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Thread: Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow - 6/22/15

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    SDUGF Founder Evan Skopp's Avatar
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    Default Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow - 6/22/15

    This is happening now. Join us for a live Q&A with Periphery guitarist Mark Holcomb.

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    Periphery is an American band from Maryland. Formed in 2005 and known for their triple-guitar attack, rhythmic dexterity and soaring melodies, they are considered one of the pioneers of the djent movement within progressive metal. The band was formed by guitarist Misha Mansoor, who gained a reputation on various on-line forums and through his regularly updated Soundclick account.

    Mark Holcomb joined Periphery in 2011 and played on the band’s second album, Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal and subsequent recordings including the band’s new double album release, Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega which debuted at debuted at Nos. 15 and 16 respectively on the U.S. Billboard 200.

    Mark and the band have been very busy of late and we had a short window of time for this exclusive Q&A session. Mark will be on hand to discuss his new PRS guitar that comes with his signature Seymour Duncan Alpha and Omega model pickups, as well as his other gear, life as a working musician, his uncanny ability to do voice impersonations, and other topics.

    Joining Mark in this Q&A is Keith Merrow--co-founder of Conquering Dystopia, studio guitar player, songwriter, producer, engineer, gear demonstrator, student, teacher, and Seymour Duncan employee. Keith worked closely with Mark on the voicing of the Alpha and Omega pickups and will be on hand for the Q&A.

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    As usual with our Q&As, the “Keep it Respectful” rule will be in full force and effect and admins will be closely monitoring this session.



    So let me be the first to welcome Mark and Keith and all of you to this live Q&A. (This thread will unlock at the top of the hour).
    Evan Skopp, Inside Track International
    Sales and marketing reps for D'Addario, Musopia, Reunion Blues, Q-Parts, and Nukleus Pickups.

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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Mark and Keith, first off, I love the tone of the Alpha/Omega set. My question is how you managed to create such a versatile set of pickups with ceramic magnets (which are usually known for being used in exclusively high output applications), and why you chose to use them when Misha and Jake use alnico/alnico ceramic hybrid pickups? I also would love to know how you got such great low mid snarl and huge clarity with these pickups.

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    SDUGF Founder Evan Skopp's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Mark, here's a question for you. When you started the process of voicing the Alpha and Omega pickups, I'm sure you had an idea in your mind of what you wanted. When the voicing process was completed, how close was the end result to that original concept?

    And thanks again to you and Keith for joining us today!
    Evan Skopp, Inside Track International
    Sales and marketing reps for D'Addario, Musopia, Reunion Blues, Q-Parts, and Nukleus Pickups.

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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Well hello there!

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    LoveMachineologist jeremy's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    welcome to the forum!

    what was the reason you chose prs for your signature guitar?

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    SDUGF Founder Evan Skopp's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Keith, can you please describe your role in the voicing process?
    Evan Skopp, Inside Track International
    Sales and marketing reps for D'Addario, Musopia, Reunion Blues, Q-Parts, and Nukleus Pickups.

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    Artist / SD Customer Service Keith Merrow's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Quote Originally Posted by bloughlin16 View Post
    Mark and Keith, first off, I love the tone of the Alpha/Omega set. My question is how you managed to create such a versatile set of pickups with ceramic magnets (which are usually known for being used in exclusively high output applications), and why you chose to use them when Misha and Jake use alnico/alnico ceramic hybrid pickups? I also would love to know how you got such great low mid snarl and huge clarity with these pickups.
    I can't speak for Mark, but I can tell you that we arrived at Ceramic mags after trying everything else. The moderate output coils combined with the ceramic magnet was just the right combination. It took a lot of trial and error, but Mark and I eventually ended up with the exact pickups he wanted. Kevin Beller is a genius. We said "needs mid snarl", and he adjusted them accordingly.

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    Guitarist, Periphery Mark Holcomb's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Quote Originally Posted by bloughlin16 View Post
    Mark and Keith, first off, I love the tone of the Alpha/Omega set. My question is how you managed to create such a versatile set of pickups with ceramic magnets (which are usually known for being used in exclusively high output applications), and why you chose to use them when Misha and Jake use alnico/alnico ceramic hybrid pickups? I also would love to know how you got such great low mid snarl and huge clarity with these pickups.
    Hey there! First off, thanks to everyone for taking part in this.
    As for the magnet type, I didn't have any goals as far ceramic vs. alnico vs. hybrid. I simply wanted them to sound as good as possible, and whichever magnet type achieved that, that's what we went with; and ceramic ended up in both pickups. Granted, this was after dozens of iterations of trying out both.

