AMIR DERAKH  -  NEW LOWS IN SYNTH GUITAR

The terms "guitar synth" and "heavy rock" seldom appear together. In fact, it's even unusual to see the words "guitar" and "synth" back to back these days.

Yet Orgy, one of today's heaviest new bands, makes extensive use of guitar synth. "I have at least one of every type ever made," claims the group's Amir Derakh. "I also have a lot of solid bodies with built-in synth pickups."

Much of Derakh's success in bringing crunch credibility to synth guitar has to do with the sly way he trades tones with co-guitarist Ryan Shuck, a non-synth 7-string player. On Candyass, Orgy's debut disc, it's often impossible to tell whether you're hearing guitar, guitar synth, keyboards, or samples. "That's the idea," says Derakh. "We like to keep people guessing. Sometimes I use straight guitar tones on my guitar synths, and sometimes Ryan plays through so many pedals that his guitar sounds like a synthesizer."

One of Derakh's main instruments on the band's upcoming second album is a hot rodded AES800 from Yamaha's YGD custom shop. "The regular models have two mini-humbucker pickups that sound sort of like hopped-up P-90s," explains Amir. "But on mine, the neck pickup has been replaced by a Yamaha synth pickup."


It's also built to a longer-than-normal scale because Derakh tunes down to Bb Eb Ab Db F Bb. Both Shuck and bassist Paige Haley, who plays a 5-string, tune down a half-step below normal, so all three players can descend a full tritone below standard tuning. Few bands can rival Orgy's near-subsonic rumble.


"When you tune that way, you obviously introduce a lot of new low frequencies," notes Derakh. "I find you actually have to compensate a bit and use a tone that isn't too bassy. The Yamaha is great for that. It's got a really cool, thick tone with plenty of low end, yet the mids still poke out. It's a very full-range effect. I use it a lot on the new album."

What should Orgy fans expect from the as-yet-untitled disc? "It's a little bit harder, and the trippy guitar parts have definitely gone to another level," says Derakh. "There's more experimental stuff, yet there's still that commercial, melodic sense. It's not some huge departure from Candyass-it just sounds like we've figured things out a little better. If people liked our first record, they'll definitely like this one."