After selling over 19 million records in the US alone, debuting first in the Billboard 200 chart, and over two decades of a meteoric career, Breaking Benjamin made a name for itself. Yes, although most of its Nü Metal peers succumbed to new musical waves, they continue to make waves and tour the world.
This wasn’t an overnight phenomenon, but a restless commitment to excellence and a search for the ultimate crunching heavy tone.
Sit tight and get ready to reach up to new lows because this is a tale of screaming fans, baritone guitars, and multi-platinum records.
Table of Contents
Breaking Benjamin started playing in 1999. In the early years, Benjamin Burnley, the band’s frontman, co-founder, and main composer was playing PRS guitars exclusively. After what he called being “charged for guitars” as an endorser, he moved to a trademark guitar company in heavy music: ESP.
He co-designed with them his signature guitar with a 27” baritone scale and a pair of mighty Seymour Duncan humbuckers. The ESP LTD BB-600 Ben Burnley Baritone sports a JB in the bridge and a ’59 in the neck position; both are fire red matching the fret indicators and contrasting the black figured-maple top.
But Burnley isn’t the only six-string force in the band; he plays with fellow guitar players Keith Wallen and Jasen Rauch. Keith and Jasen also rock ESP guitars favoring the ESP LTD EC-401 with EMGs or Seymour Duncans. Also, these players can reach those nasty down-tuned heavy riffs by playing an ESP LTD EC-1000 Baritone.
Finally, Rauch can also be spotted eventually with a Fender American Special Stratocaster modified to a single humbucker in the bridge.
For a cheaper baritone guitar, you can check this model by ESP.
The three players rely solely on the Axe-FX II for all effects processing. This powerful rack-mounted unit houses enough processing power to transform the guitar into anything the player wants and more.
That being said, if you’ve followed this band’s career, you’ll know their use of effects pedals is minimal. The only thing other than the Axe-FX II that you can see them do live is to trigger other instruments via MIDI with their guitars. For this, they use a Roland GR-55 with a Roland GK-3 device installed on the guitars.
Unfortunately, the synthesizers can’t be replaced with cheaper options, but you can surely replace the Boss ME-80, for example.
Although Breaking Benjamin started playing Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifiers like most of that generation of bands did. Even Brad Delson of Linkin Park uses it. Yet, valve-driven amps and riffs that involve gaps in your playing aren’t really best friends. Also, the fast transients that playing that fast requires aren’t present in those amps.
Therefore, by 2007, the band was playing through solid-state Randall amps. These are solid-state amplifiers, capable of generating some serious dirt but also working transients lightning-fast while also adding some bright top end to the guitar tone.
Finally, by the time the band’s new lineup was announced in 2014, there were no real amplifiers on stage anymore.
Indeed, the entire band relies on the Axe-FX II for effects but also for amplifier emulation. That way, the amplifier tone you hear live is modeled with digital technology to resemble the heavy tones of a souped-up Marshall, Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, or Randall.
Moreover, Benjamin, Keith, and Jasen can switch from a pristine-clean Fender Twin Reverb to a mean, very-driven Randall with just one pedalboard stomp.
If you have the budget for an Axe-FX II, you can also try out a Kemper Profiling head which boasts 600 digital watts in the shape of any amp you can imagine driving any crowd crazy. On the other hand, if your budget is more limited, you can get a Line6 POD HD to do the same for a fraction of the price.
Some Amp Settings
Throughout their successful career, Breaking Benjamin guitarists have changed their tone to make it crunchier and heavier. Bear in mind that these settings are thought for a humbucker-equipped baritone guitar. If you’re transposing the band’s songs to play them on a regular guitar, make sure to adjust the treble accordingly.
Saturate (2002) & We Are Not Alone (2004)
- Volume: 7
- Gain: 8
- Treble: 7
- Mid: 3
- Bass: 6
Phobia (2006) & Dear Agony (2009)
- Volume: 7
- Gain: 9
- Treble: 8
- Mid: 5
- Bass: 5
Dark Before Dawn (2015) & Ember (2018)
- Volume: 8
- Gain: 7
- Treble: 7
- Mid: 6
- Bass: 5
The Bottom End
Breaking Benjamin has been touring the world and playing in front of thousands of people for over two decades. During that time, the band changed equipment, members, guitars, and record labels but never compromised the sound or the attitude. If you’re rocking, rock like them and make your on-stage dreams come true.