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Old 11-01-2009, 04:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How do you make a guitar sound 'metal'?

How do you make an electric guitar sound like a metal guitar? Is there a setting on the instrument itself, on the amp, or is it a pedal or something you get? Sorry if this is a basic question, but with the guitar and amp I have there don't seem to be settings that can make any kinds of 'metal' sounds.
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Old 11-01-2009, 04:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Pretty obvious, but putting your guitar in Drop D or C makes it go lower, and is a pretty easy way of making it sound more 'metal' I guess.
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Old 11-01-2009, 04:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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downtune guitar, turn amp's volume & gain to highest setting
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Old 11-01-2009, 08:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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depends on the style of metal you're looking to play.

for the most part you're looking for a distortion pedal. there are a few basic distinctions between the types of distortion you can get such as, fuzz, overdrive, or compression, but ultimately they're all distortion pedals.

new school metal and technical stuff that's played on 7+ string guitars would require down tuning, contrary to popular belief this also means LESS distortion. maybe even just a compressor to tighten up your signal so that it doesn't become a pile of mud.

on the other hand if you like the sludgy / muddy style of blues based metal then you're mostly looking for fuzz like a Big Muff Pi.

something a lot of old school metal guys used to do was 'scallop' their sound with the EQ settings on their amps. lows and highs would be maxed out and the mids would be completely removed. apparently Kirk Hammett used to duct tape the knobs on his amps to ensure that setting in Metallica's early days.

there's also a relatively cheap BOSS pedal called 'the Metal Zone' that normally runs around $100 that lives up to its name especially when you're still starting out. i'd also recommend picking up a wall adapter if you're going to get one as opposed to dealing with 9volt batteries.
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Old 11-01-2009, 08:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Also you need to pledge your firstborn to Satan.
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Old 11-02-2009, 06:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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^^^LOL,oh and you can only go out at night and eat dead babies.
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Old 11-04-2009, 12:49 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Depending on your budget, it may be worth looking up what pedals, amps, etc. your favourite guitarists use as well.
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Old 11-16-2009, 02:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You need a good amp,I prefer Fender tube amps,a great distortion pedal,Digitech Death Metal is awesome,and an EQ pedal.This is just my setup so I'm not trying to preach.The guitar is important,some guitars will never sound metal IMO.After many years i know just how to set EQ and tone to get that "in your face" sound without sounding "tinny".Just experiment,you'll be able to set your tone perfectly after a while.I use the EQ on the amp for certain things,and the EQ pedal for others.You can cut the EQ in and out to range between bright and dirty sounds.Boss used to make a distortion/overdrive pedal that was totally insane..I dont know if they still make them or not.I did all kinds of crazy stuff when I first started to acheive a good tone-stuffing pillows in amps,running through stereos you name it.lol
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Old 11-17-2009, 11:40 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The tone you hear depends on two things. Your guitar and your amp. (<---obviously)

Amp:
Some amps are designed for low gain, mellow blues tones and simply can't be driven hard enough to get a good, thick overdriven/distorted sound. Some amps, on the other hand, (this pertains more to tube amps like the Mesa Rectifier, Marshall JCM2000, Peavey 5150 etc) are wired to put out as much gain as as you could ever need. This also has to do with the tubes in the amp (EL34s and 6L6s are the most popular choices, 6L6 tubes are pretty standard in terms of amps like the 5150 designed specifically for high gain tone).

If you're playing through a solid state amp which, with a question like this I'm assuming you probably are, your tone will be a lot weaker because you wont get the warmth, saturation, headroom, and especially the low end you'd get out of a tube amp, and your tone will sound a lot muddier, especially if you aren't using a distortion pedal (which is designed to emulate tube sounds). Most solid state amps on the market these days come with relatively weak built in distortion circuits, and for an even halfway decent high gain tone, need to have a distortion pedal in front of them. There are some exceptions to this. Any Line6 amp or anything else digital will have a decent high gain tone for an amature guitar player, but will have very little headroom or low end. Fender makes a solid state amp called the "Metalhead" that is designed for high gain tone but you need a 500 watt cab for it just to keep up with tube amps. (A 25 watt tube amp is as loud if not louder than a 100 watt solid state amp.)

Guitar:
Your tone also depends a lot on the components in your guitar. A standard Fender Stratocaster comes loaded with 3 single coil pickups. While these are great for bluesy clean and crunch tones, they will sound very thin when a "metal" amount of gain is applied. A Gibson Les Paul comes with humbuckers (dual coil pickups designed to reduce the electronic "hum" that single coils are notorious for). These will give you a much thicker, fatter, and fuller sound, and when distorted, will sound smoother and warmer. Different pickups are designed for higher output, more high end, more low end, or more mids. The higher the output of your pickup, the more of a driven tone you'll get. (with a solid state amp, that is. Mid to lower output pickups will actually give a fatter tone when played through a high gain amp)

Consider getting a distortion pedal. I used them for years before I bought my tube amp. Some companies (Krank, I believe, is one of them) make distortion pedals that actually have a vaccum tube in the circuitry. That's going to be your best bet in terms of pedals, but check out the ones that others are suggesting too, you may find you like them better.

Hope this helps a little.
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Old 11-17-2009, 12:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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If all else fails, a chainsaw has the propensity to make just about anything sound metal.
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