Born on July 7th of 1981, Brian Elwin Haner Jr. ultimately found himself in the midst of a wildly successful career as the lead guitarist for Avenged Sevenfold. More widely known as Synyster Gates, he has garnered considerable praise for his skills throughout the band’s 7 studio albums and numerous tours. His name comes up in many “best modern guitarist” lists, and even Guitar World magazine has included him in a variety of their “greatest guitarists” compilations.
It would seem that Synyster Gates has music in his blood. He was born to Brian Haner, a notable musician in his own right. Alongside a storied career as an author and comedian, Gates’ father also perhaps with the band of Sam the Sham in the 70s. He’s also done the session for Avenged Sevenfold in later years. If musical aptitude is somehow passed down through the generations, this is a clear example of the phenomenon in practice.
Gates went on to study guitar quite closely at the Los Angeles, CA Musicians Institute, partly accounting for his incredible mastery of the instrument. He studied both classical guitar and jazz despite ultimately going into the metal field, illustrating the importance of learning more than one style in order to fully round out your musical abilities. Any of his fans that are just starting out – and any guitarist in general – would be well served by following the same path.
Having gone into a metal band himself, it’s clear that a variety of major metal artists made an impression on Gates early on. Some of his favorite guitarists working in the genre include Dimebag Darrell of Pantera and Damage Plan fame, Slash from Guns N Roses, Marty Friedman from Megadeth, John Petrucci from Dream Theater, Zakk Wylde from Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society, and many others. In tune with his Musical Institute studies, he’s also an avid fan of classical, jazz, and even off-kilter avant-garde music.
Together, these influences helped craft the unique signature Synyster Gates sound. Just as with many popular guitarists before him, he has gone on to influence a whole new generation of guitarists himself. The cycle of musical inspiration continues on just as strong as ever.
If you count yourself among the many that hope to play like Gates, he has custom models available for purchase through Schecter guitars. Of note is the Schecter Custom-S, with a unique black and white pinstriped finish that doesn’t look too dissimilar from comic book speed lines. It also evokes a decidedly Tim Burton styled aesthetic, a style of imagery that Avenged Sevenfold is certainly no stranger to.
As with many technically proficient skilled metal guitarists, Synyster Gates relies heavily upon a distorted sound with a fair amount of gain. His guitars include dual Seymour Duncan Invader humbucker pickups, a Floyd Rose tremolo bridge for dramatic dives and vibrato, a relatively thin neck shape, and 24 extra jumbo frets for the most range possible. Many other specifications fill out the details of his custom models, but those undoubtedly metal oriented features help from the tenants of his overall sound.
Alongside an entire fleet of different Schecter guitars, Gates has also been known to play a select handful of Gibson models, a Washburn RX10VSB, and the ever intriguing Parker Fly. Collecting as many guitars as possible is a hobby of many guitar players, particularly those operating within the world of professional performers who can afford such expensive tastes. Of course, given Gates’ endorsement with Schecter, it’s likely many of his models from that manufacturer were gifted to him in exchange for his seal of approval.
With Avenged Sevenfold, Gates has enjoyed tremendous success. Since their formation in 1999, the band has been responsible for 8 million album sales, a figure that is immensely impressive for this particular era when illegal, non-paid music downloading has been so rampant. Their biggest success yet may be 2013’s Hail to the King, a decidedly more radio-friendly album which wore band influences such as Iron Maiden and Metallica on its sleeve.
The group finally released a follow-up on October 28th, 2016: the highly anticipated concept album The Stage. Thus far, its combination of Avenged Sevenfold’s signature sound within a progressive and thrash metal wrapper has proven plenty popular among the band’s many fans. Considerably touring in support of the album is already scheduled throughout 2017.
In only a short time, Synyster Gates has risen to great acclaim within the world of metal and electric guitar at large. Through his unique blend of influences, he has actually managed to craft a style all his own. That’s no easy feat these days when seemingly everything has already been done. Based on The Stage, Avenged Sevenfold, and Gates still, have plenty of life left in them. If one thing is certain, the future is wide ope