If we were to look for the next generation of guitar virtuosos who will carry the torch of old legends, Jeff Loomis would definitely be on the list. After getting into Arch Enemy in late 2014, Jeff’s name has been getting out there, ultimately inspiring new generations of guitar players.
Recently, Loomis has also gotten his new signature model with Jackson. He’s been known for a number of Schecter models in the past, so everyone’s been eager to hear what he has to say about these new Jacksons, especially the new Pro Series SL7 seven-string guitars.
Talking to Guitar.com, he explained how his signature Kelly model from 2020 came to be and how he was involved in the guitar’s overall design. Asked “Was any consideration given to developing a seven-string Kelly or were you immediately drawn to a different shape for the seven-string,” he replied:
“Yeah, for a couple of reasons really. I guess number-one really was balance issues. I’d played a couple of friends’ Kellys before; I had a friend who had a seven-string Kelly and it was just a little bit, ‘Ooooh’ [mimes dipping the neck of a guitar]. Most of the seven-strings I’ve played in my lifetime have been the Strat kind of shape, so I just wanted to cater more to that area. I’ve always been a fan of the Soloist shape, so I just wanted to introduce that as the second guitar, you know. I’m very happy with the way it turned out, man. It’s great!“
Reminded of the “mandatory” inclusion of a Floyd Rose bridge, Loomis replied:
“I know a lot of people don’t like Floyd Roses and we’re probably gonna do a standard Gotoh bridge in the future. To be quite honest with you, man, when I’m recording rhythm stuff, I don’t like using a Floyd either. So I’d like to have that standard bridge when I’m recording rhythm tracks. That’s something I think we’re gonna do down the road.“
“You know most of the arms on Floyd Roses are the screw-in type? Well, with the 1500 it’s a push-pull, which I absolutely love because you just push the arm in and you tighten it down with the little wrench, and basically it never gets loose. Sometimes with the screw-in ones you can read that noise through the pickups. I hate it. With the push-pull, it’s just awesome and super-quiet.”
Asked whether there were any other particular “mandatory requirements,” Jeff explained:
“What I’m seeing more and more on a lot of instruments is the wheel truss-rod adjustment. You know, we do a lot of fly-in shows, and when we’re touring, like, China and South America, we don’t have our tour bus, and the neck can move a bit on an airplane or whatever. This wheel beats the shit out of having to take the cover off here [points at the headstock]. All my guitar tech does is use a little Allen wrench, sticks it in there, and gives it a quarter turn and it’s back straight or however I want it, you know.”
For live musicians, luminescent dots can come in handy as well, and that’s what works for Jeff as well. As he offered:
“We play a lot of dark stages with a lot of smoke, my eyesight is not the best. So my guitar tech usually just takes a Maglite and shines it on each one for one or two seconds, and the whole thing just lights up. It really helps you navigate the fretboard when you’re in a live situation.”
Further down the interview, he also discussed neck profiles and what he prefers to see on his guitars:
“Thinner profiles are more comfortable to me over long periods of time and playing; it’s stress-free on my left hand. When we were in the process of working on the first prototype Kelly guitar, I was able to actually sit in the custom shop down in Corona, California, with the legendary Mike Shannon. It was super-awesome, man, because I was just passing him back the guitar like, ‘No, not quite yet.‘ He was just hand-sanding it and I was blown away by how smooth he was with the process. We did that about five or six times and then finally it was just perfect. And then they come in with all the special camera measurement stuff and take all the exact specs, and then it gets mass-produced into this signature guitar. It’s a really cool process to be a part of.“