Iron Maiden Amp Settings – Sound Like Dave Murray & Adrian Smith!

Author: Dedrich Schafer | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

One of the most recognizable bands, not only in metal but in all of music, Iron Maiden has established themselves as true icons.

Their sound is unique, not just because of their three guitarists, but for simply being unlike anything else in metal. But how do Iron Maiden’s guitarists get their sound?

Let us take a look at two of them, the gear they use, and some amp settings to try and figure out how to sound like Iron Maiden.

Guitars

Dave and Adrian have fairly similar tastes when it comes to guitars. Both are regular Fender Strat and Gibson Les Paul players.

They do, however, also play different guitars from time to time. So, instead of just mentioning the Fenders and Gibsons they play, I will go over the guitars that they are each more associated with.

Dave’s Guitars

Out of the two of them, Dave Murray is perhaps more considered the Fender player.

First up is Dave’s Signature Stratocaster. It has a fairly unique triple humbucker pickup setup and features a Floyd Rose locking tremolo system.

While the Dave Murray Signature isn’t extremely expensive, Squier has a much more budget-friendly alternative. The Squier Contemporary has two humbuckers for a heavier sound and a similar Floyd Rose tremolo.

Adrian’s Guitars

While he is a Fender player, Adrian Smith can also often be seen playing Jackson guitars. He does still stick with the super Strat shape.

Smith has his own USA Signature model. His signature guitar also comes in a more affordable version with the X Series Signature.

Gibson

Both Smith and Murray are big fans of the Gibson Les Paul. It is a big part of their live performances and they are regularly seen playing these classic guitars.

The Les Paul Standard is often the choice for professional guitarists like Smith and Murray. However, the Les Paul Tribute is an equally exceptional guitar.

The Epiphone Les Paul Standard is also a great option for anyone on a budget.

Amps

While there is also some variety in the amps that Smith and Murray use, there is one constant: they both use Marshalls.

Their cabinets are basically the same. Either 1960As or 1960Bs. These are functionally the same 300-watt cabinets, one is just angled and the other straight.

The amp heads they use are where the difference comes in. Adrian Smith uses a Marshall DSL100, while Dave Murray uses a JVM, likely the JVM210.

The DSL40 and DSL5 are both great combo amps that will still get you very close to the Iron Maiden sound, specifically Smith’s. While the CODE 50 is a great modeling amp with a bit more power that will allow you to switch between Smith and Murray’s specific tones.

Pedals

Going over each guitarist’s pedalboards would take all day to get through. Instead, I will highlight the most important pedals that appear in their setups that can be used for either.

Dunlop Cry Baby

The industry standard. It makes sense for the Cry Baby Wah to be a part of any pedalboard, not just that of guitarists like Smith and Murray.

Distortion

For Smith, it is the legendary TS808, and for Murray, the MXR Distortion+.

The TS808 might be the more well-known of the two, but don’t let the MXR’s yellow color fool you, it has no problem keeping up with a pedal like the TS808.

Both are fantastic distortion pedals that complement each other quite well.

Delay

Since they form only two parts of a three-guitar band, Smith and Murray use delay quite sparingly. Using delay during rhythm sections with so many guitars will only muddy the sound.

Both Smith and Murray reserve their use of delay for solos. Murray uses a TC Electronics Flashback, and Smith a Boss DD-3.

Chorus

To add some depth and color to their tone, both Smith and Murray use chorus pedals.

Smith has a bit more of a standard approach, opting for the ever-popular Boss CH-1. Murray, on the other hand, shows his Jimi Hendrix influences by using an MXR Uni-vibe.

Additional Pedals

While there are a ton of other pedals to go over, there are two that are worth mentioning.

The first is the MXR Phase 90. The Phase 90 was famously used by Eddie Van Halen to add extra dimension and depth to his playing.

Dave Murray uses the pedal to a similar effect. It is mainly used during extended harmony sections to thicken up his guitar sound.

The second pedal is the Boss CS-3. This is a compression pedal used by Adrian Smith to ensure that his sound is balanced.

This pedal helps to make loud parts softer and soft parts louder. This way your volume will be more balanced and you don’t have to constantly adjust your volume.

Amp Settings

For one of the biggest metal bands in the world, Iron Maiden’s sound is actually quite controlled and not that heavy.

Their sound is also quite balanced and rounded. There isn’t much of an emphasis on any one frequency range. However, they do lean a bit more to the bright side.

The bass is also kept quite low to ensure that you have a tight low end. The gain should also be kept fairly centered since Iron Maiden’s sound isn’t aggressively distorted.

A good starting point should look like this:

  • Bass – 4/5
  • Mids – 6/7
  • Treble – 7/8
  • Gain – 6/7

This should get you pretty close and you shouldn’t have to adjust too much for different songs. But here are the settings for a few different songs to help you know what to aim for.

Run to the Hills

  • Bass – 5
  • Mids – 7
  • Treble – 7
  • Gain – 7

The Trooper

  • Bass – 5
  • Mids – 7
  • Treble – 8
  • Gain – 5

The Number of the Beast

  • Bass – 4
  • Mids – 6
  • Treble – 8
  • Gain – 7

2 Minutes to Midnight

  • Bass – 4
  • Mids – 6
  • Treble – 8
  • Gain – 6

Conclusion

Just like their mascot, Eddie, the sound of Iron Maiden is unmistakable and uniquely Maiden. And with the right guitar, amp, and some fiddling with the settings, you can sound just as iconic.

About Dedrich Schafer

Dedrich is a guitar player, songwriter and sound engineer with extensive music production and studio experience. He mostly listens to classic rock and punk bands, but sometimes also likes listening to rap and acoustic songs.

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