crap you bought with their name on it, with the trashy skull graphic and the big, silly inlays.

When you run out of places to put stupid tribal tattoos on your body, put them on your guitar.
I love money as much as the next anyone, but there comes a point when you really have to consider what you're in this game for. Getting paid by ESP and/or getting free guitars and swag from them seems like a pretty sweet gig, but in signing such a deal, you're at risk of compromising the quality and variety of your music. (You know, that reason why you're here? That thing that got you this far?) As I said before, whatever you use in a studio is your choice, (if no one sees any studio diaries of you playing a guitar you're not supposed to) but your live show is going to be powered by guitars from only one company. You can't mix it up, it's in your contract: B.C Rich will be chunking up your entire live set. 

So let's just say you're a capable guitarist, or on your way to being one. Perhaps you're even a master shredder. You know it, your friends know it, your disgruntled father definitely knows it. Be your own man, buy your own guitar. Put your own choice of pickups in it, buy your own amplifier, your own strings. Find your own sound, make your own music. Stop looking up and sucking up to these egotistical jerkoffs and their lukewarm speed-picking, and stop buying their ugly graphic guitars like it does anything for anybody except line their heavy pockets and stroke their thick, hard ego. 

Alexi Laiho is a midget girl boy anyway. 

Jackson Randy Rhoads models get a pass because 1. they were the premiere Jackson model and 2. it looks awesome. Oh yeah, I guess I should let "Les Paul" slide too. 


  1. I really do like the Kerry King models. I like tribal designs, and alder is a fairly ugly wood.

  2. Yeah I like the Kerry King models as well.

  3. One exception I can think of is Luca Turilli has a signature guitar that's actually made by the same luthier, Cristopher Capelli, and they're only being made in limited number in 2012... They also cost a good $4300

  4. But that only slides for the "paying extra for something mass produced in a factory" thing, the "wanting to be like someone else isn't metal" argument still stands. Though Luca Turilli IS a badass.

  5. Also the manowar signiture guitars. Although, they don't market them as sig guitars (if at all) and they are handmade for over $5000.

  6. well james melone arsis washburn signatures are god like, but they aren't cheap and crappy. the cheapest washburn vindicator is 280-250 only because you can find them on ebay and because they don't come with the fiberglass fretboards that can survive nuclear attack. but who ever wrote this article your argument is valid in my eyes every guitar that is not handmade has flaws to each individual player so using a knock-off is not the answer to using a dumb model with a dumb tattoo on it.

  7. Trey, Kerry King isn't tribal, and his dumbass guitar matches his dumbass tattoos. Case closed.

  8. Les Claypool has a new bass designed by himself, and built by a friend of his. He says they'll be selling some of these things in the future. My guess is that they'll be hand-constructed by the same guy. They'll assuredly be expensive as balls. I would murder for one.

  9. Agreed, sig guitars are for poseurs. They are either cheap crap or insanely overpriced. Tone chasing is for cover bands, meaning people who can't write their own music, who suck 99% of the time. You can drop several grand to get EVH's "brown sound" but you'll never play like him so it won't really make up for it. Better off educating yourself about the anatomy of guitars and go for something custom, or a manufactured guitar as close to the specs as you really want/need.

    I am in agreement on Kerry King. All his gear is crap and he's not that great of a guitarist to begin with.


All readers that post under the name "Anonymous" and are too frail and weak to represent themselves properly with a title, shall be deemed false metal poseurs for the remainder of their pitiful existence.