Hear how the bluegrass-blazin’, death-metal-rooted wiz twists the traditional music of Kentucky toward the psychedelic sounds of San Francisco.

While Billy Strings spent his formative years on a Martin (or as he’d say, in front of the Martin watching his dad play), he’s been an avid user of Preston Thompson flattops that are handmade in Sisters, Oregon. He originally spent about two years on a their standard dreadnought model (with mahogany back and sides), but in 2017, he upgraded to a dread with Brazilian rosewood back and sides. He’s since added an Audio-Technica ATM350 mic taped below the soundhole and then also added a K&K Sound Pure Pickup system underneath the bridge saddle. It’s always strung up with D’Addario Phosphor Bronze Mediums (.013–.056) and prefers to play with BlueChip TD55 picks. Photo by Shelly Swanger

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It’s ok for a guitar to not sound like a guitar.

As much as we all love juicy, organic guitar tones, it can be just as inspiring to go the opposite way. Combining various modulation effects, envelope filters, oscillators, and more can result in sounds that owe more to Kraftwerk than Led Zeppelin.

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While Monolord has no shortage of the dark and heavy, guitarist and vocalist Thomas V Jäger comes at it from a perspective more common to pop songsmiths.

Photo by Chad Kelco

Melodies, hooks, clean tones, and no guitar solos. Are we sure this Elliott Smith fan fronts a doom-metal band? (We’re sure!)

Legend has it the name Monolord refers to a friend of the band with the same moniker who lost hearing in his left ear, and later said it didn’t matter if the band recorded anything in stereo, because he could not hear it anyway. It’s a funny, though slightly tragic, bit of backstory, but that handle is befitting in yet another, perhaps even more profound, way. Doom and stoner metal are arguably the torch-bearing subgenres for hard rock guitar players, and if any band seems to hold the keys to the castle at this moment, it’s Monolord.

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