Signature guitars are so interesting to me that I should classify them as a hobby unto themselves. They have had varying degrees of success from different brands trying to attack different genres and appeal to different customers, but there’s always been something interesting about them to me. In no other guitar is this more apparent than the Schecter Keith Merrow KM-7. Keith Merrow seemed to come out of nowhere in recent years writing insanely good metal albums that eschew singers, performing video reviews/demos on YouTube, and being asked to come work with Seymour Duncan (as well as instruct, offer studio playing, mixing and mastering services, video editing, drum sequencing, and re-amping for interested parties). The man is busy and his success is hard-earned.
And, while some signature guitars are released only to flop on the masses like a land-bound fish, the KM-7 has proven to be so successful that it sold out of its first two orders before the first order was even touched by stores or customers. The specs on it are very unique and thought-out and you can tell that a great deal of consideration went into making a great guitar, not just a great metal guitar or just a great seven string guitar. It has a classy look that doesn’t scream metal, with no traditional opaque black or sharp angles so it’s hard to pin down an expectation of what you think you’re going to hear from a player which is something we should all enjoy.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Merrow about his signature guitar and he gave me all the details about the development of it including his required specs, what his goal was, and how much of a role he had in the development himself. These kinds of details don’t pop up in most artist interviews often, so it’s a real treat to meet a guitarist who is so free with the interesting details about their signature model coming up and being released!
Guitar Noize: How did your signature Schecter come to be?
Keith Merrow: Back in the summer of 2013, Jeff Loomis and I were in the middle of writing the Conquering Dystopia album. He’s really close with the guys at Schecter, and they had been talking to him about getting me on the Schecter artist roster. They sent me a few guitars to try out, as well as some 2014 prototype guitars they were working on. I was really impressed with the quality and playability of them. I started playing the SLS model guitar quite a bit, and they just sort of came out of nowhere and offered me a signature model. Really stoked about it.
Did Schecter approach you with a potential signature model that you tweaked, or were you in a more “hands-on” role with all the specs?
When they told me to spec out my signature model, they didn’t give any specific restrictions, or any specific direction that they wanted me to go with the design. I ended up basing the guitar on the SLS, but made some pretty significant changes to it. They let me pick the exact specs I wanted without question. They were happy and excited about the design I came up with for the KM7.
What were some of the specs that you insisted on?
I had to have Seymour Duncan pickups in it (because that’s what I like), but I also work for Seymour Duncan, so I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m also partial to the Hipshot bridge, so that was a must. The wood choices were also very important to me. I essentially insisted on all the specs you see on the guitar. Schecter made the guitar to my exact specs and preferences.
You’ve reviewed a ton of gear and had custom guitars and even a previous signature guitar. Was this model a result of incremental discoveries of what you like and don’t like along the way?
Absolutely. I’ve had the privilege of playing many different guitars, ranging from mid-grade production guitars, all the way up to full custom shop guitars. Having done that, I knew exactly what I liked the most, and spec’d the guitar accordingly.
Was this a guitar that you made specifically for you, or were you aiming for a particular segment of the guitar-playing crowd?
A bit of both to be honest. Although it’s made specifically for me, it will undoubtedly appeal to many guitar players. It’s exactly what I wanted in a guitar, but in turn, it will likely be the perfect guitar for a lot of people who share similar tastes and interests.
After you received your prototype you posted pictures on the Internet and the guitar players definitely had opinions. Did any of those opinions factor into the slight changes that occurred after the prototype?
No, not really. I wanted to stick to my own design and spec because this will be my main guitar for a long time. If it’s not exactly what I want in a guitar, it wouldn’t quite be a “signature” instrument.
Was the mid-level price-point a goal or just a happy coincidence?
I didn’t have any input when it came to pricing, but I was definitely hoping that Schecter made it a reasonably priced guitar. I feel that they did just that. So yes, it was a very happy coincidence.
Were there any specs that you wanted, but seemed too individual or pricey for the mass market and needed to be sacrificed?
Nope! Like I said, they made the guitar to my exact specifications. There were no compromises on either end. They nailed it!
For more information on Keith Merrow’s new signature guitar the Schecter KM-7 click here