Buckethead Amp Settings to Achieve His Signature Guitar Tone!

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

Who’s the man behind the mask? Who’s the shredder in disguise transforming crowds into fans? Moreover, who’s the guy that plays so amazingly well that he can fill the shoes of no other than guitar God Slash?

Well, I’m not here to talk about the man behind the mask but his otherworldly tone. Yes, Buckethead might remain a mystery to most humans, but after you read this piece, his tone will be completely revealed.

I don’t mean you should go buy a KFC bucket, but you should stretch your fingers and play a lot because this shredder has some surprises under the hood.

This is a one-way ticket to weird land and it takes off right now.


If you’ve seen Buckethead play live, you’ll know that he’s a Les Paul man. Yes, his guitar is as strange, personal, and powerful as he is. But let’s rewind a little to his beginnings.

Buckethead is a guitar virtuoso, and as such, he was playing the super strats that were the go-to instrument for shredders during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. He used a myriad of models including Kramer, Heartfield, and ESP, among others.

These guitars featured Floyd Rose tremolos, super-high-output humbuckers, and thin, fast necks. In today’s guitar market, we could say a Kramer Pacer and an ESP LTD M-1000. Back in the day, Buckethead equipped his guitars with the almighty Dimarzio X2N pickups. Sadly, they don’t make them in furious pink as he used them back then.

Besides the super strat, Buckethead could be seen playing Flying Vs quite a lot. Perhaps, the most famous was his Jackson KV2 painted in the same colors as his future Les Paul Custom signature guitar. For a cheaper alternative, you can also buy the Jackson X-Series Signature Scott Ian King V for less than a quarter of the price.

All these guitars were Buckethead’s favorites until he arrived at his signature model, an alpine white Gibson Les Paul Custom with a 27” scale, dual arcade-like kill switches, and a chambered body.

This guitar has been discontinued by Gibson and although you can still get one in the used market, the best replacement would be either a Gibson Les Paul Custom (the ebony fretboard brings a snap to the sound that’s a must for Buckethead’s tone) or an Ibanez 27” scale Prestige RGA622XH.

If all of these guitars are out of your range, you can always go for the Epiphone version of the Les Paul Custom.


Just like with guitars, Buckethead played through all kinds of high-gain amplifiers throughout his prolific career. In the early days, he used his super strats into a Peavey 5150, which was the most popular sound of the time with a heavy focus on the midrange. The Peavey 5150 became the 6505, which is the closest you can get today (more on this in a bit).

After his Peavey era, Buckethead entered the Mesa Boogie period in which he used Triple Rectifier heads exclusively. These are all-valve beasts that can boast 150 watts of massively distorted tone. Soon after, the influence of the Guns n’ Roses said hello and Buckethead plugged his Les Paul guitars into a Marshall JVM head which is also a very dirty, nasty, distorted head.

Finally, he arrived at his current guitar amp which is the newest version of the EVH 5150 made by Fender. He uses 50-watt heads and prefers them white, just like the guitars (and the buckets!).


Although Buckethead is a virtuoso pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with his own fingers, he also does some face-melting and some reality-bending through some effect boxes. Let me go through the most important ones.

To begin with, the Digitech Whammy 5 and the Dunlop Cry Baby 535q are a must. Next in line, Buckethead’s devotion to Edward Van Halen is represented in his playing, his amp of choice, but also the EVH phaser on his pedalboard.

To open the vortex to a different galaxy and do some really crazy stuff, Buckethead turns his Electro Harmonix Micro Synthesizer. Finally, for his soaring leads and face-melting tones he relies on the amp’s distortion and an Alesis MidiVerb II.

Buckethead Amp Settings – Some Tones

Early 5150 Era

  • Volume – 8
  • Gain – 9
  • Bass – 3
  • Middle – 4
  • Treble – 7
  • Presence – 8

Mesa Boogie Era

  • Volume – 7
  • Gain – 9
  • Bass – 5
  • Middle – 5
  • Treble – 7
  • Presence – 7

Marshall Era

  • Volume – 8
  • Gain – 9
  • Bass – 6
  • Middle – 4
  • Treble – 7
  • Presence – 7

EVH5150 Era

  • Volume – 9
  • Gain – 8
  • Bass – 5
  • Middle – 5
  • Treble – 8
  • Presence – 5

The Bottom End

Few guitar players on the planet can do with a guitar what Buckethead can. Use his tone to reveal your true colors; dare to be unique and never look back.

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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.

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