Yngwie Malmsteen Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown

yngwie malmsteen rig rundown

When people mention the electric guitar, the first thing that comes to mind is usually rock music and any of its numerous sub-genres.

That really comes as no surprise, considering the fact that most popular guitar players and artists became famous due to their work in this and other genres of music similar to rock, like heavy metal.

However, there are some guitar players out there who decided to step out of the box and take a completely different path.

If you have ever heard of Yngwie Malmsteen, you will know exactly what we are talking about.

yngwie malmsteen live vancouver

This legendary guitar player fused classical music with heavy sound and has become known for his incredible skill on the guitar.

Not rarely will you find that his name is used as a synonym for a virtuoso as his technique and music have pretty much shocked everyone since he showed up in the scene back in the ’80s with his debut album “Rising Force.”

malmsteen rising force album cover

If you want to hear just how fast and clinically precise arpeggios can be, play any Malmsteen song and you will find out in a moment.

Or, instead, you can check out his famous video “Arpeggios From Hell” to start with.

However, Yngwie Malmsteen’s playing style is not the only thing that is unusual about him.

It is fair to say that his choice of gear and equipment isn’t all that mainstream either. After all, he is one of a kind maestro and has his own desires in crafting his tone.

In this article, we will be taking a closer look at Yngwie Malmsteen’s guitar setup and see what this ultimate guitar master uses to achieve his refined sound.

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When you look at most guitar players who have reached a skill level that puts them in the very elite category, you will often see them using rather unusual gear.

Or, if they somehow just use “normal” gear, then at the very least, they will have their own specific way utilizing the gear they have chosen for their main setup.

This is the case with Yngwie Malmsteen.

His choice of guitars and amps is not something that is generally seen among other musicians who play similar types of music. Either way, his own setup is an important part of his image, that is for sure.

In terms of electric guitars, there is only one model that Malmsteen is really passionate about.

If you weren’t familiar with Malmsteen’s work, and you decided to play one of his albums on your stereo, the last guitar you would imagine him using is the Fender Stratocaster.

However, Strats are his thing.


Not only that, but there is a very specific range of Stratocasters that he plays.

Guitars made in the period from 1968 to 1972 are acceptable, while anything else is not. His blonde Strat has become his signature item which is probably as popular as Malmsteen himself.

The reason for using only the Strats made within this four year period is the fact that Fender delivered them with a larger headstock.

Malmsteen is convinced that this larger headstock positively affects the sustain of the guitar. But with this being said, all of his Stratocasters are, obviously, heavily modified.


These modifications include minor things such as replacing the springs on the tremolo bridge with Wilkinson ones, to completely converting the neck and scalloping the fretboard. Different pickups are a standard for all of his Strats.

Even with all of the modifications, Fender has decided to make a Malmsteen signature model. Surprisingly enough, this is only the second signature series they made after Eric Clapton’s.

Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster comes with most of the mods found on any of Yngwie’s own Strats, with the inclusion of Seymour Duncan YJM Fury pickups.

Aside from a really cool name, these pickups bring a different twist to the classic single-coils.

Voiced by Malmsteen himself, these are designed to tackle both the heavy riffs and the fluid lead sections, ultimately giving an articulate tone no matter the situation.

In addition, the bridge pickup has a bit more output power to balance things out.

Of course, we should also not forget his use of acoustic guitars over the years. It’s only obvious that such a virtuoso would pick Ovation as his weapon of choice.

Being heavily influenced by classical music, Yngwie has two Ovation Viper CV68 guitars with nylon strings.


While these are not exactly classical guitars, their tone goes in that direction with the nylon strings.

As for some other acoustic guitars, he used Carvin AC175 Thinline for a few studio recordings over the years. But when it comes to live shows, where he does often perform acoustic pieces, he sticks to his Ovations.


Yngwie Malmsteen pretty much became known for his huge stacks of Marshall amps, creating a mind-blowingly huge wall behind him on the stage.

Of course, walls of amp heads and cabinets is nothing new, but rarely anyone has a similar setup to that of Yngwie Malmsteen.

The Swedish guitar legend uses 36 heads and a total of 22 cabinets during his live shows. All of the amp heads are Marshall YJM series, and all of the cabinets are YJM100s loaded with Celestion speakers.

Now, that’s really something, isn’t it? And it sounds a little something like this…

The above video doesn’t show “the wall”, but rather the sounds that Malmsteen makes.

As for the wall, this impressive wall of Marshalls is truly a sight to be seen.  Oh, we found it.  Check this out…

Interestingly enough, Yngwie doesn’t use any of the effects or other features these amps offer. He only works with their raw sound.

On a slightly different topic, his wall of amps is different for another reason. If you come closer to any of his amps, you will find at least four or five picks stuck between the enclosure panels.

Each amp is riddled with picks, but it doesn’t stop there. Pretty much any piece of gear he uses will be covered in spare picks.

But going back some decades in the past, Yngwie used to have some other amps as well. The most notable model is the Marshall JMP 50 MK II, made back in the early 1970s, most likely ’71 or ’72.

This one is a legendary amp head, featuring the power of 100 watts, and it’s been used by many guitar players over the years, ranging from blues-rock to heavy metal styles.

There were also some other Marshalls in his collection, stuff like JCM900 4100 and JCM 2000 DSL 100. However, he’s mostly fixated on his signature YJM 100 series.

Knowing that he’s very adamant about his tone, it’s only obvious that Yngwie will use an amp that’s specially designed for him and his preferences.

Of course, all these amp heads need some solid cabinets. For that purpose, he uses Marshall cabinets with four 12-inch speakers in them. The speakers in question are the 75w Celestions, but in the past he also used the G12 30-watt ones.

The story goes that Yngwie also used Fender Roc Pro 1000 combo amp in some cases, most notably for his performances with the symphonic orchestra.

These amps are a bit difficult to stumble upon, making them somewhat of valuable collectible items.

Effects Pedals

When it comes to effects pedals and other effects devices, things are pretty straightforward in Yngwie Malmsteen’s signal chain. The main part of his pedalboard is the Boss NS-2 noise suppressor and the CE-5 chorus ensemble, all combined with the Roland Analog Echo, Dunlop Cry Baby Wah, and the RJM Mastermind MIDI foot controller.

