Dimebag Darrell is one of the most iconic guitarists in all of metal. Not only for his raw talent and skill on the instrument but also for his unique sound.
It is only understandable to want to recreate his signature sound, but how exactly do you go about doing that?
That is why today I want to go over a basic amp setup and how to dial in your amp settings to emulate Dimebag’s raw and aggressive sound.
Before getting into the amp settings, I want to talk about which amps to use. Of course, you can use these settings on any amp, but only some will give you the right sound.
The first thing on the checklist: solid-state. You want a solid-state amp head because, as Dimebag puts it – “Solid-state to me is more in your face”. So, a high gain solid-state amp with raw, in-your-face power is going to be ideal.
Dimebag was a Randall player throughout his time with Pantera. The Randall RG1003H is a great and affordable modern version of his RG100ES.
The RG1003H can sometimes be a bit tricky to come by and second-hand ones are a bit expensive. In that case, I would go with either the Orange Crush Pro 120 or the Boss Katana MKII. Both are fantastic amp heads and cost about as much as the RG1003H.
You’d also want to pair your amp head with a cabinet powerful enough to really drive it. A no-brainer for me would be a Marshall cabinet. The MX212AR is my pick for a cabinet here. If you want something a bit more powerful, the MX412AR is basically the same but in a 240-watt package.
If your budget is a bit tight, you can also get a combo amp. Just stick with a solid state and make sure it has enough power. The Boss Katana-100 MKII or the Marshall MG50GFX are two great picks in my opinion.
Now that you have the right amp and cab, you can start to dial in Dimebag’s signature sound.
Unlike a lot of other guitar greats, Darrell’s sound was actually fairly straightforward. His tone is best described as “scooped mids” or often just simply “scooped”.
What this means is that you’re taking out or scooping the midrange while boosting the lows and highs. This creates a really punchy and beefy tone that has a nice bottom end that still cuts through the mix.
In other words, all you really have to do to recreate Darrell’s sound is to turn everything all the way up while turning the mids down. A little bit of tinkering might be needed to get it just right, but this is about as simple as it is.
From my experience though, having everything at just below max and the mids slightly above zero seems to be the sweet spot. I usually have my bass at around 8/8.5. Gain and treble I normally set to 9 and my mids hover around 2 and 3.
Depending on your amp you might need to tweak the settings a bit. If your amp has more natural bottom end, then simply dial it back a little. If you want a bit more attack and bite then you just need to turn up the gain and treble.
I would just be careful of clipping and noise. Some amps don’t handle max gain and treble too well. If you do get some clipping, even at 9, simply dial it back a little bit until the clipping disappears.
If your amp has a presence setting, like the Boss Katana, somewhere between 6 and 8 is fine and you can just set this to your preference. Dimebag did sometimes add a bit of reverb for pinched harmonics, but for the most part, I would leave this at zero.
Let me summarize that in a simple number layout for quick reference.
- Bass – 8/8.5
- Mid – 2/3
- Treble – 9/10
- Gain – 9/10
- Presence – 6-8
- Reverb – 0
And that is pretty much it. Recreating Dimebag Darrell’s iconic sound is as simple as getting a solid-state amp and turning everything up while scooping the mids.
Just remember that a guitarist’s sound isn’t just in the settings on an amp or the gear. It is just as much in the way they play.
We will never be able to recreate another guitarist’s sound perfectly, but we can get fairly close by setting our gear up just right.