This article series is about the tools of popular guitarists. What are your favorite guitars and how is it related to them? This time with Timo Somers from DELAIN.
I started playing guitar when I was 12 years old. I was lucky enough that my dad was a phenomenal guitar player (Jan Somers, known from Vengeance a.o) so he had a bunch of awesome guitars that I could play when I started out. The first guitar I touched was his Patrick Eggle Vienna Pro. This was the guitar I played most on during my first year of playing. Sometimes I’d play his original 63 Fender Stratocaster. Yes, I was a spoilt kid!
My first ‚own‘ guitar was the Ibanez K-7 Korn Signature. I started out loving and playing a lot of the early nu-metal music, and most of that was played on seven strings and Ibanez. I played this guitar for years, and I think it helped me later on in my career that I started playing 7 string so early. After a few years I upgraded to an Ibanez UV777bk Steve Vai signature.
When I joined Vengeance alongside my dad he wanted me to play Gibson Les Paul’s. We needed a big, fat, bitey hardrock sound, so Les Paul’s were the obvious choice. Also, I was of course still in my young shredder stage, so switching to Les Pauls impacted my playing in a really good way. My playing was shifting to a more feelsy style and more focused on a big tone.
I went for the Gibson Les Paul BFG; they were a short run of stripped down Les Pauls that sounded better than most higher end ones. (I think due to the lack of paint on the body, making it breathe really nicely). My dad bought a Gibson Les Paul Classic Antique Cherry Red that I got after a year because he upgraded to a Custom Shop 1958 reissue Les Paul.
A little while later when I started focusing even more on my own music I bought a Custom Shop Fender Stratocaster Classic Custom. I started getting heavily into bluesrock/fusion players that used Strats like Richie Kotzen, Marcus Deml, John Mayer, but of course also Malmsteen and his heavy Strat sound. This was my main 6 string for a long while. Ofcourse I used my Les Pauls and some other guitars as well when the music asked for it.
When I joined Delain I needed to get a few 7 strings for touring and recording. I used Bo-El MC7 guitars for a few years, as well as some of their 6 strings (MC6 and a Custom GG). I also bought a custom build Haar 7 string Les Paul for some additional fatness.
Aristides – Sometime in 2012 I was approached by Dutch guitar manufacturer Aristides. They build revolutionary guitars made from an own-designed composite material called Arium. I was very intrigued (but also sceptical) by this new approach, so I decided to check out their 6 string 010 model (back then their only model). I was blown away by the resonance, sustain, playability and amazing tone. For the first time I felt like I played a guitar that combined everything I love in one guitar. As you see I had my Les Paul phases because of the fatness and warmth, my Strat phases because of the glassiness and bite and my modern super strat phases because of versatility and playability.
Now, I finally found a guitar that combined that warmth, openness and playability in one guitar. Later they introduced the 070; a brand new 7 string design that upped the game even more in regards to tone and playability. This was my main guitar for Delain for many years, and still is my main ‚metal‘ guitar in the studio. This current main one has Fishman Fluence Tosin Abasi pickups.
After the 070 they introduced the 020; a model inspired by the classic Les Paul tone, but with amazing playability due to their construction and being a double-cut. I have one with Fishman Fluence Classic pickups and one with Fishman Fluence Adler pickups. Both are heavily used on many recording projects (pretty much all my recorded lead guitars pre-2017).
Later they introduced the 060 model, which is roughly a 6 string version of the 070 model. I designed a custom pink color for mine (Pink Summer Pearl) and decided to go for a SSS Strat style setup. Because Arium is such a resonant and big sounding material, I felt like I found the ultimate Strat; snappy, bitey, glassy but literally as big sounding as a full humbucker guitar. This was and still is one of my absolute main guitars. It pre-dates my Fishman days, so it is loaded with Bareknuckle ’63 veneer single coils. It sounds so good however, that I never dared to put in something else. Therefore I got another 060 (but in a really cool Lambo Grey finish) that I loaded with Fishman Fluence Single Coils.
After the 060 they introduced the 080 and 080s eight string models. I went for an 080s, which was my first eight string guitar and first guitar with fanned frets. This ended up being my main Delain guitar for years, as we started downtuning even further for some songs and I liked playing it on an 8 string in standard tuning, opposed to down tuning my 7. Also I experimented with adding some lower octaves to chords and riffs to fatten up the mix. My 080s is loaded with Bareknuckle Aristides Custom pickups.
After the 080s Aristides came up with a new finishing procedure called ‚Raw‘, allowing them to colour their guitars already in the molding process (opposed to painting them after basic construction) making it a cheaper alternative to painting but accidentally also enhancing the resonance and tonal qualities, because of the lack of paint on the guitar. (As I mentioned earlier, also with wooden guitars I usually gravitated towards guitars with a thin paint layer, allowing the material to breathe more and thus sound more open).
I went for a pink Raw 060 loaded with Fishman Fluence Classic Open Core pickups. This guitar is to this day my main 6 string. It’s so incredibly versatile, so fat and warm sounding but also so clear and cuts through any mix.
The most recent Aristides I got is their new T/0 model in a Galactic Sparkle finish and loaded with Fishman Fluence Greg Koch pickups. The T/0 is their take on a Telecaster-style guitar. I always loved the tone of overdriven Telecasters, but I always hated the way they play and feel. Aristides solved this by taking a modern look at the playability and upgrading it wonderfully. Also the Arium makes it sound even bigger and badder than the typical Tele style guitar, making it more usable in different genres and settings. I play this one a lot as it sits nicely in between my Single Coil and Humbucker guitars and has a very distinguished tone and feel to it that is extremely inspiring to play and write with. I can’t say enough good things about Aristides!
Godin Guitars: When I went searching for acoustic guitars for recording sessions and live shows I quickly found Godin Guitars. I started out using their Seagull Artist Studio for meet and greet performances and recordings. I, being mainly an electric player, was very impressed by their friendly playability combined with amazing tone (both acoustic and plugged in). A few years later I upgraded to a Seagull Artist Flamed Maple, which is still my main acoustic guitars.
During the years I developed a great relationship with Godin guitars and started playing their Semi-hollow body and specialised guitars as a different flavour to my arsenal.
I use their Montreal Premiere semi hollow body guitars; the Supreme version and the Limited version with Bigsby. I also love their Summit Classic A/E Havana Brown, which is an incredible Electric/Acoustic semi-hollow Les Paul type hybrid guitar with an LR Baggs T-Bridge and two outputs, allowing to simultaneously have a great electric sound as well as an incredibly convincing acoustic sound. I’ve used this guitar on a bunch of recording projects, even when I needed ‚just‘ an acoustic sound.