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Metal tone on stock pickups is easy

If metal is the kind of music you're playing, any modern guitar with stock pickups will work.

The video above is me playing the Ibanez GAX30 using what I call a rock sound but it's actually more of a metal tone, and as usual I am using my Line 6 Spider V 60 recorded direct over USB.

To be totally honest, getting a sound like this is fairly simple.

Getting an emulated sound like this means purposely using a virtual amp labeled as "British" and a virtual cabinet labeled as 4x12. Or said simpler, an emulated 100-watt Marshall half stack.

After that, the virtual effects to use to complete that '80s metal tone is a buzzy distortion like the BOSS DS-1 (I'm pretty sure every guitar modeling software and modeling amp ever made has this), and then a delay effect with around 500 to 600ms of spread between repeats.

The biggest thing to consider here is to purposely use an amp and effect combination that destroys the guitar's natural tone.

I know that sounds weird, so I'll explain it better.

Metal tone is not about hearing the natural tonal properties of the guitar and never has been. The goal is to get a processed sound where the distortion "flattens" the tone, while at the same time getting power chords and solo notes to ring out as long as possible.

This being true, stock pickups in any new solidbody guitar will work. I can do this on a single-coil Telecaster or on my Ibanez as seen above. However, I will admit most players would probably have an easier time using a guitar with humbuckers.

Do you need alnico magnet pickups? No. My Ibanez has stock ceramic magnet pickups and work just fine.

Do you need high-output pickups? No. As long as the pickup magnets aren't dead, you're fine. If they were dead, believe me, you would know it.

Do you need a special kind of guitar string? No. Just make sure what you have isn't old and worn out.

Do you need a special kind of guitar pick? Maybe. I use Fender California Clear medium picks, and they have a very pronounced strike that does help ring out the strings more. If you use a material with a softer strike like the Dunlop Tortex, try a Fender California Clear. It may or may not help with your sound. You won't know until you try one.

What you do need to do above all else is study whatever amp modeling you use now, get that 1980s British amp sound, throw a buzzy distortion in front of it and chase that with delay.

On a final note, yes the sound is a bit of a buzz box. That's normal. That was the metal sound in the '80s for the most part. Guitars sounded that way because it worked for cutting through a mix.


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