Although I haven’t been a Fear Factory fan in… oh God, it’s been almost 20 years… I was more curious than usual to check out the gear that guitarist Dino Cazares uses, because the band predates the era of modern high-gain amplifiers. In fact Fear Factory was formed in 1989, the same year that Mesa/Boogie’s Rectifier line of amps was released. Peavey’s 5150 wasn’t released until 3 years later.
Back then, extremely aggressive tones could not simply be had by plugging into one of hundreds of different amplifiers. You had to jump through a few hoops. Up until that point very few downtuned bands (usually just dropped D) used tube amplifiers. They were considered too muddy for those low notes. Most of the metal bands that Terry Date recorded, like Pantera, the Deftones, and Prong, used solid-state amps to retain the tightness. Meshuggah used solid-state as well: Marshall Valvestates. Cazares’ distinctive tone on 1995’s Demanufacture was a custom modded Marshall JCM800 with 6550 tubes (commonly used in Ampeg bass heads) instead of the usual EL34s. Ironically, even though Cazares was one of the first to popularize tube heads with extreme downtuned metal, he eventually moved on to Line6 amps, and then other digital modelers. For the record, I think Demanufacture remains the pinnacle of Fear Factory’s tone.
Well for all that strolling down memory lane, I don’t have much to show for it, because this rundown of Cazares’ gear focuses solely on his guitars. But hey, that’s cool too. Fear Factory helped popularize seven-string guitars in metal (along with Meshuggah, Dream Theater, and Steve Vai… okay, fine… and Korn). Unlike his amp evolution though, Cazares is largely playing the same guitars that he used so many years ago: seven-string Ibanezes. Back in the day they were Universe 7’s with passive pickups, but recently he uses RG models—an alder RGD7 and a mahogany RGA7.
His pickups are Seymour Duncan Blackouts, which I’ve found are a little less icepicky than the more common EMG707s. The necks are Wizards, which are a joy to play if you like your neck thin and flat. My favorite feature is the glow-in-the-dark fret markers at the top of the neck. I’ve been thinking about doing something similar on my own guitars, for that inevitable dark as hell show. Seeing your fretboard is always a plus.
Nice custom artwork on these guitars as well. Take a look.
Oh, my other favorite thing about this video: how he refers to all his gear with his first name attached. His neck is a “Dino Wizard,” and his fret markers are “Dino Markers.” I’ve checked and… I don’t think those are real things.