Dave Mustaine and his pickups - Over The Years

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by Yash94, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. Yash94

    Yash94 SS.org Regular

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    Hey guys!

    I am a big Dave Mustaine fan (kinda obsessive about little details right now) and recently bought a 1999 Jackson KV1 (with LSR tuners) which is currently in transit.
    So, while I was researching about Dave's guitars, watching a few interviews (new ones), I kinda compiled what he has used over the years, but there are also some things that I don't know about and would like more information on. So, here goes nothing.

    Dave began with Megadeth in 1983, played his BC Rich Bich which had a DiMarzio Super Distortion in the bridge (I assume, correct me if I'm wrong) and a Bill Lawrence pickup in the neck, which I assume is an L500XL which later appeared in his KV Pro signature models.

    Then he switched to Jackson guitars after Peace Sells came out in 1986. I saw the Jackson Guitar Palace Mastermind tribute site to Dave Mustaine which has a ton of information on his guitars. So, lots of information is from there.

    http://www.jacksonguitarpalace.com/d...ne/guitars.htm

    So, he apparently used some stock Jackson pickups around 88-90, and the work order for his Black King V with a Megadeth logo King V says that he ordered it with J-80 in the bridge, and a J-50N in the neck. Does anyone have more information on these pickups? And, I wonder how did the 5 way in such guitars work?

    However, he switched to Seymour Duncans before Rust in Peace, and the guitar currently (I assume) has a JB-4 in the bridge (which will remain constant until he switches to the signature Livewire set), and again, a Bill Lawrence L500XL in the neck. What's the best replacement for such an L500XL pickup in the modern age?

    Next, we move on to his Pro series models which were made between 1993-1995, and they came with a Jackson J-92C in the bridge and an L500XL in the neck. What's the J-92C? Best would if somoene around has a stock KV Pro from that Era, to just see what pickups are in there haha

    Next, in 1996, Jackson came out with the KV1. It came with (according to the catalogs) a Seymour Duncan TB-5 in the bridge and an SH-4 in the neck. However, the KVs did have the TB-4 in the bridge instead, since mine is stock and I had the previous owner look into what is in there.

    In 1999, Jackson and Dave came out with the Y2KV which again had the same Dual JB combination.

    Later, in 2004, when Dave switched to ESP guitars, his DV8s came with a JB-4 and Jazz set. Which became the basis of his signature Livewire set in 2006, which has been on all of his Deans ever since.

    Now, as many of us know, Seymour Duncan and Dave Mustaine came out with the Thrash Factor set last year, which is Dave's JB-4 bridge pickup and a '59 in the neck!? Since when did Dave start favouring a '59 in the neck? And, what's the difference between a usual JB-4 and the Thrash Factor?

    Fun fact - Dave's Number 1 Jackson, still currently in his position has the infamous Seymour Duncan in the bridge, and a Livewire in the neck!? Now how does that work? And, why?

    And, for the final question, with all the different pickups he has used in the neck position over the years, an L500XL, SH-4, Jazz, Livewire (and now '59, apparently), and the JB being constantly there in the bridge throughout, does he even use the neck pickup, ever? [​IMG] I've tried to find live videos of songs I suspect he might be, but he uses his bridge pickup for all the clean parts that he rarely plays (Trust, In My Darkest Hour, recently, My Last Words), and every time I see him solo, the switch is in the bridge position. So, why confuse/troll us Dave?

    What are your opinions? Any Megadeth fans in the house?
     
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  2. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    In terms of finding an L500XL these days, you actually can still get them. Kind of...

    Bill Lawrence Pickups have become a confusing mess, with multiple conflicting stories about who currently makes them to the same standards as the originals - And also some dispute over who used what, from the competing "Bill Lawrence" companies.

    The three places to look are:
    http://www.billlawrence.com
    http://wildepickups.com/
    http://www.billlawrenceusa.com/

    All 3 claim to be authentic, all 3 still sell pickups. Pick your poison on whose story you actually believe. The Dimebag fanboys have been talking shit with each other for decades now about this one.

