Synyster Gates

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Synyster Gates
Gates in 2018
Gates in 2018
Background information
Birth nameBrian Elwin Haner Jr.
Also known as
  • Syn
  • Gates
Born (1981-07-07) July 7, 1981 (age 42)
Long Beach, California, U.S.
Years active1999–present
Member ofAvenged Sevenfold
Formerly ofPinkly Smooth
RelativesM. Shadows (brother-in-law)

Brian Elwin Haner Jr. (born July 7, 1981), better known by his stage name Synyster Gates or simply Syn, is an American guitarist, best known as the lead guitarist and backing vocalist of heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold. He ranks No. 9 on Guitar World's best metal guitarists of all time.[1] Gates was voted as Best Metal Guitarist in the World by Total Guitar in 2016 and once again in 2017.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Synyster Gates is the son of musician, author, and comedian Brian Haner Sr., known as Papa Gates, who worked with Sam the Sham's band in the 1970s and has done session work for Avenged Sevenfold. Gates studied at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, California, as part of the Guitar Institute of Music program, studying jazz and classical guitar.[4] Gates is of German, Spanish and Indian ancestry.[5]


Avenged Sevenfold[edit]

Gates performing live in 2017

Gates was featured on the EP Warmness on the Soul, which contains select songs from the first album as well as his new version of "To End the Rapture". His name on the EP was written as "Synyster Gaytes".

On the Avenged Sevenfold DVD All Excess, Gates claimed that his name was created on a drunken drive through the park with The Rev.

Gates was voted Sexiest Male in the 2008 Kerrang! Readers Poll. In 2010, Guitar World listed him as one of the 30 greatest shredders of all time. They described him as being able to perform finger-twisting licks, acrobatic sweeps, devilish chromatics and towering dual-harmonies. Gates was chosen as one of Guitar Hero's 50 fastest guitarists. On Guitar World's 2010 Readers Poll, Gates was chosen Snappiest Dresser and the Best Metal Guitarist. Rock One Magazine's 2010 Readers Poll voted Gates the No. 3 best musician in the industry. On April 20, 2011, Gates won the Revolver Golden God award for Best Guitarist along with bandmate Zacky Vengeance. Avenged Sevenfold picked up numerous other awards and delivered the headlining performance of the night.[6]

Zacky Vengeance (left) and Gates performing in 2011

In the special edition of Revolver magazine that was released the same day as the Nightmare album, Gates stated that he originally started out writing the song "So Far Away" in honor of his grandfather. However, the song is now primarily about his former bandmate, best friend and previous drummer of Avenged Sevenfold, The Rev,[7] who died on December 28, 2009.

Pinkly Smooth[edit]

Gates and The Rev played in an experimental metal band named Pinkly Smooth. Formed in the summer of 2001 in Huntington Beach, California, the band featured ex-Ballistico members Buck Silverspur on bass and D-Rock on drums. The band released one album, Unfortunate Snort on Bucktan Records, which features a crossover sound of mostly punk, ska and progressive metal. Former Avenged Sevenfold bassist Justin Sane played keyboards and piano on the album. There was speculation that Pinkly Smooth was going to produce another record, but due to the death of the Rev, it is highly unlikely that they will produce any more material. However, Gates has said that he would consider remastering the tracks from Unfortunate Snort and re-releasing the album.[7]


Besides metal music, Gates is a big fan of jazz, gypsy jazz, classical, and avant-garde.[8] He cites Dimebag Darrell, Django Reinhardt, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Slash, Marty Friedman, Zakk Wylde, Allan Holdsworth, Mr. Bungle, Frank Gambale, Oingo Boingo, and Danny Elfman[9] as his artistic influences.[10]

Gates has named bassist Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle "one of [his] favorite songwriters of all time", praising his compositions of "masterful and incredibly singable atonal brilliance throughout [1995 album Disco Volante]", and concluded: "[Dunn] is nothing short of pure genius."[11]

Personal life[edit]

Gates married Michelle DiBenedetto in May 2010.[12] The couple have two children, a son born in 2017 and a daughter born in 2019.[citation needed]

Michelle's twin sister, Valary, is married to M. Shadows.[8]


With Avenged Sevenfold[edit]

With Pinkly Smooth[edit]

Featured guest appearances[edit]


Schecter Synyster custom

Gates uses mainly Schecter Guitars. Schecter Guitar Research has been sponsoring him and he has signature Avenger models. He has also used Gibson Guitars when Avenged Sevenfold recorded Waking the Fallen and City of Evil. He has his own Seymour Duncan pickups, a custom SH-8 Invader, with Black, Gold, White or Chrome caps.[13][14]


  1. ^ "The best metal guitarists of all time",, Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  2. ^ "The 14 best metal guitarists in the world right now | MusicRadar". December 3, 2018.
  3. ^ "Top List: 10 Best Metal Guitarists of 2017".
  4. ^ "MI SUCCESS STORY: SYNYSTER GATES". Retrieved April 18, 2023.
  5. ^ "Synyster Gates Facts". Gaia Online. Retrieved April 18, 2023.
  6. ^ Brandon Geist (June 1, 2011). "Exclusive Interview: Avenged Sevenfold's Synyster Gates Talks the Revolver Golden Gods - Hard Rock & Heavy Metal News | Music Videos |Golden Gods Awards". Retrieved December 13, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Synyster Gates Talks Pinkly Smooth And More With Binaural". December 9, 2010. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
  8. ^ a b "About Synyster Gates". Retrieved April 18, 2023.
  9. ^ "A7X's Syn Gates Names His Favorite Album, Reveals How He Got Into Gypsy Jazz - Music News @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com". Ultimate-Guitar.Com. January 25, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  10. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold's Synyster Gates: Being Called A 'Torchbearer' By Zakk Wylde Is 'An Unbelievable Honor'". July 19, 2014. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
  11. ^ Gates, Synyster (October 21, 2020). "DISCO VOLANTE by Mr. Bungle". Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  12. ^ "Synyster Gates' Wife Michelle DiBenedetto – Enjoying Marital Bliss Since 2010". E Celebrity Mirror. May 24, 2022. Retrieved April 18, 2023.
  13. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold - Synyster Gates Guitar Gear Rig and Equipment".
  14. ^ "Synyster Gates Signature Design - Schecter Guitar Research". Archived from the original on January 28, 2013.
  15. ^ "Making of "Brompton Cocktail"". YouTube. July 5, 2008. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved December 13, 2015.

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