The CE-5 by Boss is a classic chorus pedal with the possibility to use it in a stereo mode. As explained by Malmsteen himself, he has this pedal on in most of the cases when he plays clean stuff.

Boss CE-5 Stereo Chorus Ensemble review

When it comes to delays, Yngwie has used the Roland RE-20 Space Echo and the Boss DD-3 delay over the years. The Roland one is a complex piece, basically like an effects processor specialized for delays. As for the DD-3, it’s a classic delay by Boss, used by many amateurs and professionals worldwide.

Of course, he also uses overdrive pedals and one that he’s satisfied with is the DOD Overdrive Preamp 250. But later on, he began using a special dirt box that he developed with Fender, the Yngwie Malmsteen Overdrive.

As one would expect from him, the pedal has a simple layout with just the level and gain controls on it. According to him, this Fender overdrive is “liquid sounding” and has no unwanted fuzz, which perfectly suits Malmsteen’s style.

In many occasions over the years, Yngwie has expressed the importance of using pedals with true bypass over the ones that have buffered bypass. He’s also a huge fan of analog effects and their warm “organic” tone, which can be seen with his use of analog delays.

You will often get the chance to see a Fuzz Face pedal somewhere near his effects pedal setup, but that is there only as an aesthetic detail. Which is pretty weird as the pedal is very well-known for its great tone. Either way, this practice shows Yngwies unique persona.

arbiter fuzzface

The aforementioned MIDI controller, the RJM Mastermind, is what he uses to control a variety of effects and signal in general. But what really makes this controller special are the two Ferrari stickers.

Yngwie Malmsteen once said that those stickers are just as important as any other thing on that controller. Without them, it simply wouldn’t work. Here are some video demos of those above effects pedals…

The Boss CE-5

The Roland Analog Echo DC-20

The Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor

RJM Music MasterMind MIDI Foot Pedal

The Cry Baby Wah


The way Yngwie Malmsteen plays guitar and the music he creates are both very unique. His modern interpretation of classical music puts him in a very different category of guitar players.

Not only was he among the first to actually play this type of music, but the consensus is that Malmsteen created a whole new genre of metal, ultimately inspiring musicians of all different style and becoming the best example of modern guitar virtuosity.

Today, a large number of known bands attribute their success to the influence Yngwie had on them as they were starting out.

His guitars and amp setup are among the more interesting ones even today. That wall of Marshall amps is definitely not something you will often see on stage.

At the end of the day, Malmsteen is considered to be one of the few true masters of guitar.


As such, it’s not really that odd to see him use what can only be considered a very unusual choice of gear. However, when you are at his level, you will do anything to get that edge in your tone.

Malmsteen’s way of achieving that is having 36 Marshall amp heads running through 22 cabinets. One thing is certain though, it’s not that easy to replicate his tone.

In case you really want to, begin with a classic Fender Strat with three single-coil pickups on it. Of course, any kind of a Super Strat type of guitar with the possibility to use three single coils is a good option.

Getting the signature Malmsteen pickups would also be a great idea, as this is the very basis of his tone. Many times has he expressed his opinion that singles are superior to humbuckers.

The Yngwie Malmsteen signature Fender overdrive will also be a good addition, although you can also go with something like a Boss SD-1. A delay pedal is a must, and something like Boss DD-3 could do the trick for this purpose.

As for the chorus, CE-5 in cleans would be a good idea, although any kind of a cheaper copy or just a regular cheaper chorus could come in handy in case you don’t want to spend too much.

The beast mode here would be to go with his signature Strat and the YJM Marshall amp, although that might be a bit expensive. However, we do know how much of a precise player Malmsteen is, meaning that his technique is of great importance to the tone.

With this in mind, probably the best way to start copying Malmsteen’s tone is to practice. A lot.

Related Articles about some of this gear!

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Dunlop JDF2 Fuzz Face Distortion Pedal Review

Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor Pedal review

Kirk Hammett Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown


Metal music is one of the most fluid genres out there. With that said, everyone knows just what kind of impact Metallica had on this, at the time emerging music direction, and what kind of role they had shaping it into what it is today. This band has reached the type of global fame only a few artists ever reached.


When you go just about anywhere in the world and mention Metallica, nine times out of ten people will know who you are talking about. James Hetfield is the frontman and the most recognizable face of Metallica.

However, a good portion of their sound comes from the other axeman and shredder of leads, Kirk Hammett.

Even though the whole band has grown older, Hammett will still be known as the slim guy whose curly long hair has a life of its own in the midst of all the thrashing and head banging going on during their set.

Hammett’s sound is one of the most sought after in the community, and today we are going to talk about what equipment he uses to achieve it.


One look at Hammett’s guitar setup will reveal one facet of his relationship with music. The number of different guitars, amps, and pedals he used to use, and still uses is impressive.

It feels like there is not definitive standard when it comes to what he prefers to use.

Even so, he has managed to maintain a pretty uniform sound that hasn’t changed all too much over the years. Let’s start from his guitars.


Anyone who has been following Metallica for some time, probably knows that Hammett has a special place in his heart for ESP guitars.

One of the more noticeable models is his ESP KH-2 ‘Ouija’ which became a legend in its own right. It’s not the first guitar he has made in cooperation with ESP, but it’s definitely one of the most popular ones.


The tone this ax generated was made possible by two EMG pickups, namely the EMG 81 and EMG 60. This is a relatively popular combo that many guitar players install on their guitars. Hammett’s ESP signature series contains a wide variety of models, which also extend to the LTD line.

Aside from his standard ESP lineup, Hammett also owns a number of Strats, Les Pauls, Jackson’s and others. When someone loves playing guitar as much as Kirk, there is no limit on how many guitars one can own before they draw the line.

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When it comes to amps, the situation is not much different compared to his taste in guitars. Early days of Metallica were defined by a variety of Marshall JCM stacks, which the band used to record the first two albums.

Later on, they have moved on to Mesa/Boogie, and have grown to appreciate the Dual Rectifier.

This beast of an amplifier needs no special introduction, and is usually paired with a Mesa/Boogie 4×12 cab that packs Celestion Vintage 30’s. Hammett’s choice of amps has changed since 2007.

This the year he signed a contract with Randall, and together they’ve made some pretty great amps. His signature series heads, such as the Randall KH103 is definitely one of the best sounding amps you can find that are great for gigging, especially larger venues.  

