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© STEVE C.MITCHELL/epa/Corbis
Once again, Syn’s “band buddy”, Zacky, sat side-by-side with him throughout the solo writing process, subjected to his friend’s amp set to 11 for days on end in an effort to help him “sift through my horse s**t”.
“He really helped me with a lot of the solos,” says Syn. “I really wanted to delve into the soul of it more. And – with a little help from my friends – I think that message was really conveyed. It took me right out of my comfort zone each time.”
Syn and Zacky’s playing may now have more ‘feeling’ to it than a weekend with Silvio Berlusconi, but their tone has also been thoroughly spring cleaned. Gone are the squishy, over-compressed sounds of old Avenged and in their place are Hetfield- rivalling crunch monsters.
“We wanted to find the best guitar tones possible,” says Syn. “So we did a 25-combo shoot-out between all of these popular amps, boutique amps and my Hellwin amp line [see ‘Signature Syn’, p40], then we did a blind taste test. Everybody voted until we came to a unanimous decision – and it was my Hellwin amp and cab that sounded the best! It was one of the coolest days of my life.”
“It really happened and it’s insane,” confirms Zacky, usually a Jet City endorsee. “So we stuck with it and then just stuck with our signature guitars. Those seem to be the winners all the time on pretty much all of our albums. Schecter’s been good to us and given us so many variations of our signature guitars that we’ve really dialled it in playability wise.”
For Syn’s part, he describes using his Schecter model as a “no brainer” these days, which is probably fair given that he says he’s used it for every record since he first got it.
“It plays good and I’ve always loved the tone,” he tells TG. “The body of the guitar is huge, so it just resonates so well. Then the thin but hot-sounding [Seymour Duncan] Invader pickups work hand-in-hand.”
There are a few conspiracy stories around brand endorsements, but despite the fact that Avenged have got signature gear coming out of their eyeballs, there’s never a guarantee that it’ll make an album.
“We always do what’s best for the song,” explains Zacky. “If it means throwing away an entire song, then we throw away the song. If it means getting our feelings hurt because we’re not going to use our amp or our particular guitar, then we’ll do that.”