Fredrik Thordendal

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Fredrik Thordendal
File:Fredrik Thordendal 2005.jpg
Fredrik Thordendal performing live at Mondo, Stockholm, Sweden during May 2005.
Background information
Birth name Fredrik Thordendal
Born (1970-02-11) February 11, 1970 (age 51)
Origin Umeå, Sweden
Genres Experimental metal, extreme metal, progressive metal
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, bass, keyboard, vocal, programming, drums
Associated acts Meshuggah
Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects
Notable instruments
Custom Nevborn and Ibanez 8- and 7-strings

Fredrik Thordendal (born February 11, 1970) is a Swedish musician and lead-guitarist of the metal band Meshuggah.

Along with Meshuggah's rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström, Thordendal was rated No. 35 by Guitar World in the top 100 greatest heavy metal guitarists of all-time.[1]

Musical career

Thordendal began his career when he formed "Metallien", a heavily Metallica-influenced band, in his hometown Umeå in 1985. The band later changed their name to Meshuggah and released their first LP Psykisk Testbild in 1989.[2] Beginning as a thrash metal band, Meshuggah's music gradually evolved into a more progressive sound. Various members of the band coined the term "Djent" in reference to a commonly-utilised technique of playing heavily muted, extended powerchords found within Meshuggah's music.[3] Thordendal has been widely recognized[4][5] in the metal community for his work with Meshuggah.

Under the name Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects, Thordendal released a solo album in 1997 titled Sol Niger Within with Ultimate Audio Entertainment. The album was remixed and re-released by Ultimate Audio Entertainment and Relapse Records in 1999 under the title Sol Niger Within version 3.33. The re-release contains two bonus tracks but omits several parts of the original version. Thordendal also featured on several tracks for drummer Morgan Ågren's Mats/Morgan Band.

As a guitarist, Thordendal draws attention with his clean, complex lead-playing, inspired by jazz fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth, and complex rhythm-playing featuring prominent polymetric passages. These characteristics are augmented by his use of seven and eight-string guitars. He has a large contribution to songwriting, as well as providing backing vocals for some songs during live performances. He also writes the basslines and performs electric bass in the studio, Dick Lövgren covering these parts during live performances.

Fredrik has been quoted as stating that Metallica and Tool as influences on Meshuggah. Interestingly, Meshuggah supported Tool during their U.S. tour in the fall of 2002, where drummer Tomas Haake even guest appearing, playing "Triad" with the band.

Fredrik praises jazz fusion guitarist Wayne Krantz's work with Keith Carlock and Tim Lefebvre, stating that "these guys are the most inspiring band I've heard in a very long time". He has also stated that he listens to Massive Attack and Cult of Luna.

In an interview with Guitar World in 2011 Fredrik states "My dad always listened to jazz, and I guess that influenced me to learn about improvisation. An improvised solo sounds so much better than a written one. For me, there's not much thinking going on at all, only a reaction to what I'm being told from the inside. And no, I have not had any formal training. When I record my leads, they are usually based on feel and totally ignorant to all laws of music theory. This, of course, is because I just play whatever comes out. There are no rules. But on certain songs, I do have to figure out what scales I need to use to follow chord changes. Since I'm not very good with all the scales, I sometimes have to write parts down and plan things ahead. I usually improvise the first part, then insert the written part and continue to improvise until the end of the solo. It's a very confusing way to do it, but I do whatever it takes to make it sound like I know what I'm doing".

Fredrik utilizes a unique device for his leads, referred to as the MIDI breath controller. He states "I was mainly interested in using it as a dynamics controller. I wanted to start a note at a lower volume and then bring it up, like a saxophonist does. But I've since found that is more or less impossible with a guitar. Since the controller didn't produce the sound I was after, I had to find other ways of using it. It turned out that the only thing that sounded cool was when I blew every single note with it, which generated this weird staccato sound. The first breath controller we made—the one I used on "Future Breed Machine" and "Sublevels" from Destroy Erase Improve—could only control the volume. So Johan Haake and I tried all kinds of things to get closer to what I originally wanted, like adding control over frequencies and distortion. I am really pleased with how the "Missing Time" solo turned out from Sol Niger Within Version 3.33 [the remix CD of the debut album from his side project Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects]. But I never thought we got close enough, so I sort of gave up on it. A couple of years ago it was for sale to the public, but not any more".

In 2010, Fredrik recorded some drum tracks with Morgan Ågren [of Swedish prog-rock band Kaipa] and [Soilwork's] Dirk Verbeuren.

Several of Fredrik's demos have been released on the internet as MP3s or as videos on YouTube. One composition entitled "Demo 33" can be found at "Demo 33" was used to demonstrate Fredrik's MIDI breath controller, which is used on several Meshuggah songs, one being Future Breed Machine. More information regarding the controller can be found at (along with the original "Demo 33" MP3 and other demos of the device). The site was created by Johan Haake, brother of Meshuggah drummer Tomas Haake, and the creator of the original MIDI breath controller for Fredrik. Another demo idea, called "Secrets of the Unknown" can be found at

With regards to a second Special Defects album Fredrik states "It’s actually been messing with my head for years now. I haven’t really found the time to get the project going. This is a project that I will work on for a longer time, with no rush whatsoever, to make it the best I possibly can. I’m looking forward to making it because I think it will sound so different from anything I’ve ever heard before".

