Loathe Guitar Tone & Amp Settings Guide with Complete Gear

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

Dark smoke takes over the stage and four guys come out looking like supercharged nerds about to take you for a ride. Yes, Loathe is one of the few bands on Earth that can combine two genres as far apart as metal and shoegaze and transform them into one unique style.

But the thing is the tone. Their tone is complex, out-of-boundary rich in lows but still powerful, punchy, and rocking.

If you too wonder how Loathe can do the music they make, I have a lot to tell you. I’ve spent much time trying to nail their tone and I’m about to share that knowledge with you how. Not only that, I’m going to name a few alternatives so you can do it at home and for less.

Erik Bickerstaffe Guitars

Eric Bickerstaffe is the only guitar player in Loathe at the moment. This wasn’t always the case since Connor Sweeny was also playing guitar from the band’s formation in 2014 until September 2021.

Since Eric has been the only guitar player in Loathe for the past three years, I will take his gear as a guide to reach the lost island of Loathe’s tone.

So, to begin with, Eric plays baritone guitars. In case you didn’t know, a baritone guitar is a guitar with a longer scale that can take lower tunings and thicker strings. For example, a regular Gibson scale is 24 ¾”, PRS is 25”, and Fender is 25.5” while baritone guitars’ scales go to 27”, 29”, or 30”.

Eric is known for playing mainly two baritone models, a Squier Modified Baritone Jazzmaster, and a Gretsch G5260 Electromatic Jet Baritone.

The Jazzmaster has been discontinued by Squier but the good news is that the Squier Paranormal Baritone Cabronita Telecaster also comes with a 27” scale to withstand the weight of the low .105” string.

Although these are rather inexpensive instruments, they do need some proper setup to play the tunings Loathe uses which is C#AEADF#.

But that’s not all, because, in a recent Audiotree session, Eric brought a new toy to play with. Yes, he unveiled an aged candy apple red (kind of copper-looking) delightful new Fender Stratocaster from their Ultra line. This is a silent, modern Stratocaster that none of us ever thought could sound like that. Well, tuned ADADGB, and with a huge amount of distortion, that’s exactly how it sounds.

If you can’t get an American Ultra Stratocaster, perhaps a Fender Player Plus Stratocaster or a Squier Contemporary Stratocaster could do the trick too.

Erik Bickerstaffe Effects

In the Audiotree session, the pedalboard that Erik had at his feet was very minimal. This tells us two things.

One, all the growling, end-of-the-world distortion is coming from the amplifier. Two, all the other effects we hear are triggered from a multi-effects unit.

So, the contents of the pedalboard are:

  • Digitech Whammy V – The Whammy is a pitch shifter with an expression pedal. You’ve probably seen players like Dimebag Darrell and Jack White use it extensively for fireworks and solos.

  • Boss Dimension C – The Boss Dimension C is a chorus pedal that comes with four preset buttons instead of any knobs. If you can afford it, it’s a great-sounding Chorus pedal you’ll probably fall in love with. Otherwise, a Boss Super Chorus can do the job too.
  • Boss TU-3 – The most important pedal of all time is a tuner. Erik uses this Boss pedal to keep the weird low tunings of his instruments perfect throughout the show.

Now, the piece of rack that Erik has played through most of his career is a Line6 POD HD PRO. Any changes are very likely made to the rack unit along with all the sequenced tracks being launched behind the band playing.

This is a cool video in which former band member Connor Sweeny talks about the band’s rig in 2019. In it, he clearly mentions the POD HD Pro.

Erik Bickerstaffe Amps

What amps are capable of transforming the hot magma of the ultra-low distorted guitar sound into airwaves? Well, as you might have seen in the video above, Loathe used Line 6 POD HD Pro rack units connected to an EHX Caliber .44 power amp and then to cabinets on the stage.

At the same time, Line 6 went straight to the front of the house to be blasted through the PA system.

But lately, Erik has been using Hiwatt amps live. The amp in the Audiotree session is a Hiwatt DR504 and he can be seen live using a full stack with two matching Hiwatt 4×12 cabinets.

That’s what I call a low-end tower.

Well, Hiwatts aren’t so easy to find in the USA, but they are a version of the Orange and Marshall tube heads of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Erik Bickerstaffe was part of the Orange family of endorsees not so long ago.

If you have a big budget, I would go for the great-sounding Orange Rockerverb 100 MKIII and the Marshall 1987X.

For a tighter budget, a Marshall ORI50H, and an Orange Dark Terror would do the job.

Loathe Amp Settings

Bear in mind that these settings are for a distorted amp. In case you want to use a distortion pedal and a clean amp (cranking that Marshall Plexi or Hiwatt requires no neighbors), set it to full volume and gain and work your way back to the sweet spot.

Finally, also bear in mind these are baritone guitars tuned to A, C#, or E.

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

The Bottom End

Loathe is a unique band that has been making way to fit their uncanny good taste in the musical landscape for the past decade. As a result of their talent and hard work, they’re considered one of the most interesting alternative heavy bands in the world today.

You can practice copying their songs but you can also follow their advice and try to find something unique using their tools.

Happy (heavy and low-tuned) 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.

2 thoughts on “Loathe Guitar Tone & Amp Settings Guide with Complete Gear”

  1. thank you for this, I just got an OR15H and it sounds killer and works in getting those loathe tones, but a little more on the crunchier side. Developing a pedalboard centered around that heavy fuzz that Loathe uses throughout their discography.

    • Or15 didnt cut it returning , would the th30 get me similar tones? Looking into the origin 50, what pedals would be best to get that loathe tone?


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