Selasa, 21 Agustus 2012

Michael Schenker's Guitar and Sounds

Hello there,folks
Welcome (again) to my blog,and here is my new post..
Lately,I don't have any work to do,all i do are practicing,playing games,browsing,and of course,sleeping..(lol).

Well,also,lately i've been into late 70's guitar heroes' stuffs,such as Gary Moore,Van Halen,Queen,Rush,Scorpions,Mahogany Rush,UFO and stuffs like that.In my opinion,the 70's guitar heroes are the best (but i liked 80's a lot,too),since there are many variety of guitarists back then,and all of them are unique on their own.Well,i thought 80's was fuckin' good too,but it's dominated with shredding scene and a LOT of guitarists are just trying to be fastest guitarist alive (No disrespect to Rusty Cooley,Michael Batio,and else,i loved them!).The late 70's were different,It's filled with virtuous guitarist,but they had their own uniqueness,style and "magic" that makes them really stands out.They also raise the standards for guitarists (indirectly influenced shred scene in 80's),but no one sounds alike.There are melodic guitarists like Brian May,a virtuoso,all-arounder like Steve Morse and Steve Lukather,a technical progressive machine like Alex Lifeson,and of course proto-shredders like Uli Jon Roth,Frank Marino,Eddie Van Halen (though he popularized tapping,not the fast shredding).But the late 70's guitarist that IMHO stands out and really got me is Michael Schenker. He got everything that a guitar hero should have,the fast runs,melodic phrasing,killer vibrato,ingenious solos,technical prowess,well,everything,including the enigmatic and difficult personality just like Blackmore...xD

Michael Schenker started his career at age 13 with Rudolf Schenker,his older brother,in his band Scorpions.They released their debut album "The Lonesome Crow",when Schenker was only 17,already a renowned,respected and influental guitarist in rock guitar scene.Schenker's virtuous ability make UFO's Phil Moog interested and recruited him to his band.Michael was replaced by Uli Jon Roth.

With UFO,Michael Schenker was going wild.They releases countless classics and of course brilliant albums,like Phenomenon,No Heavy Petting,Lights Out,Force It,Obsession,and of course,the brilliant live album Strangers in The Night.

After his departure from UFO,Michael Schenker ain't holding back!
He keeps rocking wild with his own group,Michael Schenker Group (MSG),creates some epic songs like Desert Song,Systems Failing,Armed and Ready,also instrumentals like Captain Nemo,Ulcer,and Into The Arena.Thanks to these epics,Michael is considered as German's heavy metal granddaddy,although he didn't get mainstream recognition like his contemporaries such as Eddie Van Halen,or Randy Rhoads,even though he started earlier that both of those heroes,since he's quite troublesome and his lifestyle are unorganized.

Schenker is known as a Flying-V - Marshall guy,since he almost didn't use anything apart from that combo,except for a cocked wah pedal for some coloring in his solos. I will share some of his gears here :

Guitars :
1. Gibson Les Paul

Though Michael mostly used Flying V in his career and even associated with the Flying V,The first guitar he used in his early career was a Les Paul.Michael decides to be a V user after one Scorpions gig,which he broke a string on his Les Paul,and Rudolf exchanged his V with his Les Paul so Michael can keep soloing.After the gig,Michael fell in love with a V,and decided to switch to Vs.Nothing known what happened to this Les Paul after Michael switch to Flying V.

UFO Era guitars :
2. Gibson Flying V (Red)
Michael used this guitar in his UFO days back then in 70's.It's an unmodified Flying V with red finish.
It was his main guitar when he's still in UFO,and you can see this guitar in almost all performance of 70's UFO Schenker Era,alongside with his white V.It's unknown if this V or the white one that were used in Strangers in The Night live album.

3. Gibson Flying V (White)

One of his other V used in UFO days.It's a Flying V with a modified pickup (it's unknown what kind of pickup he used here).This guitar was one of his main guitar in his UFO days,along with his red V.This guitar can be seen in "Only You Can Rock Me" music video.This guitar was mainly used in "Obsession" era.

Classic MSG Era guitars :
Back then in 1980s,in his MSG days,Schenker plays 4 main guitars equipped with Seymour Duncan JBs and endorses Aria Guitars,Japan.All of the guitars are the Flying Vs,obviously.But contrary to popular belief,he didn't endorse Gibson (he was endorsed by Aria),and mostly used a custom made Flying V,despite using Gibsons in his earlier days.Now,i'll show you some information about his guitars that i got from browsing and watches his videos :

4. Flying V #1
From what said,this guitar is his main guitar.As you can see,the condition was not really good (you can see the bottom right of the guitar was taped).It's modified quite lot,since he change it's pickguard and tuner to Schaller tuners.It's neck are also glued together.The guitar was equipped with Seymour Duncan JB Humbuckers.But the most important thing worth noticing is,there are no "Gibson" brand logo in the headstock,indicated it's not Gibson,but rather a Custom one.

Here's the picture of the damaged neck,also taken from :

5. Flying V #2 (Gibson)
Nothing much known about this guitar (i have searched some trivias and stuffs for this guitar,but no result).It's a modified Gibson Flying V,also equipped with Seymour Duncan.Michael rarely used this guitar and it's unknown what happened to this guitar.

