Parkway Drive Amp Settings & Gear – Complete Guitar Tone Guide!

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

Seven albums, three ARIA Awards, and 20 years after being formed, Parkway Drive is more alive and current than ever. Indeed, the Australian fivesome took some time off in early 2022 which was a warning sign for fans all over the planet. The good news is that they’re back for good and rocking harder than ever.

I’m one of those concerned fans who has been on a quest to copy their sound close enough so I can play their riffs loudly on a Sunday morning. I have to say, although my neighbors hate me, I dialed it in pretty close.

Here’s what I found out and how to sound like Parkway Drive from home. Just try to avoid Sunday morning practice, believe me, it annoys people.

Parkway Drive Guitars

The guitars that have been driving the band forward for the past two decades have changed substantially. I’m going to focus on what they’re playing right now. Don’t worry, this is also the gear they use to play old songs now, so I got you covered.

Jeff Ling

Jeff Ling’s guitar playing is backed up by a Japanese brand that has been a pillar for metal and hard rock bands in the world for the past couple of decades. According to Jeff, his choice of a super-Strat E-II guitar comes from being a fan of Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and seeing him playing one.

But Jeff’s ESP E-II Jeff Ling JL-1 M-II isn’t as flashy or colorful as Kirk’s guitars are. On the contrary, it was designed to be bulletproof during Parkway Drive’s extensive touring and heart-stopping live shows. It features an alder body with a neck-through construction. This enhances sustain as well as the string-through-body design.

The electronics are very simple, a single volume control and a three-way switch to control the guitar’s EMG 81 and 60 pickups. Again, Kirk’s choice during most of Metallica’s career.

You could replace that guitar with a more affordable incarnation such as the ESP LTD M-Black Metal, or the more affordable versions of Kirk Hammett’s signature guitar (with double-locking tremolo and three pots) the KH-602, or the super affordable KH-202.

I’m sure Jeff won’t mind you playing Parkway Drive riffs using his hero’s signature guitar.

Other than that one, Jeff also plays an ESP Eclipse equipped with an Evertune bridge, and a Fishman Fluence pickup in the bridge position. A guitar you could easily replace with a more affordable ESP LTD EC-401.

Luke Kilpatrick

On the other side of the stage, Luke Kilpatrick is also rocking a signature ESP guitar.

He’s currently got two models out. One is the E-II LK-1 Luke Kilpatrick and the other is the LK-600. Both guitars feature a mahogany body for that heavy chugging sound with a maple cap to keep things out of the mud. Also, both guitars feature a neck-through construction with a maple neck and an ebony fretboard.

Also, both guitars feature the same string-through-body design for added sustain and more growl.

Electronics-wise, Luke plays an EMG 81 in the bridge and a 60 in the neck position. Also, both guitars are finished in black with the PWD logo on the twelfth fret and see-in-the-dark dot markers on top of the neck.

Although the LK-1 and the LK-600 share most of the specs, they are made in different factories and belong to different lines within the ESP/LTD guitar catalog. Therefore, there’s a substantial difference in their price.

You could get similar tones with an ESP E-II MI Thru NT, or an ESP LTD M-201 HT for half the price.

Parkway Drive Amps

Since the early days of the band, Parkway Drive always relied on heavily-distorted tones to put their message through. Back in the old days, they were both rocking some trusty, huge-sounding, super-dirty Peavey 5150s and 6505s. I mean, there’s no hardcore or metalcore band on Earth that hasn’t used those amps at some point in their career.

Why do metalheads gravitate toward the 5150? Well, it’s not because of the great, late Eddie Van Halen, but because the gain knob on those amps goes all the way to the infinite. Yes, if what you want is a super high-gain sound, then the 5150 is your amp of choice.

For that tone, you can opt between several options. The real deal is the Peavey 6505 head boasting 120 watts of pure tube glory and mayhem.

Also very close is the 80-watt 5150 Iconic.

If that’s too much, the 50-watt Fender-made 5150 III is one of the best, most versatile amps I have ever played through. The 30-watt version of the 6505 is also family-friendly and affordable.

Finally, the smallest iteration of this classic is the EVH 5150III LBX with 15 watts of pure earth-shaking power.

 

 

But that’s the old school, the early PWD days of heavy distortion, crowded stages, and metalcore tunes. Nowadays, the boys ride a different wave, a much more modern and bulletproof approach.

Jeff Ling & Luke Kilpatrick Went Digital!

Yes, just like many, many other artists out there, the guitars driving PWD tone forward are no longer going through ancient tubes but getting all their power and glory from Kemper amps. Yes, both guitar players prefer a completely clean stage without even the controller for the Kemper so they can have fun, jump around, and connect with the audience.

Both play through rackmount versions of the Kempers. Luke plays through a modeled version of the 5150 while Jeff rocks a Plexi head and a distortion pedal.

To rock a profiler, you can choose either the 600-watt rack version or the head version.

You can also choose a non-powered rack, pedalboard, or head version, or you can simply go for the Kemper Player, the newest addition to the Kemper catalog. It’s a compact, pedal-sized artifact capable of unleashing the same distorted mayhem a full-size Kemper can.

Moreover, if you couple it with something like a Seymour Duncan PowerStage you can solve it all from your pedalboard.

A more affordable option with similar capabilities could be the IK Multimedia TONEX Pedal.

Amp Settings

To dial in the tone used by Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick you need to have high-output pickups on your guitar. This way, you’ll need to have less dirt coming from your amp and make most of the distorted tones with a combination of heavy chugging and a really hot guitar.

Also, my suggestion is that with the gain settings, you’re about to see, you use a noise gate of some kind to keep it all silent during those fast changes and sudden stops PWD is known for.

You’ll notice two numbers in the gain knob, one is for active guitars, and the second for passive ones. Also, I’ll divide this into rhythm playing (mostly Luke) and lead playing (mostly Jeff).

Rhythm Playing

  • Volume – 7
  • Gain – 6/8
  • Bass – 7
  • Mid – 6
  • Treble – 6
  • Presence – 5

Lead Playing

  • Volume – 9
  • Gain – 7/9
  • Bass – 6
  • Mid – 7
  • Treble – 8
  • Presence – 7

The Bottom End

These smiley surfers from Australia have kind of a Jekyll and Hyde operation going and whenever they take the stage, a huge sound monster is unleashed. Yes, in case you have never seen PWD live, you need to know they rely on atomic riffs but also theatricals that include masked people with fire torches on stage, for example.

Happy (metalcore) 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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