AXEMEN SERIES | Sonny Reinhardt – NECROT

1. Who are we speaking with and what band do you play with? And how did you get in the band? I.e. did you start the band, audition for the band, was the guitar tech and advanced?

My name is Sonny Reinhardt and I play guitar with the band Necrot. I joined the band about a year and a half into its inception. They started with another guitar player (Kyle House-Vastum,Acephalix,Defiance,Lawless)but Kyle didn’t stay in the band long. The other guys Luca and Chad had been jamming and writing the tunes with Luca handling guitar, bass and vocals. But they wanted to start playing live and progressing forward with someone else on guitar. At the time I was touring heavily with a band called Saviours. But then suddenly a few of that band’s members relocated to Los Angeles and I was open to starting jamming with other people more. Luca slipped me their first demo tape at the bar one night and I took it home and was like hell yeah, I’m down to do this shit. It’s heavy as hell! It’s been on ever since then! 

2. Tell us about your first guitar and how you have advanced too what you play today, and is what you are playing your final destination guitar, or will you continue to evolve?

I can’t remember what model the first guitar I had was exactly. It was an old acoustic guitar. I had a crazy schizophrenic uncle who had one laying around and I just started picking it up. I had wanted to be a drummer at first but fate had other plans for me. Then I finally was given another acoustic from one of my mom’s boyfriends at the time. It was a Yamaha. I played on that for a few years probably. I took some early lessons from some stuffy old folky guy who was trying to teach me Beatles and Bob Dylan stuff. I got bored with it pretty quickly hahaha! I had already discovered Hendrix, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin,Sabbath,Metallica, Iron Maiden and stuff like that so it was hard to sit still while trying to get down a little help from my friends. It wasn’t that I hated the Beatles but I realized I really needed an electric guitar. I worked at this print shop and saved all my money up one summer and bought a cheap Stratocaster and a little Fender practice amp that had distortion. Mega big difference! Now I could do dive bombs and make feedback and try to start learning how to make power chords, riffs and solos. Good times! I was hooked! I went through several Fender, Charvel, Guild and Epiphone guitars over the years. Then I had a mid 80s candy apple red BC Rico mockingbird for a few years that I really loved. But it was a good friend’s guitar that he had loaned me and wanted it back. It was just like what Kerry King played in the early Slayer days. I scored a white one just like a few years back that I dig too. Anyways, I finally had a chance to have a custom V made by a company called First Act from Boston. It was an asymmetrical V with a harpoon-like hook on one of the points. It has a Kahler Hybrid bridge. I carefully measured the neck dimensions of the Rico mockingbird because I was so used to playing that guitar.  I came up with the idea and shape for it on acid when I was listening to Ride the Lightning on tour in London one time. I still have it but it needs some love. I then scored an 80s Greco Les Paul in Tokyo on tour about a decade ago that became my main guitar. It has a classic feel and is just the best sounding guitar for heavy shit that I own. I put an emg 81 in the bridge but it has a passive pickup in the neck. I don’t think that the capacitor was changed for an active pickup in the bridge position so perhaps that helps give it some kind of something? It has some kind of strange voodoo wiring that sounds killer and I haven’t messed with it. In fact I have told whoever has worked on it not to as well. Recently we toured Japan and I went to the same guitar district in Tokyo where I bought the Greco and I left with a 1985 ibanez destroyer II. I just had a Floyd Rose/Futone setup put on it cuz the proprietary Pro Rocker trem on there was just total garbage. It’s much better now and we are bonding with each other hahaha! I think in the future I’m open to finding more killer old guitars,experimenting with different pickups as well as having and finding more custom stuff done. Or perhaps an endorsement? I was with Esp at one point but I love the soul of the older guitars. They are unique,seem much better made and just overall sound better. I think it will probably be an endless journey trying to find the best guitar ever. That’s part of the fun right?

3.Same question as above with amplification.

