Me and my guitar: Ratt's Warren DeMartini

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(Image: © Adam Reiver)

Ratt's lead man Warren DeMartini talks Charvel past and present with his new Frenchie signature.

Blanc canvas

“We call this the Frenchie. [The original guitar design] was made right around when we released a Ratt album called Reach For The Sky [1988] and Mike Shannon took a Strat and cut around it to make a kind of Telecaster edge. I went to Charvel - at that time it was in San Dimas, California. 

“Grover [Jackson] had these blank [bodies], four of them: one was red, one was white, one was black and one had no finish on it at all. And the one that had no finish on it ended up becoming the snake guitar. Because I actually had a real snakeskin that I got in New Orleans, a friend of mine applied that to one of the four blanks and the other one, the white one, became this guitar.”

French art

“This says: ‘Too fast to live, too young to die’ in French. Or it’s supposed to be. It’s not correct French but I just thought it looked cool. So I took this blank, it was primed white, to a friend, Gene Hunter who used to play bass in Jake’s [Jake E Lee] band in San Diego, a band called Teaser. He was an artist, so we just spent an evening and we applied the clip art where it looked appropriate. In two or three hours we had this done. After a couple of days I took the body out to Charvel and he assembled it with a neck and that ended up becoming Frenchie.”

Seymour Duncan RTM

“This has a pickup that Seymour Duncan designed for this whole line. It’s called the RTM pickup, and that stands for Rattus Tonus Maximus. It’s quite a hot output. I took the Cross Sword Charvel to the Seymour Duncan factory in Santa Barbara and we spent an afternoon putting different pickups in it when we started this line back in 2008. 

“I was playing it through a cleaner amp that didn’t have a lot of distortion, so we ended up going with a hotter pickup as it sounded better that afternoon. On my setup I tend to back off the distortion a little bit because the output of this pickup is quite hot, probably around 17k. That’s pretty high. It just sounded good in that guitar.”

Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder

“This is a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder. The earlier Charvels I had didn’t have the neck single-coil pickup. I added that later... I have a ’58 Fender Strat and I started recording with that sound in the late 80s to early 90s. I just really liked the sound of this pickup for certain things in this position. It was something we started from scratch when we did the signature series in 2008. I use it live, nothing too planned out. I switch it on and off throughout the show for parts of the leads.”

Floyd Rose

“Live, I tend to make it so that the Floyd Rose doesn’t float - though I do like that when I use it in a situation where I’m not moving [otherwise] the tuning tends to get a little dodgy during a Ratt show anyway. It’s also good if a string breaks because you don’t completely lose the tuning and can finish the song. If the bridge is set to float and you break a string you have to just stop.”

Ratt will tour in 2018. Dates TBC.

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