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Rigged: Nile’s Karl Sanders



When looking at all these beautiful pictures of the stunning guitar collection of Karl Sanders, Nile’s main driving force, the following sound bite comes to mind from “One Of My Turns,” the overwhelmed, isolated rock star freakout on Pink Floyd’s The Wall: “Are all those your guitars?” And we can’t blame you for asking; Sanders’ collection is quite impressive, a lifetime’s worth of collecting and a never-ending devotion to playing guitar (he practices every single day) and all things metal. It won’t surprise you to learn that Sanders has plenty of amps, pedals, gadgets and a home studio too, all of which he details in the Rigged piece he’s written up for MetalSucks.

01. Dean KS V7: Handmade Dean USA Custom Shop Signature Model. This gorgeous axe has maple neck thru, fully scalloped ebony fingerboard, mahogany body, and AAAAAA flamed maple top. This guitar screams with tone and articulation and rock-solid Panzer Tank stable tuning. Many of the leads on At The Gate of Sethu were tracked with this axe.

02. Dean 79 Series V: This guitar sports an incredible-for-the-price flame maple top, fully scalloped fretboard, brass nut, Seymour Duncan pickups and TonePros Bridge. Like all my guitars, the volume and tone knobs are bypassed yielding a much hotter and less cloudy tone. These 79 series V’s are war-horses; I take them on tour all over the planet. On the new record I used this guitar for many of the rhythm tracks.

03. USA Dean Custom V: This one-of-a-kind guitar was hand-made in the Dean custom shop in Tampa back when Dean Zelinsky was still building USA customs himself. It’s unique because not only is it a rare one-pickup V, but there are also NO KNOBS or knob holes or switches drilled into the beautiful maple top. The pickup is wired directly to the jack leaving the pure unadulterated tone of this incredible guitar to blaze unrestricted and unchained. Combined with the super-skinny neck (Dean Zelinski has really small hands), the direct-wired pickup makes this axe a go-to weapon of choice on all recent Nile albums. It’s responsible for MANY classic Nile tracks.

04. Dean Black Gold ML: This guitar doesn’t appear on Sethu or any Nile disc, but I do a substantial amount of practicing on this guitar both at home and on tour, so a lot of ideas come to me while it’s in hand. It’s such a gorgeous guitar that it resides in regal honor next to my sarcophagus in the den of my home.

05. Dean 79 “Nileville” V: You have heard this specialty axe on many older Nile songs but you might not be able to pinpoint it because it’s mixed very subtley. The guitar is in what I call “Nileville” tuning, because it is an octave higher than our normal tuning of Drop A. The guitar is set up in the same exact way my other guitars are (scalloped neck, brass nut , Seymour Duncan pickup straight-wired to jack) but I use it to make an EXACT one octave up unison layer of certain riffs. It’s mixed/blended with the normal guitars in such a way that you cant really necessarily hear the insidious evil higher octave consciously, but it lends melodic definition to the ultra-low drop tuning of our normal guitars. I got the idea years ago watching and listening to Bob Vigna of Immolation and his incredible octave guitar work.

06. Seymour Duncan pickups: I love these pickups. I usually use the Invader or the Duncan Distortion in the bridge position but I use several different flavors for the neck; The Pearly Gates, Full Shred, and various single coil models.

07. 1973 Fender Strat: I have had this guitar FOREVER. I got it from a friend who traded it to me in exchange for some guitar lessons. It had been butchered with a Kahler tremelo bridge which I immediately had replaced with a brass block and non-tremelo bridge. This later became the guitar I used all the time on tour with Nile in the early days. I toured it so much that I wore the original Fender neck out, so I replaced it with a Warmoth scalloped maple neck (with Jackson sticker). I use it on Nile records for classic single coil neck position Strat/Plexi Marshall  tones like the break in “Enduring the Eternal Immolation of Flame.”

08. KXK Warrior V7: This unbelievable work of supreme guitar building is an ungodly 7-string shred machine that served as great inspiration for the guys in the Dean custom shop. It sounds incredible, like liquid high-speed flamethrowers, and it plays like melted butter. In fact, it plays WAY TOO easily so I don’t dare practice on it, as it would undoubtedly subconsciously discourage me to pick up any of my other guitars. I have the action on most of my guitars set fairly high because I love the tone that way. I use this guitar for many of the guest leads I play on other folks’ records.

09. Detail of the scalloped ebony neck on the KXK Warrior V7.

10. Detail of the Floyd Rose / Seymour Duncan pickups on the KXK Warrior V7.

11. KXK Gold Warrior V “Spear”: Despite the weapon-like appearance of this axe, it actually has an incredibly brutal tone and punishing “note center.” It has 27½” scale length maple neck-thru design, which aids greatly for the drop A tuning Nile uses. Another go-to tracking guitar in the Nile arsenal, this one has been used on countless rhythm tracks since Annihilation of the Wicked.

