Slipknot has been kicking your arse for over two decades now and one of the men largely responsible for that is guitarist Jim Root. The nine-headed noise machine went straight to the forefront of the live heavy metal scene when they were unleashed on an unsuspecting Ozzfest audience back in 1999 and this must-see act have been destroying stages ever since.
A Slipknot live show isn’t a placid and relaxed affair (as you’ll find out when Knotfest hits the Australian east coast this March). It is an erratic, sensory-heavy, unhinged manifestation of the nine that reads a lot like a reverse exorcism.
So when designing his slick and clean-looking Charvel signature guitar, the Jim Root Signature Pro-Mod San Dimas® Style 1, did he take into account the visually elaborate nature of a Slipknot performance?
“Not specifically. I like a minimalist approach when it comes to things like guitars. Understated. Especially if I’m designing something that I want to appeal to a wide range of players. I don’t know. Like if Philippe Starck designed one.”
Fascinating that despite being in one of the most visually capricious bands on the planet, Jim’s design approach to his Charvel sig guitar is to take it in a more reserved, streamlined direction. Aesthetics aside, it’s how the instrument is played that counts most. Jim is one of the premier guitarists on the planet and a guitar hero to musicians the world over, so who were his guitar heroes growing up, the legends that encouraged and influenced him to pick the guitar up initially?
“That’s a tough one. It evolves as you discover music and take the ride. Everyone from guys like Warren DeMartini to guys like George Harrison. Had the Yngwie (Malmsteen), (Paul) Gilbert shred phase. The thrash era. Bobby Gustafson, Dave Mustaine etc. Neal Giraldo. Steve Howe.”
So what was the first guitar Jim owned?
“I had a Melody guitar. It was a Les Paul Jr. Copy. One single coil. Tobacco sunburst. (The first Charvel), I got a red model 1 with a maple fretboard when I was 15. I think? Maybe 14”
It’d be a fair assumption that Jim has had his hands on his fair share of guitar equipment over his acclaimed career. So what is it about Charvel that made him choose them as the company to release his signature model?
“They’re just comfortable to me. Maybe because I played them when I was younger and the shop I loitered at carried them. There’s a bit of luck as well with them being part of the Fender company.”
Then what specific features has Jim included that makes his signature model stand out from other Charvel models?
“The body wood. Being mahogany. My signature EMG pickups. 1500 series Floyd Rose. The back of the body has a nice contour for easier access to higher frets.”
Turns out, his new sig was used late in the recording process of the band’s latest album The End, So Far.
“I used a prototype for some soloing and to track one tune. But we were well into the process by the time they arrived.”
But fellow Slipknot guitarist Mick Thomson has his own Jackson sig model and having played alongside Mick for over 20 years it would be interesting to see his reaction to the new guitar.
“He’s seen it. Not sure if he’s played one or not. I’m sure we’ll do a sig trade at some point.”
Another Charvel signature guitarist of note is Sean Long from While She Sleeps. Sean recently sent Jim one of his signature Charvel guitars, which Jim used live for Slipknot’s Minneapolis show back in April 2022. Sean’s model is also a sleek yet highly effective design. Did using it have any affect on Jim’s design process? Perhaps even motivating him to try and make his better in any way?
“Haha no. Although his reminded me very much of my Strats. Haha. It’s a great guitar. And has “that” feeling. I took it home and will probably use it to write or track demos.”
In an age where a new model guitar can potentially go for several thousand dollars, some instruments can be inaccessible to some budding musicians, simply on price alone. So how important is it to Jim that his sig guitar is accessible financially to the average punter?
“It’s very important. And also very hard. There’s a balance you have to find between the specs you want, the cost of manufacturing and materials and still having a good instrument that is stage-worthy. It’s important to me to be able to go into a shop, or go online and get one of my signature guitars and just set it up to my tunings and be able to use it that night if I wanted to. I’ve done it with past sig models of mine. I’ll do it with these as well.”
The Sliptallica Australian Tour that was locked in for 2018 was going to be the metal gig of the century but was axed due to James Hetfield’s health issues. Prior to this, the last time Slipknot graced these shores was way back in 2016. Was Jim as gutted as we were about not being able to play those shows?
“Yeah man. We don’t get to do too many gigs with them lately. But we do see them at this or that festival sometimes. It would’ve been a lot of fun. The guys in Metallica have always been very cool to us.”
Slipknot have been a touring force down under since their first run here in 2000 and with the mighty Knotfest festival making its way to Australia in a couple of months, Jim shared some fond memories of the people and places down under ahead of their almighty comeback.
“Australia is a pretty magical place. It’s always great to go there. I love every city we visit. People are very laid back… Until it’s time to have fun. Haha. But I gotta say. One of the most incredible things I was able to do was a snorkelling trip off the coast of Perth. Out in the Indian Ocean past Rottnest Island. Spectacular. Tropical fish nibbling my fingertips. Sharks. Coral reefs. Another world.”
It’ll be another world when the lads bring the dark carnival experience that is Knotfest to the Aussie east coast this March for the first time in its 10+ year history. It’s been seven years between drinks for us maggots, it’ll be the first time seeing Slipknot for some of the younger fans, but it’ll be the first time we all get to see the new Jim Root Signature Pro-Mod San Dimas® Style 1 in person.
Are you ready Australia? I SAID ARE YOU READY??? I push my fingers into my eyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyes!!
Interview by Duane James @duanejames666
Check out the Jim Root Signature Pro-Mod San Dimas® Style 1 HH FR E/M right here
- Signature EMG Jim Root Daemonum humbucking pickups that provide all the ferocity of active pickups with the nuance and response of passive pickups.
- Floyd Rose 1500 Series double-locking tremolo and Charvel locking tuners for those who love to dive bomb but hate to worry about tuning.
- Single volume knob and no-frills three-way pickup selector allowing for plenty of tone options without any fuss.
- Contoured body with a scalloped lower back bout for easy access to upper-frets.
- Bolt-on maple neck that is reinforced with graphite that guarantees durability and improves playability.
- Comfortable 12”-16” compound radius fingerboard with rolled edges, 22 jumbo frets and side Luminlay fret markers.
- Maple fingerboard option in Satin Black and an ebony fingerboard option in Satin White
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