    As for the Thrash Factor set - It's a cash grab. SD and Mustaine claim that Dave's original JB in the Silver KV sounded slightly different to a regular JB. I personally think anyone that swallows that line is an idiot - I got into Megadeth in 2004 and absorbed everything I possibly could about his gear at the time. Never at any time was any special sound character attributed to the silver KV. Sure, Dave recorded every album with it, he must have liked the guitar, but not a single word was even whispered about any special quality in the pickups. Not to mention - Have you heard the tone in the Thrash Factor demo video? It sounds like Dave downed a bottle of vodka before he recorded it, and then shared a hip flask with a wasps nest. It's sloppy, it's fizzy, it's nasty. Don't buy thrash factors.

    If you want to sound like Dave Mustaine, go buy a JB/Jazz set. His early tones were always much more in flux and affected by things like poor recording studios and poor technology. Those tones aren't about pickups, they're about reproducing the weirdness of a specific recording, and while you can do that if you want, it's going to take a whole heap of effort and you'll likely only find it useful to reproduce the songs off of that specific album.

    Once he switched to JB/Jazz his pickup choice solidified. The Livewire set barely sounds any different - and for good reason - "Active" doesn't have a sound on it's own. The major difference between active and passive pickups is the possibility for an EQ in the output stage, and the fact their output impedance and strength is much more suited for driving a long cable run or a huge pedalboard. The Livewires are basically "JB/Jazz set with a buffer pedal built in".

    After switching to JB/Jazz, the bigger point of Dave's sound became amp choices, and frankly, this is a no brainer - JCM800 with a tubescreamer in front of it into a cabinet full of Celestion Vintage 30s. He's released other amps with Marshall since - They're probably good, but nobody cares, Megadeth's sound is a JCM800, sometimes with a boost and sometimes without. Dave uses far too much gain and far too much treble/presence for most people. There you go, mystery solved.

    Live, he's relied on a whole heap of other gear to make that JCM800 sound more portable - In the early 2000s he was using Rocktron Prophecy Stuff, I believe more recently it's been Axe-FX. When Broderick was in the band they were touring with the Celestion V30 4x12 cabs though.


    Megadeth's core guitar sound is honestly nothing special. It's not particularly tight, not particularly defined, not particularly ballsy, not particularly *anything*, and over the years frankly it has gotten worse and worse, ending up at the mess in the thrash factor video on seymour duncan's website.

    If you want to be within spitting distance of any megadeth tone from any era, and without buying a bunch of overpriced, cash grab gear, you need a JB/Jazz set in an Alder body guitar (Jackson Flying V, if you care), a JCM800, a boost, and a 4x12 with V30s in it.

    It's a classic setup with some obvious flaws and weaknesses - the amp isn't the tightest, the pickup has that nasty mid "honk" that the duncan distortion doesn't have, there's the ENDLESS debates about what year the JCM800 was good or not, the same debate about vintage vs modern tubescreamers, etc etc etc. But it's still the setup that defined thrash in 1984 and it'll get you damn fucking close.
     
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  3. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    Oh and, one final point -

    Dave has a long, LONG history of lying through his fucking teeth about gear. Even his "Number One" guitar, the Silver King V, he's literally lied about in interviews - It doesn't take a lot of googling to find sites proving it was his second Jackson, not his first, along with various other weirdness he's said about it over the years that clearly isn't true.

    When Jackson went under, he was rumoured to be trying to buy Jackson. When he went to ESP he went WAY beyond "Endorsement" and praised them as the best guitars he'd ever played, super good to work with, etc. When he went to Dean, he said "They've finally gotten it right!" in one interview I remember reading.

    While he was with ESP he released this abortion: https://www.6-string.com/media/cata...taine_megadeath_dean_electric_guitar_2__2.jpg

    He was all OVER the press praising it, saying he'd wanted to release a non-V shape for years, saying it was a carefully designed product that he loved and would set a new standard, he did promotional videos with it etc.

