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We developed a Super V pickup for lighter guitars, which has a kind of a unique design in that each coil is wound differently with different materials and different gauged wire. It’s a very Seth Lover-ish kind of pickup with a little more output. It’s what a lot of people try to do – create something PAF-ish – but with a little more to it. But the Screamin’ Demon is pretty much my default pickup, although I do dabble in other Duncan pickups. I’ll even try some pickups from other manufacturers here and there just to know what’s out there. I usually try to get my hands on a lot of different things and see how they react in my guitars.
I think you really have to find the right pickup for the specific guitar. All pickups sound different depending on the weight of the guitar and the properties of that specific instrument. What I hate about pickups is trying to find that magic combination because it’s not easy. You sit around with a soldering gun all day taking strings off, putting pickups in and by the time you get a new pickup on there you’ve forgotten what the old one sounded like. So what I tend to do is record the guitar with the pickup that I have in it, take the strings off, change the pickup, put the strings back on and record that onto another track. I use all the same conditions and I do that a number of times, then I go back and listen.
On most of my guitars I go with the lighter gauge as I get to the heavier strings. The low E is usually lighter than what you’d expect and the top is a litter bit heavier than what you’d expect. I like the gauge to be a little more evenly displaced rather than extreme. I don’t like light tops and heavy bottoms.
My signature Dean Markleys have a higher nickel content, a different core diameter, metal composition and they are wound to pitch, which means the machines wind at a slower speed. That tends to keep the intonation intact.
One of your newer signature projects is with ZOOM – how did the development of that go?
I’d been working with ZOOM, giving them my opinions on different pieces of digital gear, and that evolved to a point where they wanted to do my own pedal.
What a lot of guys do for signature stuff is take something that’s already made, twiddle a few knobs, save it as a preset, and there you go. I didn’t want to do that because there’s a limited amount of stuff you can do when you modify a pedal that way – you have to deal within the parameters of the pedal itself. I wanted to go into the studio with all kinds of gear, with an engineer for a matter of about a week and record different .wav files with different sounds.
For instance, we took a real Leslie and recorded that with an old Marshall, with a Les Paul, and created sounds from that. We’d go old cabinet, old speakers, old pedals, Lynch Boxes, old Super Reverbs, weird amps like WEM Dominators and old tweed Fenders with 12-string guitars, different Strats, Teles, Esquires, Les Pauls and ESPs. For one of the lead tones I use an original EP-1, a 1960s Tube Echoplex. Where are you going to find one of those – much less afford one? I used an old MXR Phase 90 Script Logo, which again, is very difficult to find and very expensive – that’s the old Eddie thing from “Eruption” and other solos. Then we burnt all these .wav files to a chip and they created the algorithms from there. These are all sounds designed from the bottom up specifically for this pedal.
It’s pretty cool that you didn’t just slap your name on top of a pedal and call it good.
That would be much more cost effective, but then do you build something that’s historically significant, meaningful and useful? I don’t think so. I was very happy with them when they decided to let me do it in what I thought was the right way. I use it for all kinds of things, from when I’ve got song ideas and I just want a quick plug-in, to inspiring rehearsing or just practicing.
I just did a thing for my kid at the school – they had a show-and-tell and they had about 60 or 70 kids in the elementary school music room. I plugged the ZOOM pedal into the Lynch Box combo and played “Eruption” for them. They were blown away – I had a better response from them than I usually have at my concerts! It was pretty exciting and a lot of fun.
What about cables? What do you use when you’re recording?
For whatever technical reasons it might be better to have a fatter speaker cable, but I find the opposite to be true for sound. It sounds better when you have a little more impedance or resistance for some reason. I use straight, heavier gauge amp cables and I think that makes an audible difference. As far as guitar leads, I’ve been working with Spectraflex.
With the Spectraflex stuff, I finally decided on a cable type that I really liked, which was the multi-conductor, extra heavy shielding and restrain. I’ve actually worked with them and designed a Lynch specific cable, the Mr. Scary cable. I worked with this jewelry designer that I work with, The Rim, and we came up with a unique end for it – basically a reworking of the Bones guitar. It’s a cast piece, so that’s the shroud around the cable end. And it not only looks cool, but it sounds fucking great, real heavy and substantial.