This is a funny story,a total Bill and Ted moment. I had a dream when I was pretty young that I was on a cloudy mountain top and I heard all this thunder and there was all this lightning everywhere when I heard this massive electric guitar chord ring out and this white guitar came out of the sky and I just started shredding on it! For a long time it was about finding out what could make that sound happen from my dream. With my amplification,as I mentioned above I started with a tiny Fender practice amp. I think from there I progressed onto a Crate half stack. I rocked on that for a while until I got a super old Mesa Boogie Mark II. I experimented with using PA heads for guitar amps and got some interesting results too. At some point I ended up with a super killer Fender Super Reverb. Turned up loud it was getting closer to the sound from my dream that was still in my head. But it was more of a Ted Nugent type tone. That was pretty cool,but I blew the input and took it in to get fixed. I guess I was young and naive at that point and the slick guys at the shop told me that I should get new speakers if I really wanted it to sound good. But I think it had the old super warm and killer Jenson speakers in it already. They took the old speakers and put some new shit in there and it made it sound like garbage to me. I had to sell the amp. I learned that I wouldn’t be so easily hustled again after that! I think I scored a 50 watt Sovtek that was loosely based on a Bassman. Non master volume. I hammered that thing with all kinds of pedals to try to make it sound cool but it was always just kind of flat and flubby sounding. From there I graduated up to another Mesa Boogie Mark 4. Big step up! I had that amp for years and toured quite a bit with it. I was still experimenting a ton trying to figure out the best tone. At one point I was using tape recorders with my guitar running through it and maxing out the input to get distortion straight into the Mesa. Mega gritty sounds can be achieved that way. I tried slaving other amps to it and all sorts of things trying to find “the sound”. It just always sounded different everywhere I played with it. Finally I saw someone play with an old Marshall head. Maybe an old jmp? I didn’t see or hear many of those where I grew up but low and behold,it was the closest to the sound in my head that I’d heard thus far! It wouldn’t be until many years later that I saw one for sale on Craigslist. I called the dude and we started talking and he asked me if I had anything worth trading. I told him that if I liked the head I would consider trading my Mesa Mark 4. He was super down and brought it to my house. It sounded killer and I traded my Mesa for a 100 watt 1978 Marshall jmp. This has been my main amp for over ten years since. I recently with the help of a friend installed a custom fx loop on it and now have way more sonic flexibility. It has a Mercury transformer in it as well. Killer amp and I will likely never sell it. I also have a 50 watt 1983 jcm 800 and a 50 watt jmp as well. Plus a graveyard of amps laying around our practice space. Nothing beats my 100 watt head so far. But I’m down to keep experimenting with new stuff as I am able to!

4. Are you a terribly complicated guitarist? Are you a cord to amp player or do you have a rig that confuses the average joe? And why? Did you set out to sound like somebody or were there just possibilities you wanted to explore and started trying to find the sounds, tones you wanted?

My setup is very uncomplicated. I run my guitar into a tuner,od/distortion,a delay/reverb and sometimes some sort of modulation like a phaser or rotovibe. No wireless setup,just using normal guitar chords. Not opposed to using a wireless setup I just haven’t yet for whatever reason.  There are lots of guitar players and tones I’ve wanted to emulate for sure and with the old Marshalls it gets pretty close to a lot of those old sounds that I love. I’m starting to get more into custom pedals and exploring new possibilities. I feel like I am ready to check out more things but when it comes to playing shows or touring,nothing is as consistent to me as a late 70s early 80s Marshall head that’s setup right. Would love to get a Soldano someday. Or try a Model T. I will probably have a custom amp made at some point. I have a few ideas but if anyone reading this is interested in helping me out with a custom idea,please feel free to reach out!

5. Who did you see that made you want to play guitar and was it because the looked cool or sounded cool or both? And then later when you started to understand the guitar did you discover that made you just say WOW!?