12. KXK Warrior V natural finish: Under the hood this is essentially the same axe as the Gold Spear except that it has a Cocobola neck instead of maple, a 25½” scale neck, no volume or tone knobs and no icky finish to cloud up the tone whatsoever. This guitar has merely the lightest of oil sparingly applied instead of the mountains of glossy polyurethane or laquer finishes usually applied to guitars. This lets the natural tone of the guitar resonate freely without the inhibition of layers of finish. The neck position Duncan single coil on this guitar has the most otherwise-unobtainable old school vintage Strat/Marshall plexi-type tone EVER when run through the Splawn head; you can hear this guitar/amp combo on “The Chaining of the Iniqutous” guitar solos.

13. KXK double-neck 11 and 6: This guitar is another one-of-a-kind beast. I use the top neck to play 11-string fretless Glissentar-type passages on the electric while also having a standard Nile drop A tuned scalloped neck guitar at the ready on the bottom neck. You can hear the 11-string fretless on “Eat of the Dead,” “Ithyphallic,” and “Tribunal of the Dead” from the new album. The bottom neck actually has the biggest, fattest, deepest tone of any guitar I own — probably because of all the extra wood resonating — so I used it as a rhythm guitar for much of Ithyphallic.

14. KXK double 6: This guitar is basically a drop D-tuned Flying V fused paired with a Drop A-tuned Flying V. The bottom neck is for playing Nile drop A rhythms with a blocked off Floyd Rose and the top neck is for shredding leads in drop D with a normal Floyd Rose bridge.

15. Jackson Custom Shop King V: This beautiful axe has a Darkened Shrines album graphic. It’s a 27½” scale baritone maple neck thru with an ebony scalloped fingerboard. It hasn’t appeared on a Nile record since Annihilation of the Wicked; it plays like butter and sounds deep, rich and warm, but I don’t play it much because it’s too expensive to dare risk damaging it further by taking it on tour again. Even at artist courtesy pricing I couldn’t afford to replace it. Life is full of irony.

16. Godin Glissentar: This unique fretless instrument is designed to allow guitarists to achieve Middle Eastern oud-like sounds in a guitar-like format. This wonderful secret weapon can be heard on plenty of Nile tracks, most notably  “Those Whom the Gods Detest” and “Ethnomusicological Cannibalisms.”

17. Godin ACS Slim Solid Body Nylon string with midi: Another secret Nile weapon!

18. Dean 12-string acoustic: I found this guitar hanging on the wall in the artist showroom of the Dean factory in Tampa. It has the most musical bell-like ringing jangle. Lucky for me Tony Purnell was in a good mood that day.

19. Baglama Saz: This long-necked Turkish lute is a mainstay of traditional Turkish music and has seen plenty of action on both Nile albums and my solo albums. On Sethu  you can hear it in “When my Wrath is Done” and “The Fiends Who Come To Steal the Magick of the Deceased.”

20. My guitar room upstairs next to my studio: I do my daily practice regimen and give lessons up here.

21 . Splawn Quickrod head and Marshall Vintage 4×12 cabinet:  Rig of choice for recording on Sethu and for endless hours of guitarist tonal bliss that makes my insane amount of daily practice time seem to fly by.

22. The Live rig! Marshall 4×12 cabs of various vintages and a variety of Celestion speaker configurations. Marshall JCM 2000 DSL 100 heads and monster cables throughout.

23. The rack: Keeping everything pre-wired and ready to roll in an instant has made my live setup a LOT easier.

24. Rack details: Monster power, old faithful Korg DTR-1 Tuner, Lexicon MPX110 for solos, Roland GP-8 (and duplicate spare) for guitar processor. Why use such an ancient guitar processor ? Because the signal path is analog, essentially a glorified mash-up of old school Boss pedals. It sounds REALLY good, the old-fashioned way a guitar is supposed to sound. And of course, another Nile secret weapon; the Funk Logic Dynamicator.

25. Pedal Train pedal board for computer rig: Dell Vostro PC (it’s built REALLY tough) with Auralex isolation pads that minimize on-stage vibrations to the PC and Glyph harddrive. M-Audio Fast Track Pro interface, Radial JDC DI Box, Shure wireless transmitter for vocal mic, Ebtech Hum Eliminator. Monster signal cables throughout.

26. Pedal Train pedalboard for guitar control: The RJM Mastermind midi unit controls the RJM AMP Gizmo that’s in the back of rack with the Marshall heads and also controls the Roland GP-8. Boss TU-1000 stage tuner. The Mission Engineering expression pedal remotely controls a Sound Sculpture Volcano midi volume box situated in the effects loop of the Marshall Head. And the ridiculously expensive and fragile Savant Elite remote control pedal for my laptop, so that I can foot-control my PC without missing a single note.

27. My home studio: There’s too much here to possibly notate. But check out Pazuzu watching over everything from the top…

28. A liitle more detail of the recording desk.

29. Mackie DAW control surface. What a godsend this device has been in terms of ease of workflow. Makes tracking guitars fun again.

30. My practice area downstairs: For when the family is asleep and I shouldn’t crank the Splawn/Marshall upstairs but still need to get those late night guitar hours in. Marshall Class 5 combo, Dean Black Gold ML, Black Star pedal (for when I occasionally need a bit of gain), metronome, Sebek Statue and Sarcophagus.

– Karl Sanders / Nile

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