Of his signature Randall amp, Kirk says it can “do anything I needed it to do.”  Check it out!

Aside from Marshall, Mesa/Boogie and Randall, Hammett’s list of amps included a number of Hiwatts, Bogner‘s  and of course, the Vox AC30. Those tubes are hard to replicate, and you will find one in just about any professional guitar player’s inventory.

Effects Pedals

Hammett is not that big on using distortion pedals in his setup. The initial Metallica albums were recorded more or less on whatever overdrive channel the amps they used had, and that way of getting things done stuck with Hammett until today.

This isn’t to say that he never uses a distortion pedal, but the ones that do find their way to his pedalboard are nothing exotic. He’s been known to use the Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer (a TS808 will also work) and a Line 6 DM4.


Other effects are a completely different story. These days Hammett is leaning heavy on Line 6 pedals for his modulation effects. We’re talking Line 6 MM4 and FM4 combined with Line 6 DL4 Delay pedal.

One of the more notable models you can see on his pedalboard is the Digitech WH1 Whammy. This legendary pedal has been around a while, and just like Metallica, it had a huge impact on the way we see guitar effects pedals today.

Kirk also has his own Dunlop Wah model that goes under the name K95.


Interestingly enough, Kirk likes to have some of his effects in rack format. For example, you will find a Dunlop Cry Baby DCR-2SR rack packed along the Fulman PL Pro, with a number of rack mounted preamps and gates being a part of the setup as well.

Final Thoughts

Hammett’s guitar rig and setup is one of the more diverse in the world of metal music. That comes as a bit of a surprise seeing how his tone, and the tone of Metallica as a whole, hasn’t dramatically changed.

St. Anger was probably the album that had the most unusual type of vibe for Metallica, but even that record was still within the margins of their standard sound.

If you are on a task of trying to emulate Kirk Hammett’s guitar tone, there is a number of things you can do to achieve that goal. Starting with one of his signature model ESP guitars will give you a great foundation.


The fact that he uses pretty common amps and effects pedals makes his tone rather transparent. However, if you are aiming to completely copy his setup and tone color, you might need to dwell a bit deeper into his preferences and specific gear he used for the album you are interested in.

With that said, Hammett’s energy and level of emotion he infuses into his performance, is still one of the best things about Metallica. Their new album just came out, and we are happy to report that the band is back to their original style.

Billy Gibbons’ Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown


Just what kind of impact ZZ Top had on the evolution of rock music has been known for a while now. Their sound and style is one of the most unique, even today.

One person who is largely responsible for the way ZZ Top turned out is Billy Gibbons. His mastery of tone is impressive, to say the least.

To many, ZZ Top’s music doesn’t sound complicated, both in terms of technique and tone. However, once you take a closer look at just how finely tuned everything is, you will form a very different opinion.

His personal guitar rig is truly something to behold. As you will find out further down in this article, Billy Gibbons goes outside the norm on the regular.

Some of his solutions are pretty unusual, which only adds to the conclusion that his skill goes beyond what is apparent at first. With that said, let’s do a quick rundown of Billy Gibbons’ guitar rig and setup.

Nothing beats a finely tuned bluesy tone, that is for sure. It’s not an easy thing to achieve, but once you get there, you have a really good foundation to work with.

If there’s a single person in this world who knows how to dial this type of tone, it’s Billy Gibbons. In order to find out just how he gets this done, we need to look at the equipment and instrument he likes to use. Let’s start with his guitars.


No matter how many different guitars Gibbons has been seen using, at the end of the day, it all comes down to two specific models.

The first one is his 1959 Gibson Les Paul, which goes by the name “Pearly Gates”, while the other is his unusual Bo Diddley Gretsch.

The ’59 Les Paul is, of course, one of those legendary guitar models, often referred to as the “Holy Grail” of guitars. There’s also another “Pearly Gates” which Billy uses more since the original is pretty heavy.

And here is Mr. Gibbons playing Miss Pearly Gates…

The Les Paul we have just mentioned is his favorite guitar and the one he likes to use the most. Even though there are numerous Les Pauls made in 1959, Gibbons claims that none come even close to his beloved “Pearly Gates”.

According to ZZ Top guitarist, this particular Les Paul was the best one from its batch and performs significantly better than any other Les Paul from 1959, let alone from later years.


The Bo Diddley guitar was made by Gretsch specifically for this legendary guitarist.

Back in 1959, Bo Diddley approached Gretsch and asked them to make him a guitar that had rather unusual curves. What they came up with as the Billy Bo Jupiter Thunderbolt.

Bo Diddley loved the guitar and went on to play it for a long time.

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At one point, he decided to give that Jupiter Thunderbolt to Gibbons, who was incredibly flattered by this act.

Ever since then, Gibbons has kept this Gretsch in his collection and pulls it out from time to time.

Among some other guitars are his Gibson SG ’61 reissue, various Dean guitars, as well as his one of a kind Billy Gibbons SG with the unusual headstock that you’ll find on a Flying V. As for Deans, he’s been using the Dean Z and Dean ML models, but the company has made a special kind of guitar for his needs.

We’re talking about the shockingly weird and easily recognizable Spinning Fur Guitars, those fuzzy instruments that you can see on some of ZZ Top shows.

Aside from these aforementioned guitars, Billy Gibbons has a large collection of Gibsons, which include some several more Les Pauls and some Explorers as well. He also owns some Fenders, namely Strats and Telecasters, but is mostly known for his extensive use of Gibsons.


For the most part of his career, Gibbons has been a dedicated Marshall user. His main rig these days consists of several power amps and two Marshall JCM900 2100 amp heads.

Marshall JCM900 4100 100W 2-Channel Tube Head

This setup then leads to a set of cabinets which consist of three Marshall 4×12 1960AX and three Marshall 4×12 1960BX cabs. These are the classic legendary cabinets, offering that well-known tone through four G12M Greenback Celestion speakers.

Of course, one thing Gibbons is adamant about are his 25 Watt Greenback speakers. However, some of his cabinets also have the Eminence Red Coat The Governors in them which are 75 watt speakers.

Besides the Marshall amps, you could see some Magnatone combos and different vintage Fender Twins which he occasionally uses for recording and studio work.

The Magnatone amps in question are the Super Fifty-Nine, which are somewhat of a recreation of the company’s old amps from the 1960s and the 1970s.

