Opeth Amp Settings & Gear for that Prog Metal Guitar Tone!

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

Finding a band like Opeth is like coming across a pin in a hay pile. I mean, they started riding the Swedish death metal wave and slowly moved on to being one of the mightiest, more melodically complex, and haunting prog-rock numbers on the planet.

Throughout a stellar career of 13 records and over three decades, Opeth managed to show the world they could do pretty much any musical style they wanted within and beyond heavy metal.

Yes, Opeth has been pushing the boundaries of the genre for most of its career and, in this post, you’ll learn what were the tools used in the revolution. Moreover, you’ll also learn how to do it at home, and for a fraction of the price.

Opeth Guitars

Opeth has had many guitar and member changes throughout their lengthy career. Nevertheless, I’m focusing on the current lineup and their current gear. Since it’s a band that covers much of its material in every show, you shall be able to play every song in the catalog with the gear I’m about to mention.

Mikael Åkerfeldt

Mikael has been playing PRS guitars since the Blackwater Park album in 2001. That means his relationship with the brand has been going on strong for over 20 years.

His guitars of choice are P-24s with a fat, vintage neck. He plays the P line because they come equipped with the piezo system. That is paramount for the band to make quick shifts from electrics to acoustics at the flick of a switch.

Mikael tours with three different iterations of the same instrument, he plays a white one, a green one, and a blue one. He also tours with a PRS McCarty with a fixed bridge and a piezo pickup for “Sorceress”, a song tuned to a double A on top (I guess you could call it a drop-A tuning?).

Finally, the last guitar in Mikael’s vault is a white PRS P-24 tuned half-step down to start the show easy on the vocals.

Fredrik Åkesson

On the other side of the Opeth stage, Fredrik plays another assortment of PRS guitars.

His main one is a black PRS P-245 with dual outputs for piezo and magnetic pickups. It’s a strange sight because it features a flame maple neck with a maple fingerboard. His backup to that one is another P-245 with a rosewood fingerboard and sunburst finish.

Another guitar in Fredrik’s vault is a PRS Tremonti model for what he calls “some Alan Holdsworth jazzy vibe”. It features a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge position and a whammy bar, which is a unique feature for a single-cut guitar.

According to Fredrik, early on with Opeth, he used the classic ’59 and JB Seymour Duncan configuration but has since turned to PRS pickups. He loves the 5815. What does he love about those pickups? Well, opposite to what you and I thought, he likes not-so-hot pickups for more dynamics and room to work with the amp’s distortion.

The final two guitars are a PRS P-22 to play “Sorceress” with that weird tuning, and a PRS P-24 in gray charcoal finish with a whammy bar. This last one used to be his number one instrument but he’s not using the whammy bar so much in solos lately and prefers the stop tailpiece.

The guitars you could use to replicate their tones would ideally be a PRS Custom P-24 from the brand’s core series.

If that’s too much for your budget, you could replace it with a PRS SE Hollowbody Standard Piezo. If you choose to go that way, beware of the problems a hollow instrument might bring when coupled with high gain.

If that’s also away from your budget, you could just ditch the acoustic part and go for a much more affordable (and not for that less cool) PRS SE CE 24.

Opeth Effects Pedals

Mikael Åkerfeldt

  • Fractal AX8 – This is a huge platform that Mikael only uses to add some echo, delay, and reverb to the guitar signal. He also uses it to change between the amp sounds, but more on that in a bit. You could replace it with a Hall of Fame and a Carbon Copy, easily, and for a fraction of the price.

  • Cry Baby Wah 95Q – The quintessential Wah sound every player needs on his/her board with an added boost.
  • Small Stone Phaser – Believe it or not, Mikael didn’t like the AXFX phaser so he added an EHX Nano Small Stone phaser outside the Fractal.
  • TC Electronic Bodyrez – The Bodyrez by TC is a single-knob acoustic pickup enhancer. It does what it says, it makes the sound of standard piezo pickups more realistic.

Fredrik Åkesson

  • Strymon Volante – The Volante is a tape machine emulation by Strymon. Although it sounds like nothing else out there, you could replace it with the DECO, the Boss RE-202 Space Echo, or the Boss RE-2 Space Echo for a tighter budget.
  • Xotic EP Booster – The EP Booster is a great almost clean booster to lift the volumes for solos.
  • MXR Phase 95 – A great phaser to add flavors here and there.
  • Boss OC-2 Octave – This old-school octave pedal by Boss is great for thickening up riffs and leads. You could replace it with an OC-3.

  • TC Electronic Flashback Delay – This is a great delay pedal that Fredrik uses to add more psychedelic effects to his playing.
  • The Fuzztner by Olsson Amps (with high octave) – Adding fuzz to a high-gain signal? Fredrik says yes! Moreover, with the high octave on it becomes an evil version of the Band of Gypsies. You could replace it with an MXR Blue Box.
  • Vibe Machine – Speaking of Hendrix tones, this is a great pedal for that whole psychedelic thing. You could replace it with an MXR UniVibe.

  • One Control Tremolo – A great tremolo pedal is always welcome. If you can’t get this boutique one, you can go for a simple Boss TR-2.
  • Dunlop Volume Pedal – For cleaning up the sounds, this pedal stays in front of the amps and works similarly to the volume pot on your guitar.
  • Dunlop 95Q Wah – Just the standard Wah sound with an added boost for solos.
  • EFX-LE Musicom switcher – To avoid tap dancing while playing, Fredrik controls amps and effects with this switcher. You could replace it with the Boss ES-5.

Opeth Amplifiers

Although they have been playing through English-made tube heads most of their career (think Marshall and Laney), recently, Synergy approached the band with their products. As a result, they’re no longer carrying tube heads on the road.

Frederik is using a Steve Vai module for clean and crunch and a Soldano SLO100 for rhythm and lead tones.

Everything goes into a power amp made by Synergy and Frayette with 4 6L6s boasting 100 watts of pure tube power. Mikael has the same setup but uses the Friedman DS and the SLO100 modules.

The cool thing about Synergy products is that you can switch the preamps while everything is up and running like a cassette. Also, everything is controlled via a MIDI footswitch.

You could get close using something like a Marshall JVM410H, the new (and amazing) Soldano Astro 20, a Blackstar HT20RH, or even a Blackstar Dept. 10 AMPED 3

Some Amp Settings

Clean Tones

  • Volume – 3
  • Gain – 2
  • Treble – 8
  • Middle – 5
  • Bass – 7
  • Presence – 8

Crunch Tones

  • Volume – 5
  • Gain – 5
  • Treble – 7
  • Middle – 7
  • Bass – 7
  • Presence – 5

Heavy Rhythm Tones

Volume – 7

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

Lead Tones

  • Volume – 9
  • Gain – 10
  • Treble – 9
  • Middle – 8
  • Bass – 6
  • Presence – 7

The Bottom End

Opeth is a band with an immense level of layering and complexity. They have been working on their craft for over three decades, and trying to recreate the tones of 13 records is not at all easy.

So, use your ears and my advice as your guide to learning those crushing riffs, beautiful melodies, and mammoth guitar chords sounding just like these Swedish metal masters.

Happy (prog metal) 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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