Mick Mars Amp Settings – Achieve that Motley Crue Guitar Tone!

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

Motley Crue was one of the biggest metal bands in the ‘80s and ‘90s. And just as big as the band itself was guitarist Mick Mars’ massive guitar sound.

His sound was and still is the driving force behind their most recognizable songs. And to recreate his sound, you are going to need the right gear and settings.

Mick’s Guitars

Like so many other metal guitarists of the ‘80s, Mick Mars was an avid Gibson player. The early days of Motley Crue were marked by his Gibson Customs.

The most notable one is the 1972 Custom Les Paul that he started out with. He also played a Flying V Custom from time to time.

Mars also played a BC Rich Warlock during the early days of Motley Crue. But he quickly moved away from BC Rich and Gibson in favor of lighter guitars. This was largely due to back problems that he struggled with.

Mars started playing Kramer guitars. The first model he played was the Baretta. He only played the Baretta for a short period of time before having a custom Telecaster made by Kramer.

Being a custom-built guitar, a Kramer Tele is very hard to come by these days. Kramer also doesn’t make Tele shapes anymore.

Mars didn’t play the Kramer Tele for long, either, as it had the same weight issues as Gibson and BC Rich. After Kramer, Mars made the jump over to Fender, which he still plays to this day.

He prefers playing worn Strats. His current main guitar is a Fender Strat that he modified with humbuckers similar to the Player and American Professional II series made by Fender today.

Mick’s Amps

Just like with Gibson, there was only really one choice in the ‘80s when it came to amps: Marshall. Mick Mars used the same Marshall as so many other guitarists, the JCM800. He still uses the JCM800 to this day, but he has also expanded his amp rig.

To round out his guitar sound more, he combines his Marshall with a Soldano SLO-100. The SLO-100 is a much more modern-sounding amp that also helps to tighten up the sound a bit.

Alongside the Soldano, Mars also uses a Rivera Bonehead to bring out the bottom end of his sound and for additional coloring. The Bonehead is no longer in production, but the Knucklehead is a great alternative.

These amp heads are quite expensive, but Marshall and Soldano have lower-powered, more affordable models with the ORI20H and SLO Mini respectively.

These are then paired with either Marshall or Soldano cabinets, like the ORI412A or Soldano 212.

Mick’s Pedals

For the most part, Mars’ sound comes directly from his guitar and amps. He doesn’t use any additional distortion or boost pedals.

Rather, he uses an extensive collection of expensive rack-mounted units to further shape and boost his sound.

He does use some pedal-controlled effects on occasion, however. Most notably a wah pedal and a talk box. He uses a rack-mounted wah but does control it with a Dunlop Cry Baby. And uses both a Heil Sound and a Rocktron Banshee for his talk box effects.

Mick’s Amp Settings

For the Motley Crue sound, you basically want to go with an ‘80s metal sound. Turn up the bass and treble, dial back the mids a little for a slightly scooped sound, and tons of gain.

Because Mick plays with multiple amps at the same time, each one will be set slightly differently to highlight certain parts of the sound. But if you are just using one amp, then the following settings should get you pretty close to Motley Crue’s sound:

  • Bass – 6
  • Mids – 4
  • Treble – 6
  • Presence – 4
  • Gain – 9

If you are using two amps, for example, have one set up as your main with the above settings, and the other with slightly higher bass and mids.

Here are a few of Motley Crue’s most famous songs to help guide you, or if you just want a quick reference for certain songs.

Kick-Start My Heart

  • Bass – 6
  • Mids – 4
  • Treble – 6
  • Presence – 5
  • Gain – 8

Dr. Feelgood

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

Girls, Girls, Girls

  • Bass – 6
  • Mids – 5
  • Treble – 5
  • Presence – 5
  • Gain – 6


To become one of the biggest bands in metal, you not only needed the right attitude but the right sound. Motley Crue had the attitude and Mick Mars provided the right sound with his huge guitar tone.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Mick Mars Amp Settings – Achieve that Motley Crue Guitar Tone!”

    • No presence is sort of like how “in-your-face-bright” is the treble in the overall sound and how much clarity the sound has.


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