I think Jimi Hendrix was a pretty big deal for me to want to start playing guitar. He had so many wild sounds and things he could with the guitar. And he looked like a freak from another planet! I still love all his stuff! Tony Iommi was another big one. He had such an organic darl sound and managed to look menacing and peaceful at the same time. Learning how to play songs from that era of music was really inspiring for me. I had already discovered punk and metal but it was before I played any kind of music. Those cats really made me want to start playing guitar and figure out how to make the guitar sing and scream. 

6. Do you believe looks are part of the guitarist? To put it differently, would you feel comfortable watching Angus Young on a Fender Strat or Lord Iommi on a Les Paul?

I think looks are definitely part of the mystique you know? Like if Lord Iommi dressed like Paul Simon or something it would just be like whaaaat? No. Hahaha! I could see him playing a Les Paul however…Angus with a Strat? Nah can’t see it. So yes looks definitely have something to do with it for me! For instance,I love bands like the Misfits and the Ramones and in my opinion they couldn’t do their thing without the looks either!

7. What is more impressive to you, watching Jennifer Battan 8 finger tap or listening to BB King squeeze the emotion out of 3 notes?

I actually took some lessons early on from one of Jennifer Batten’s students. She was a teacher at Grove Music school where my teacher attended. He taught me all kinds of killer tapping stuff that he learned from her. She’s an insane guitar player! Same with The Great Kat! Bow down puny man! I guess I don’t use a ton of the tapping stuff because I do feel like I’m drawn more to guitar players who have more feeling. I love some technical guitar players to though. I love people like Chuck Schuldner,Vai,Satch,Trey Azagthoth,Paul Gilbert,Malmsteen,Eric Johnson,Alan Holdsworth,the list goes on and on. But what moves me more is guitar players with amazing feel and that have their own sound. Like you could tell it was them no matter what they played on. So I guess I’m in between. Billy Gibbons used as much feel and space as BB King but also was doing tapping when not many others were. Gotta have the best of both worlds!

8. Do you feel technique and tone can get in the way of playing? In other words, when listening to a djent player like Pilini do you wish you could just plug him straight into a Fender Twin and if you did would it have the same effect on you?

Yes I do. Especially when it comes to playing heavy shit. The technicality can get in the way of making the music memorable. And just because you can play all the most crazy intricate intense shit doesn’t mean you’ll be able to write a killer song with heavy riffs either. But I still want to be able to play with more technique too. Especially playing Death Metal. Again,it’s about striking the right balance. 

9. Who is the guitarist you love that you hope nobody ever finds out AND do you have a guitarist that nobody knows about that you just love?

I’m gonna go with John Mclaughlin here. He was a huge influence for me both with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and his acoustic ensemble Shakti. And if you’ve ever heard the live album he did with Paco de Lucia and Al Dimeola you know what an incredible guitar player this guy is! 

10. Ok here we go from pick brand to cable brand and on down the line until the noise hits the air we want the definitive rundown of everything you use and WHY

I use 1.0mm Dunlap nylon picks. Lately I’ve been using 11-54 Ernie Ball strings. I like using Monster cables or better if possible but not terribly picky as long as they work and don’t buzz. Live I often use an active Radial ABY Tone Bone splitter. It has a phase reverse and ground lift that makes sure everything is running the right direction towards the crowd. From there it goes into a Boss tuner and then lately a noise gate pedal by Klein Audio. Forever I was using a Maxon Distortion Master. Now I’m trying out some other Klein Audio pedals that kick major ass! One is called a Casket which is a great distortion modeled after my JMP and Distortion Master. The other is called the Painkiller which is a Marshall Guv’ner clone. He also made a delay reverb pedal called a Lonely Ghost I run through my fx loop. My cabs are Marshall 4×12 loaded with standard G12 75 watt speakers. 

Wes is the owner of Metal Moose, Metal Coffee, The Metal Times and The Pitchfork Syndicate, and he has 20 years of the biz under his belt, focused on the indie heavy music scene from the unlikely location of Oklahoma City. Wes is bringing his Guitar Series Axemen and Underground Spotlight to MHF.