Anthrax Amp Settings – Scott Ian Guitar Tone & Gear Guide!

Author: Santiago Motto | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

It was my last year in high school and, back then, we used to get a cool image from a guitar magazine, photocopy it, and make it the front and back of our collected school papers. The year was 2001 and my papers were held together by three hooks and a picture of Scott Ian’s Jackson JJ2 guitar with the cool flame paintwork and the dice at the 12th fret.

Yes, I have followed the career of thrash metal’s Keith Richards for quite a while now, over 20 years. But his career with Anthrax started 20 years before I took his guitar with me to school every day.

This guitar player and writer has been chasing Scott Ian’s chugging tone for decades, and, believe me, I got very close. Read on and find out about my discoveries regarding Baldini’s tone and how to do it at home, on a budget.

Scott Ian Guitars

Anthrax was founded in 1981. By 1982, Scott Ian had already ordered a custom shop guitar from Jackson. I don’t know if you know this, but Jackson was born as a high-end guitar shop handmaking top-tier instruments for the crème de la crème of the metal scene in the eighties.

That same year, 1982, Randy Rhoads died in a tragic plane crash but the image of him playing the famous “Concorde” guitar was never going to leave Scott Ian’s head.

He became an endorsed artist by the late 1980s and continues to play his Jackson signature models in every Anthrax show.

His newest model is a King V which is something like Jackson’s version of a Gibson Flying V. The difference with the Concorde or the Rhoads model is that both tails are even.

So, Scott’s Jackson days started with a Custom Shop Jackson Randy Rhoads guitar. If you were lucky enough to ever hold an RR1 in your hands, you know the quality of the instrument we’re talking about. It features an alder body delivering generous punch and snap, a quartersawn maple neck, and a beautiful-looking ebony fingerboard.

If that’s too much of a bulky price tag for your budget, then you can get a Jackson Pro Series Rhoads RR3 for a lot less or a Jackson Rhoads JS32T for an even more affordable price.

I would say that’s the sound of the first four Anthrax records Fistful of Metal (1984), Spreading the Disease (1985), Among the Living (1987), and State of Euphoria (1988).

By the nineties, though, Scott Ian gravitated toward Super Strats and had his Jackson Soloist version as well as the head-turning, mind-blowing, utterly inspiring JJ2 with the flame and the dice that eventually ended up coming with me to school every day in the shape of a printed-out picture.

Those guitars have been discontinued by Jackson and, if you’re lucky enough to find one, you’ll be paying a hefty sum for it.

But the new guitar that Scott Ian has with Jackson is a King V. Yes, he’s kind of gone full circle on guitar shapes and moved from the soloist to something closer to his original Concorde.

This is a guitar that you can get in multiple versions that can accommodate different budgets. The flagship is the Jackson USA Signature Scott Ian King V KVT. This is a monster guitar entirely made of mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard and a couple of Seymour Duncan pickups.

Speaking of which, Scott has been using the JB model in the bridge since he got his first RR guitar because it was Randy’s pickup of choice too.

If your budget can’t accommodate the USA version of Scott’s guitar, worry not, you can choose the Dime Slime (or avocado burst) version, the candy apple red version, and the mirror version for much less.

In case you can’t make it to Scott’s guitars’ price tags, you can still get a Jackson King V JS32T for much less and play your favorite Anthrax riffs all night every night.

Whether you play the King V, the RR, or a Soloist (Scott’s signature was called the T-1000 to honor Terminator 2’s bad robot), just install the JB in the bridge and prepare the wrist for that down-stroke fest.

Scott Ian Effects Pedals

Let me tell you that Scott Ian doesn’t use any stompboxes to get his signature Anthrax sound. On the contrary, he relies 100% on the distortion coming from the amp, which is, by the way, way less than you expected. But more on that later, I don’t want to get ahead of myself here.

Scott uses five pedals live.

Delay – In the rare case that Scott needs to play clean guitar live (like the intro to Antisocial, for example), he adds a little delay to make it lusher and more beautiful. The one he rocks is the Sea Turquoise Delay by a company called One Control. You can easily replace it with a Way Huge Aqua Puss to keep the ocean motif going.

Chorus – In the same vein as the delay, Scott also adds a bit of chorus to the clean sound to embellish it a little. I mean, he formed in the eighties, he HAS to have a chorus pedal somewhere. He chooses the One Control Little Copper but you could do it with a Boss CH-1 Super Chorus.

Phaser/Flanger – Just to add a little color here and there, Scott rocks a phaser or a flanger. Again, he’s an eighties man so he needs those Eddie tones. For that, you need the Eddie-approved EVH Phase 90 and EVH Flanger pedals.

Wah – The Wah that Scott uses for his one solo (in “Got the Time”) and some transitions is the Dunlop Kirk Hammett model.

Noise Gate – With all the gain coming from the JB pushing the amp, you need something to tame the demons once your picking hand is idle. For that, he plays the Fortin Zuul, a boutique pedal made by Mike Fortin of Fortin amps. you could get close with a simple Boss NS-2 for half the price.

Scott Ian Amplifiers

Let me begin by saying that, like most metal players of his generation, Scott Ian cut his teeth playing souped-up Marshall JCM800 heads in the eighties.

In my opinion, that’s where the moderate-gain approach comes from. If you’ve ever played through an 800, you’ll know it’s a thick-sounding, loud amp that doesn’t feature proper distortion but the ability to push the preamp section.

After the initial Marshall phase, Scott moved over to playing Randall heads and got himself a signature model called the Scott Ian Nullifier. It was a 3-channel, 120-watt tube head with enough gain to tear down the paint on a house.

Currently, Scott is playing through none of the above, but through an EVH 5150III with EL34 tubes. Yet, contrary to what everybody thinks, he rocks the “Crunch” channel which allows him to retain clarity while getting generous chugging tones by digging into the guitar harder.

That’s an amp you can get in many different sizes.

It does make a difference what kind of power tubes these amps are running, so make sure you stay on the EL34/EL84 side of things.

What’s Jon Donais’ Rig?

Anthrax features two guitar players live. Jon Donais (former Shadows Fall guitarist) occupies the lead player role. He plays through a signature Dean Super Strat with Fishman Fluence Modern pickups through a Kemper where he profiles either a Rivera or an Engl. He uses them stock as they come programmed in the Kemper.

Anthrax Amp Settings

Among the Living (1987) Tones

  • Volume – 8
  • Gain – 4
  • Bass – 6
  • Middle – 2
  • Treble – 7
  • Presence – 7

Volume 8: The Threat Is Real (1998) Tones

  • Volume – 8
  • Gain – 6
  • Bass – 4
  • Middle – 6
  • Treble – 7
  • Presence – 8

For All Kings (2016) Tones

  • Volume – 8
  • Gain – 4
  • Bass – 4
  • Middle – 4
  • Treble – 7
  • Presence – 8

The Bottom End

Scott Ian and Anthrax are a trademark in Thrash Metal and continue to bring mayhem to the biggest metal stages around the world to this day. Scott’s tone and rig are fairly simple; you don’t need a lot to replicate it. That said, it takes several hours to mimic this riffmaster’s technique and aggressive picking approach.

Practice a lot, find some friends, and jam away with the tone of one of metal’s main pillars.

Happy (heavy rhythm) playing!

Avatar photo

About Santiago Motto

Santiago is a guitar player with over 25 years of experience. A self-confessed guitar nerd, he currently tours with his band 'San Juan'. Called 'Sandel' by his friends, he has a pop palate for melodies, ballads, and world music. San especially has an immense love for telecasters and all-mahogany Martins.

Leave a Comment