“When Kiesel built me the first one, I was like, ‘Man, this is amazing’”: Kiesel and Deftones’ Stephen Carpenter launch new Vader signature model – a mean, clean headless metal machine that’s “exceptionally difficult to produce”

Earlier this year, Kiesel announced it would be adding Stephen Carpenter to its artist roster in a move that would see the Deftones electric guitar star endorse both Kiesel and his existing ESP signature guitars.

At the time, it was inferred that such a deal would result in another signature guitar for the alt metal heavyweight, and now that much has been confirmed, with Kiesel unveiling two new signatures for Carpenter.

Owing to the original announcement – which gave guitar fans a glimpse of a potential model – the Kiesel Stef Carpenter signature isn’t too much of a surprise – it’s a mean, clean headless metal machine based on Kiesel's Vader template, with dual Fishman Fluence humbuckers and a 25.5"-27" multi-scale design.

What is a welcome surprise, though, is the fact it’s arrived in two colorways – the brilliant all-white version that we saw back in March, and a stealthy Shadow variant – and can be purchased in both seven-string and eight-string configurations. According to the website, a left-hand version of both string variations can also be spec’d.

Now, the Shadow is nice, but that Snow example is something else. Thanks to its all-white hardware – pickups and hardtail bridge included – as well as its pristine white maple fretboard, the guitar is one of the cleanest headless guitars you’ll come across.

In fact, as Carpenter explains in an announcement video, the all-white model is “exceptionally difficult to produce”, and was only made possible by the “amazing” Kiesel team.

Credit must go to the Shadow, which flips the Snow on its head for a total blackout cosmetic vibe, complete with black hardware and a dark Richlite Diamond Black fingerboard.

As for specs, the models are largely the same, with a swamp ash body, plain maple top, neck-through three-piece maple neck and Hipshot Fixed Headless Multiscale bridge forming the foundation of both variants.

Each also comes equipped with Stef Carpenter signature Fishman Fluence pickups wired to master volume and tone controls and a three-way switch, as well as 24 stainless steel frets and Luminlay dot inlays.

There are a few differences between the colors that are worth mentioning. As we explained above, Snow has a 20”-radius white-painted maple fingerboard, while Shadow opts for a Richlite Diamond Black alternative of the same profile.

Carpenter is clearly a fan of his new signature models, and has been for some time. During a livestream conducted with Kiesel back in March, he commented, “When [the brand] built me the first one, I was like, ‘Man, this is amazing.’”

Prices for Carpenter’s Vader signature model start from $3,499.

Visit Kiesel for more information.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.