Cory Wong Amp Settings & Gear – Pull Off His Guitar Tone!

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

I’m lucky enough to live in a house with a big yard. Well, that’s the good news, what’s not so good about it is having to trim the lawn. But every time I do it, I put on some headphones and listen to Cory Wong talk to some of my favorite artists about guitar tones.

That’s how I got to know Cory and then I became absolutely obsessed with his use of the right hand and the speed in which his brain operates. He’s truly a rhythm master and a one-of-a-kind player.

So, after I had a shower and changed clothes I sat down and heard Cory play trying to mimic his moves and his tone. Believe me, I got close!

Here’s what I found out.

Cory Wong Guitars

Let me begin by saying that Cory Wong is a Strat guy. That’s 100% where his tone lives. I mean, you probably know that the in-between position of the pickup selector is key to playing anything related to funk and neo-soul. Well, Cory Wong takes that statement to its pinnacle.

He kind of had his breakthrough playing a Highway One Stratocaster. This is a line of guitars Fender released as the most affordable USA-made Stratocaster in their range. It had different names throughout the years, like American Special, for example.

Cory Wong found out that his guitar’s body was 2% smaller than a regular Strat. Therefore, to his ears, the transients when he plays are faster than in any other guitar. That was why he initially gravitated to a guitar costing a fraction of what other guitars in his collection cost.

So, Fender decided to create the Cory Wong signature Stratocaster which is a mix between the Highway One he loved so much and an American Ultra model. Indeed, the size of the body is 2% smaller and represents that faster transient but the super-fast D-shaped neck, the 10 to 14” radius, and the thicker headstock are more like the Ultra.

Also, the guitar features his signature pickups, the Seymour Duncan Cory Wong Clean Machine pickups. Speaking of which, the bridge pickup features hum-canceling technology while the middle and neck don’t. Nevertheless, the entire guitar circuit is treated to be silent without a noise gate.

Another cool feature of the Cory Wong signature is that the second tone knob works as a “panic button”. Yes, if he ever pushes the pickup selector away from the fourth position, where he stays 90% of the show, he pushes the knob, and the slider switch becomes deactivated while the guitar is stuck in the fourth position.

Finally, the body is made of alder and sports a maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard. Speaking of body and neck, the joint is much like the Ultra with a heavy contour and a reduced heel so the upper frets are easily accessible.

To finish this segment off, let me tell you that Cory Wong plays his signature guitar every night and travels with three identical guitars. All of them can be one that he picked up from the dealer the same day. He usually sells one of the three at the end of the show in the merch booth.

Speaking of which, to replicate his sound you can get a Cory Wong Signature or a Fender Stratocaster American Ultra.

If your budget isn’t that bulky, then a Fender Player Plus Stratocaster or a Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster can be a good option too.

Cory Wong Effects Pedals

What are the effects between the amp and the Cory Wong signature Stratocaster? Well, the pedalboard that Cory Wong put together is a one-of-a-kind pedal collection that quenches this guitarist’s need for loud, ultra-clean, percussive tones.

These are the pedals that can’t go missing from the equation when he plays.

  • Compressor – Compressor and funk guitar are a match made in heaven. You need a compressor to keep the sound loud, pumping, percussive, and extra-clean. Well, Cory Wong chooses the Wampler Super Ego.
  • Wah – Another great funky effect is the Wah pedal. Yeah, I know, It’s also a quintessential piece of guitar equipment for any rock and roller. Well, you should hear the way Cory uses it; it’s killer. You can use a regular Dunlop GCB-95 Cry Baby.

  • Reverb – Although Cory doesn’t use reverb in most of his set, he does have a Strymon Big Sky he uses for lush, cascading, epic-sounding reverbs. You can use the smaller Blue Sky or even a Hall of Fame.
  • Envelope Filter – No funky rig would be complete without an envelope filter (AKA Auto-Wah). Cory uses the GFI System Rossie but you could also do it with a regular Q-Tron.
  • Fuzz – I bet you didn’t expect to see a fuzz here. Well, Cory seldom plays it. It’s a very particular one that, sound-wise, is closer to St. Vincent and Jack White than to Gilmour. It’s the Beetronics FX Vezzpa.
  • Overdrive – None of us can live without a bit of overdrive in our lives. Cory helped design the Jackson Audio Optimist but if that seems too expensive, a regular TS-808 can do it too.

  • Octave – Finally, an octave pedal is also a funk machine. So, if you want to play those cool percussive lines with the octave following your lead, you need an octave pedal. He plays a simple TC Electronic Sub n Up.

Cory Wong Amplifiers

Cory Wong needs a loud, clean tone. He started out with Fender Super Reverbs and Twin Reverbs. The thing is that half-show, tubes would get warmer and he would lose the ultra-clean factor. He then switched to Roland JC-120, a trademark for clean sounds around the world. But he didn’t like the way those take drive pedals.

Finally, he settled with a pair of Eric Gales Signature DV RAW DAWG heads into separate cabinets to create a true stereo rig.

Eric’s amp is a hybrid unit with a solid-state, pristine-clean power section and a valve-driven preamp. Therefore, it keeps everything pumping and clean while reacting perfectly to the drive pedals.

Dialing Cory Wong’s tone

Cory Wong’s tone from an EQ point of view is the closest to “everything at noon” you can get. Indeed, what he looks for is the purest form of his right-hand attack to come out of the speakers. The only thing he does is cut off a couple of points from the middle knob to keep the mud out and get those glassy super-high Strat tones.

Cory Wong Amp Settings

  • Volume – 5
  • Gain – 3
  • Bass – 5
  • Middle – 3
  • Treble – 5
  • Presence – 5

The Bottom End

Cory Wong created a whole musical universe where he’s the king. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a well-deserved nobiliary title because he is indeed the king of the funky strummers. What I’m trying to say is that before his appearance in music’s mainstream, nobody did what he did.

So, oil up that picking hand and get ready to get ultra-fast with ultra-clean tones.

Happy (and funky!) 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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