6. Flying V #3

Michael's other main guitar in 80's,this one got block inlays,just like a Gibson Flying.But,actually,it's also not a Gibson,but a Custom one as well (see the headstock picture above).Michael used an original pickup and attach surrounding rings on those pickups.It has faded notes scribbled on the top wing's edge.It's speculated as the guitar smashed in "Built To Destroy" album cover,but i doubt it,since it's in much better condition then #1

7. Flying V #4 (Destroyed)
Well,as you can see in the picture above,the #4 guitar was destroyed back in the day.It originally belongs to Leon Lawson.It's an Alpine White finish Gibson Flying V

8. Aria Pro II XX-MS
This guitar is the actual Michael's signature that was endorsed by Michael,as Michael said that he's not endorsed by Gibson,but rather a guitar company from Japan (Aria).It looks a lot like his custom guitars,but the headstock shaped different.Ironically,Michael Schenker never uses these guitar live,but it's unknown if he used those guitar in recordings or not.It's not produced anymore,and considered as a rare collector items for guitar collectors.

Present days guitars :

9. Dean Michael Schenker Signature V (Multiple,with alternate paint jobs)
In 2000's,Michael Schenker endorsed by one of big names in heavy metal guitar industries,Dean guitars.Dean guitars made V guitars with Michael's specification,even made a custom pickups called DMT Michael Schenker Lights Out PU.Almost all of this signature V equipped with those pickups.There are many paintjobs variations for this signature,the standard one,checkmate,flames,retro (see above),and Strangers in The Night paintjobs.

Amplifiers :

Michael's most notable amplifiers are both Marshalls,The 1987x MKII 50 Watt series and JCM800 2205 series,in UFO and MSG eras respectively.His tone is more gainy than his predecessors,but not as metallic as a glam metal guitarists.His tone is more gainy when he's in MSG,which is obvious since in 80's most of heavy bands used a lot of distortion.Ironically,Michael didn't use any distortion or even an overdrive pedals in his career! He's more a straight to the amp guy,which makes him awesome,but also difficult to copy.

About his amp settings,well,he vary it quite a lot.But from what i read and try,he always keep the volume on 8,and gain on 9-10.His solo tone are often colored with a wah pedal and slight of delay.Michael also stated that he didn't use any modulation effects in his recordings.The effects was added later.

For those who still curious about his amp settings,i got some pic from It's his amp settings when he performed with UFO in 2000s : -> more detailed pic

A Marshall 1987x Mk II series,the key of Schenker's UFO era tones.

Marshall JCM800 2205.JCM800 series was really popular back then,eh?

Effects :
Effectwise,Michael is NOT a big fan of effects.He only adds some delay,chorus,and a fixed wah on his playing.The rest of his tone is his phrasing and fingers.But unexpectedly,a Wah pedal is essential to nail his lead tones.He often used a wah pedal to color his tone in leads and add some "moods" into his playing,but he didn't use it as many player does.He only sets it in "one sweet spot" to boost his lead tones and leaves it there.From what i listen,he never abuse the wah the way Slash,Hendrix,or Hammet used the wah.I really loved the way Michael used his effects,since he didn't use lot of EFX,but sounds really great and distinctive.It proves that to be great guitarist,you don't need a huge-ass pedalboard filled with a lot of expensive effects.

I'll only review his past pedalboards,since i loved his old tones and he altered his pedalboard quite a lot lately.But if you insists to see it,here they are :
From r-l : Boss Tuner,Chorus,Digital Delay,Ibanez Tube Screamer,Dunlop Dimebag Wah,don't have any idea about two other pedals,unfortunately

1. Jim Dunlop Crybaby Wah
Michael used a standard Dunlop Crybaby before he used the Dimebag ones.As i stated above,he didn't use the wah the way most guitarist used it.He used a "fixed" wah techniques to add some boost and tone in his solos.In my own experience,his "sweet spot" is usually in between,so don't stomp it to deep or shallow.Just keep searching for the nice boost tone,and you'll get there.

2. Boss RV-3 Digital Reverb/Delay
Michael also used this classic delay-reverb pedals made by Boss back then.I never try this one before (And i don't have any idea who still have it nowadays),so i don't want to give any comment on it.But Michael have some delay/reverb moments in some songs like "Bijou Pleasurette" and almost all songs,but i don't know if it's this or the Boss DD-3 that was used on the track.

3. Boss CH-5 Chorus Ensemble
Michael have this pedal in his pedalboard.He often used it for some coloring in his live performances.

4. Boss DD-3 Digital Delay

Delay is a staple pedals for an electric guitarists,and Michael (obviously),also used it.Looks like Michael had some fondness for Boss pedals,since most of his pedals are Boss pedals.He used the DD-3 Digital Delay mostly in his live performance,but i don't have any idea if it's this pedal or the RV-3 he used in recordings.I've tried this one,and it's an impressive delay with 3 delay time (never try the "Hold",since it's not mine),50ms,200ms,and 800ms (ms stands for miliseconds,800ms means the delay was repeated in interval of 0.8 seconds).But,from what i know,there are 2 big differences when i tried this pedal if you compared it to Michael Schenker :
1. I'm sure his Boss pedals are the vintage,japanese made ones,and the one i tried was a brand-new,taiwan made Boss DD-3,so i don't know how it feels to try on those legendary pedals.(The only japanese Boss Pedals which i ever try,and fortunately owned,is a Boss OC-2 Octave pedal).

2. He's Michael Schenker,and i'm just another amateur guitarist.His approach when he used a delay pedal is genius,whilst i didn't really understand what the hell i was doing when i try a delay pedal (not a big-user of a delay,i only used it for a slapback echo or a pseudo-reverb)

Unlike Blackmore's,Michael's effect pedals are quite easy to get.You can found most of those pedals in big music store in your town (Except for that RV-3 thing,i never see one before,but whatever,just use the delay,for godsake!)

Michael used Dunlop .88 mm picks and also D'Angelico strings with standard .009 gauges
There you are,see ya next time!

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