Steve Smyth of Forbidden: Intro and Rig Rundown

What’s up, readers! Steve Smyth from Forbidden here. Some readers out there might remember when I was co-writer of a column called "Merchants of Metal" with Jeff Loomis, from my days in the band Nevermore.

I’m very happy to introduce you to my new column, and I' proud to be part of the GW team once again!

In future columns, I plan to show you various inspirations, influences, techniques and technical approaches I use for everything from songwriting in multiple formats (vocal-oriented music and instrumental music), to riff writing and soloing.

Today I’m going to take you through a rundown of my live rig with Forbidden, the one I’m using on our headline tour throughout North America right now.

While I am a firm believer that tone is in the hands first, I’m also a firm believer in finding and using the gear that you feel best expresses the style of music you’re playing as well.

I have been very fortunate to have had my own signature series line of guitars to be released with BC Rich this year. The body of the guitar I chose is the classic BC Rich Bich series, and I have a Signature 6 version of this, as well as a Signature 7 series, as shown here:

The guitar has mahogany sides, one solid piece of maple from body/neck through to headstock (the infamous Widow headstock), ebony fretboard, a AAA quilted maple top, and my favorite pickups and setup, the classic EMG 81-85 setup.

I love these pickups because for their consistency; they deliver solid signal and tone night after night, and they do allow for a wide range of dynamic expression when and where it’s needed.

I put a BC Rich Quad bridge on the 6-string version of the guitar, similar to the old Badass bridges from the 1970s that BC used to use. This bridge gives me room to mute, and pick far back into the bridge area as well, lending itself to a variety of tones from my right hand.

I string these up with SIT Power Wound series, .10 to .52.

The setup is similar for the 7-string, with EMG 81-7 and 707 pickups and a .64 gauge for the B (7th) string, which I’ve been using since the Nevermore days. There’s also a Floyd Rose 7 on this guitar as well, which I am really loving for the options I have with this.

I use Dunlop Tortex 1.14mm picks to play just about everything.

From the guitars I go into my pedalboard, which is a Gator PowerTote case housing a Boss TU-2 chromatic tuner, an old Boss NF-1 noisegate, a Way Huge Green Rhino and a Dunlop/CAE Wah pedal, which I am seriously loving for the dual Fasel factor, and the wide Q sweep I can get on this!

I use the Green Rhino primarily for a gain boost on my solos, and primarily only when I do not have my amp of choice available with me … speaking of which …

I am proudly using the EVH 5150 III heads and cabs.

In my constant search for tone, there is one thing I am always looking for, which I believe I have found in this amp. That is a solid EQ section, especially in what sounds like a carefully balanced midrange, and I barely have to have any gain on this baby at all! It’s all right there. I put everything at about 12 o’clock and dial from there as needed for the room we’re in, on any given night.

Everything is connected by Planet Waves cables, which, to my ears, are among the best cables I’ve used in years, and I’ve tried many in my time. Very solid and consistent signal, and they don’t break easily, either!

So there you have it, folks, my entire rig for this tour, and for the foreseeable future as well! Come out and see Forbidden on this North American tour leg, and you’ll hear and see this rig in action!

Check in next time, where I’ll let the music do the talking!


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