The Super Fifty-Nine MKII model which is produced today gives an interesting combination of the classic American and British amp tones, and that’s something that can certainly be heard in Gibbons’ music.

For some older songs where he needs to be quieter but still present in the mix, Billy uses the 50 watt Mojave Scorpion amp head. These are also a throwback to some of those old vintage amps from the old days.

In all honesty, his rig is not that complicated if you strictly look at amps and guitars. It’s all more or less tame compared what some of the guitar players like to run these days.

However, when we move on to his effects pedals, things get a bit weird. A bit too weird…

Effects Pedals

If we look at his gear setup for 2003, we will see no less than six Bixonic Expandora overdrive pedals.

That’s right, six overdrive pedals, all of which are turned on all the time. For an average guitar player, this probably sounds like a complete mess and a recipe for disaster.  bixonic-expandora-multi-stage-distortion-pedal-billy-gibbons

However, Billy Gibbons has a way of harnessing this unusual setup in a way which makes it practical. The whole deal with using six overdrive pedals is to tune each one a little differently.

Gibbons managed to get a very nice edge this way, although he also said that the noise produced by all of these pedals sometimes creates a unique effect of its own.

Check out this video demo right here of the Bixonic Expandora overdrive pedal to get a sense why Billy likes to have a flotilla of these bad boys on hand.

This peculiar looking piece of gear is a simple overdrive and distortion pedal with some interesting features and controls.

It can achieve three different modes of operation and serves as either a classic distortion, crunch, or an overdrive. It’s a pretty versatile pedal with a great vintage-oriented tone so it’s no surprise that Mr. Gibbons has been using it for years.

Aside from these, Gibbons uses a Park Wah pedal, Tube Works Real Tube, Zvex Super Hard On, and various other pedals.

 The Super Hard On is made by a smaller company called Zvex and is essentially a volume boost. But although it might not seem as a pedal, it does add a bit of its own flavor to the tone, especially if played through tube amps.

The Tube Works Real Tube, as its name would suggest, is a tube driven overdrive pedal originally made in the 1980s. Being one of the first of its kind, it offers some slightly fuzzier overtones, which is something that definitely sits well with Gibbons’ music and style of playing.

The Park Wah is a pretty interesting piece since it’s a very old one and can also serve as a volume pedal when in bypass mode. In addition, it features reverse operation compared to standard wah pedals. It’s a very rare pedal that’s been produced sometime in the late 1960s.

Of course, it’s pretty obvious that Mr. Gibbons is very fond of vintage (or vintage-inspired) stuff, especially when it comes to his pedals.

Aside from the old Tube Works Real Tube drive and the Expandora that he’s been using for years now, one of the pedals that comes to mind when we talk about Gibbons is the legendary Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone.

As he revealed, he used to rock it way back in the day and was one of his first, if not the first, pedals he ever had. Having this in mind, it’s only obvious that he’s still attached to some vintage and very rare pieces of gear.

Aside from the aforementioned pedals, he has also been using the Boss equalizer pedal, their famous GE-7, featuring seven sliders for seven frequency ranges, and an additional level slider.

Over the years, there were two Jimi Hendrix inspired fuzz pedals, the Dunlop JHOC1 Octavio and the JHM2 Octavio.

Looking at the controls, they’re pretty similar to the Maestro FZ-1 with only the level and gain controls. These both feature the same circuitry of those old Hendrix’s pedals from the 1960s.

These also add that lower octave to the mix, just enough to boost some of that low-end range in your tone.

With so many pedals in his rig, there must be at least something that would help organize things.

For that purpose, Billy Gibbons has a Tech 21 MIDI Mouse, which is a pedal MIDI controller that’s used to search through different presets and programmed pedal combinations. It’s pretty expected to see a piece like this on a professional pedalboard.

Since 2003, his pedalboard configuration hasn’t changed all that much.

Some things are different, but the six Bixonic Expandora overdrive configuration is still there and is kind of the most interesting part of his signal chain.

Aside from the described ones, there are also other interesting pedals that you can find in Gibbons’ rig, like the MXR M109 EQ, MOSFET Overdrive, Okko 42 Boost, Orange Bax Bangeetar Pre-EQ, MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe, and the Peterson Stomp Classic Strobe Tuner.


One more aspect of his setup which is kind of strange are the accessories he uses. One of the most notable things is his Peso pick. This is a special kind of pick designed by Stuart Brady AKA Some Dude, who we’ve spoken to about his picks in an interview.

The reason behind using Mexican currency as a guitar pick is the effect it has on the strings.

Gibbons discovered that the edges of the coin create a very unusual metallic effect, which plays well with the rest of his tone configuration.


Additionally, his choice of strings may seem somewhat unusual. Most of his guitars are fitted with light gauge strings, .008 to be more specific.

Gibbons was a hard believer in heavy gauge strings until B.B. King changed his mind. Back in the day, in the earlier days of ZZ Top, he got the chance to speak with King who tried out his guitar.

It was then that King advised Gibbons to switch over to lighter strings. Today, you’ll see him go with .008s and even as low as .007s, which is pretty rare to stumble upon and something you’d expect to see on a guitar from one of those more modern shred metal players.

The strings he uses are made by Dunlop and are his own brand called Dunlop Rev. Willy’s Mexican Lottery.

The way he puts it, lighter gauge strings give you much better playing comfort, while the heavy sound can be achieved by other means.

Here’s a cool demo of the strings playing some Led Zeppelin.


Billy Gibbons has a very unusual approach to his guitar setup. The tone he managed to achieve is a product of his ability to step out of the box and look at things from a different angle.

A lot of people are capable of dialling a driving bluesy guitar tone, but Billy Gibbons took that to a whole different level. The combination of odd signal chain, using a coin for a pick, and other weird elements, has proven to be a success.

To play us out of this rig rundown, here’s Billy Gibbons tearing it up.

Oh, and don’t forget to visit: https://www.zztop.com/

Dimebag Darrell’s Guitar Setup And Rig Rundown


When it comes to metal music, Dimebag Darrell was by far one of the most influential guitar players we had the privilege to see. His technique, tone, and charisma shaped a whole new genre that would grow to be a staple of today’s metal scene.

Here’s a video to remind everyone of the guitar-shredding greatness of Dimebag Darrell and of course Pantera.

