Pontus Hjelm is the guitarist and driving force in Swedish metalcore band Dead By April. From playing both 6- and 7-string guitars, Pontus has now converted to an 8-string – namely a Strandberg Boden with True Temperament frets. A choice he is very happy with, or as he puts it:
– Strandberg's combo with True Temperament is the absolute best I've experienced so far!
The kind of metal you play in Dead By April is a bit unusual as it is quite melodic and also contains some electronica and studio fix. Describe please!
– Weve been asked that question many times over the years. The answer is a rather factual description; pop/metal. It simply describes the elements that make up our music. The composition of these elements can of course look very different from song to song.
What kind of guitar sound do you use and how would you describe your guitar playing?
– I didn´t completely fell for this wave of "djent". But I like the sound. I also don´t want to completely let go of the 21st century metal sound. So I've been trying to figure something out there. And I think it works really well in our music.
– I'm definitely not a typical guitar shredder who constantly strives to be as fast as possible, and does nothing but practice scales. With that said, I can definitely pull off a guitar solo here and there. But usually I stick to maybe one or two songs per album in that case. I focus more on the craft of songwriting as such.
You now play an 8-string Strandberg Boden with True Temperament frets. How come you switched to 8-string?
– Well, I've gone from 6-string to 7-string – which I played for several years. Then I tested the 8-string and I just loved it!
– But the main reason for this is actually how it feels playing it. Namely how the wider guitar neck fits better in my hand. Of course also the sound. And Strandberg's combo with True Temperament is the absolute best I've experienced so far. Fantastically good! And very inspiring. Better intonation, tuning, and sound. I always look forward to pick up the guitar and play. And that has definitely not always been the case, in the past.
Why did you choose a Strandberg guitar?
– I had seen other bands play on those slightly weird headless guitars. Which led me to investigate and check out many review videos. After getting enough information I thought I had to try one. I just have to do it!
– Then I contacted Ola Strandberg, introduced myself and my band and then Ola flew down to my studio in Gothenburg. He brought a couple of Boden models. My first thought was that the resonance in these guitars can not possibly be good considering how little wood they consist of. But I had to take it back quickly. I picked up one of the guitars and it just fit perfectly in my hands. It felt incredibly ergonomic and easy to play. And with an excellent and clear tone. It had also very light weight, which is actually more important than you think. Especially on tour with gigs every night. With Strandberg's guitars on stage, I became so much more mobile, with more energy. Absolutely awesome!
As mentioned your guitar is also equipped with True Temperament frets. What do you think of TT so far?
– True Temperament is absolutely fantastic! I am very impressed! Plus it looks sick cheeky too! It´s worth its weight in gold!
– I think the main advantage is that the guitar inspires my confidence as a player. Feels so much stable in general. This in turn means that I can sort of relax, which increases my performance.
What other equipment do you use? Studio and live?
– My rig has definitively become smaller and smaller over time. Nowadays I actually run Positive Grid combined with an iPad. For live in any case. Works great! And everything becomes so much easier. Easy to fly with and is super easy to connect, and sounds great! In the studio I use an Ax FX II combined with Fredhead.
Any guitarists that you look up to?
– This is difficult. I don´t think I have any specific favouite guitarist. I have always been more interested in the whole craft, creating an entire song, rather than in a specific guitarist.
Plans for 2022?
– We have lots of gigs in 2022. In Finland, Russia, Ukraine, USA and some in Sweden. Now, of course, we only hope that the world doesn´t locks down again due to the covid. That's starting to get really tiring. Otherwise, we will release lots of new music, videos and some other fun stuff. Looking forward to 2022! © Ulf Zackrisson