Thordendal is also a producer of some note, having produced all of Meshuggah's recent material and also releases for various other bands, Switzerland's Fragment among them.

Thordendal has featured in numerous side-projects, such as XXX Atomic Toejam with Petter Marklund. The project had released a 7" two-track single "Celebration" under the name Sepülchre Inc., then took the moniker XXX Atomic Toejam and issued an MCD entitled "A Gathering of the Tribes for the First / Last Human Be-In" on Cold Meat Industry and also featured a track on the "Karmanik Collection" compilation. A full-length album was long announced, but never surfaced. Thordendal also played bass for Petter Marklund's solo project Memorandum and together with Marklund remixed tracks on the 1995 compilation album "Ars Moriendi".

Thordendal features in the Darkane track "Psychic Pain" from the album Insanity, performing lead guitar. Thordendal also contributed to the song "Asphyxiate" which can be found on Scarve's album Irradiant. He played a guitar solo on the title track of the Devin Townsend Project album Deconstruction.

Fredrik Thordendal cut off the tip of his left middle finger at work. The fingertip was sewn back on, and with a fair degree of re-learning and practicing he regained his abilities and skill within a year or so. He also made a contribution towards the soundtrack to the computer game Wolfenstein:The New Order which was released worldwide on May 20, 2014.[6]



Thordendal's current main guitars are Ibanez Custom 8-String M8M which feature RG-shaped or Iceman-shaped alder bodies with 5-piece maple/Bubinga neck-thru necks (29.4" {746.76 mm}), rosewood fingerboards (no inlays), fixed bridge (actually an Ibanez FX-Edge fixed tremolo), one volume, one tone, and one Lundgren Model 8 pickup. The fixed bridge on one of his 8 strings has since been replaced with a Kahler tremolo system. Thordendal also owns a 7-string acoustic guitar, also made by Ibanez. For some time he also used Nevborn guitars. This company made Meshuggah their first 8 string guitars: however these guitars suffered from intonation problems, causing Thordendal to abandon the company and switch to exclusively using Ibanez guitars. On the current North American tour promoting Koloss, he has been using a custom Firebird type body 8 string, called the Stoneman.

For early Meshuggah releases, Fredrik tuned his 7 strings in B♭ tuning (one half step below standard tuning). He followed suit when he started using 8 string guitars, tuning them down to F tuning (F, B♭, E♭, A♭, D♭,G♭, B♭, E♭). It was explained in an interview that they tuned their guitars this way because in the early days of Meshuggah, before Jens Kidman adopted his signature vocal style, it was easier for him to sing in the key of E♭ or B♭. Occasionally Thordendal deviates from his "standard" tuning: on the songs "Glints Collide", "Organic Shadows", "Perpetual Black Second", "The Hurt That Finds You First" and "Stengah" he tunes the low F string of his 8 string guitar a half step lower to E, he also tunes it to E♭ on "Nebulous" and "Shed" and even to D on "Obsidian". On "Spasm" he tunes it even lower from that, down to B♭ (B♭, B♭, E♭, A♭, D♭, G♭, B♭, E♭), making the 8th string an octave below the 7th, while "Mind's Mirrors" utilizes the 8th string tuned down to E0.

Guitar Strings, Dunlop:
String gauges: .070 – .052 – .046 – .036 – .026 – .016 – .011 – .009.

Guitar Picks:
Jim Dunlop Nylon 1mm

Amplifiers and Effects

    • Fractal Audio Systems Axe-FX Ultra
    • Randall Fredrik Thordendal signature (TBA)
    • DAR Forza Quattro
    • Behringer FCB1010 (MIDI controller for the Axe-FX)
    • "33" MIDI Breath Controller (built by Johan Haake, the brother of drummer Tomas Haake)
    • Clavia Nord Modular G2 Engine (effects processor for the "33" breath controller)
    • Digitech Digidelay
    • Digitech GNX4 Guitar Effects Processor
    • Unknown Pedal (probably a MIDI controller that controls parameters of the Vetta Head Units)
    • TC Electronic Pre-Amp

Amplifiers and Effects used in the past

    • Line 6 Vetta II Head Units (2005 – 2008,
    • Line 6 POD Pro (2001–2005)
    • Marshall Valvestate 8200 (1992–1995)
    • Mesa/Boogie .50 Caliber+ (1994)
    • Mesa Engineering Dual-Rectifier (1995–2001)
    • Marshall JCM800
    • Marshall 1960A cab
    • Rocktron Juice Extractor
    • TC Electronic Chorus & Flanger
    • Homemade "Les Amp" Head Unit
    • Homemade 1x12" Cabinet
    • Yamaha Breath Controller
    • Volume Unit (Yamaha BC controlled the amount of volume that the unit would allow through)
    • ADA Rackmount Delay



Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects

The Devin Townsend Project


  • Untitled Sea Shepherd EP (TBA) (guest guitarist on "Of Blood and Salt")

Mattias Eklundh

  • The Smorgasbord (guest guitarist on "Friedrichs Wahnbriefe")


  • Irradiant (guest solo guitarist on "Asphyxiate")


External links