    Then he played it live... once. And after that it was never seen again and he didn't breathe another word about the fugly fucker. He moves to Dean... what do they release? A V and an Explorer. The Axxion shape nowhere in sight.

    He also used Kahler bridges for 15 years before switching to string thru body TOMs, and proclaimed them "Tone suckers".

    The list really does go on, when it comes to the amount of gear Dave has publically endorsed and talked up in the press, only to abandon unceremoniously when the money stopped rolling in. The Jackson Y2K-V is another example.

    Don't trust what Dave says about gear. He either doesn't remember because of the drugs, or he's pushing for your dollar. Either way, the most reliable information comes from elsewhere.
     
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  4. Yash94

    Yash94 SS.org Regular

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    Wow, thanks for the great posts, GuitarBizzare. I totally agree with Dave being a marketing blabbermouth and being too much. All his past guitars were awesome. Didn't have to diss them. Everything had their own flavour.

    I couldn't agree more with the Thrash Factor set, the demo does sound awful. But, I dig the overall sound that he has had over the air. And to be honest, I love the mid honk that's on KIMB and Peace Sells. The non-remastered SFSGSW, not so much, but loved all the sounds from RIP, CTE, Youthanasia. I don't think Megadeth use a lot of gain, it's more crunchy than anything, especially on Cryptic Writings, Risk, and The System Has Failed. And, I dig it.

    About the Axxion, I tried out an LTD version of the guitar in a store, it's NOS and still for sale, and I am definitely going to pick it up in September. I loved its neck, really nice and thin. And the sound was good, it had the Mustaine Livewire pickups in them. I will compare it to my USA KV1, but, I doubt it'll come close. Overall though, I dug it. The shape was comfortable, and it looks cool in my opinion (it's not that I like anything pointy, I love Les Pauls and PRS Custom 24 too!) Although, I've never seen Dave playing it live. Would love to find a video.

    But the tone getting worse every year/album, I'd disagree. I think it was at its worse between the Cryptic Writings till The System Has Failed era, and it was pretty good starting United Abominations. I loved the tones on Endgame, Dystopia, 13, United Abominations :) I don't think he was using a JCM on those albums, it was most likely a JVM410H.

    And, I dig his explorers, finally a pointy explorer with 24 frets. Love it. I like the Jackson Kelly as well, and the ESP FX shape too. I am a V guy though, all guitars I own are pointy Vs (Two King Vs, and an ESP E-II Arrow). After the Axxion, I have my sights on a good single cut, and then a good superstrat.

    Also, his number one Jackson was probably made in 1990. It wasn't his first Jackson. His first Jackson might be the J2713, a black King V with a Megadeth logo, seen in the Wake Up Dead Music video. It was sold in 2002-2003 and now is with some fan somewhere around the world (I wanna track it down and buy it, if possible) Or it might have been the white 22 fret King V seen in the No More Mr. Nice Guy video. And his "Number 1" is probably the 1990 King V with the Megadeth logo and Anarchy logos on the body. Or some other guitar. No one knows. And that might include himself. haha

    Also, I like the Y2KV. Although I am not a big fan of Chrome hardware.
     
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  5. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    The studio tracks might not use a lot of gain by modern standards, but that's because the JCM800 doesn't have a lot of gain by modern standards. Dave still cranks that knob way beyond where most players at the time did.

    The axxion is probably a well made guitar, but it's also pig ugly and sold like shit rolled in glitter. Dave hailed the thing like a second coming and then ditched it immediately because it was clearly a case of ESP wanting him to endorse a shape he didn't give a fuck about, so that it'd gain some traction in the market, and clearly he was more than happy to take the cut of the sales in return for talking the thing up in the press and playing it live once or twice. There's a reason that guitar you're talking about is NOS - Nobody fucking wants them. Does that bother me personally? Fuck no, I play a cricket bat Steinberger, how many fucks do I give about looks?

