Borislav Mitic is a Canadian based virtuoso rock guitarist and a recording solo artist. A shredding guitar player with three solo albums and a fourth one on the way. He has been published on Lion Music and US label Shrapnel Records that discovered virtuosos like Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, and Marty Friedman. Borislav’s new album Real will be out in 2012 on Shrapnel Records. In Spring 2012, Boris will be on the road with singer Mark Boals (most noted for his work with Yngwie Malmsteen).
Why did you change out your stock pickups? “The pickups are the #1 key element in guitar tone, it all starts from that point of the magnets capturing the vibration of the strings over them. I always wanted to get the best possible tone out of the guitar so naturally I had to look for the best pickup upgrade that would help in getting the best tonal quality.”
Which pickups do you use and for which guitars? “I mainly use humbucker pickups in my ESP V guitars so in most cases it would be a JB for the bridge position and Jazz or ‘59 model for the neck. I also like the Duncan Distortion in the bridge position with 250K pots. In some situations I also need some single coil type of tones but I can’t deal with the usual hum associated with them so for me stacked STK are really a fabulous solution for my ESP Vintage Plus (strat-like) guitar. STK’s also have a bit more output then some other brands that have similar designs yet they retain more of the typical single coil clarity and tone then others pickups do.”
How would you describe the sound of those pickups? “They are all rich sounding, warm & inspiring. The JB humbucker has this great lead midrange rich tone which helps smooth out fast legato playing and lets the guitar cut through in a mix. SD ’59 is an amazing neck pickup for leads although the Jazz model is more useful in that position if you want to play some clean tone passages. The STK’s have an amazing bell like clean tone but without any hum and they work really great used with clean amps in combination with distortion and fuzz pedals.”
Wanna hear the tone? You can check out his song “Mystic” performed live. Boris is playing an ESP Vintage Plus guitar loaded with three STK pickups.
How has it changed your playing? “Some wider dynamic range and great harmonic content found in SD pickups has inspired me to sometimes phrase differently and think about the “color” and general tone quality of passages that I play instead of just the note choice of the phrases I am playing. So SD pickups do not directly change the way I play but they do inspire me in regards of “how to play” to make it all sound as good as I can sound.”
How would you describe your playing? “I play a melodic virtuoso shred style which is very technicaly oriented with some neoclassical elements in it but at the same time infused with a lot of ’70s blues rock influences and feel. My instrumental song “Promises” from my previous album The Absolute (2009) is a good example of my style containing some very heavy riffs but also some structured melodic virtuoso playing. There are two very different solos in it, first one is more blues pentatonic based played through a Silver Machine wah and the other in the end is a totally crazy over the top shred solo, like Van Halen on steroids or something.”
What bands or artists influenced you and your career? “My biggest influences are Michael Schenker and Joe Satriani but also people like Zakk Wylde, Al DiMeola, Mark Knopfler, Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai – to name a few. My playing is very fast and technical but I try not to forget that first of all it has to sound like music. Melodic and well structured songs are always a priority – something I learned from my heroes.”
Are there any performance tricks that you would like to share with us? “I try to think of the audience in live situations as an “old friend”. This mindset allows a more calm approach on stage. A lot of people get nervous when they have to go on stage – so this attitude can be of use.”
Any words of advice for new players? “Make sure you love music and guitar more then anything else before you choose it as a profession and that you really want to be in it for music alone and nothing else. For better or worse that honest approach can justify things in the long run.”