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Stephen Carpenter (born August 3, 1970 in Sacramentomarker, Californiamarker) is the co-founder and lead guitarist of the American rock band Deftones. His guitar technique makes use of both ringing open strings and dissonant chord voicings, as well as stock power chords.


Early life

Stephen Carpenter was born on August 3, 1970 in Sacramento, California to a family consisting of his mother Maria and his sister Marci. He grew up in the Sacramento area and pursued hobbies including skateboarding.

When Carpenter was 15 years old, he was hit by a car while skateboarding. This left him using a wheelchair for several months. It was at this point that he began teaching himself guitar by playing along with bands such as Anthrax, Stormtroopers of Death and Metallica. It has been reported that the driver paid Carpenter a cash settlement that allowed the band to purchase equipment, but drummer Abe Cunningham commented in an interview that this was "a myth about how our band was started."

Carpenter attended high school with future band mates Chino Moreno and Abe Cunningham. They were childhood friends and remained friends through the skateboarding scene in Sacramento. When Moreno found out Carpenter played guitar, he set up a jam session with Cunningham and the three began playing regularly in Carpenter's garage circa 1988.After playing with several bassists, the band settled on Chi Cheng and within two years the band began playing club shows and later expanded their playing territory to San Franciscomarker and Los Angeles where they played shows alongside bands such as Korn.

His relationship with Deftones lead singer and bandmate Chino Moreno has been recorded as being fraught at times. Apparently, recording of Saturday Night Wrist was protracted due to their "warfare". With regards to musical tastes, Saturday Night Wrist being described as "more aggressive" equated to it being "more aggressive for him [Chino]"; Carpenter said he'd "definitely be glad to take it to the next level, but that's asking too much right now."

Musical influences

Carpenter has stated that Meshuggah, Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Faith No More are some of his influences, but he also draws influence from Depeche Mode and Led Zeppelin, which can be heard on more subdued tracks. He has also stated that his favourite album of all time is Chaosphere by Meshuggah, saying: "The most brutal record I've heard, from second one to second last. It left me wondering where the hell I'd been the whole time."

Side projects

Carpenter recently formed a side project called Sol Invicto that is described as metal meets drum & bass. Stephen plays guitar alongside Eric Bobo Correa of Cypress Hill on percussion, Richie Londres from the C.L.P Cultura Londres Proyecto as an in-house producer and AJ Cookson (Medes) and recently Hella drummer Zach Hill. A release from them is slated for 2009. They are known to have completed two tracks thus far; "Unidose" and "Carrion".

Carpenter is also involved in another project known as Kush, featuring Christian Olde Wolbers and Raymond Herrera from Fear Factory and B-Real from Cypress Hill.

Stephen also plays other instruments. Stephen has been known to play keyboards alongside Frank Delgado when the Deftones perform the song "Beware" from their album Saturday Night Wrist. He also contributed keyboards and ambience textures on the song "Teenager" from the White Pony album, and plays second bass on the song "Xerces" from Saturday Night Wrist. Also, in multiple interviews he has disclosed that he plays drums on the instrumental track "u,d,u,d,l,r,l,r,a,b,a,b,select,start" from Saturday Night Wrist, and also drummed on the track "Anniversary of an Uninteresting Event" from Deftones' self-titled album.


Carpenter is currently endorsed by ESP Guitars, Marshall Amplifiers, GuitarRig and EMG pickups. He has been a major endorser of ESP since the mid-1990s. He has had a number of ESP/LTD signature models in production, both in six (discontinued), seven string and baritone models. Carpenter will also soon be using a new 8-String guitar built for him by ESP featuring a lower F# string.

Carpenter currently uses Ernie Ball .011-.059 gauge strings. He also uses Dunlop 1 mm Tortex picks which are black with a custom logo.

On tour, Carpenter takes about 10 guitars. He uses 5 main guitars, and the rest are back-ups for all the different tunings. Carpenter has a range of different guitar tunings, including E, drop D, Drop Db, Drop C on the six string and G# and Drop F# on the seven string. He also plays his six string tunings on the seven string with the two highest strings tuned to the same tone. He also has two identical rigs, and two sets of guitars, which he uses on tour in the U.S. and when touring in other countries.


Amplifiers & Cabinets

  • Marshall 1960B 4x12 Cabinets (x2)
  • ISP Technologies Vector SL 600watt 15" Subwoofer Cabinets (x2)


To avoid problems with pedals being damaged during live performances, Carpenter now keeps his effect pedals and rack-mounted effects in a rack along with his pre-amp, which he controls them through a pedalboard onstage. The pedal controller, built by Bob Bradshaw at Custom Audio Electronics, allows him to change between different effect pedals and pre-amp settings.


With Deftones

With Sol Invicto

  • Unidose (EP) (2008, Altered Beats.)
  • Carrion (2008 Altered Beats.)


External links

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