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    Guitarist, Periphery Mark Holcomb's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Merrow View Post
    Well hello there!
    hey baby.

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    Super Simonologist JOLLY's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Do you remember the first song that you ever learned on guitar, and how did that take you from there, to where your playing style is today? Thanks!!

  11. #11
    Guitarist, Periphery Mark Holcomb's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan Skopp View Post
    Mark, here's a question for you. When you started the process of voicing the Alpha and Omega pickups, I'm sure you had an idea in your mind of what you wanted. When the voicing process was completed, how close was the end result to that original concept?

    And thanks again to you and Keith for joining us today!
    It was right on, if not better. I had all sorts of adjectives and keywords in my brain regarding what the pickups should be before Keith and I's session, and I had rough examples based off of tones that I like, to reference in the process. There were qualities in the Omega bridge pickup in particular that I wanted to take as far as we could, and that stuck pretty close to the original concept, only in my opinion, we took it further.

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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    What genres could you see the Alpha/Omega set being able to tackle outside of metal and rock? How are its mid-gain tones?

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    Artist / SD Customer Service Keith Merrow's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan Skopp View Post
    Keith, can you please describe your role in the voicing process?
    I was just there to bring Mark coffee.

    Haha, Mark and I have been friends for quite a while. When it came time to voice these pickups for him, he wanted me there to help with it. I would help direct engineering of the changes to each iteration, give suggestions, help test and play through these pickups, and ultimately make sure we ended up giving Mark the exact sound he was after. Having worked on so many pickups in the past, it made it easier to narrow down the directions to go in for Mark.

    But to me, it was more like hanging out with a friend, playing guitar, and nerding out on the subtleties of guitar tone and pickups. It was pretty awesome.

  14. #14
    Guitarist, Periphery Mark Holcomb's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy View Post
    welcome to the forum!

    what was the reason you chose prs for your signature guitar?
    I've had a fascination with PRS for nearly 20 years. As a teenager I was too broke to afford one, but I always considered them to be at the top of the pile in terms of aesthetic and playability. I borrowed a friend's CU24 way back in the day and something about that guitar spoke to me; it was a dream to play. I was into all kinds of hair metal and pointy guitars back then too (hahaha), and I loved how PRS didn't look overly metal or aggressive, nor did it look like your grandpa's guitar. It walked a classy line.

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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Mark, what amp models did you test the pickups through on your AxeFx?

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    Artist / SD Customer Service Keith Merrow's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Quote Originally Posted by bloughlin16 View Post
    What genres could you see the Alpha/Omega set being able to tackle outside of metal and rock? How are its mid-gain tones?
    https://youtu.be/yJ7nqMeWrmY

    They'll do anything in my opinion. They're extremely versatile.

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    Super Simonologist JOLLY's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Many of us have played a "first live gig", and most of us have a rather funny story about that gig because, well....it was the first. Do you remember your first live gig playing guitar in a band, and are there any funny stories about it in there anywhere? Thanks for sharing.

  18. #18
    Guitarist, Periphery Mark Holcomb's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Quote Originally Posted by JOLLY View Post
    Do you remember the first song that you ever learned on guitar, and how did that take you from there, to where your playing style is today? Thanks!!
    I honestly forget, but probably something by Nirvana. My playing developed from there by just learning songs that I liked. I never took regular lessons or anything so I stuck mainly to riffs and songs that I liked. That probably made guitar seem more fun for me than other kids who had weekly lessons.

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    LoveMachineologist jeremy's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    you guys use some odd tunings. do you think that helps the creative process?

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    Cat In The Hatministrator stevie_bees's Avatar
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    Default Re: **Live Q&A with Mark Holcomb and Keith Merrow -- Here and Now!!******

    Hi guys. What do consider to be the holy grail of guitar tones by any artist, and which guitar tone of your own are you most happiest with? Thanks for your time!


    Do what I do. Hold tight and pretend it's a plan!

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