5 Modern Tube Amps to Achieve Djent Tones

The word “djent” refers to a genre of progressive metal noted for its unique sound, which is built on polyrhythms, drop-tuned guitars, intricate riffs, metal gallops and “purring” palm mutes, which were made famous by Misha Mansoor of the band Periphery. Swedish band Meshuggah, considered a pioneer of the genre, has been around since 1987 and has produced music of this kind since the mid-1990s.

As amp modeling technology became more advanced, Meshuggah started using it to create the signature tone that they are known for today. Other bands like Animals as Leaders, Tesseract and Periphery followed suit, using the the highly revered Fractal Axe FX II to produce their own heavy and melodic tones as well as crystal clean sounds with ambient wash delays and reverbs.

MESHUGGAH - "Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion"

For all of you tone purists out there, don’t fret. You can achieve these tones with five selected tube amps known to deliver heavy as well as clean sounds. Add a few pedals and you’re ready to get all the varied tones you desire.

A general rule of thumb would be to run a noise gate in the chain first, followed by a compressor, then usually a tubescreamer variant. This chain is most effective for cutting off the notes when you want it to, since it will gate the signal from your pickups and give you the most immediate attack. The compressor squashes the signal and adds sustain and treble, while the tubescreamer tightens up the low end.

PRS Archon

PRS Archon Two Channel

A relative newcomer to the metal amp market, the PRS Archon does not disappoint. The Archon contains two simple channels, a clean and a lead channel, each with their own EQ. The amp also features a transparent effects loop to add delays and reverbs, making this amp an excellent platform for the genre. Both channels use a bright switch to add upper treble frequencies to really push the sound into tones similar to bands in the genre. With the use of 6L6 power tubes, these amps are known for their crushing low end and gain structure and for being the perfect marriage of Mesa Triple Rectifier and Peavey 5150, making them suitable for djent tones.

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Blackstar Series One 200

Blackstar Series One 200W Four Channel

Out of all the amps on this list, Blackstar is maybe the least likely on your radar, but these amps are no joke when it comes to the abundance of tones one can produce. The power section is a little different than most amps using 4 KT88 power tubes for massive headroom. With four channels and the ability to voice each channel differently with Blackstar’s featured ISF knob, this amp is extremely versatile. The ISF knob changes the frequency response of your bass, middle and treble knobs allowing you to dial in American or British tones, or a blend of both. This is really handy when you want to push the upper midrange and treble to get djent-y tones from the amp alone without using extra pedals.

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EVH 5150 III

EVH 5150 III 100W

Used by rock and metal players alike, the original 5150 is considered the cornerstone of high gain amplification. The 5150 III, which is made by Fender, is the newest model to bear EVH’s name. Using a similar tube complement to the original, this amp stays tight and articulate on its own and really doesn’t need any pedals in front of it to get the best tone on its monster red channel. Boosting the blue channel could yield similar results with just as tight of an attack. Combined with Fender cleans, this amp may just be the best all-around amp on the market today for djent.

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Mesa Triple Rectifier

Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier 150W Three Channel

Revered for its raw and in-your-face tone, the Triple Rectifier has been a staple in the metal community for more than a decade now. Some may find the cleans lacking high-end shimmer and leaving something to be desired with the low end of the gain channels on older model Triple Rectifiers. Mesa has since revamped the Triple Rectifer with their Multi-Watt technology, which lets the user select different wattages for crunchier and tighter tones. They have also re-voiced the clean channel for more open highs and a tighter bass response. Even with these changes, using the aforementioned pedals brings this amp to life and makes it more aggressive, pushing the mids and highs and producing a cutting tone that will sit in any mix.

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Peavey 6534+

Peavey 6534+ 120W Two Channel

The 6505+ usually comes up in any conversation where crushing gain is required, but its younger brother produces a more forceful sound. Using an EL34 power section along with 6 12AX7 preamp tubes, the 6534+ is capable of producing gain for days. Peavey developed the newest amp in the 6505 series to be quieter than its counterparts with a special new design to keep the noise floor lower. Don’t be fooled by this amp’s British power section; it still remains tight in the low end due to the resonance control while producing all the EQ frequencies that made British amps famous. This is handy when notes really need to stand out with staccato playing and quick alternate picking riffs.

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These are just a few of the many amps available for experimentation to achieve djent tones without using amp modelers. This isn’t an argument against modelers; they are great in their own right and handy for recording when loud amps cannot be used, but some may find their sound less authentic than a genuine high gain tube amp.

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