Rig Rundown - Avenged Sevenfold's Synyster Gates, Zacky Vengeance, & Johnny Christ

Get the inside scoop on the three monstrous rigs that powered one of metal's biggest bands during their 2013 tour.

PG's Chris Kies is on location in Omaha, NE, where he catches up with the techs behind the rigs of Avenged Sevenfold guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance, and bassist Johnny Christ who all used their own signature Schecter instruments during the fall leg of the Hail to the King 2013 tour.

Synyster Gates' Gear


Avenged Sevenfold's Synyster Gates uses an array of his signature Schecter guitars in a variety of colors and tunings (standard, dropped D, and dropped C#). Each guitar has a Seymour Duncan Invader in the bridge position and a Sustainiac at the neck. All of his guitars are strung up with Ernie Ball Skinny Top Heavy Bottom .010–.052. When Synyster Gates takes his nightly mid-set solo á la EVH, his tech gives him a guitar with a shorter strap so Gates can have better access to the upper frets.

Amps and Effects

Gates' signal goes through an Audio-Technica wireless unit and into his Schecter Hellwin 100-watt head. The EL34-powered amp has three channels, a built-in noise gate, and a separate input designed for active pickups. The Hellwin also has MIDI functions, which allows Gates to switch channels from his Fractal Audio MFC-101 foot controller. The Fractal Audio Axe-Fx II handles all of Gates' effects—except Syn uses a rackmounted Jim Dunlop Custom Shop DCR-2SR Cry Baby Module with a foot controller that is onstage—and is routed through the Hellwin's effects loop.

Zacky Vengeance's Gear


Much like Gates, Zacky uses a handful of his Schecter signature model guitars and each sports a different finish and tuning. His main guitar has a set of Seymour Duncan JB humbuckers, along with some intricate engraving on both the pickup cover and ring. Just like Syn, all of his guitars are strung up with Ernie Ball Skinny Top Heavy Bottom .010–.052


For amps, Zacky uses a Jet City 100HDM head. This amp is loaded with four 6L6 power tubes and five 12AX7 preamp tubes, and it boasts a half-power switch that drops the output from 100 to 50 watts.


Zacky's effects are housed in a rack offstage and he controls them via a Voodoo Lab Ground Control Pro MIDI Foot Controller. He uses an ISP Technologies Decimator Noise Reduction pedal, an MXR ZW38 Black Label Chorus for "Bat Country," an MXR Custom Comp, and an Ibanez LF7 Lo-Fi Filter pedal, which he uses only on "Almost Easy." When he switches to acoustic guitar, his signal is routed through a Whirlwind A/B box.

Johnny Christ's Gear


Like his 6-string cohorts, Christ exclusively uses his Schecter signature models featuring an ash body, a bolt-on, 3-piece maple neck matched with an ebony fretboard. He prefers to use an unusual combination of pickups for his basses—an active EMG MMCS in the bridge and a EMG 81 guitar pickup in the neck. He typically blends the pickups together because he feels the combo gives his tone a detailed intensity, incredible amounts of high end cut, and fluid sustain.

Amps and Effects

Christ rocks several signal paths to get his monstrous low-end tone including the use of two MXR M-80 Bass Direct Boxes—one for a clean tone and the other for a dirty signal via the boxes built-in distortion. When he wants to beef up the clean tone he relies on a Gallien-Krueger 2001RB head, which runs into a GK Neo 8x10 cabinet that runs behind the stage. The only two effects Christ uses are the MXR Bass Chorus Deluxe on "Bat Country" and a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor.

Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.



• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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