    The tones on the albums might be OK, but look at who else has been in the band. Broderick, Kiko Loureiro, etc - All players with solid tone on their own. Now compare that to the tone Dave dials in on his own here, using all his own signature gear -


    It's fizzy, it's poorly defined, it's aggressive but it's also wooly and indistinct, with a weird "cocked wah" effect that comes from the JB midrange "honk" into a Marshall style amplifier circuit.

    As for the JCM vs JVM - The simplest way of illustrating this is to ask you - Exactly how different do you think those amplifiers actually are? Answer: Not really that much when it comes to metal tones. They're both 100Watt, standard marshall-style amplifier designs with EL34 tubes in. The JVM has a lot more options available, but the core of that distorted sound is still just a normal marshall amplifier design.

    I dig the explorers too, but not because dave has his fingerprints on them. It's mostly just because they're explorers with a 25.5" scale length instead of 24.75".

    I know everything you just said about his Number one Jackson, because we were both making the same point as each other.

    The Y2KV is the same deal as the Axxion. They're probably great guitars, but they don't exist because Dave wanted to play a more traditional looking V, they exist because Jackson wanted someone to pimp an idea *they* had, and Mustaine was quite happy to shill that product for them in return for a cut. Also like the Axxion, no fucker wanted to actually buy one, and they didn't sell for shit, despite Dave's name being attached.

    At the end of the day, all the same shit still applies - If you want to sound like Megadeth, it's a JB/Jazz set into a JCM800 and a cabinet of Vintage 30s. Yes that's what every thrash brand was playing in 1984, no Megadeth's sound at the time was not particularly special, and there's a very simple reason for that - Because there were almost no other options a thrash guitarist could go out and actually buy, that didn't sound like complete shit for playing thrash.

    Has it changed since? Sure. Modern amps have more channels, more options, more switching, some clever ideas that make them more versatile. You can go and buy an Axe-FX if you want ultimate flexibility - But even if you buy an Axe-FX, if you're about to dial up a Megadeth patch? The first blocks you put in are "Any marshall amp with more distortion than a Plexi", a tubescreamer, and a 4x12 cab with V30s in it. Because that's 1984 thrash in a nutshell, Megadeth included, and they've really not moved a million miles away from it over time.

    You can get really very bogged down in all the minutae of this if you want to. I've done it. There are guys on youtube with fanbases just because they go to ridiculous extremes to nail exact recording setups from famous songs and albums. But honestly? It's a complete waste of time - Hundreds and hundreds of hours of effort to go from 99% there, to 100% there, trying to nail a tone that the artist themselves would probably admit could be better.

    Go get some gear *you* like and that meets *your* needs. If it's halfway versatile it'll do Megadeth tones just fine.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
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  6. gienek

    gienek SS.org Regular

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    Kinda rant but in my school days been big Marty Friedman/Megadeth fan. I was having japan-made kelly from 2008. On auction site i found used JB pickup. ya sure, went for it for about 50$. Turn out to be some old 90s pickup. The backplate was handsigned by JBJ? JBM? I found that was corresponding to guy in manufacture. After googling it, on some japanese interview Marty revealed the guys initials in pickup spec, so i found i have the exact match with the Marty's pup. As you may think sound was holy shit close. I still regret selling this kelly so go vintage dude!

    EDIT: still got the photo of guitar :) there was an issue with string spacing too. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  7. Yash94

    Yash94 SS.org Regular

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    I just dig 24 frets. I like the explorers but the fact that they've got 22 frets (and mostly rosewood fingerboards) puts me off, although, I am yet to try out a quality 22 fret rosewood fingerboard instrument, so that might change, but for now, I am sticking to 24 fret ebony boards :) Same goes with Les Pauls. I'd really want a 24.75" scale 24 fret ebony fingerboarded Les Paul that's the full thickness ;) And has the Les Paul aesthetic with the block or trapezoid inlays (I hate the ESP flags), 3+3 headstock that's not ugly Maybe, someday.

