The words “Hello Kitty” and “heavy metal” don’t really get paired together all that often.
Hello Kitty is a sweet, innocent, little feline adored by children (and adults) everywhere.
Target audience: your little niece (and interestingly enough, Dave Navarro, of Jane’s addiction fame).
Heavy metal is a harsh, aggressive, high-energy genre of music that was forged in the very depths of hell. It is one of the only forces that defends us from the greatest of evils, commonly known in ancient Greece as Nickelbackiums [del mortis].
Target Audience: Satan (and interestingly enough, occasionally Chris Pasillas of Hideo fame).
The truth is, life is about balance. It has been called “Yin and Yang,” “equivalent exchange,” and countless other things (I say this mostly because I cannot think of any other examples). Music doesn’t sound good when it is too evil (look up black metal for more info). Conversely, music doesn’t sound great when it is too good (see St. Peter and Pearly Gate 7; nobody wants to dance to a harp, Pete.) However, when you combine the forces of good and evil together… you have something special on your hands. In this case, that perfect balance is manifested as none other than the Heavy Metal Hello Kitty Guitar (HMHKG). I’m pleased to say it is one of a kind. How can I be so sure? Because if more than one of these existed in the world at once, the planet would explode.
Of course, you might be curious how/why something like this would be crafted. Well, one day at work, I was just minding my own business when I received word that a coworker was selling her Hello Kitty guitar for a mere $100. I couldn’t help but think about how hilarious it would be to play in a metal band, bust out a Hello Kitty guitar, and unleash a furious, shred-tastic guitar solo out of nowhere. What would this do to people’s minds? Without wasting another second, I anxiously purchased this pink Fender Squire and started fantasizing about how I would corrupt it with the latest in heavy metal technology.
Before I go any further, let me just tell you that when I bought this guitar, it sounded and played absolutely horrendously. A string was broken (which didn’t help), the neck was completely out of whack, the intonation was hideous, and the action made it nearly impossible to play anything that half-resembled a proper guitar chord. This thing was angry the second I got it, but its fury needed to be focused and developed further.
Shopping for the proper electronics was tough. After hours of searching for just the right humbucker, it came down to 3 choices:
- The Eddie Van Halen Frankenstein humbucker
- The Dimebag Darrel Seymour Duncans
- The EMG-81 active humbucking pickups (Used by Zakk Wylde to get his signature artificial harmonics)
I’m sure any one of these humbuckers would have sounded great with the guitar, but being a long-time Zakk Wylde fan, I knew I had to go with the EMG 81 (the fact that they come in white didn’t hurt either).
Once I finally had the EMG 81 in my possession, it was time for some surgery.
The Starting Challenge:
Removing the Old Electronics:
Giving “Hello Franken-Kitty” a New Brain:
And the End Result:
Of course, the pictures make the process look like it went smoothly… not even close!
If you one day decide to Franken-Kitty your axe, here are a few of the unexpected modifications you may have to make:
- You may have noticed this guitar originally only had one knob on it. You may have also noticed the back of the guitar is absolutely crammed full of electronics. In order to retrofit this kitty with a tone knob, it requires some fancy drilling, dagger-like fingers to fit the wires into place, and gratuitous swearing throughout. Notice how close the black knobs are together. It doesn’t get any closer than that!
- That new EMG Humbucker is bigger than the original! In order to make the white kitty face pick guard fit properly back on the guitar, I had to carefully file it down for roughly 45 minutes.
- The hole for the input jack is much too small for the EMG wires (more drilling… and dropping the eff bomb like it’s going out of style).
But was it really worth creating?
Let me just set the record straight here… if the guitar didn’t even work, it would have been worth it! Look at how epic this thing is!
Thankfully, the guitar does in fact work, and it easily sounds better than ever. The distortion and fat tone on this thing completely catches you off-guard and it’s a blast to play!
The interesting is, the tone on this guitar has a slight chorus/flange element to it, which I really dig. In addition, the palm-muting on this savage is pretty impressive, and while it sounds pretty lousy when played clean, it dishes out some pretty crisp-sounding distortion. I think my biggest auditory complaint overall is that EMG 81 humbuckers are known for their excellent sustain, but despite playing with humbucker height settings, I can’t quite get the notes to ring as long as I would like. I do have a feeling, however, that if I bring this to a professional, he can most likely unleash this feline demon’s true potential
Considering this monster is just a glorified Fender Squire, I’m extremely impressed with what it can do. It may not sound or play as well as my Gibson SG, but it is certainly far more epic and was a blast to build. Best of all, I now have a one of a kind, great-sounding heavy metal guitar that cost me a grand total of $210. If that’s not sticking it to the man, I don’t know what is.
It was way too much fun building this guitar, so it goes without saying I have to build another one! I have an old Strat-looking Samick that I have been wanting to fix up for about 10 years, and it’s about time I did something with it. I plan to make this thing into an absolute freak of nature. I won’t tell you exactly what’s in store for this thing, but I will tell you that it will be one of the more unusual setups you’ve seen.