Unfortunately, we lost him too soon. His death was a shock for everyone. Whether you were a fan of Pantera or not, losing Dimebag hit too close to home. But despite everything, Pantera’s music is still making its impact to this day, with Dime’s riffs and solos still being an essential part of every younger or older metalhead’s playlist.

But while we are familiar with this music and how great it was, a huge part of his legacy lies in his tone. There was no other player out there that sounded like him, which definitely makes him an individual who pushed the boundaries and revolutionized modern music. So there’s always been a lot of interest about what his preferences were when it comes to all the guitars and gear.

Dimebag was always looking to improve his tone. Whenever he reached a stable configuration, he tried to squeeze a little bit extra out of his gear. You would see him swap pickups on his guitars almost weekly, trying to find the best possible combination.


He knew exactly what he wanted, and was not afraid to experiment with gear in order to achieve that perfect tone. In this article, we are going to go through some of the equipment he used on regular basis, including guitars, amps, and different effects pedals.

Rig Rundown

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Compared to other guitar players of his caliber, Dimebag Darrell preferred to use a pretty simple setup. His choice of guitars and amps usually came down to one or two models which he stuck with during his entire career.

We know that some guitar players will use up to ten different guitar models from various brands, both bigger and lesser-known ones. However, this was not the case with Dime. His taste was very specific, and he never really compromised for anything.


When it comes to Dimebag’s guitars, there was only one specific type he was seen playing.

Ever since he was a kid, Dimebag Darrell was just obsessed with Dean guitars. Their shape, tone, and overall appeal were something he just couldn’t resist.

As luck would have it, Dimebag went from owning no Dean guitars to owning two. One was a Dean ML Standard, which was a gift he got from his father. And the other was a Dean ML he won at a contest. Both of these guitars arrived pretty much the same day.

Here is a picture of a Dean ML Standard. If you are a fan of Dimebag and have seen him on stage or on live footage, then it’s a guitar you’ll most likely recognize.


Ever since Dimebag was rocking a Dean ML, the only thing that he changed on those guitars were the pickups. As we have mentioned above, he was experimenting with various combinations of humbuckers while chasing the perfect tone for his taste.

His main setup came down to a Dean ML, the one he won from the contest, fitted with a Bill Lawrence XL500 at the bridge, and a Seymour Duncan í59 at the neck position. He used that guitar as his primary until the very end.

In general, the Dean ML guitars have always featured mahogany or maple bodies, mahogany necks, and either ebony or rosewood fretboards. These guitars became very well-known for their peculiar, yet very likeable, shape that’s sort of a crossbreed between classic Flying V and a classic Explorer.

But although he was a Dean guy at the core, Dimebag started working with Washburn once Dean closed shop, sometime in 1994.

Guitars Washburn produced for him were pretty much the exact copies of the Dean ML. There were several models in play, including Washburn Stealth, x33, and Culprit. One of the Washburn guitars he had was also the Hellflague, which he used a lot with his band Damageplan.

Here’s a quick pic of the Washburn Dime.

washburn dime

However, some years later, Dean finally got back in business. Of course, Dimebag went back to the old manufacturer and continued his cooperation with the brand.

One of the last models that came out of this joint effort was the Dean Razorback. Unfortunately, he only got to work with the prototype before his death. He never used it live, but the story goes that he approved the guitar shortly before he passed away.

As for this particular model, it’s based on the Dean ML shape Dimebag got used to. The only difference here is that it has some additional edges on it, making it look even weirder than the ML.

dean razorback

This design was done in collaboration with Dime and there were a few versions of it released later on, some of them even featuring 24 frets. They also came with a Floyd Rose tremolo and you can easily recognize one of these guitars for its razor inlay on the 12th fret.

Aside from these, there were some other electric guitars in his collection. He was also a proud owner of the Jackson Randy Rhoads models, most notably the RR5 and the RR3.

jackson randy rhoads rr3

There were also some Fender Stratocasters and even Fender Telecasters in there, as well as a Super Strat type of instrument by Charvel, called San Dimas.


Dimebag’s policy on amps was very simple. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For the largest portion of his career, he was using one of three Randall amps. The most popular one out of the bunch was probably the Randall RG100H.

Randall Rg1003 Rg Series Amplifier Head

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His love for Randall began with an old Century 200 amp. This is what he used during the days before he became famous. With that said, he never really got rid of that amp and continued to use it in his practice setup. Interestingly enough, all of these Randalls were solid-state amps.

He wasn’t really into tube amps. However, the only tube amp Dimebag was impressed with was the Krank Revolution.


He got in touch with Krank and he was soon equipped with a brand new Revolution model which he apparently fell in love with right from the very start.

Krank later went to create Dimebag signature model called the Krankenstein. With this in mind, it was only obvious that he also used the company’s cabinets, most notably a piece like Revolution 412 cabinet with four 12-inch speakers in it.

Here’s a video from when Dimebag was visiting Krank back in the day and having a good time making some noise and kickin’ it with the crew.

Going back to the Randall stuff, he was also pretty fond of the very powerful Randall Warhead. This two-channel amp has the power of an impressive 300 watts. Not unusual for a hard-hitting groove metal player like Dimebag Darrell was.

Here’s a quote from Dimebag from GuitarWorld in 1994 talking about Randall Amps to shed some light on what he was thinking when it came to his choice of amps: “Solid-state to me is more in your face, while tube sounds like it’s surrounding your body. I’m not going for a soft sound. I ain’t lookin’ for a warm sound. My sound is warm, but I don’t need tubes to do it. The Randall RG-100 is the best amp for what I do. Randall made a tube amp that they sent out to me. It sounded killer, but it wasn’t solid-state, so I’m going to stay with solid. To this day, when people find out that I use solid-state they’ll come up to me and go, “Are you sure? That sounds like tubes, dude.” The Randall has the warmth of tubes, but it has the chunk and the fuckin’ grind right in your face.”

Effects Pedals

Anyone who has ever listened to Pantera or any other project Dimebag was a part of, knows that he used a very limited selection of effects pedals. However, all of these pedals served their purpose and were crucial for his signature tone.

Mxr Wylde Overdrive Effects Pedal

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Of course, we also need to mention Dunlop‘s Cry Baby From Hell – a signature model wah pedal he worked on with Dunlop.

