Architects Amp Settings & Gear – Complete Guitar Tone Guide

Author: Liam Whelan | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

If you like your music heavy and howling, there are few modern bands that fit the bill better than Architects. They’re probably your favorite heavy band’s favorite heavy band.

I’ve often heard my friends in the heavy scene declare Architects the band will, when the dinosaurs of yesteryear retire, claim the mantle of festival-ready headliners.

Whether that comes to pass or not remains to be seen, but one thing that’s been clear over the years is the truly excellent heavy tone Architects use on the road and in the studio.

The band has enjoyed a revolving door of great guitar players over the years, but they’ve shared an enthusiasm for punishing, articulate sounds ready for the biggest stages on the planet.

In this article, I’ll go over the key pieces of gear you need to sound like Architects.

Architects Guitars

Like most guitar players, the various axemen who have graced the Architects lineup over the years appreciate a range of instruments. Custom-made guitars, signature models, and one-off luthier specials aren’t unusual for the djent-ready gentlemen of Architects.

For most players, you’ll need a guitar capable of handling serious downtuning. Live, Architects tend to use baritone guitars and standard six-strings with customized heavy gauges. There’s no shortage of guitars aimed at heavy players, but which of these is best for their music?

I’d recommend running a Superstrat-style guitar for this sound. Founding member Tom Searle, before he passed away, played an ESP Horizon, and that guitar has been featured on Architects tours since his passing.

Architects actually tour with multiple Horizons to accommodate different tunings and feels for various songs. While the usual ESP-LTD Horizon comes stock with high-powered Seymour Duncan pickups, Architects often use other humbuckers instead.

For example, they frequently use Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers in their instruments.

The other family of instruments used in Architects is baritone guitars. If you’re unfamiliar with them, these feel like halfway between a regular guitar and a bass. Conventionally, these are guitars tuned an octave below a standard six-string guitar.

You could always continue the ESP-LTD trend by looking at their baritone line, but I was impressed to learn that Adam Christianson actually played Telecaster-style baritones. Supposedly, this is thanks to his affection for country legend Merle Haggard.

For this reason, I’d recommend a Telecaster-style baritone guitar, such as the Stephen Carpenter signature model.

You could also try the Squier Classic Vibe Baritone, but you’ll need to swap out its single-coil pickups for humbuckers.

Architects Amps

Architects, like so many other heavy bands, were early adopters of the Kemper profiler. They’ve been using Kempers live and in the studio for many years, preferring the portability and versatility of the Kemper rather than traveling with a conventional tube amp.

Kempers tend to rival tube amps for the price, and you need to buy a speaker cab (like this matching Kemper Kab) to play with them, but they do a great job of offering a way to achieve the Architects’ tone. My recommendation for most guitar players would be the Profiler Player, effectively a pedalboard-sized amp that offers all the various Kemper presets.

If, like me, you prefer a real amp, I’d recommend the EVH 5150 for high-gain tones. You need an amplifier capable of delivering powerful, crushing saturation, and most classic amps simply can’t provide the amount of distortion you need for this tone.

You won’t get near the Architects sound with a classic Marshall or Fender. However, high-gain amplifiers like the EVH tend to offer enough juice on tap to get you in the ballpark. Most bands then boost the signal with a pedal, typically a Tube Screamer-style pedal.

Architects Amp Settings

The below settings are a strong baseline for getting the crushing, distorted Architects tone. You’re dealing with low frequencies and lots of gain in your signal path, and your amp settings should reflect this.

If you’re using a profiler, there are Architects-style presets you can run instead of tweaking knobs as you would on an old-school amp.

Volume: 5-6

Run the volume past halfway to get some poweramp saturation.

Bass: 3-4

You’re playing a downtuned guitar, so you don’t need much bass at all.

Mids: 8-9

With these tones, you need a lot of midrange for your guitars to stand out in the mix properly.

Treble: 6

You can run your treble a little hotter than you normally would for heavy music.

Architects Effects

Guitar players like me who tend to avoid sprawling, flashy pedalboards rejoice: Architects seem to share that opinion.

It could be because they use modeling amps and their tones require very little tweaking, or simply that they avoid tapping pedals while headbanging on stage.

Regardless, you can get into the arena of Architects’ tone with only a few key effects.

Chief among these, for your distorted tone, is a Tube Screamer-style boost. I’d recommend using an actual Tube Screamer like the TS9 Adam Christianson uses in his live rig. Set the gain on your Tube Screamer as low as possible, and the level as high as possible, for the tone-conditioning boosting effect he achieves.

In addition to that, you’ll want to make use of a noise gate like the Boss Noise Suppressor to tame the feedback and hiss of your amp. The Architects axemen, like so many other metal players, tend to use the ISP Decimator.

Finally, for the soaring, ambient echo-laden tones that Architects are known for, the key ingredient is the ever-popular Strymon Big Sky, often used in conjunction with the Mobius and TimeLine.

For those on a tighter budget than purchasing Strymons would allow, the Hall of Fame reverb and Flashback delay should do the trick.

Architects Tuning and String Gauges

A big part of the Architects sound is their consistent use of brutally heavy downtuned guitars.

The band often tunes all the way down to C#, F#, or G#. To accommodate these lower tunings, you need thicker strings.

Adam Christianson tends to use D’Addario custom gauges, typically .011–.015–.019–.032–.044–.072.

Final Word

Few human beings are gifted with the howling, tortured vocal register of Sam Carter, but with the right gear, the guitar tones of Architects can be at your fingertips.

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About Liam Whelan

Liam Whelan was raised in Sydney, Australia, where he went to university for long enough to realize he strongly prefers playing guitar in a rock band to writing essays. Liam spends most of his life sipping strong coffee, playing guitar, and driving from one gig to the next. He still nurses a deep conviction that Eddie Van Halen is the greatest of all time, and that Liverpool FC will reclaim the English Premier League title.

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