How to Achieve Guitar Tones of the Legends

How to Achieve Legends' Guitar Tones written across a close up image of a guitar neck.

Replicating the Sounds of the Greats

Every aspiring guitarist dreams of emulating the iconic sounds of the legends. In this blog, we'll explore the secrets behind the guitar tones of eight legendary guitarists and how you can replicate them.

1. Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix’s performance at Woodstock in 1969 is etched in history, largely due to his distinct guitar tone. To replicate Hendrix's sound, focus on essential components like the Fender Stratocaster, VOX wah pedal, Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face, Uni-Vibe with expression pedal, and Marshall 100w Superlead Plexi heads. Experiment with pedal chaining: Guitar > Wah > Octavia > Fuzz Face > Uni-Vibe > Amp. Remember, Hendrix was all about experimenting, so feel free to tweak settings to suit your style.

2. Stevie Ray Vaughn

For Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy,” you'll need a BOSS SD-1 Super Overdrive pedal. Adjust the Level to 12:00, Tone to 11:00, and Gain to 3:00. His style was a mix of blues and rock, requiring a warm, crunchy sound.

3. Andy Summers (The Police)

Andy Summers’ mesmerizing guitar in “Message in a Bottle” can be achieved with a BOSS CH-1 pedal. Set the Level to 12:00, Rate to 10:00, Depth to 10:00, and EQ to 10:00. Summers’ style was a blend of reggae and new wave, relying on a chorus effect.

4. Prince

Prince's guitar solo in “Purple Rain” used a BOSS BD-2 pedal with the settings: Level at 12:00, Tone at 12:00, and Gain at 1:00. His style mixed R&B, pop, rock, and more, making it revolutionary for its time.

5. Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave)

To emulate Tom Morello’s sound in “Revolver” and “Like a Stone,” use a BOSS DD-3T pedal. The settings should be: Level at 12:00, Feedback at 12:00, Time at 12:00, and Mode at L.800ms. Morello is known for his innovative use of effects pedals and guitar techniques.

6. David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)

For “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” Gilmour used a BOSS RV-6 pedal. The settings are E Level at 2:00, Time at 2:00, Tone at 10:00, and Mode at Delay + Reverb. Gilmour's style is deeply rooted in blues with expressive phrasing.

7. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)

To achieve Cobain’s iconic sound in “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” use a DS-1 pedal. Set the Level to 1:00, Tone to 10:00, and Dist to Max. Cobain’s style was defined by its distortion and edginess.

8. The Edge (U2)

To achieve the ethereal tone found in "Where The Streets Have No Name," use a delay pedal like the Korg SDD-3000. Set the delay time to approximately 375 ms, feedback to 3 repeats, and the mix level to about 50% of the dry signal. The Edge’s playing is characterized by a rhythmic delay and a chiming, almost bell-like quality in his guitar tone, so clean amp setting and a Fender Stratocaster will get you closest to his iconic sound.


Not Just Settings, But Understanding

Emulating these guitar legends takes not only the right equipment but also a deep understanding of their playing styles. Take the time to listen and internalize their music and style before playing along, and practice with purpose. The correct equipment also goes a long way, and at Interstate Music, we offer a vast selection of guitars and effects pedals to help you on your journey to achieving these legendary tones, and creating a legendary tone of your own.