The pedal’s casing is the classic one we’ve seen on the Cry Baby models over the years. The addition here is the camo print that definitely makes it stand out in a pedalboard.

But, above all, the pedal’s circuitry is designed to accommodate to Dimebag’s desires, making its frequency sweep a bit different compared to the classic Cry Baby. Of course, he also used to have that one as well back in the day, the well-known 535-Q model.

Hereís Dimebag demoing the pedal. As you can see, he knows how to work that little thing.

Before he got into Dunlop’s wahs, Dimebag used to have an original Vox unit. Besides these, there was a number of various pedals which he occasionally included in his signal chain.

There have been a few pedals here and there in his rig over the years. Some of the most notable ones are the Electro-Harmonix Little Big Muff, Boss CE-1 Chorus, and MXR 6 Band EQ.

He has also used an MXR Zakk Wylde signature overdrive. While it didn’t serve as his main dirt box, it was a simple but effective booster for his solos, but only during his time in Damageplan.

MXR Zakk Wylde signature overdrive

Either way, it is a pretty simple overdrive pedal with volume, tone, and gain controls, yet it adds a certain color to the tone that makes it really stand out and cut through the mix.

Boosting an already distorted tone with an overdrive pedal is something that’s been done by many players over the years. The Zakk Wylde signature MXR really does this job well and will most definitely help you in your search of Dime’s tone.

We should also not forget the very famous DigiTech Whammy pedal that he implemented here and there during Pantera’s career. The song “Good Friends And A Bottle Of Pills” comes as a great example of this.

Some of the most notable ones are the Electro-Harmonix Little Big Muff, Boss CE1 Chorus, and MXR 6 Band EQ.

The Legacy

Just what kind of influence Dimebag had on metal music is evident from a whole variety of bands you can find on the scene today.

He shaped the minds of many aspiring guitar players, and he still does. However, that’s not the only impact he had on the music industry.

dimebag-darrell rig rundown guitar setup

Dimebag Darrell is the reason why Dean came back after they went out of business. The founder of this company, Dean Zelinsky, saw that Dimebag was practically copying the Dean ML with Washburn, which prompted him to reconsider his decision about closing down Dean.

Recreating Dimebag’s tone is something many are trying to do these days. Fortunately for us, everything necessary to get that job done is readily available.

Dean ML is still being produced, along with pickups specifically designed to replicate the Bill Lawrence and Seymour Duncan combo he used on his Dean From Hell. There are countless versions of the Dime guitar, everything from cheaper entry models and all the way to the more expensive ones.

dean from hell

Talking about his legacy and gear, MXR paid a tribute to the famous Pantera and Damageplan guitarist by making their own pedal with Dimebag Darrell’s name on it.

Marked as DD11, it’s called Dime Distortion and does a pretty good job at replicating some of his signature tones.

mxr dd11 dime distortion

In addition, the camo paint definitely is a nice finishing touch on it, going along with the signature Dunlop Cry Baby Dime wah.

As already mentioned, Dimebag’s setup was pretty simple and straightforward. The Dean guitars and Randall amps are definitely a good start if you want to get his sound.

Adding his signature wah, or any wah pedal that does a bit of a deeper sweep, will be a good addition for lead tones. Using an overdrive as a booster to highlight some lead parts or some riffs is also necessary, especially if you’re getting a sharper sounding overdrive like the MXR Zakk Wylde one.

Needless to say, Dimebag’s death was a tragedy that hit thousands of people all over the world. He left us too early, and we can only imagine what he would be creating if he was still around. With that said, his legacy is immortal.

Pantera’s discography is every bit as popular today as it was while he was still alive. It’s safe to say that Dimebag Darrell will be influencing young generations for years to come. We are yet to see how much his playing will make an impact to the generations of future musicians.

Joe Satriani’s Guitar Rig And Setup

Whenever someone starts talking about who is currently among the best guitarists alive, one name appears every single time.

Joe Satriani is considered to be the true master of guitar. There are many great guitar players out there, but rarely anyone reaches the level of skill this man has.

Now watch as he lays down the classic “Surfing With The Alien”, live at Sweetwater.

Satriani is capable of squeezing out performance from his gear which is often beyond what is considered possible. A true virtuoso.

For someone who experiments with sound to a such as extent as Satriani does, it takes a lot of equipment to satisfy his requirements.


Our task today is to make a shortlist of Satriani’s most favorite gear. This will include his choice of guitars, amps, and effects pedals. As you are about to find out, all kinds of brands will appear in his equipment inventory.

Some of them are expected to be seen there, others maybe not so much. Either way, if you’re trying to figure out how to replicate a portion of Satriani’s sound, you are in the right place.

Joe Satriani’s Rig Rundown

Much like his former student and another god of electric guitar, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani also has a long lasting relationship with Ibanez.

This guitar manufacturer definitely knows who to work with, which is apparent from the success of the resulting signature models.

In Satriani’s case, he actually uses several of the guitars he helped design. Let’s see which ones are commonly used by him on stage.


Ibanez JS-2400 in white is one of the Satriani’s main choices. He’s been seen playing this particular model numerous times, both on and off the stage. Ibanez JS2400 features a somewhat different body style than what we can usually see in Ibanez lineup.

The pickups are DiMarzio Mo’Joe and Pro Track, which give it the unique voicing. Needless to say, if Satriani chose this very guitar to be one of his top picks, it’s a must-have model for anyone who can afford one.

Going further down the list we’ll find Ibanez JS-1000 and JS-1200. These two also belong to his signature series but are not used as often as the JS-2400. With that said, he has been seen using both of these guitars on occasion.

Ibanez JS 1000
Ibanez JS-1000

When it comes to acoustics, Satriani also prefers his Ibanez models. One that comes to mind is JSA10 in black. Just like the JS series we have mentioned earlier, JSA line of acoustic guitars also belongs to his signature series.

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D’Addario Exl120-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, Super Light, 9-42, 3 Sets

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Joe was always a Marshall guy. Unlike other guitar players near his caliber, he didn’t get his own signature line of amps until just recently when he made a deal with Peavey.

Prior to that, Satriani mostly used Marshalls. One of his main pieces was the Marshall JVM410H amp head.

marshall jvm410hjs_1

However, this was no ordinary JVM. He had the head modified by Santiago Alvarez – one of Marshall’s most talented engineers.

