Synyster Gates

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Synyster Gates
Gates performing at Rock im Park 2018
Gates performing at Rock im Park 2018
Background information
Birth nameBrian Elwin Haner Jr.
Also known as
  • Syn
  • Gates
Born (1981-07-07) July 7, 1981 (age 41)
Long Beach, California, U.S.
Years active1999–present
Member ofAvenged Sevenfold
Formerly ofPinkly Smooth

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 for being 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.[citation needed] Gates is of Spanish and German ancestry.[citation needed]


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.[4]

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,[5] 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.[5]


Besides metal music, Gates is a big fan of jazz, gypsy jazz, classical, and avant-garde.[citation needed] 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[6] as his artistic influences.[7]

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."[8]

Personal life[edit]

Gates married Michelle DiBenedetto on May 7, 2010.[citation needed] The couple have two children, a son, Nicolangelo "Nicci" Saint James Haner, born May 12, 2017, and a daughter, Monroe Saint James Haner, born October 14, 2019.[citation needed]

Michelle's twin sister, Valary, is married to M. Shadows, making Shadows and Gates brothers-in-law.


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.[9][10]

  • Schecter Synyster Custom-S (Black with Silver pinstripes, Black with Gold pinstripes, Black with Red pinstripes, White with Gold pinstripes, White with Black pinstripes, Gold Burst, Dark Earth Burst)
  • Schecter custom models with Rebel flag, American flag, German flag, Black with Red Stripes, Red with Black Stripes, White with Gold Stripes, White with Black Stripes, one featuring Jack Nicholson's Joker art and color scheme.
  • Schecter Synyster Gates Custom with "REV" inlays on fret board, instead of "SYN" featured in the "So Far Away" music video
  • Schecter Synyster Custom
  • Schecter Synyster Acoustic
  • Schecter Synyster 8-String Prototype
  • Schecter Synyster Deluxe Prototype
  • Schecter Synyster Special
  • Schecter Avenger
  • Schecter C-1 Classic - Transparent Blue
  • Schecter Custom C-1 FR
  • Schecter Omen-6 FR
  • Gibson ES-335
  • Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR(white, black)
  • Schecter Scorpion with Seymour Duncan JBs
  • Schecter PT Fastback
  • Schecter S-1 loaded with Seymour Duncan JBs
  • Gibson Les Paul Custom (arctic white)
  • Parker Fly
  • Epiphone Rockbass
  • Fernandez Guitars FR95s with a sustainer single coil pickup as seen on "Making of Brompton Cocktail" [11]


  1. ^ "The best metal guitarists of all time",, Retrieved 2021 January 1.
  2. ^ "The 14 best metal guitarists in the world right now | MusicRadar". 3 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Top List: 10 Best Metal Guitarists of 2017".
  4. ^ Brandon Geist (2011-06-01). "Exclusive Interview: Avenged Sevenfold's Synyster Gates Talks the Revolver Golden Gods - Hard Rock & Heavy Metal News | Music Videos |Golden Gods Awards". Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  5. ^ a b "Synyster Gates Talks Pinkly Smooth And More With Binaural". 9 December 2010. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  6. ^ "A7X's Syn Gates Names His Favorite Album, Reveals How He Got Into Gypsy Jazz - Music News @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com". Ultimate-Guitar.Com. 2019-01-25. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  7. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold's Synyster Gates: Being Called A 'Torchbearer' By Zakk Wylde Is 'An Unbelievable Honor'". 2014-07-19. Retrieved 2015-12-13.
  8. ^ Gates, Synyster (October 21, 2020). "DISCO VOLANTE by Mr. Bungle". Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  9. ^ "Avenged Sevenfold - Synyster Gates Guitar Gear Rig and Equipment".
  10. ^ Archived from the original on January 28, 2013. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Making of "Brompton Cocktail"". YouTube. 2008-07-05. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2015-12-13.