Me and my guitar: Talons' Oliver Steels

Talons guitarist Oliver Steels on how his Reverend Descent inspired the instrumentalists’ current album.

Scale-length

“It’s actually a baritone guitar, but it doesn’t have the full traditional baritone scale length [this has 26-3/4-inch instead of the usual 27 inches or more]. So it plays and feels half way between a standard guitar and a true baritone. I’ve had it for about two years now and I’ve got a couple of other Reverend guitars – I’ve got a Double Agent and Sensei.

I tend to play a lot on the neck pickup because, for me, it’s got a slightly bluesier sound

“When I first discovered them as guitars, I was looking for something in the mold of a Telecaster with a slightly different feel. I tend to play a lot on the neck pickup because, for me, it’s got a slightly bluesier sound, especially with the other guitarist, Sam [Jarvis], in the band. He tends to be traditionally more high-end, so I’ve always found the neck pickup has a beefier sound and distinguishes between the two different guitars sounds in the band.”

Tax-efficient

“I got this guitar delivered to my hotel in Las Vegas when I was getting married there a couple of years ago, because if I’d had it delivered to the UK I’d have had to pay extra tax on it. So it was carry-on luggage on the plane.”

Bari-tone

“When Reverend released these baritones, I was intrigued to see how they’d play – I’d never played a baritone before. It’s the guitar I use on every song on the current album [We All Know]. It’s defined how those songs have been written and played - it’s tuned from E to B, a whole step down. I tend to mess around with that tuning and drop D, so the low E string ends up being an A.

“On the new album, it’s brought a different sound altogether; it’s harder to distinguish between whether it’s the bass or guitar playing. It also means the higher notes cut through more as you have slightly chunkier gauge strings. They go down to 0.068 and up to 0.012 – quite heavy gauge without feeling too much like playing a bass. It’s a nice marriage between the two.”

Out of scale

You can hear that tremolo lot on the new album because I’m having fun with it

“Going back to a normal guitar after playing this, it’s quite like playing a toy because the scale length is so much shorter, but it’s a great guitar and Ken [Haas] over at Reverend has been very supportive. Any time I’ve had queries he’s been able to get in touch and sort us out.

“I don’t think I’m going to go back to any more mainstream names. I’ve always played around with Fender guitars and did have a BC Rich Warlock at one point, when I was going through a teenage angst stage I suppose. I’ve toned it down with [Oceanside] Green.”

Tremolo

“All the other guitars I’ve ever owned have a had a fixed bridge, whereas this one has a Wilkinson tremolo on it. You can hear that a lot on the new album because I’m having fun with it. A lot of friends of mine went through the seven-string guitar thing and the whole floating trem Floyd Rose thing, but I never really did that. This has been a lot of fun.”

Headstock

“People ask me why about these [excess string-lengths on the headstock]. I change strings every three gigs, but I never chop them.”

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