    If the Y2KV was just another V Jackson wanted to sell and Dave was happy to shill the product, why did they go through so much prototyping between '97-'99? I think Dave and his guitar tech at the time must have had input in the development of the final version. And, as for the Axxion, I so wanna buy an ESP version of the guitar. I really like it, a lot.

    Still in the tryout phases. I love my King V and ESP E-II Arrow 7 string. They're both quite similar. And I ordered a Mustaine KV1 which is currently in transit, so, soon gonna try out some Seymour Duncans and Kahler fixed bridge. I am yet to try out some guitars with mahogany bodies, Ash bodies, Korina bodies, Kahler trems, TOM bridges. The list could go on and on.

    Wait what!? I thought Marty too used a normal off the shelf JB-4 like Dave's. Could you link to that Japanese interview please, if you can find it? And, why get rid of the Kelly? And what were the specs on it? Was it a Jackson Stars semi-custom?
     
  8. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    He did. And he had many, in many guitars. Marty was never known to have one specific studio guitar like Dave's Silver KV. He played a bunch of stuff across the records.

    There's nothing special about any JB over any other JB, except that some of the 30/40 year old ones will have degaussed a little by now. Even so, 40 years ago their magnetism would have been the same as a new JB produced today. If anything, the aging process will make them LESS true to the original sound - although it's usually so slight you could never tell a difference.
     
  9. gienek

    gienek SS.org Regular

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    This info still to found on Marty's site: http://martyfriedman.com/fans_faq_content.php?id=653. It was regular KE-3 MIJ model in 'trans black' with Duncan Designed in stock so nothing special. JBJ was aftermarket pickup. Just jump on a google and look up for it. People are still posting info's, also corelated to Mustaine on this :)
     
  10. Zoobiedood

    Zoobiedood SS.org Regular

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    I know now you can buy an Antiquity JB/Jazz set made to sound like a 40 year old version. I know some of the materials have changed over the years (like using polished magnets, etc).
     
  11. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    You can buy a product that says its those things. But like I said before - the difference is not how those pickups sounded new. It is how they sound now they're 40 years old, and even then it is a tiny, almost imperceptible difference. You're buying the look, you're buying a mostly imagined difference in tine, and you're buying the unsaid, unspoken idea of "mojo".

    The only reason I'd stop short of calling it snakeoil is because I think Seymour actually believes what he's saying.

    In the case of the Thrash factors, I don't even think he believes that much. I followed Dave's gear religiously for years. Nobody ever talked about that guitar having a special tone. Definitely nobody attributed any special magic to the pickups in it.


    And this isn't unique to Seymour Duncan either. Have you ever actually tried to count how many pickups there are on the market that claim to be accurate and perfect recreations of 1958 PAFs? The last time I tried counting I ended up at over 50 companies. Most of those companies had multiple models. A hefty number of them talked down their competition.

    I remember so many things being mentioned that have absolutely zero possibility of affecting the sound. Maple spacers, butylene bobbins with a period correct plastic makeup, etc.

    These things are magnetically inert. They have no possible way of affecting the sound, physics itself makes plain that these things can be replaced with other materials and absolutely nothing will change as long as the magnetically significant elements remain constant.

    The only way a magnet being polished can affect its magnetism and effect, is if during that polishing it was heated too much and ended up degaussed. If that had happened, the pickup would not sound slightly different, it would sound HUGELY different. Enough that it would never pass QC. Enough players would complain.

    File this one under "Eric Johnson thinks he can hear what brand of battery is in his pedals".
     
  12. Zoobiedood

    Zoobiedood SS.org Regular

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    A roughcast magnet *does* sound different than a polished one. I've done tests in a few kinds of pickups, recording before and after to confirm what I hear. I am not saying that this is the key to Dave's sound (I never really cared for his sound or playing), but that difference does make a difference in sound. Un-oriented magnets also change the sound.
     
