Potent Pairings: Recreating Five Modern Rigs with Simple Pedal Combinations

As guitarists, we all have that moment where we're listening to an album or watching a YouTube video and think, "man, I wish I could get that sound." Trouble is for most of us, building a true recreation of a full rig with the exact right guitars, pedals and amps just isn't financially feasible, even in those rare instances where the correct amp is actually for sale somewhere. Luckily, modern effects makers have done an astounding job replicing classic amp tones in more budget-friendly pedal formats.

Here's a look at a few rigs where the right pedal pairing can get you pretty close to that original sound.

Queens of the Stone Age

Capturing the huge volume and crunch of Josh Homme’s Ampeg VT-40 and VT-22 was once a daunting task. But today, players have access to an array of Ampeg amp sounds right at the tips of their feet. Try using one of Catalinbread’s foundation pedals like the SFT. To add a bit more volume or a "second channel" put a Fulltone Fat Boost in front of the SFT. Prefer fuzz? Use the Fulltone Ultimate Octave (or budget-friendly Joyo Ultimate Octave) to bring you closer to his Little Sister tone. Don’t forget to octave up.

To compliment Homme’s Ampeg tones, Troy Van Leeuwen relies on a pair of Vox AC30s with a Way Huge Green Rhino and HBE Germania pushing the front-end. The Green Rhino’s flexibility and affordability makes it a must have for a QOTSA fan (both Homme and TVL tones). Using the Green Rhino in front of a Catalinbread Galileo MkII players can achieve that beloved thick mid range guitar sound the band is famous for.

The Black Keys

By combining tones from Marshall and Fender, Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys takes his raw amp sound and turns it up to eleven or quite possibly twelve. In addition to his cranked amps, Dan’s favorite fuzzes come in the form of an Electro-Harmonix Green Russian Big Muff and a Shin-ei Companion Fuzz. For a more budget friendly version of this setup, try using an Earthquaker Devices Hoof fuzz (early Black Keys) or Greyscale Devices Shin-ei Clone (Brothers-era) into a Catalinbread 5F6 or Wampler Tweed ’57. The combination of the Fender and Marshall create a warm, saturated tone perfectly replicated by both Catalinbread and Wampler pedals.

Jack White

It’s easy to associate Jack White’s name with an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff fuzz pedal (or his new Bumble Buzz), but just as important is his choice of amp. Specifically, the earth shattering and back breaking Silvertone 1485 six ten 100 watt tube amp. Luckily, JHS just released an amp-in-pedal stompbox called the Twin Twelve that replicates the original Silvertone 1480-series amps. By cranking the volume and setting the gain just at the point of break up, you’ll hear the Big Muff’s fuzz rip into the Twin Twelve and help create those “Icky Thumps”.

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Radiohead

The three guitarists of Radiohead: Jonny Greenwood, Ed O’Brien and Thom Yorke like to keep it simple when it comes to their guitar tones, specifically in a live setting. Greenwood often runs a Boss SD-1 or OD-3 into a Vox AC30, O’Brien uses Klon into a Fender Vibro-King and Yorke frequently features a Fulltone Fulldrive 2 in to another AC30. Using a Tech 21 Liverpool (or budget saving Joyo AC Tone) in front of your amp gives it the characteristics of the British sounding AC30. For Greenwood and Yorke’s sound, use the Liverpool with a Boss OD-3 set to low gain. Fulldrive 2 prices can be seen below $100 which is an absolute steal for an amazing sounding pedal. For Ed’s more American sounding amp, use the Tech 21 Blonde (or Joyo American) with an Electro-Harmonix Soul Food in front of it to capture that Klon tone on a budget.

My Bloody Valentine

Shoegaze wouldn’t be the same without the fuzz soaked drones of Kevin Shields and My Bloody Valentine. To achieve the classic MBV sound you need a few (or a few hundred) essential pieces. Shields’ effects list goes on and on, not to mention the 15+ amps he uses to deafen the crowd. For now, we'll just focus on the amp tones of MBV's quintessential album, Loveless from 1991 when Shields used a comparatively simple Vox AC30 and Marshall JCM800 amp setup. Try using a Mooer Black Secret (ProCo RAT clone) on turbo mode to push an already maxed out Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret. Even without tons of Reverb and Delay, you’ll hear the fuzzy beginnings of an ocean of blissful shoegaze sound. If you’re still not satisfied, the inexpensive Zoom MS70CDR comes loaded with gated, early reflections and reverse reverbs that when set to 100% mix and placed before your distortion will kind of, sort of, almost get you close to Shields’ sound.

  • Mooer Black Secret in to a Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret (with a Zoom MS70CDR for reverse/gate/early reflections before distortion)

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