Date of Birth:
24 August 1988
Beyond Creation, Vektor, Meshuggah, Conquering Dystopia, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Job for a Cowboy, Opeth, 3 Inches of Blood
Metal, Gaming, CCGs, Programming, Turbochargers
Gear snobs & forumwarriors – we’d all be playing identical rigs if we thought like them.
Under the Chernobyl Cloud
Damian has been playing guitar for 16 years, bass for 11 years. He hasn’t cut his hair for 10 years, because that’s where his power comes from.
6 String Guitars
- Ibanez RG550DY Genesis Reissue
- Seymour Duncan Shop Floor Custom Pickups – Sweltering Pink Distortion in the Bridge & Hangover Green Pearly Gates in the Neck
- D’Addario XL 12-16-24w-34-46-66
This guitar looks ridiculous, and I love it. I’ve been drawn back to 6 string guitars since I have pretty small hands, so it’s easier to play aggressively for longer shows. Also, I don’t know why I ever stopped using floating trems. They’re the best. Maple fretboards are awesome, and this is your standard fare with a Japanese Ibby- a neck you can’t even see when you turn the guitar sideways.
The Duncan Distortion is the kind of pickup that struggles to make friends, and if I’m honest I just picked up the neck pickup because it was bright green. I have a white Full Shred I’m going to drop in at my next string change to see how that performs, and I might swap an angrier magnet into the Pearly Gates.
7 String Guitars
- Ibanez RGDIX7-MPB
- Fishman Fluence Modern 7 Pickups
- D’Addario NYXL 1059 Strings
Honestly, I bought it because it was pretty, but the fixed bridge and extended scale length are something that really works for our music. A little extra tension on the low A really lends itself to tight chugs and palm mutes without needing to buy your top string from Eskom. It’s reliable, and the quality coming out of the Ibanez Indonesian factories these days is stellar.
The Fishman pickups are a recent addition, as the stock pickups were incredibly bright (which I love), but lacked punch. The Fishmans are supremely accurate, and voiced perfectly. They’re not wound- they’re printed PCB layers. This means the opposing coils cancel out hum perfectly, and the flat response makes use of tiny preamps in each pickup to provide a variety of tones. They also make the guitar look very unique, which counts for a lot in my book.
- Ibanez RG7620
- Bare Knuckle Juggernaut 7 Pickups
- D’Addario NYXL 1059 Strings
Old faithful. The RG7620 was the budget version of the iconic 7 string JEMs, and the early versions like mine (1999) are even stamped as JEM necks. It’s out of the Fujigen factory, has Gotoh tuners, the much-lauded Lo-Pro 7 Bridge, but came with a basswood body and a set of odd Dimarzio pickups (I’ll do a blog post on these soon- the neck pickup is a peach!).
I replaced the pickups with a wild set of Bare Knuckle Juggernauts- while I’m not a massive Periphery fan, you can’t deny that Bulb knows tone. The philosophy of these pickups are the polar opposite of the clinical Fishmans, but they both culminate in brutal, low-noise, articulate pickups. The neck pickup in particular shines, a combo of Alnico and Ceramic magnets results in a smooth yet aggressive nature that I love. These tend to move more air than the Fishmans, so they are very exciting at band practice, when I’m right in front of the cab.
- ISP Decimator 2 Noise Reduction
- Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor
- TC Electronic Spark Booster
- TC Electronic Alter Ego X4 Delay
- Snark SN10-S Tuner
- AKG SR40 Flexx Wireless Receiver
- BBE Supa-Charger Power Supply
I use two noise suppressors. In front of the amp, I have a Boss NS-2. It’s not set very aggressively, as it’s just there to clamp down on very slight noises that push my amp to feedback town. In it’s loop, I have my Spark Booster. I only really use this if the venue or house cab needs that little bit extra. It offers some nice tone shaping options that most boosts lack, and can saturate my tone a bit if I’m feeling childish. The boost does tend to increase noise from the preamp significantly, and really makes feedback unmanageable in smaller venues. The NS-2 shines for this application.
In the loop, I have my ISP Decimator. This is also set very conservatively, just eliminating preamp hum and any little noises that creep through during breakdowns. It doesn’t have to work hard, as the NS-2 takes care of the little stuff before it’s boosted into oblivion by the gain stages.
After the Decimator, I have my delay pedal. The X4 offers massive flexibility, and 3 presets on tap. I have one slapback delay for shreddy solos, one larger delay with some chorus for epic solos, and a massive, ambient mess of a delay with all sorts of modulation for ambient intros & outros, or if I want to monopolize the entire world’s supply of feedback.
Naturally, a tuner is a must, because all the pedals in the world won’t make you sound good if you’re out of tune. My wireless is used when the stage and venue has room for me to roam free.
Powering all of this is a BBE Supa-Charger, which I only mention because it reliably delivers more current than rated, allowing me to power my massive delay pedal and my wireless receiver without lugging their wall warts to gigs.
