Chris Stapleton Amp Settings – A Guide to Emulate His Guitar Tone!

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

Chris Stapleton is partially responsible for country music’s worldwide boom. Yes, besides winning 8 Grammy Awards, 14 CMA Awards (Country Music Association), and 10 ACM Awards (Academy of Country Music) he co-wrote over 170 songs.

Some of the names of his companions on the adventure were artists the size of Kelly Clarkson, Adele, Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift, Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill, Sheryl Crow, Ed Sheeran, and Peter Frampton, among many others.

Finally, Chris was also named the ACM’s Artist-Songwriter of the Decade.

With those credentials, I have more than enough reasons to dissect his tone and teach you how to achieve it at home.

Are you ready for a trip to the country music elite? Fasten the seatbelt because here we go!

Chris Stapleton’s Electric Guitars

Although most players in country music rely heavily on a telecaster or a Stratocaster, Chris Stapleton is known for rocking a ’62 American reissue Fender Jazzmaster. Moreover, he owns and plays two of them: an Olympic White and a Sunburst.

If your budget doesn’t cover Fender’s American Original Series, you can go for the more affordable Fender Vintera series.

Besides the Jazzmasters, you can spot him on the stage bringing crowds to awe with his Gibson ES-335 in a natural blonde finish. This guitar has quite a hefty price tag, but worry not because there is an Epiphone version you can rock as well.

Finally, he could also be seen on the stage with a Fender “Nashville” telecaster. This guitar receives that name because it is a telecaster with three pickups that session players in Nashville (the mecca of music recording in the USA) used a lot to accommodate all sounds in a single guitar.

As for the choice of Jazzmasters and the ES-335, the low output of vintage PAF-style humbuckers and the maple-made hollow body give the guitar a bass-oriented sound that’s close to that of the soap bar pickups the Jazzmasters have.

Chris Stapleton’s Amplifiers

Chris Stapleton is one of the few guitar players in history to have a custom amp made by Fender. But that’s not all, because the brand with the big F revived a long-discontinued amp just to please Chris’s ears (and yours).

Fender Signature ’62 Princeton Amp

The brown face version of the Fender Princeton Amp was made until the early sixties and then discontinued until Chris Stapleton knocked on Fender’s doors.

The reason he went to Fender’s factory was he needed an amp that could carry the signature sound and mojo of his original Princeton but that was reliable enough to rock the world (literally speaking). As you might know, taking a 60+ year amp on the road around the planet could be a potential pitfall every night.

Fender’s response was “why don’t we build you the amp you dream of and make it available to the public?” The rest, as they say, is country stardom history.

Here you can see the man himself talking about his signature amp.

No Reverb, Just Stellar Tremolo

The first thing that strikes you about Chris’s version of the Princeton amp is that he didn’t choose any reverb version. Indeed, his signature amp doesn’t have any reverb at your disposal. Yet, it makes up for that loss with one of the most revered Fender tremolos in history: brown face tremolo.

According to Chris (and if you’ve played a blackface Fender amp you’ll know) Fender stopped doing the traditional tremolo system and the effect turned into a wobbly vibrato rather than the quintessential sound.

This amp features brown face tremolo and, believe me, you’ll want to leave it on at all times. Furthermore, you won’t miss the reverb one bit.

If your budget doesn’t allow you to buy the signature version of this amp, you can get a much more affordable Fender Blues Jr. and a tremolo pedal like this.

Chris Stapleton’s Effect Pedals

Speaking of pedals, Chris Stapleton has a no-frills approach to this category. The only things you’ll see him rocking on stage are a Brown Box, which is an attenuator that allows him to crank his amp without killing anyone, and a Small Stone. This is a very old phaser pedal by Electro Harmonix that he uses to just add a little texture to the sound.

Dialing in Chris Stapleton’s Tone

The Fender Princeton Chris Stapleton signature amp only has one knob to fine-tune the amp’s tone called “Tone”.

Next to that one, you have the “Volume” knob that adjusts volume and gain (this is a no-master volume amp). Finally, the other two controls are for the stellar tremolo (speed and intensity).

Why is this simple layout enough for this country star? Well, he works the dynamics from the instrument and lets the amplifier’s own organic harmonic overtones take care of the rest. This way, if he digs harder with his picking hand, the amp gets louder and dirtier and the opposite is if he softens the attack.

Perhaps, the only two things you need to bear in mind are to put the volume knob past noon and before 3 o’clock and to lower the “tone” knob if you have a bright guitar and vice versa for dark guitars.

Since the Jazzmaster and ES-335 are quite dark-sounding, he uses the tone knob mostly between 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock.

Settings on his amp usually are:

  • Volume – 7
  • Tone – 4 to 7
  • Speed – 3
  • Intensity – 4

Here are some Chris Stapleton classics you can emulate at home:

Nobody to Blame

  • Volume – 8
  • Tone – 5
  • Speed – 1
  • Intensity – 1
  • Small Stone Pedal ON


  • Volume – 4
  • Tone – 7
  • Speed – 1
  • Intensity – 1


  • Volume – 4
  • Tone – 5
  • Speed – 1
  • Intensity – 1

The Bottom End

Chris Stapleton’s tone is organic, natural, and utterly transparent. He works his hands and amps to get the dynamics he needs to play the nuances of every song. Trying to obtain his tone is going back to the source; so, unplug all your pedals, dial-in amp, and guitar first, and try to add your effects later.

That is the secret to songwriter stardom.

Happy playing!

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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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