Marshall produces a range of guitar amps, including tube and transistor-powered models. Their amps are very popular with rock and heavy metal guitarists, including Slash from Guns N' Roses, Jeff Hanneman of Slayer and Anthrax's Scott Ian. Marshall amplifiers are quite versatile, and each one has a distinct tonal personality. To get the best metal sound from your Marshall amplifier, tweak the tones to bring out the powerful frequencies.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 2 instrument cables
- Distortion pedal
Turn the "Master Volume" dial down to 1. While you're crafting your tone, you don't want full volume.
Turn the two "Preamp Volume" dials up to approximately 7. This results in a warm, crunching sound. While this amplifier is more a classic rock amp, you can drive the preamp to create a high-gain metal sound.
Set the "Bass" dial to half. Although you want some weight to your sound, too much bass at high volumes will sound muddy.
Turn the "Presence" and "Middle" dials to approximately 6. This will bring out the edge in your guitar and prevent the otherwise bass-heavy tones from dominating.
Gradually increase the "Master Volume" dial to boost the overall volume of the amp.
Turn the "Master Volume" down to around 1 and "OD 1 Volume" down to around 3.
Press the "OD 1" mode. This engages the "Overdrive 1" channel. To demonstrate just how much power this channel has, Marshall has set the "Gain" dial to a top level of 15.
Set the "Gain" to anywhere between 10 and 15. This creates an instantly hot, deep tone. From here, craft the colour of the tone.
Tweak the "Bass," "Middle" and "Treble" dials in the "OD 1" channel to approximately 5, 7 and 7 respectively. Turn the "Presence" dial in the master channel up to around 8 to give the tone some bite.
Plug your guitar into a distortion pedal, such as the Boss "Metal Zone" which approximates a distinctly metal sound. Using a pedal such as this, you can achieve your desired tone regardless of which model of Marshall amplifier you have.
Set the "Dist" and "Level" dials to 10 for maximum metal tone. These dials govern distortion and volume respectively.
Turn all "Gain" dials on the amplifier down to 0 and set "Master Volume" to around 3. This compensates for the added gain from the distortion pedal.
Tweak the tone dials, such as "Bass" and "Treble," to bring out the natural tone of your guitar. You can afford to experiment with tone settings since the distortion pedal is delivering the gain and bite.
Tips and warnings
- If you're using a Les Paul type of guitar, go for a lower "Bass" setting as these guitars are naturally bass heavy.
- Tune your guitar strings down a full step for a truly authentic metal sound.
- Increase the "Master Volume" gradually to avoid unexpected bursts of volume.
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