28th Street, 2018
It was the middle of the afternoon in the D’Angelico showroom in New York City. Headphones on in our back offices as our team powered through the work day. It was a fairly quiet and normal day for us, when suddenly we heard some incredible guitar playing coming from the main room. The showroom was mostly appointment-only at this point, and we didn’t have any artist visits scheduled. But the playing through the walls was so impressive, it stopped us in our tracks. “I need to know who is out there.”
Abigail Zachko is a nineteen year old guitarist from northern New Jersey. At age fourteen, she was runner up in Music Radar’s 2018 Young Guitarist of The Year and her visit to our showroom occurred shortly thereafter. Today she is a student at Boston’s Berklee College of Music as well as a touring musician best known for her unique blend of traditional jazz, R&B, and math rock. Immediately upon meeting her, we knew we wanted to work with her—and it’s been exciting to see her grow as a musician and person ever since.
Music has always been a big part of Abigail’s life. With a dad who was a classical clarinetist and Julliard graduate, she was exposed to classical music at a young age. She jokes that she “played” in quotations, because she claims she was bad at all of them (clarinet, piano, and violin) in elementary school. Despite all of the classical influence, she resonated more with the music her grandfather introduced her to, such as Frank Zappa and the Beatles. When Abigail found the guitar, she also discovered that a wide range of genres appealed to her, including jazz, indie rock, math rock, R&B, and more.
A Grown-up World in Music
Now as a student at Berklee, Abigail has the opportunity to combine her passion for music and education, and can grow even more as a budding artist. She describes her schooling as “super fun because it is very much in line with what I am trying to do. I get to tell my professors where I was playing that week and we’d be able to bond over the fact that they’d once played there too. It was obviously still a bit stressful because I would have to do homework on the bus or make up missed exams when I got back [from a run of shows] but overall it feels very gratifying.” Abigail went on to say, “I was also able to exercise the lessons I’d learned on stage, so it was a very tangible way to judge if I was improving or not. Berklee helped me with the social aspect of the music industry—being around a bunch of different yet like-minded creatives really helped my own self-confidence and helped me navigate the more grown-up world of touring life.”
Like all touring musicians, the pandemic drastically affected Abigail’s musical career. “Covid hit right when we were supposed to go on the North American leg of the tour and put a halt to a lot of things in my career. I did, however, get a chance to really focus on practicing and exploring new bands over quarantine.” She explained that she was able to take full advantage of social media, “because that was kind of all I had.” For Abigail, “it was also a time that everybody had to use their own imaginations in order to keep sane, so it spurred a lot of writing as a means of therapy.”
Abigail’s musical gear is an integral part of her writing process. “I’ve always used gear as a means to translate sounds that I’m hearing in my head,” she explains. “I usually will start with a melody or rhythmic idea and then try to fit it on guitar. Once everything’s all laid out, I use things like tone and pedals as a means of decoration to dress up a riff or song so that everything sort of blends together and sounds more complete.” To find her ideal tones and textures, Abigail experiments with pedals as well. “I really like tones that are unique and don’t really sound like a guitar,” she replied. “I usually try to get creative with pedals and go for the wackiest thing and then dial it back so that it’s more usable.”
When asked what aspects of her rig she is most excited about, Abigail told me that “right now I’m really loving my Supro Black Magick. I think that it’s a great pedal platform amp and it gives me a really nice raw sound.” She also loves her Deluxe Bedford, which she uses as an alternate tuning guitar. “The Bedford is just really comfortable to play, especially with all the new tapping stuff my band has been doing. My Deluxe 59 has also been really great with a lot of my chiller gigs. The P90s give it a really warm sound and also make it super fun to just absolutely crank sometimes.” Abigail also said that she had recently incorporated the new Star Eater fuzz pedal from Pigtronix into her rig. “Star Eater is super interesting in that it kind of gives me a ring mod effect, but with the pitch control/drive of a fuzz pedal. I especially like using it with my Deluxe 59 because I can get some crazy feedback sounds.”
Abigail found success as a guitarist quite early on in her life. Her advice for other young musicians hoping to break into the industry is to “Really be yourself. I think I found my so-called ‘success’ by doing things that I personally thought were interesting and cool and didn’t care about what that meant to the industry. Music has always been such an individual thing and I think the most important thing a young musician can do is add to that individuality by being themselves.”
Outside of music, Abigail loves thrifting, arts and crafts, and cooking. Be sure to follow her on Instagram and Tik Tok, and stay tuned for new original music coming out this winter. It has been an honor to work with Abigail over the years. She’s grown tremendously as a player and we can’t wait to collaborate on more projects with her in the future.
Favorite Guitar: D’Angelico Deluxe Bedford
Favorite Amp: Supro Black Magick
Top 3 Pedal Picks: Chase Bliss Warped Vinyl, Whammy Pedal, Pigtronix Star Eater
Favorite guitarist: Mary Halvorson
Best concert/show you’ve been to: John Zorn and Julian Lage at the Village Vanguard OR Pino Pallidino and Blake Mills at Newport Jazz 2022