- Victory Amplification VX Kraken
This is my main gigging amplifier. It’s tiny- I walk into a gig with my pedalboard on one shoulder, and this amp on the other. If I have my guitars in my dual gig bag, I literally have two hands free. What a pleasure.
Beyond the size, though- this amp was a revelation for me. It’s not middy, per se, but it loves to have it’s mids pushed, and it’s EQ sits in a space that the mids that are boosted are very pleasing to the ear. It can be deceptive at first, seeming to not have as much gain on tap as other amplifiers, but it simply handles gain differently, making sure that the bass is kept under control, meaning this amp is as tight as you can get. The mid characteristics mean that you cut through the mix effortlessly, also resulting in a perceived volume that is much higher than is actually being used.
There’s no clean channel, but the first channel gives a slightly gritty Marshall clean when you kick the gain back.
I love this amplifier. It’s responsive, flattering, convenient, simple, and brutal. Just like me.
- Mesa Boogie Mark V
The boss himself. This is basically an analog Kemper. It is 9 amps in one, with a million more options to boot. It has some of the most phenomenal clean tones I’ve ever heard, a spine-tingling reverb, and plenty brutality. It also does great at living-room volume.
My Kraken is for live brutality, and this is for everything else. It has slightly more oomph than the Kraken, while being slightly less focused. It’s stellar flexibility and good low-volume tone mean I play it all the time at home.
The staggering flexibility means it takes some time to dial in your tones, and you need to build a rapport with the amp, understanding the controls intimately. It’s flexibility makes it’s controls unusual- in it’s more extreme channels, gain and treble are basically two types of gain. Mids are more like saturation, and the first of of the bass control is “oomph”, while the second half is “sludge”. Presence is more like treble, and master is both “volume” and “balls”.
In addition, the graphic EQ is located later than the rest of the EQ, meaning that while it performs more like a regular EQ, it manipulates the frequencies differently- cranking the bass here adds room-filling thump without adding flub.
All-in-all, a holy grail of tones, but can inflict option paralysis on it’s users.
- Peavey 3120 120W Head
The Peavey 3120 is a truly underrated amplifier. We don’t see it often here in South Africa, which adds to the appeal, but it initially released as the XXX, using 6L6 tubes. The XXX lived in the shadow of the 6505 for it’s life, and once Peavey re-released it with EL34 tubes as standard as the 3120, it struggled to escape it’s stigma. The EL34s, however, bring the amp to life, and it’s a perfect compliment to Gav’s 6L6-loaded 6505+.
Clean, Rhythm, and Lead all sound phenomenal with this amp once you get used to the active EQ section. It’s not quite as middy as the 6505+, meaning you need to be careful of getting lost in the mix. This amp loves a big scoop of it’s mids.
- Hughes & Kettner CC412 A3 4×12 Cabinet
I have this cab loaded with two V30’s and two 1978 Celestion G12H30 Blackbacks, with the 444-stamped 55hz bass cones. They pick up the lows that the V30s lack, without losing clarity or overwhelming the listener. They also have a bit more highs to them, but not enough to be harsh.
- Molded hearing protection
Guys, this is so important- I see far too few musicians wearing these. Alpine ( and many other manufactures) produce hearing protection that does not alter the character of the sound- it just turns the volume down. Last I checked, they were just over five hundred bucks. If you play loud music, this is a pittance, because I know how much you spend on guitars and amps.
What’s more, several audiologists can offer custom molded protection for between R800 and R5000, depending on the colour of your credit card. As musicians, hearing damage and loss will destroy that which you’ve spent thousands of hours honing. Please wear hearing protection.
To the fans- you guys need this as well. Alpine do Party Plugs that will cost you less than a good night out. It will cost less than the Uber to & from said night out. If you’re really strapped for cash, go to Builder’s Warehouse and get some plugs from there- they won’t be as neutral as musician’s plugs, but it’s worthwhile tradeoff for a future of enjoying metal.
- Dunlop Ultex Jazz III XL
- Planet Waves Nylpro Plus Jazz Picks
I enjoy these because they’re slightly larger than a Jim Dunlop Jazz, and have a bit of grip on them, while having a smooth, sharp point, and absolutely no flex, and with a forgiving bevel.
Another aspect of guitar picks that many overlook, is how they affect your tone. Many aggressively stiff picks, such as the Ultex, can result in a very sharp pick attack.
Both work- I just find the Ultex wears far more smoothly than Nylon, which can become quite raspy after some use.
- Dunlop Primetone (Large, Sharp Tip, 3mm)
This chunky pick makes shredding easy, once you’re used to it. The extreme bevel means you can play quickly without excessive pick angle, both up and down the strings. I’m enjoying the larger size, which lets me relax my grip on the pick. This pricey pick is available in a standard version, but the primetone’s added grip and sharper tip are perfect for my needs. It also helps with quick galloping, gliding over the strings without losing attack.