  13. Alex79

    Alex79 SS.org Regular

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    This! I'd say any Marshall plus JB really. On the system has failed you can really hear that combo, IMO. I also must say I really like the sound on United Abominations and on Endgame, plus I felt those were really strong albums as well.

    I mostly agree with your statements, and I think Dave's brain is probably quite mushy from being a junkie/alcoholic so long. He's not Ozzy Osbourne or Eddie Van Halen, but quite there. Also, he might be using so much presence/treble because his ears probably are not the best after all those years (the highs go first in your ear!).

    I think the Mustaine Livewires are really good, but Seymour Duncan would sell more of them if they didn't have Dave's name on them. They should have called them "Thrash Factor" without any relation to Mustaine!

    The actual Thrash Factor doesn't look like a bad pickup and it's reasonably priced as well. A variant JB? Why not?
     
  14. Alex79

    Alex79 SS.org Regular

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    I had a quick scroll through some songs and I suspect you're on to something here! Possibly the clean parts on A tout le monde, possibly a lead on "Enter the arena/crush em" (which might just be Marty playing a split humbucker)...
    Yes, I cannot think of any significant use of the neck pickup either!
     
  15. Alex79

    Alex79 SS.org Regular

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    I had the anniversary JB/Jazz set and it sounded like a completely different pickup from the modern JB/Jazz! Much warmer and fatter. Had to sell it, it was unusable in my guitar.
     
  16. Yash94

    Yash94 SS.org Regular

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    The clean parts on both those songs are always played by the other guitarist (Marty in the studio, whoever's with him live, like Kiko or Chris) So, yes, still searching where the heck does he use the neck pickup!

    How much did they sell for? I MIGHT want to buy a used JB/Jazz set for my Jackson King V Pro (although I love the EMGs in there) What guitar do you play?
     
  17. CapinCripes

    CapinCripes Trem Snob

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    Apparently the bridge pickup in his number one is a JBJ hand wound by MJ now of the duncan custom shop. they varied from pickup to pickup much more than you would expect from the modern mass produced ones although any jb should get the core essence of the sound. as for his amps apparently rust in peace was a bit complicated in the amp department. It has been said he used an early example of a bogner fish pre amp with a VHT 2150 power amp in conjunction with a bogner designed Hafler Triple Giant Preamp. Cab wise it was 3 marshall 4x12s 1 with 25 watt greenbacks one with vintage 30s and one with g12t-75's all close miced with seinheiser 421's and sm-59's close to the cones. at least so says everything ive read about the production of that album. live was definitely bogner fishes into a VHT 2150.
    [​IMG]
    early megadeth was almost certainly jcm800's though. Not sure if they were modded or not or if they were 6550 tubed or el34 tubed.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2018
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  18. Manurack

    Manurack Nunavut Inuk

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    One time that I distinctly remember watching and hearing Dave use the neck pickup during a live performance, was on disc two of the Arsenal of Megadeth DVD, when they played Reckoning Day live in 1994.
    Dave switches to the neck pickup at 2:29, then you can hear the tone of his solo get thinner at 2:43 when he switches to the bridge pickup. It's pretty much the only time I've seen him use the (in his words) wang bar lol
    Flashback - I remember that 14 year old me at the time "borrowed" my older brother's credit card and drove my Polaris sled to the store, (yeah you can drive winter sleds around my home town in the Canadian arctic at age 14 haha) I used his credit card to buy the 2 disc Megadeth DVD! 13 years later, I don't think he even noticed that $73 was used on his credit card :lol:

    Youtube link to the video -
     
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  19. Yash94

    Yash94 SS.org Regular

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    OMG he did use it once! I've seen that performance many times, never noticed! Thanks lol
     
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  20. HeHasTheJazzHands

    HeHasTheJazzHands greg rulz ok

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    Not only that, but he also uses a whammy bar at the same time. 2 things he never does all in one solo.
     
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