Bobby Keller of Meka Nism Talks About ESP Guitars
by Coren E. McLeod
photos by Coren E. McLeod
Writer- Bobby Keller
Okay, here is something new we are starting at UnRated/UnRated Metal Magazine: We are going to have a guest writer from a band write about what they use while they are on tour.
This is very exciting for the magazine and I cannot wait to see who else we can get to come on board with us.
Unrated Coren: I am very happy to announce our very first Guest Writer is the stellar Bobby Keller of the Art Metal band Meka Nism. Here is a little background from the mouth of Bobby on how he got started with ESP Guitars:
Bobby: When I first started to play guitar in 2007, my first guitar was a starter ESP Guitar. A couple of years later, I was a Kirk Hammett’s Horror Festival. There were people, there from ESP. Long story short, I was at the right place at the right time. I got to meet the Vice President and now they endorse me. ESP is great.
Unrated Coren: Here is what else Bobby had to say about ESP Guitars:
Hey Bobby, Thanks for agreeing to do this for UnRated Magazine/ UnRated Metal.
Unrated Coren: First off, why ESP?
When I think of ESP Guitars, I think of nothing but the best guitars that could possibly exist on planet earth. They are not afraid of pushing the envelope and taking things to a whole other level. Most guitar companies, now a days, seem to want to stay classic or don’t like to vary too far away from their beloved models. However, ESP is just a whole other monster. Whether it’s a custom paint job, special modifications, or a completely new model, they don’t care what anyone else thinks and, to me, that is what makes them special.
Unrated Coren: What makes ESP special from other guitars?
The one thing about ESP that completely blows my mind is the quality of their guitars. I have never laid my hands on a bad one. You can have two guitars that are exactly the same, but they will always be different. With ESP, the guitars are all just outstanding. I have LTD’s, which are the more affordable versions, and I have the Japanese made ESP’s and let me tell you, there are some LTD’s that are just as good if not better than the expensive ones, and that says a lot. The attention to detail is beyond any other company and I have heard that every single guitar, before it leaves the warehouse, is completely inspected and set up so it’s ready to play upon its arrival. I don’t think a lot of other companies do that, and it shows.
Unrated Coren: Do you have any special modifications done to them?
I like to keep things very simple but flashy at the same time. I enjoy the classic pickup configuration with my trusty EMG 57/66 pickups, and I like one volume knob for both pickups. I play metal and I don’t need the tone knob so I usually take it out. I also use a three way toggle switch to select the pickups while playing, but I am starting to think about moving it down so it’s not in the way, because sometimes I hit it by accident and the sound gets all messed up, haha. The aesthetics of the guitar are also important. I love quilted maple tops, and most recently, I acquired the Gary Holt signature model, and the paint job on this thing is out of this world. It looks like 3D coagulated blood, and anyone who knows me, knows how much I love horror and occult things. So I consider it the perfect guitar for me. So nice job ESP and Gary Holt for coming up with that idea!
Unrated Coren: Is there a particular stock/ model you prefer to play on?
I tend to prefer the Eclipse model which is based off of a Les Paul shape. I think that ESP’s design is much better than an actual Les Paul because they are thinner and have faster necks. Before I was with ESP, I played Gibson explorers and Les Paul’s, but found them to be really heavy and back killers. My love for the explorer has just resurfaced due to an ESP snake byte showing up at my house. I have also experimented with some of the Telecaster shapes and I like those a lot too.
Unrated Coren: What do you look for in a guitar to ensure your performance is stellar every night?
Well, the thing about guitars and travel is that the weather, pressure, and moisture can all affect a guitar severely if not careful. Especially with touring, it’s a guitarists’ nightmare. Summer time
is rough because the equipment is usually in some very hot places and in the winter time with really cold places. So, I look for a guitar that is just solid as can be and can stand up to the harsh conditions and environments. I have toured in the dead of winter and the hottest of summers and my ESP’s have completely met the requirements. I have always heard about the durability of ESP Guitars, and I was wanting to see it myself and I did.
Unrated Coren: What pickups do you use and why? Do the pickups already come on your guitars?
Pickups are important in that they help the guitar sing. I am very picky about how my guitars sound and I have fallen in love with EMG 57/66 pickups. EMG pickups are world renowned and most of the greatest players alive play them, so I consider myself very lucky to be a part of their family. The 57/66 set is a unique sounding pickup in that they are both active and passive. What I mean by that, is that the pickups are active but sound more open and aggressive like a passive pickup. So in essence, you are getting the best of both worlds. Especially for metal music and lead playing, they just fit my style.
Unrated Coren: What about cables? Which are the best for The Ripper?
For the longest time I have always just used whatever was around and never worried about it, until one day, my friend/guitar tech Andres Lecaros came over with the cables from Klotz. He said you have to try these cables, and I was hesitant and not really thinking about it until he literally forced me to use one. I was completely blown away and long story short, I have never looked back. I was lucky enough to meet Tanya, Rene, and Randy at Klotz and they have been outstanding people to work with. Plus, the cables are so awesome sounding they just give you such clarity. Plus if Joe Bonamassa, Gus G, and others have signature cables, I know something special is going on.
Unrated Coren: What other equipment do you use to melt faces at concerts?
Like I was saying before, I really like to keep things simple. My signal chain starts with my guitar into my wireless, then into my Kemper profiler and that’s it. All my effects and such are in the Kemper unit, which I love so much. They are the size of a lunch box and you can take them anywhere and they sound incredible. They make touring so easy and affordable because of all the crap you don’t have to take. Oh yea, let’s not forget about the tones either! I also use Richter Guitar Straps and I can’t thank them enough. They take all of my wacky ideas and make them a reality. All handmade German leather and comfort.
Unrated Coren: What is your preference on strings, gauges etc……
For strings I prefer to have a tight heavy low end and a lighter gauge up top. I use the Daddario NYXL .10-.52 strings, and I love them. They last forever and can take a beating. I pick really hard and bend a lot, so it was important to me to find strings that can withstand my ferociousness, but not lack in tone.
Unrated Coren: Anything else you would like to share about ESP guitars?
Funny story, and it’s funny how things come back full circle. When I started actually playing guitar, my first guitar was an ESP LTD KH 2, the Kirk Hammett model from Metallica. I pretty much never let that thing out of my sight and played all day every day. Metallica was such and still is, a huge influence on me today. I never in a million years thought I would be a part of the ESP Family and among the likes of Kirk and James Hatfield, and so many of my heroes. I still think I’m dreaming half of the time, but I look at it like this, dreams can come true. It’s just a matter of how bad you want it and what you’re willing to do to get it. I am living proof and I do my best to show others that it can be done, whatever that ‘it’ is, it can be done!
Thanks again Bobby for doing this. You are for sure a great guitar player!!!!! #Cheers
Check out Bobby and the rest of Meka Nism on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…. Etc.
- Read the full story at UnRatedMagazine.com