There are only a handful of bands that can be considered pioneers of modern progressive metal (or “djent”, as many controversially call it), but a key component of that musical evolution comes in the form of thick 7-string tones and transformatively beautiful vocal melodies.

Despite the role of lead vocalist changing hands throughout the years, these artists have consistently released ground-breaking music worthy of a badge of progressive metal honor… Today on Geared: TesseracT


Guitarists Acle Kahney and James Monteith are long-standing members of the band, with Acle being the sole founding member of the project back in 2003.

James is a long-time Ibanez user, with several Los Angeles Custom Shop (LACS) models under his belt, all of which are modeled off of the RGD line. While we might not be able to buy these LACS models they are not far from his thoroughly loved RGD2127Z (which we reviewed here!) which saw years of use prior to the creation of his LACS models.

The first LACS is was made in 2011 and is quite similar to his RGD2127Z and RGD7UC but with a few notable differences.

James' custom shop Ibanez.

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The scale length has been upped even more to a 27’’ scale, the body wood has been changed to Swamp Ash, and the tremolo has been swapped for a fixed string-thru Tune-O-Matic style bridge and Planet Waves Auto-Trim Locking Tuners. The pickups are a Bareknuckle Aftermath in the bridge and a DiMarzio PAF Pro in the neck. The guitar features a gorgeous TesseracT custom inlay at the 12th fret. The control scheme has been changed slightly as well, moving the controls further down out of the way of the picking hand, and adding a tone knob (with coil split) and kill switch.

James’ second LACS model from 2015 is nearly identical to the first. The differences include an Alder body with gorgeous Flame Maple top, ebony fretboard (instead of painted Rosewood), and the Bareknuckle Blackhawk pickups in both the bridge and neck positions. The neck is a 5-piece Maple/Wenge combo, and the pickups are coil splittable individually in this model as opposed to one switch for both. This guitar is mostly kept in their Bb tuning (see below), while his 2011 LACS is kept in their A tuning.

Acle is endorsed by Mayones guitars and owns several different models including his recently released signature model.

His oldest model is a Mayones Regius 7, with a stripped down approach. The guitar has an Ash body with an 11-piece Maple/Mahogany/Amazakoe/Wenge neck with an Ebony fretboard. It features Bareknuckle Aftermath pickups in the bridge and neck positions, ABM fixed bridge and Hipshot locking tuners. Rounding off its capabilities are a 27’’ scale length and a single volume knob with coil split.

Acle’s second love is his Mayones Setius 7 featuring similar specs with an Ash body, recessed Tune-O-Matic bridge, and Bareknuckle Blackhawk pickups. He has a second Setius which has very little differences, the biggest of which is a Hipshot bridge with piezo pickup system.

The guitarist’s newest acquisition is his very own Acle Kahney Signature Mayones, which again, is nearly identical to his Setius models. The wood has been changed to Profiled American Ash T.E.W., and includes the Hipshot/piezo combo, Blackhawks, and is topped off with a gorgeous Gothic Black Pored Red finish.

While on tour, the duo protects their most prized possessions with Scott Dixon Triple Row Guitar Cases.

Amps and Effects:

The band has repeatedly expressed the desire for their stage sound to be as close as possible to their album sound. As a result, both guitars employ the use of Fractal Audio Systems AxeFX Ultra units on tour, leaving their Fractal Audio Systems AxeFX II units at home in the studio.

In the past, both James and Acle have gravitated towards the Mesa sound and have attempted to recreate that sound as close as possible in the AxeFX Ultra. Their main rhythm patch employs the use of two amp models: the FAS Modern and the FAS Crunch, both of which are Fractal Audio’s own creations and are not modeled after any particular amplifier.

The FAS Modern is their primary amp, typically used with a PEQ before the preamp to help take out some of the sag and boost the gain by increasing the input volume (similar to what a really good overdrive would do). They use the stock Fractal 4×12 V30 cab model with a mix of the Royer 121, U87, and SM57 microphones in the unit. They run straight to the PA and don’t use any cabs on stage.

While the specifics and routing of their clean sounds can be complex, the core of these sounds is quite simple (and surprising). The duo doesn’t use cab sims at all, but instead, run just an amp block straight to the output. They prefer to use the USA Clean and Fender models to handle these duties.

Cabs and Monitoring:

The brainpower behind all of the band’s routing is a Behringer X32 Core Rackmount Mixer which sends all of the audio via network cable to a mixer at the front-of-house (FOH). The mixer takes care of both sending that audio to their sound engineer at FOH and mixing the individual in-ear monitors for each member of the band, which are then sent to the band’s AKG SST 4500 In-Ear Monitoring Transmitters.

The band plays to a metronome and backing tracks of many layers, including 3 different clicks, a sequencer, synths, backing vocals, and even some extra guitar layers. All of these tracks are run on a laptop using Cubase. The audio from the laptop runs into an RME Fireface UFX audio interface where it is sent back to the Behringer mixer. The laptop is also in charge of MIDI information for tempo and patch changes.

Strings and Picks:

Both James and Acle use D’Addario EXL110-7 Nickel Wound .10-.59 7-string sets and tune to (from low to high) A-E-A-D-E-A-D and Bb-F-Bb-Eb-F-Bb-Eb for older material. They use Jim Dunlop 0.88mm picks when playing newer material, and 0.73mm for their older material.

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