The Torch is a monthly tech series aimed to please the fascination of amateurs and experts alike. After five long years of my dear musician friends pestering me, it is my great pleasure to kick off October with the series' long awaited return—And I couldn’t have better company. Our guests hail from Sweden, Rome, and Los Angeles respectfully, fraught in haunting holiday cheer.
D&D: How old were you when you got your first guitar? What was your first guitar?
Alex Nine: I was 9 years old! I got myself an old acoustic guitar from my grandparents, and then within a year I got my first electric guitar, a Squier Showmaster.
Nemes: I was 13 when my grandfather gave me my first guitar. It was a classical studio guitar, not an electric guitar. After about a year, as a Christmas present, my parents gave me my first electric guitar, an off-brand of Ibanez I believe, called Silver Cadet (worst guitar ever LOL :D )
K8 Panik: I got my first guitar when I was about 11. My parents got me a black Fender Strat and a little practice amp for my middle school graduation.
D&D: For anyone wanting to learn, what would you suggest as a starter guitar?
Alex: I would recommend a decent Epiphone, Squier or LTD. They're not too pricey, but you get quite a good guitar from the beginning. There is such a danger in buying a really cheap, mass produced copy of a guitar from the beginning, 'cause you could lose the fun and exciting feeling straight away 'cause of a bad instrument that is hard to play.
Nemes: A simple classical guitar, nothing else. No need to spend too much money. My first Classical guitar cost 100.000 lire (Actually 50€).
K8: If you want to play rock, I recommend starting out with a Fender Strat, an Epiphone II special, or maybe an Ibanez. Make sure you get it set up so that action is super low so it's easier to play when you're building up finger strength.
D&D: Through trial and error in your career, are there any mistakes you'd warn young guitarists to be cautious of?
Alex: I think trial and error is an important key in the life of an aspiring musician. You have to try out different gear, music styles and techniques in order to find your niche. One piece of advice would be to always make new goals to strive for, do your research about gear, and find new ways to develop. That way, it never becomes boring and you won't get the feeling that you're stuck in your progress.
Nemes: It's a mistake to think that theory and practice are useless. I understand that musical theory and, especially, all the exercises are boring (scales with metronome, right hand exercise, alternate picking, economy picking etc etc). It happened to me too, but over time, everything will prove to be very useful.
K8: I would say don't pigeonhole yourself into one style of playing. Even if you’re playing in a rock band don't be afraid to learn blues licks, finger picking, barre chords, etc.
D&D: Biggest stage nightmare you've ever had?
Alex: That must be when I was 15 and played with a cover band, and had to step up on stage to sing lead vocals for the first time of my life, in front of a couple hundred people. I almost shat my pants!
Nemes: As you may have noticed, I wear a full head mask and already under ordinary lighting conditions, I don't get to see very much. So, my biggest nightmare is that when the stage is dimly lit, I trip and fall or just hit the wrong notes.
K8: The biggest stage nightmare I’ve ever had is having my e string break mid-concert. I was soloing and this guy in the audience put a lighter right by my hand and strings and the fire broke the e string. I had a lot of solo stuff to play with the string I broke, so having to figure out how to play it on the string above in real time was difficult.
D&D: Current equipment setup for playing live?
Alex: Helix Pedalboard, Schecter Hellraiser 6-string guitar, Shure SE535 IEMs.
Nemes: Very simple setup: Guitar, Kemper amp, wireless guitar system. Simple as hell :D
K8: I usually play my Epiphone SG and I use a Fender FM212 DSP amplifier. I also have a pedal board with a Cry Baby Wah pedal, a HRM by Rockett Pedals and a Boss DD-200 Digital Delay.
D&D: Does your setup differ in the studio?
Alex: Not much. I could use some different guitar plug-ins sometimes, but I tend to use my live sound also in the studio.
Nemes: Not too much. My trusty Kemper is always with me, but I love to experiment with stomp boxes or different plugins like Amplitube or Ignite Amps and the like.
K8: I use the exact same setup in the studio and prefer to mic my amp. I really like the sound I get with the setup, so I love being able to have that sound on the record.
D&D: Best guitar you've ever owned?
Alex: My current Schecter Hellraiser! It's the best!
Nemes: Ibanez RG6UCS, no doubt. Just an incredible piece of wood from Japan.
D&D: Worst guitar you've ever owned?
Alex: That has to be a Jackson guitar, that had really bad pick-ups and a terrible neck.
K8: Worst guitar I've ever owned was this Lyon acoustic guitar… Don’t ever buy a guitar at Target.
D&D: Dream guitar to own someday?
Alex: There is a custom designer, in Italy, creating guitars for a brand called Arda. That is my dream guitar, they're insane.
Nemes: One above all: US-made Marty Friedman Jackson guitar.
D&D: What guitarist(s) had the biggest impact on you?
Alex: I've had a lot of idols through the years that have shaped my style of playing;
Alexi Laiho (Children Of Bodom), Dimebag Darrell (Pantera), Paul Gilbert (Mr Big), just to name a few!
Nemes: I grew up with the myth of the rhythm guitars, so of course my favorite guitar players were James Hetfield and Malcolm Young. I loved the way they held up a gigantic wall of sound. After that, I must say I love the style of Dimebag Darrell, Marty Friedman, and Vinnie Moore.
K8: I absolutely love Carlos Santana. He's my favorite guitarist of all time. I love the emotion he's able to get across with a guitar and his skill is unbelievable. I also really love Jade Puget from AFI. I've learned a lot of tricks just by learning AFI songs and seeing how they're played.
D&D: Finally, what's your favorite part of being a guitarist?
Alex: That's a hard question to find a good answer to! It just feels right to play the guitar instead of bass or drums for example! I guess the instrument chose me! Shredding those riffs on loud volume and playing guitar solos is just the best!
Nemes: My favorite part? Not being a bass player - definitely! :P
Follow Alex Nine | Mister Misery
Follow Nemes | Sick N' Beautiful
Follow K8 Panik | Fangbanger