A lesson explaining how to get well known guitar sounds

One of the areas I find that it’s difficult to find resources all in one place is general info on how to use amp/pedal settings to get well known guitar sounds. I wonder if Justin could do one or more videos on this outlining approximately how to get the guitar to sound somewhat like, for example, Hendrix, AC/DC, Tom Petty, Dave Gilmour, and other such artists that have a distinctive sound. When I try to do this using a combination of pedal board and amp settings it’s very much trial and error and I think there has to be others out there that struggle with this aspect too.
Just a suggestion…
Happy New Year to all here

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The reason these thing are hard to find is you would need the same equipment to get the same sound. Modeling amps are as close as your going to get. Angus Young uses very few peddles and a Marshall stack Edge uses upwards of a hundred peddles so giving a lesson on how to get that sound is almost impossible. The best you can do is learn you setup.


I get that, and I’m not suggesting Justin demonstrates how to get the exact sound, but an approximation by modulating effects such as reverb, phase, overdrive, chorus, compression etc.

Yup, Rick said it well. Equipment varies greatly not even just amps and peddles but individual guitars. What pickups the guitar is using even if they are humbuckers, some sounds different. And then which pick up is the guitarist using to get that sound? Bridge, Neck, something in between depending on the guitar. New revstars for example do something interesting and unique with the 5 way switch where 2 and 4 I think delay one of the pickups. It’s wild, but if the guitarist is using that it’ll sound different than anything else. Stuff like that is commonplace so you’re best bet it to really get to know your set up and maybe watch justin’s videos on different effect that he put in the grade 3 section.

Yeah, approximating someone’s sound has just as much to do with the way they actually play (grips, chord voicings, licks, etc.) as with knowing what equipment and what settings they used. And if it’s really a distinctive sound, these may not be all that is at play.

Keith Richards said that he can make any guitar sound the same in 5 minutes, and he’s not one to rely on effect heavily. Yet you know it’s him when you hear him.

A favourite example of mine is Miles Davis. He recorded the soundtrack to a film called Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, back in 1957 when distortion wasn’t used on brass instruments so it was all about the instrument and the embouchure. Once I saw a trailer on TV5 (a French TV channel) for an old French movie and a trumpet was playing. I heard only 3 or 4 notes and I said to myself I’d be damned if it wouldn’t be Miles. So I waited until the title was announced and it was indeed that film with Miles playing. How did I know it was him without knowing the music? I still don’t know. It could have been played by anybody, but something still made it unique and recognizable.

I think it’s sort of the same situation with any musician with a distinctive sound. You might be able to track down all the technical details of their equipment, yet what you would end up playing may not sound like them at all.

Have you seen this ?

Thanks Toby, I’ve not seen all of those and will work through them. However, knowing the facts about a particular effect still doesn’t necessarily connect directly back to a particular sound of an artist. Out of interest, what’s everyone’s opinion of the importance of the amplifier in the sound. I’ve never been that focussed on the quality of the amp I use on the (possibly mistaken) basis that I can frame the sound I want using effects. The fact that I can’t really get the end result I usually want perhaps is because of the amp I’m using?

Would help if you told us what you have for equipment. What guitars do you have, What amp do you have, What peddles if any. How long have you been playing. Did you know most of the sound comes from the player and how they play not just the equipment.
Jeff Beck sounds like Jeff beck because he uses his fingers.


Or because of the way you use your amp. Try these courses:

But really, without having the exact same thing, you can only approximate someone’s sound. For example, to get the Hendrix sound, you’d need stacks of Marshall/Sunn amps with the volume turned up to 11 and above. Who could afford that nowadays, notwithstanding the annoyance caused to your neighbours? In order to play something like EXP (from Axis: Bold As Love), you would need to be very loud. And that’s just one aspect of the Hendrix sound.

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There are many quality resources on the net for dialing in approximate sounds for particular bands/songs. Chasing exact reproduction is a waste of time, and for no real benefit. Human hearing isnt that great after all.
As @stitch said, bands like ACDC are pretty straight forward. Some others, not so much.
Chasing tones with trial and error is a good thing. Makes you more familiar with your setup, and you can discover some cool tones of your own aling the way.

Cheers, Shane

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Actually, that’s the exact kind of knowledge you need in order to start experimenting with your own gear in order to produce an approximation of the tone you are seeking. If you recognise the sound of a flanger, phaser, distortion, etc then you know where to start, don’t you?

That knowledge is infinitely more useful than a video showing the exact settings of ten pedals, two amps, a cab, and a multi-mic setup that a particular artist uses which you don’t even own and could never hope to exactly replicate.

Hence why people like Justin don’t offer such videos. Not only would they need to own everything the artist is using, but each artist… and perhaps each song they’ve ever played… would require it’s own video. There are YouTube channels for that kind of thing, but it’s not something a guitar teacher is going to bother with.


Trying to sound like someone else can be everything from fun to challenging to downright boring. I’m probably closer to the latter. I’m happier finding my own tone for a given project. Ultimately you need to do some homework and begin tinkering with tone. So yeah, there is some trial and error. Copying licks and tone is easier than applying a playing style in a new context (which is what I have tried to do on occasion and found to be more rewarding).

There are tons of resources on the net for this and a specific lesson isn’t needed. Just google guitar tone or setup and generally you’ll find an article or video discussing their guitar, amp, pedalboard setup. Once you know that you can have a play with what you’ve got to get something closer to that sound. All three components - guitar, amp and pedalboard - make a big difference.

Andersons YT channel even has a “how to sound like…on a budget”. Just loads of videos on different artists.

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Search for Gilmorish for pink Floyd tone, there’s a chap with a website and YouTube channel dedicated to this……

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Where’s my sharp knife?
Bring me the fatted calf- the prodigal son has returned! :laughing:
Having heard a number of your productions in the old house, I’m guessing your concept of tone is not as basic as it appears :wink:
I agree with much of the above that trying to reproduce exact tone by copying a setup is a fool’s errand, but understand where you’re coming from and think it’s a valid question.
For example there have been a number of AVOYPs shared ‘in the style of’ David Gilmour. I’ve been impressed with how close they sometimes get to the tone as well as style. For lazy non-tone-chasers like me, it would be a bonus to know things like single coil bridge pickup with some delay, reduced highs etc.
As Jason says, I’m sure all this is easily accessible out on t’web (as well as experimenting ourselves), but sometimes shortcuts/signposts are handy.
(edit: just seen Dave’s in before me :roll_eyes: :laughing:)

Thanks Rossco01, that sounds like what I’m looking for, I’ll check it out.

Hi Brian and HNY, Not sure I would call you a “lazy non-tone chaser”; more of a simple minstrel with no need for the aural decoration effects bring. I would, however, call myself a “lazy tone chaser” and want to go straight to the right sound (though without the ultimate in laziness - using a sampler!). It’s not that I want to sound like a particular artist it’s more that there are certain guitar sounds that get my attention and that I’d like to embed in my playing - the Rickenbacker jangle for example - can’t quite get my Ricky to jangle; or the sort of psychedelic swirl you’d hear in many 60s (and 90s) songs - I wouldn’t really know where to start.

One additional thing worth doing is to watch live performances of songs rather than recorded. There is a whole host of wizardry goes on in production and mastering to get “the” sound. A live performance will give you a much better idea of how a band tackles it, how many guitarists they’ve got etc.

I think you’re absolutely right with this Rossco, problem is I invariably prefer the polished studio version…

Yeah you’ll be chasing your tail…you can’t underestimate the difference 2-3 guitars will have in a band…at least two will be playing rhythm in some shape or form…probably with slightly different effects.