Another Marshall head he was seen using was the Marshall 6100 Anniversary head.

In terms of cabs, Marshall’s 1960Bs were the go-to option. Each one had four 12-inch Celestions whose color Satriani found to be just perfect for his tone.

Once he got official backing from Peavey, his gear changed. Instead of Marshall heads we just mentioned, Satriani used the Peavey JSX Signature head along with JSX 212 combos.

Cabinets for this setup were always Peavey JSX 412s. With that said, Satriani has announced that he’s going back to Marshall.

Effects Pedals

Listing all the guitar effects pedals Satriani uses or has been seen using would be too much for one article alone. We are just going to go over some most notable models.

Since Wah is such a big factor in his sound, let’s begin this rundown with the pedal he uses for this purpose.

Vox Joe Satriani Big Bad Dual Wah was developed in cooperation with Vox, and it’s exactly what Joe wanted from this type of effects pedal.

How different it actually is from other models which are available depends on how much you care about subtle changes to the tone.

For his distortion, Joe used the Vox Satchurator distortion pedal a lot. Only other model that has seen a lot of stage time besides this Vox unit, is a modified Boss DS-1.

In terms of modulation, there’s a lot of familiar names on the list. We have Boss BF-3 Flanger, Boss CH-1 Super Chorus, Ibanez FL9 Flanger and more.



Believe it or not, Satriani actually uses a lot of his signature model products. This goes way beyond guitars and amps. For example, you will find him playing his tours using Joe Satriani signature model picks.

Same goes for guitar straps. It’s not that he’s trying to sell this stuff by using it. On the contrary, he designed all of his signature products in a way that fits him the best.


Finally, let’s talk strings. Satriani is a huge D’Addario fan. On any given day you will most likely see D’Addario EXL120 electric guitar strings on all of his axes.

For the acoustics, he also uses a D’Addario set, only this time it’s the Phosphorus Bronze EJ16s.


Final thoughts

Satriani’s tone is among the most desired ones in the world. A lot of guitar players are trying to nail down the same color of tone he achieves, but only a handful actually succeeds.

As you might imagine, the extensive list of equipment Satriani uses has a lot to do with it. The best way to start is to get one of his Ibanez signature models. The rest can be built piece by piece.

He is set to release his own Marshall signature amps which should, in theory, bring the same sound he used before switching to Peavey.

Maybe even better. If you are really trying to copy Satriani’s tone, these two items should be on top of your list. With that said, a lot of one’s sound comes from the way that guitarist plays guitar. And that is something that is much harder to emulate.

Dave Mustaine Guitar Rig Rundown

dave mustaine rig rundown

Just how important Megadeth was for the evolution and propagation of metal is easy to figure out. They’ve introduced a lot of new ideas that weren’t necessarily present in the mainstream scene.

Just how important Megadeth was for the evolution and propagation of metal is pretty easy to figure out. The band has introduced a lot of new ideas that weren’t necessarily present in the mainstream scene before.

One more thing this band did was to show people that driving leads can push a song to a whole new level. However, there’s one man that stands behind this band’s greatness, and that’s the guitarist and singer, Dave Mustaine.

What’s more, some would even argue that Megadeth is Mustaine’s solo project. However, this is debatable and better left for some other occasion.

what gear does dave mustaine use

This hard-working, innovative, and talented musician is known for using a variety of pretty interesting guitars. Although his tone is a little “conservative,” it pretty much set the standards in all of the sub-genres of metal music.

So with all this said, we figured that we could take a look at what kind of guitars and gear Dave Mustaine has been using over the years.

After reading this guide, you’ll get the overall idea of how you can replicate his legendary tone, at least to some extent.

Just to remind everyone who we’re talking about, here’s a clip of Megadeth playing live and you can hear that tone live and loud in this blistering solo from “She-Wolf.”


We are going to kick things off with the guitars that Dave Mustaine uses.

If there’s one thing that you can tell straight away, that is Mustaine’s affection for Flying V guitars and other “unconventional” guitar body styles.

He was also among the first metal players to use electric guitars with two necks. With that said, let’s check out some of the notable models he was seen using over the course of his career.

B.C. Rich Bich Perfect 10

B.C. Rich Perfect 10 Ten-String Electric Guitar, Dragon Blood

When he was just starting out, long before he ever laid his hands on a Flying V of any kind, Mustaine rocked a B.C. Rich Perfect 10. It was a decent guitar, and it still is.

However, his relationship with this particular model didn’t last for too long. Just when the 1980s rolled around, Dave Mustaine shifted his focus to some more interesting models that just started appearing on the market.

Either way, B.C. Rich Perfect 10 is somewhat of an unusual instrument, featuring an unconventional design. But these were the late 1970s and early 1980s, so companies were open for experimentation.

Hardcore Megadeth fans will still respect this particular B.C. Rich, and give it a certain amount of credit for Mustaine’s success so far.

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As soon as Mustaine first saw this guitar, he changed camps for good. His love for Jackson began in the mid-’80s and has resulted in an endorsement deal with this company.

Needless to say, he could choose whichever guitar he wanted at that point, but Dave still remained in the Jackson camp for a long while.

The significance of Jackson King V is the fact that it was one of the first Jacksons Mustaine ever played. Because of that, this guitar definitely deserves praise and attention.

After all, this devilish-looking “V” model is one of Jackson’s longest-running products. Starting their production in the 1980s, the guitar’s main features are almost unchanged to this day.

It’s a standard thrash metal banger with two humbucker pickups on it.

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While we’re at Jackson’s V models, Mustaine has his “Number One” Jackson. This silver-colored instrument has been in use since the “Peace Sells” album, and he’s been recording a huge portion of Megadeth’s studio recordings with it.

In addition, he used it for many of Megadeth’s live shows. There are many other Jacksons in there, including the KV1, Y2KV, and even the unusual Y2KV double-neck guitar.

This last one is a weird instrument that was used by Mustaine for a while, mostly around 2001. But it was auctioned off along with most of his other Jacksons, so it’s no longer in his possession. There were actually a few of these in his collection, but their whereabouts are currently unknown.

Dean VMNT Dave Mustaine Angel of Deth Electric Guitar

Mustaine’s gig with Jackson wasn’t the only endorsement deal he ever made with guitar manufacturers. Dean was another brand that was more than happy enough to work with this incredible artist. Over the years they have released a number of Dave Mustaine signature model guitars that all featured the Flying V design.

