Usually I lead into my topic with a story or anecdote that (hopefully) pulls you the reader to my side to be further convinced as my editorial spins out over what I often hear is way too many paragraphs.
Nuts to that this time, though!
I love Keith Merrow’s Schecter. I am completely, 100% sold on the beast and it has yet to be produced or offered to the mass market. The pictures we’ve all seen here on Guitar Noize was just the prototype and needed some slight corrections. The bridge pickup needed to be moved back, the volume knob needed to be pushed out of the way a bit, and he covered his pickups, but that’s about it.
And it. Is. Perfect! For me, anyway.
Why is it perfect for me? Well, let’s rattle off the reasons, shall we?
1) It’s not black. Maybe it’s because I’m not huge into metal, but it seems to me that black guitars are painfully cliche. They’re fingerprint magnets, they take away from the shape of the guitar to the point where you rely on binding to announce where your guitar ends and your (probably) black shirt begins, and they’re horrible under stage lights. White or light-colored guitars play with the light more and make you stand out as you play them. And as brash as a white guitar may be, if you put a transparent white finish over a figured top, it subtles both the figured wood and the finish up quite a bit.
Which I’m all for.
2) It has limited controls – one volume knob and a pickup switch. When I tried out a Gretsch Hot Rod (which also has just a master volume and a pickup switch), I fell in love with the fact that I couldn’t monkey around with knobs all the time. I’m a bit of a nut, but I like having my options taken away because it makes you have to make do SOMEHOW and if there’s no possible way in the electronics that your tone should suck, but it does suck, it makes you think critically about the mechanics of your playing. Sure, we all know that it’s probably our playing that is the reason our playing or tone sucks, but if there’s a chance it’s the gear, why wouldn’t we blame it? We have egos to look out for after all!
3) The inlays are awesome. Moving the inlays from the top of the neck (like the first five on the KM-7) to the bottom (like the last five on the KM-7) means you have an easier time navigating that octave on the high strings, which (let’s be honest) is probably why you’re up that high anyway (reference above picture).
4) All the wound strings are tuned on the same side of the headstock. I didn’t think I would care so much about a headstock being reversed from 3/4 to 4/3, but I can’t help it. This little detail and knowing that all my wound strings are next to each other… I don’t know. There’s something about that that calls out to me in a big way.
5) It doesn’t look like a Schecter. I should clarify that a bit: there’s a picture in my head of what a Schecter looks like and it has a lot of abalone, a garishly figured top, and a neck that features crazy inlays of bats, skulls, lightning bolts, crosses, or flag girls. The matte finish of the KM-7 and understated class of the options he chose (smaller dot inlays, and a not-insanely figured top). And this isn’t to say that my mental image of a Schecter is universally bad, it’s just not my personal style. I much prefer something like this:
6) It supposedly doesn’t play like a Schecter. All Schecters I’ve played featured a pretty chunky neck and, while comfortable enough, isn’t perfect for me. I’m not looking for Ibanez-thin or anything, but something thinner than standard Schecter will be well-received by me.
7) The pickups Merrow chose would have also been chosen by me. He did a pickup shootout a while ago, which you can see HERE and I sided with the Sentient and Nazgul.
Let me repeat that last name: the NAZGUL. The Nazgul are the ring-wraiths from Lord of the Rings – nine kings of men who have achieved something very similar to immortality to serve their dark lord Sauron on his quest for the one ring of power, which they also lust for.
For a great big geek like me, a Nazgul pickup must be purchased at some point or another. If it comes with a guitar that has absolutely everything else I want and nothing I don’t, then that’s quite the bonus for me.
8) The guitar is light. I’m getting too old to worry about not being comfortable when I play my guitar.
And speaking of comfort, the guitar also features contours of the tummy variety – also something that sneaks up on the aging.
9) It’s a hard tail. Not JUST a hard tail, but a hard tail with a Hipshot bridge. That means a string-through body, an uncluttered look on the top, no sharp edges and a very comfortable place to rest your hand for palm mutes. Flatline Guitars turned me on to these bridges on their Delta 90 (a Tele-inspired guitar) and as far as I’m concerned it is the only way to do a Tele, or any hard tail.
10) Direct-mounted pickups. The time of unsightly pickup rings is OVER, people! Time to move on!
11) Even the “signature” piece on the guitar is classy and just a truss rod cover. There are those out there that get really hung up on playing “someone else’s” guitar and these people especially shy away from something that is blatant about who’s sig the guitar REALLY is, but a truss rod cover? If it bothers you that much, just swap it out. You’ll be out a couple of bucks and you’ll be able to breathe easy knowing that now that the approximately 2-3″ piece of plastic has been replaced, no one will shout out from the back of the club to play “Stone King,” after confusing you with Keith Merrow.
Overall, while Keith Merrow may claim that this is “his” signature guitar, it seems oddly suspicious that it’s exactly what I wanted in a seven string guitar. And don’t claim coincidence either. This reeks of witchcraft.
OK, so maybe he didn’t use witchcraft to tap into the mind of a struggling blogger out here in the land of the Internet, but it’s nothing short of magical when a player sees a guitar that lines up so perfectly with what they like that they know there’s a big “click” and the two will fit perfectly together. Isn’t this what we’re all after? Isn’t this why we subscribe to music retailers’ catalogs and read blog posts about NAMM? Isn’t this why we buy, sell, and trade guitars? Aren’t we all looking for that one instrument out there that jives so perfectly with who we are as players that it can only be described as fate?
Now, even though I’m saying we’re all looking for our instrument soul mates, I’m NOT saying just one guitar would ever be enough for us, because different occasions call for different weapons from our guitarsenals. What I am saying is that like your clothes, guitars that fit you make for a more comfortable, relaxed, and able you. That’s a good goal to have and what Merrow was able to achieve to me with his model.
*All photos courtesy of Keith Merrow.