Interview:An exclusive interview with Kerry King
B.C. Rich KKV Kerry King Signature Guitar
Kerry King is one of metal's brightest guitar stars. His band, Slayer, has played to sold-out venues for years and is regarded as one of the best (and loudest) bands playing on the dark side of the metal scene. King's fast and furious style, his unique riffs, and his overall precision have won him the respect of guitarists of all styles. Recently, B.C. Rich introduced a new, affordable Kerry King signature model, and we were fortunate enough to contact Kerry on tour for a phone interview to discuss it. Here's the low-down on the KKV from the man himself:
MF: Why and how did you get together with B.C. Rich to create this new signature model?
Kerry: Well, I've been with B.C. Rich pretty much since the dawn of time. I endorsed them from probably like '86 to '90. I went with another company for a while, then I decided to try them again. At a point where I wasn't signed with anyone, we talked about my coming back. They made me a guitar and I liked it.Then at the NAMM Show a couple of years ago, they brought up the idea of a model based on the one I play live, but one that was affordable to the masses. I had always been against taking the low road, but they mocked one up and it looked and played great. It eventually became the KKV. Now, with all these B.C. Rich "in store" appearances I'm doing, a lot of people buy one just so I can sign it for them. It's also a good starter guitar. For a kid who's a big Slayer fan, dad can pop down to the music store, buy one, and if the kid stays with it, he can upgrade it when the kid's ready or move to a guitar that's more like the Ferrari I play.
MF: You always play a neck-thru but this one isn't, is it?
Kerry: No, no. It's a bolt-on but not like a bolt-on from 10 years ago. This one is actually very playable. The neck is angled correctly for the way you lay your hand on the neck, and the heel is nicely contoured.
MF: What do you play onstage?
Kerry: I play the one the KKV is based on and a Warlock-style custom.
MF: All B.C. Rich?
Kerry: Yes, all B.C. Rich. They make great guitars.
MF: What about the neck's action?
Kerry: Oh, that's a good point. I'm glad you asked that question. My style requires a fast neck with easy action. The neck on the KKV was shaped to be similar to the one on my stage axe, and B.C. Rich has done a good job. When I play the KKV, it feels very comfortable and natural to me. This has to do with its slim profile and with its proper angle from the body. It makes it easy to have the action set low. For me, this permits the kind of speed I need, but it also makes the guitar easy to play for the young player who's just starting out. I've always felt that players who are just learning shouldn't have to fight their guitar. The KKV comes from the box with a relatively low action and is therefore easier to play.
MF: You seem to prefer the V body style. Any particular reason for that?
Kerry: I brought that back looking for my own thing around '88. I remember I was talking to the guys at B.C. Rich. I was saying that nobody's really playing a V these days. If you guys made a V, it would set a precident in a way, because there's never been a 24-fret Flying V to my knowledge. The 24 frets was their thing, sort of a B.C. Rich trademark. I said, so why don't we go with a V, and I got, not the first one that came out of B.C. Rich... that went to one of the owner's sons... but I got the second one.
The only guy at the time who was playing one, and he was more of a guitar god than a star, was Michael Schenker. But his wasn't hot- rodded like the B.C. Rich ones, with Dimarzio pickups back then, and now EMGs which everybody likes because they're pretty hot.
MF: What about the pickups? Did you have any hand in designing them?
Kerry: Well, no. But they're good ones for the purpose. Remember, this is a starter guitar. These are good quality pickups with pretty high output. Like I said, this isn't an end-all axe, but it's excellent for the price and a solid guitar to get started on.
If you put the pickups I use in it, and that's another option, it would be a significant and easy upgrade. But that's something to plan for later, when you're getting pretty seriously into playing.
MF: What about the graphics on this guitar? Do they match the graphics you have on your body?
Kerry: My body? No (laughter). They match the ones I have on the guitar I play.
MF: Did you help to design the pattern then?
Kerry: Well, yes. Actually, my tattoo guy did the designing. He's the guy that does my tribal artwork. He came up with some designs and together we picked the best one. I used it on my gig axes and now on the KKV.
MF: What else about this guitar makes it suited for your style of music?
Kerry: Oh, just its general playability and fast neck. As a guitar to learn on, it stands on its own, is good quality. And the look is imporant, too, even though it's just a cosmetic thing. If it inspires a kid who's a big Slayer fan because it looks like my stage axe, that's a good thing. Anything that gets him into it and to stay with it is good.
MF: Great. One last question. Does it hurt to get your head tattooed?
Kerry: Like a bitch, man.
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The new Kerry King Signature KKV is turning out to be one of our hottest-selling guitars. Like Kerry says, you can't beat it for the price. Order yours today and next time Slayer hits town, see if you can get Kerry to sign it for you. Then you'll have a true collector's guitar.