George Lynch

New Roads
Photo courtesy of George Lynch.

A lynch pin is a narrow shaft of metal that keeps a wheel from falling off – without it, the whole thing collapses. Same holds true for George Lynch, the L.A. hero who is the core of many bands, including his ongoing partnership in Sweet & Lynch, co-led by Stryper frontman Michael Sweet. Their latest is Heart & Sacrifice, a crunchfest of monster riffs and beats topped with whiplash-inducing guitar. We asked Mr. Scary for the studio low-down.

You’re in a handful of bands these days – Sweet & Lynch, Lynch Mob, KXM, The End Machine, Ultraphonix, The Banishment…
I’ve been very fortunate and blessed, which affords me the luxury of being able to work and play with other musicians I admire. I look at my musical and life journey as an adventure, so I try to remain open to new roads and experiences. I also try to keep a balance between my legacy and forging new ground.

How is your solo on “Heart & Sacrifice” different from, say, Dokken’s “Into the Fire,” recorded nearly 40 years ago?
I think I’ve branched out a bit, but I don’t think I’ve taken what I did in the ’80s to its logical conclusion. When developing a solo these days, I’ll jam along to the track for ideas and ask my engineer to record the first thing I play; that’s usually when I’ll come up with ideas. I also try to think in terms of solos as a little song within a song, so you’re telling a short story. You need an entrance – and an exit.

You play some bluesy resonator licks on “After All Is Said and Done,” a style we normally don’t associate with you.
I have a National Tricone baritone that doesn’t have the square neck. I tune it to various open tunings to suit whatever song I’m playing, my default being DADGAD. I’ve used open G and E tunings, as well, but sometimes I’ll just make up a random tuning by ear. I love slide and bluegrass, though I’m not very proficient at it. My biggest influences in that space are Sonny Landreth, David Lindley, Derek Trucks, and Ry Cooder.

Which solidbodies did you use on Heart & Sacrifice?
I’m using a clone I built of my original ESP Tiger, with the same wood, weight, paint, neck dimensions, hardware, and electronics. One thing I did differently is set the vibrato bridge flush with the body, so it’s dive-only, not floating. It sounds fatter and obviously has more stable tuning, but it’s a trade-off because I’m not able to utilize the bar to achieve the “Beck-isms” I enjoy. I also used my normal stable of ESPs, most notably the original Kami, and also used my 1960 Les Paul Custom to bring the beef.

How about amps and pedals?
It’s hard to remember all the pedals, but my Malaysian-chipped Tube Screamer and vintage MXR Phase 90 were mainstays. Others were a Mu-Tron Octavider, vintage Vox Clyde wah, Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere, and a Klon overdrive.

Amp-wise, I pretty much stuck to Marshalls – a 1968 50-watt plexi, biased to 90 volts, as well as an ’81 JCM800 with my Mr. Scary module, for more-aggressive tones. I also used a ’66 Vox AC30 and used live amps in a room 95 percent of the time. I used modeling and virtual amps on occasion, like the Neural DSP Archetype plug-in, mostly for lush clean tones.

That Mr. Scary mod looks like two preamp tubes going into one socket.
Right, it’s a simple, straight retrofit into the #2 socket. One thing I love about it is that when it’s dialed all the way back, it’s invisible to the circuit, so it’s very easy to A/B. The added gain is not like putting a pedal in front of the amp; it’s more organic in that it becomes part of the topology of the circuit. I don’t always trust my own ears with these things, so when a few of my guitar friends hit me up, I sent them modules and they all came back with both thumbs up. They’re serious pros that ended up legitimately using the module in their rigs for recording and gigging.

Are you still building Mr. Scary guitars yourself?
Definitely. I’ve graduated from building and spraying in my backyard to having a legit shop. Anyone who’s interested in what I’m working on can check out my website or Instagram – I’m always changing it up and trying to come up with new ideas both functionally and cosmetically. For example, I still don’t have a spray booth, so I set up a cardboard refrigerator box next to by my shop. It’s a makeshift booth – my neighbors think I’m a nut!

This article originally appeared in VG’s July 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.