The Winter NAMM show in January doesn’t just showcase tons of cool products in various categories. It’s also an event where artists can display and discuss the making of their very own signature gear. Throughout the past decade or so, signature products co-designed by manufacturers and guitar stars have become more and more plentiful—and successful—and, in most cases, the artists have a significant hand in what the public actually purchases in the music stores. In this issue, we’ve reviewed the new Epiphone Joe Bonamassa Firebird and the Carvin Steve Vai Legacy Drive, but we also wanted to give readers a peek at some of the other signature goodies that will be seeing the light of day in the coming weeks and months. (For more signature gear, check out our April NAMM Report, “30 Superstars for 2017.”)
So if a certain guitarist’s style and sound affect you in very groovy ways, why not check out something that they had a hand in designing—all based on the technical, tonal, and/or ergonomic elements that contribute to their personal style. Touch and talent not included, of course. That’s up to you!
Steve Vai Dark Matter 2
$139 street, neck/bridge; $54 street, middle
While still high-output, Mr. Vai was in a softer and gentler mood for his new signature pickups. The passive neck and bridge humbuckers and middle single-coil are voiced for less-edgy high-end, organic warmth, and shimmering clarity. BTW—the laser-cut gear graphic is the bomb.
Zero Dave Mustaine Vic Rattlehead
Mustaine and Dean revamped the look of the guitarist’s signature series this year, and perhaps none was more ferocious than this scary monster. The Rattlehead features a mahogany top and neck, a rosewood fretwood, 24 medium frets, and Seymour Duncan SH4 (neck) and passive Dave Mustaine Signature (bridge) pickups.
Rich Robinson Signature Brass Slide
Robinson helped design his signature slide with a savvy tapered inner core that keeps the slide from moving around while playing. The satin-finished slide fits ring sizes of 13, and its dimensions are 25.4mm x 57.15mm.
Marty Friedman Inferno Signature 100 Head
Designed as a kind of “Frankenstein amp” with tones and features from several different ENGL amps that Friedman used to record his 2014 album, Inferno, the Inferno Signature features 100 watts, two channels (Clean and Lead, each with a Gain Boost), four EL34 power tubes, four ECC83 preamp tubes, an effects loop, and a noise gate for the Lead channel.
LTD SH-7ET Brian “Head” Welch Signature
The Korn guitarist just signed on with ESP, and his signature 7-string includes a basswood body, a 3-piece maple neck (with glow-in-the-dark side dots), an ebony fretboard, Fishman Fluence pickups, an EverTune constant tension bridge, and a killer See-Thru Purple finish.
ERNIE BALL MUSIC MAN
John Petrucci Majesty Monarchy
Petrucci touched on his new guitars when we interviewed him last year, and here they are with a flamed-maple “shield” seated in an African mahogany body, a gloss finish, an ebony fretboard, DiMarzio Sonic Ecstasy pickups, and a piezo bridge. Available in both 6-and 7-string configurations.
USA Signature Gus G. Star
Gus G.’s new shred machine features an alder body, a one-piece through-body quartersawn maple neck, a rosewood fretboard, 24 jumbo frets, two Seymour Duncan Gus G. Signature Blackouts, a TonePros bridge, and Sperzel locking tuners.
Striped Series 5150
Eddie Van Halen totally DIY’ed the first red, white and black striped 5150 in 1984, and this new EVH model helps fly the flag for the rest of us. Striped Series guitars feature a basswood body, a bolt-on maple neck with a modified C profile, 22 jumbo frets, a custom EVH Wolfgang alnico 2 humbucker, a low-friction Volume knob, a certified EVH-branded Floyd Rose bridge, and an EVH D-Tuna (for instantly switching between standard and dropped-D tuning).
FTM33-WK Fredrik Thordendal Signature
A cool and aggro take on a classic Firebird is the design scheme for the Meshuggah guitarist. The 8-string FTM33 features an ash body, a seven-piece maple/walnut neck with titanium rods, two passive Lundgren Model M8P humbuckers, and an Ibanez FX Edge III-8 bridge.
Limited Edition Variax Shuriken Guitar
Guitarist Steve “Stevic” MacKay of the band Twelve Foot Ninja really smacked up the Variax design with the Shuriken. Along with the different guitar models and alternate tunings included with the Variax technology, the Shuriken’s 27" baritone scale length is optimized for players who use lower tunings and heavier strings. Search and destroy!
DJ Ashba Skeleton Wah
Tuned to the current Sixx:A.M. guitarist’s favorite tone and sweep (he also did the graphics on the pedal), this switchless, electro-optical wah glows in the dark for added coolness. Other features include Morley’s Quick Clip battery door, a custom MQ2 inductor, and an internal wah-level trim control.
Reeves Gabrels Distortion Engine
Developed, in part, to produce enough growl, grit, kerrang, and saturation to aid Gabrels’ in performing 40 years of Cure songs onstage, the multi-tasking Distortion Engine features 3-band EQ, a Mode switch, and the ability to evoke everything from ’70s Bowie to ’90s industrial to modern metal, and beyond.
VCR Ryan Adams Volume/Chorus/Reverb
This triple-threat is voiced to Adam’s preferences and features a volume boost with a Level control, an ’80s-style chorus, and a hall reverb. There’s also an internal Lo-Fi switch if you want to get even funkier.
J-MOD 100 John Mayer Signature
$5,990 street (head; 2x12 cabinet is $1,090)
Mayer did a thrilling—and crowded—demo at NAMM with this amp he spent more than a year designing with Paul Reed Smith and Doug Sewell. The J-MOD is a single-channel, 100-watt amp with a switchable gain stage and an effects loop. Preamp tubes are four 12AX7/ECC83Cs, and power tubes are four 6L6s. Separate circuit boards are utilized for the preamp, power amp, front-panel controls, bias jacks, and effects loop to ensure elegant wiring and toughness during transport.
Mark Holcomb Signature Alpha & Omega Pickups
$299 street, set
The Periphery guitarist asked for his Alpha neck pickup to be voiced for dynamics, articulation, and a fat and glassy tone. Then, he asked that the Omega bridge pickup be poised for attack, articulation, and a feral growl in the mids and low mids. Ask and ye shall receive!