On a similar note, he had a short stint with ESP as well, which also produced some Flying Vs based on Mustaine’s input. The guitar model in question is labeled as DV8, but he also has a few other versions, some even featuring some thematic Megadeth artwork on them.

Dean Vmnt Dave Mustaine Peace Sells Electric Guitar

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While we’re at ESP guitars, he also has his signature Axxion Dave Mustaine model. This is a fairly unusual guitar, with the innovative and unconventional design being its most notable trait.

The guitar was actually conceived by Mustaine himself decades ago, but no other company other than ESP was up to the task of actually bringing this instrument to life.

Although we don’t think of him as an acoustic player, Mustaine has some great stuff in this department as well. So as far as the acoustics go, he prefers stuff like Ovation T357.

Of course, he also made his signature acoustic guitars with Dean and he owns a few Dave Mustaine Mako signatures.

Just to pay tribute to all the great guitars in his collection, we should also mention a few Dean Zero signature guitars, as well as his Ibanez Destroyer.


When it comes to amps, Dave Mustaine started pretty simple but ended up using a variety of different brands and amp models.

What you will notice is that most of his amps, at least ones he is personally fond of, are various Marshall models.

Mustaine never really felt the need to swap them for anything else, while he included various preamps to get the desired effect.

Marshall JCM800

Marshall JCM800 2203X 100W Tube Head

Back in the old days, Marshall JCM800 was a very popular choice for many metal lovers. It was used by a large variety of artists, but it just seemed to be naturally good at delivering a more than just a decent metal sound.

As a matter of fact, Mustaine used the JCM800 to record a number of Megadeth’s initial albums. Ever since then, his love for Marshall has only grown.

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Marshall JVM410


Another notable amp we have to mention is the Marshall JVM410.

It has found its way into Mustaine’s set-up quite recently, but he was more than happy to use it for a very long period of time.

Did it significantly change the sound of the band? No, not really. Marshall amps are Marshall amps.

They all share that same core quality which is the main reason why so many people love them in the first place. The Marshall JVM410 is just a more modern representation of that very sound.

To put it simply, the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of Mr. Mustaine is a Marshall stack.

Any of his setups is Marshall-oriented and there have rarely been any other brands in his rig. He always paired the Marshalls with matching cabinets, like the classic 4×12-inch V30.

Aside from the aforementioned JCM800 and JVM410, he also used the company’s power amplifier, the very powerful and potent EL34 100/100. It’s not certain what preamp he paired it with, but he used it occasionally over the years.


If you’ve been listening to Megadeth for any significant period of time, you will know that Mustaine’s tone is pretty conservative.

Dave isn’t exactly a fan of large pedalboards that are filled with layers upon layers of distortions, overdrives, and those wacky colorful choruses.

His policy is to get the best sound out of those tubes and use that to achieve the wanted results. With that said, Mustaine does use some guitar pedals.

Zoom G2.1DM

Zoom G2.1DM Dave mustaine signature pedal

One of the most interesting things you will find in Mustaine’s signal chain is this Zoom effects processor, the G2.1 model.

Not only was it designed based on the input of this great guitar player, but it pretty much gives you that Megadeth sound straight out of the box.

In fact, it is so good that Mustaine himself uses it quite often. This is definitely an unusual choice of an effects pedal for a high-level metal professional. Usually, guitar players of his caliber will stay far away from devices like these.

However, no one can deny the practical value of this unit.

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At this point, Dave even has a special signature version of the processor, labeled as G2.1DM. It’s a fairly cheap device and you can get some great Megadeth tones right from the factory.

But although he’s not keen on having many pedals and other devices, this doesn’t mean that there’s nothing else to mention in Dave’s rig. There are a few straightforward pedals that he used over the years, like Boss CH-1 Super Chorus.

CH-1 Super Chorus

This classic pedal is pretty popular both among professionals and amateurs.

It has four basic controls on it, as well as an option to use it as a stereo effect. Just one simple classic Boss pedal that gets the job done without too many fancy complicated additions.

Looking further into the matter, Dave does use a few pedals here and there. Another example that he implements occasionally is TWA Triskelion 2.0, also labeled as “Harmonic Energizer.”

This is a fairly rare and expensive one, but it provides some very harmonically rich distorted tones. You won’t find any other dirt pedal like this one.

Aside from the aforementioned Zoom multi-effects processor, he also used DigiTech’s GSP1101 preamp.

DigiTech's GSP1101 preamp

This is a very detailed and advanced rack-mounted piece. It’s nothing like the G2.1DM, but rather a fully professional piece.

According to some confirmed data online, Mustaine also implemented Rocktron Prophesy rack-mounted guitar effects processor. This was most likely during the mid-2000s.

To control the rig, he also used the Rocktron All Access LTD Foot controller.

Rocktron All Access LTD Foot controller

There are some theories about other pedals that he used, but some of the stuff has just not been confirmed.

And again, as we said – he was never really keen on having too many pedals. As we can see with these multi-effects processors, he likes to keep things simple.

It’s definitely easier to have multi-effects units rather than complicated pedalboards.


Dave-Mustaine playing Dean VMNT

In this brief guide, we gave you a rundown of the most notable guitars and gear that Dave Mustaine used over the years. As you can imagine, he most likely has a much wider range of equipment than what we listed above.

It’s worth noting that most of that gear is rather stage-oriented stuff that you probably won’t need to use anytime soon. The stuff we listed will be more than enough to perfectly replicate this tone.

Sure, it’s not that complex of a tone to emulate, but if you want to literally mirror his setup, these instruments and accessories will get you there with the least amount of effort.

On the other hand, a lot of the stuff that we mentioned would be pretty expensive for an average guitar player looking to emulate Mustaine’s tone.

If you want the cheapest option, getting a Zoom G2.1DM comes as a great solution. But if you want to make it more convincing, then using a tube-driven Marshall can do the trick.

Some additional overdrives that would get the natural tube distortion running would be a great addition, as well as a simple Boss chorus for some of the clean parts.

Mustaine’s very simple and spartan approach to his gear has led many to follow his example. This is especially true today when a lot of guitar players are ditching their solid-state amps and are turning to more traditional tube amps to get that organic sound.