Me and my guitar: Arch Enemy's Michael Amott

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(Image: © Dirk Behlau)

V-fan Michael Amott talks us through his best-selling Dean signature...

Crouching tiger

“When I started playing Vs they weren’t as common as they are now. You find something and it feels comfortable and it’s a very unique shape; the way it makes you play, the angle and everything. If you look at when Michael Schenker, Dave Mustaine or myself go into a lead break, we’re kind of crouching over the guitar. That’s just how you dig into it and get in there. It’s different.”

Tyrant tweaks

The neck pickup is right up to the neck joint so it really captures the sound of the wood and the bottom end of the guitar

“When I started to develop the Tyrant after coming from ESP with the Ninja signature, I wanted a slimmer neck, but still a C-shape. Slightly tapered... I also wanted the cutaway to be different. I’d had my first stab at a signature model with ESP and then I wanted to take it to the next level and improve that. The neck pickup is right up to the neck joint so it really captures the sound of the wood and the bottom end of the guitar.”

Not for the chop

“Dean Guitars are big on graphics and like doing eye-catching guitars, which was never my thing before when it was a black one or white one. Now I’m doing something more extravagant. We had one called Splatter, which is the best-selling Dean signature model in Europe. I think that’s just because it’s a cool guitar - it’s got nothing to do with me! Now we’ve got this new one, which we’re calling Battleaxe, it’s kind of a variation on the same theme. I always have the same specs.”

Sound decision

“I thought I’d never leave Seymour Duncan with the Jazz ’59 in the neck and the JB in the bridge. I had that in all my guitars and that was my sound. I didn’t know about things like OEM [Original Equipment Manufacturer]. Dean said to try their pickups that they make at the Dean facility in Florida.

“I was very skeptical, of course, I thought maybe it would stray too far from my sound but actually they did such a great job on that Tyrant pickup, it’s very close to what I was using before, basically. It’s got a little bit higher output, but not by much. It’s a very musical pickup.

“The neck pickup I have is called a Time Capsule, a vintage-style humbucker. I do switch a lot between my bridge and neck pickup. I’m constantly going back and forth between those in solos.”

Tracking down

I find the V to be the best guitar in the studio that there is

“I find the V to be the best guitar in the studio that there is. If you place your right leg in between the two wings, you end up with an angle that is very reminiscent of a classical guitar. The neck is right there and the angle of my right arm is totally relaxed. It’s not like when I play a Les Paul in the studio and I end up with an awkward angle of my right arm. 

“I stack four perfect rhythm guitar tracks on each song per album and it’s a lot of guitar tracking. It was three weeks on this new album tracking rhythm guitar. Long days of punishing my arms and the guitars. But I’m in a very comfortable place with the V. I know a lot of people say you can’t play a V sitting down, but that’s nonsense. They’re just doing it wrong.”

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