Sunday, January 21, 2018

Saari Gear


A huge part of me and what I do is my gear, the equipment through which my art is delivered. I mean at the end of the day it’s what brings out what’s happening in my mind, or soul if you will, transporting it into the real world and making it perceptible for others. I really need my instruments and equipment to feel just right to be comfortable, to be able to deliver 100%, and it's even gotten me so that the gear itself inspires me and pushes me on. So I thought I'll write some lines about it and let’s start with the most important thing, the guitars.

My favourite Gibson's, two reissue
Flying V's and a 1977 The Paul. 
I would say that Ibanez is the guitars that started it all for me, and I still have my two first Roadstar's left, by now very modified, or Saari:fied, and highly worn out and retired (Check out Saari History Part I for more on my early days equipment at: and today my main acoustic guitars are Ibanez. I then moved on to Gibson’s, mainly my Flying V’s, especially my dear Flying V ‘58/’98 Limited Edition reissue, one of my absolute favourite guitars, looks awesome and it plays like a dream. As for my Gibson’s, besides the V’s I used some The Paul's and The Paul II's pretty much as well. All my Gibson's are equipped with DiMarzio Norton humbucker at the bridge and either DiMarzio Paf or Air Norton at the neck, these pickups sound absolutely amazing in these guitars, especially in the Flying V’s.

Three of my main ESP Ltd Saari
Custom Viper's based on the 400.
In 2006 I got my hands on my first ESP Ltd Viper, a Vintage Sunburst Viper-400 with Seymour Duncan Custom 5 humbucker at the bridge and a Jazz at the neck, that I named "The Poe", and I was totally hooked and been so ever since. With it I did what I’ve been doing ever since with ALL my guitars: rewiring them to have two volume pots, one for each humbucker, and remove the tone control (-s). On the Vipers I also move the front strap button so it’s facing forward as on a Strat. I file a platform in the middle of the very pointy top over the upper cut where I screw the strap button. Pretty tricky, but I’ve done it enough times by now and it really, really makes the guitar hang in the absolute perfect position for me. So my Saari:fied Ltd Viper 400's and 1000's with the Seymour Duncan humbuckers mentioned above is pretty much what I play today.

My Gibson The Paul II
hand-painted by me.
Lately I've added some other guitars to the arsenal, like the Charvel Charvel Pro Mod So Cal Style1 with maple fretboard and floating Floyd Rose locking tremolo and Seymour Duncan humbuckers, which I like a lot and which was sort of my homage to huge influences like Adrian Smith and also Van Halen and other whammy-bar players, kind of where I started. Also some various ESP Ltd guitars that are not Vipers, like my beautiful and amazing Silver Sparkle EC-1000 Deluxe for instance.

I play pretty much steel string acoustic guitar and most of the songs I’ve ever written are written on one, even all the heaviest metal tunes. I believe that a good song should work with just the vocals and an acoustic guitar or a piano, that a riff should work on an acoustic guitar if it’s worth keeping. I have some Washburn and Ibanez steel string acoustics but my main acoustic guitar now is my Ibanez Artwood 250 ECE-RTB.

As you notice I’m not that into very expensive guitars nor am I not into old, used or vintage guitars, or other gear. I like new gear, I want to be the one wearing them out. That’s why I rather go for a reissue version rather than getting a many years old, worn original if possible. I love to occasionally run through and jam on some old Strat's and Les Paul’s or whatever if the opportunity is given, but that’s enough for me, I’ve never gotten more feeling out of a vintage instrument than a new one. The The Paul I's and II's are the only ones of the guitars I have now that I bought used, and this simply because they weren't made anymore and there were no reissues.

Though I’ve been pretty faithful to a handful of brands through the years I’ve never found myself comfortable with an exclusive endorsement. I’ve always felt I needed to be free to experiment, to be free to be free, totally unbound, and have therefore chosen to finance my equipment in other ways through the years.


Been running through many various Marshall cabinets through the years, and pretty many Marshall heads as well, too many for me to remember and in contrary to the guitars many of them older used ones. In mid 1990's I used my Crate Blue VooDoo 60 head a lot through some years and that amp is so totally worn out and beaten, but I still have it and I also still have some Marshall JCM 800 heads and 4x12 Marshall cabinets. I’ve always been into the sound of tube amplifiers, I always thought that they keep my tone alive and brings it out in its purest form. But then I also always preferred it simple, easy, smooth and flexible. And when I started playing more live and record in many different places tube-heads, 4x12” cabinets and tons of cables and pedals aren’t that at all.

Some of my live POD's.
I only use the XT and the HD.
In 1998 it happened, Line 6 POD (1.0 that is) happened and I’ve been running through various Line 6 multi effects/simulators/preamps ever since, I think I own every POD ever released. (Some more on that in Saari History Part II: I also need my gear to be reliable to be able to concentrate on the performance and I’m very, very rough with my instruments and gear, so they have to endure pretty much beating and these Line 6 products have never failed on me.

My Spider Valve
MkII HD100.
My dream was one cable from the guitar to an amplifier, I don’t use wireless, and one not too big floorboard with a wah-pedal, one unit, that is connected to the rig with one cable only and needs no power supply. So the Line 6 POD and the FBV Express MKII floorboard was, and still is, like a dream come true for me. For many years I used a Line 6 Spider Valve MkII HD100 live, one cable from the guitar and one from the FBV Express and it sounded really great, a bit buggy which never got fixed since Line 6 stopped updating the firmware when they stopped manufacturing it. Then after some tube problems and getting them changed a couple of times it was never the same again and was put into retirement (at least temporarily). The idea was great, best of both worlds, tubes and digital, but it feels like a half-completed product, a prototype. The first years of my POD-period I used to run the POD into an old Marshall head's return using it's power amp getting an awesome guitar sound, but tubes aren't that reliable and I got fed up with their instability, the tubes living their own life, having good days and bad days, came to a point when they didn't charm me anymore and it wasn't worth the time and all the trouble.

My live rig 2018 with the
Saari Custom 1x12" cab
I’ve spent a lot of time the last months, once again, on my guitar sound and rigg and considered upgrading to Helix or Kemper but they didn’t really offer me anything that the old PODs didn’t, on the contrary, the POD and the FBV Express are way more flexible, takes much less space and weight, I can even fly with the desk version of POD and the floorboard as hand luggage. So for live I’m now running a Line 6 POD Pro, the the XT or HD, through a Rocktron Velocity 300 power amp and that through my Saari Custom cabinets armed with Celestion 12” Vintage 30 elements. You need to put many, many hours into tuning knobs on the POD's and understand them but when there you can get them to sound awesome and the rig is simple, easy, smooth and flexible, and it’s reliable, and mainly, it makes me want to continue doing this.