Turnstile Guitar Tone – Amp Settings & Complete Gear Guide

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

Turnstile might be hardcore’s most ambitious (and successful) active band in show business. Indeed, with their latest release, Glow On, they’ve established a reputation that’s inspiring new and old generations (like Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher) to make fast, distorted, melodic music, and let all energy out of their system.

But how did a quintet from Baltimore conquer the Mount Rushmore of hardcore?

Well, like all bands do, with killer tones, amazing songs, and great riffs that keep people dancing and moving. Oh, and don’t forget about front-flipping into the crowd!

Here’s what I found out about their tone and how to get it at home for a fraction of the price.

Turnstile Guitars

Turnstile was founded by two guitarists, Pat McCrory and Brady Ebert. Although Brady left in 2022, he’s an integral part of Turnstile’s sound. Therefore, I’ll cover his equipment as well. He has been replaced first by Greg Cerwonka, and later by Meg Mills, for touring at least.

Pat McCrory played mostly Les Pauls during his time with Turnstile. He started out with Studio versions and played a 2015 Gibson Les Paul Classic extensively.

Yes, a band like Turnstile needs that mahogany-body growl to make that heavy palm-muted sound come forward. Although Gibsons are a little too fragile for such a stage-heavy band, the tone is right there if you listen to their music. His backup guitar was a Gibson Firebird.

You could get either a Gibson or Epiphone Les Paul or a Firebird for his earlier tones.

But that was before Ebert left. Pat started playing a Jackson Soloist guitar live with Turnstile, a very similar one to the ones used by his former bandmate Brady Ebert.

Speaking of Brady, he’s always been a super Strat guy. He played several Ibanez models before settling with a Jackson Soloist (Pat’s current guitar of choice).

You could get a Soloist in all its glory as the Jackson American Series Soloist SL3 or the more affordable Jackson Pro Plus Series Soloist SLA3. Finally, a super affordable Jackson X Series Soloist SLXDX could also do the trick.

Turnstile Effect Pedals

The effect pedals these hardcore greats utilize live and in the studio are quite limited since there isn’t much tone layering or complexity to the majority of their music. On the contrary, they have managed to make the distorted tones in their albums much clearer, punchier, and upbeat than most other hardcore bands.

Yet, these guys play through some pedals. Let me list them for you.

  • Flanger – Believe it or not, this turbojet effect from the eighties is a big part of Turnstile’s sound. They use it to go from building momentum to full-on riffing mostly. It adds texture and makes everything go up a notch. You could use a Boss BF-3 for it.

  • Chorus – Whenever those melodic lines with lush, beautiful guitars and cool clean tones Turnstile uses as intros or C-parts come in, the chorus effect does its thing enhancing and enlarging the sound. Again, a simple Boss Super Chorus will do the job.
  • Delay – Again, for leads, intros, and bridge parts, Turnstile guitarists rely on some analog delay to make it all bigger and lusher. According to a recent interview, the pedal of choice by Pat is the MXR Carbon Copy.
  • OD/Distortion – In the same interview, Pat tells the interviewer he plays two Fulltone OCD pedals live with different settings. One is for distortion and the other is to push solos and leads forward.

  • Noise Gate – Playing through big valve-driven distorted amps (more on that in a bit) with an OCD on top and a guitar with hot pickups equals a high level of base noise. Therefore, a noise gate such as a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor is a welcome addition.

 

Turnstile Amps

Turnstile has always used mainly three amp brands: Orange, Mesa/Boogie, and EVH/Peavey.

For years, McCrory’s amp of choice was an Orange Rockerverb MKIII. Loaded with EL34s, it’s an amp that delivers pure, compressed, English dirt. On the other side of the stage, Brady was rocking either an original 5150, a 6505, or a new 5150III.

Finally, in the studio, the band has played through Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifiers to double guitars and thicken the tone.

These are all huge tube heads boasting 100 watts of power or more. This is not such a neighborhood-friendly thing, you know? Therefore, you could easily replace them with each brand’s smaller iterations.

For example, the Peavey 6505 Mini, the Mesa/Boogie Mini Rectifier 25, the EVH 5150III 50-watt, the EVH 5150III LBX 15-watt, and the Orange Dual Terror.

The key with these amps is not to go over the board with the gain levels. On the contrary, much of Turnstile’s dirt comes from really digging in on the instrument and plugging it into overdriven, loud amps. Therefore, you want to make sure you stay in tube land and play the amp at a generous master volume.

Turnstile Amp Settings

Clean Tones

  • Volume – 5
  • Gain – 4
  • Bass – 7
  • Middle – 4
  • Treble – 8
  • Presence – 7
  • Reverb – 4
  • Chorus – ON

Dirty Tones

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

Lead Tones

  • Volume – 9
  • Gain – 8
  • Bass – 8
  • Middle – 7
  • Treble – 8
  • Presence – 6
  • Delay – ON
  • OCD – ON

The Bottom End

Although Turnstile’s rig seems fairly simple, the percussiveness of their playing and the way the guitar riffs lock in with the drummer makes them a unique band with a unique sound. The good news is that you can get started with very affordable equipment and practice your chops. Believe me, with some hard work and my advice above, you’ll be sounding like these hardcore giants in no time.

Here’s a cool clip from Fender in which you can clearly see how the palm-muting technique employed by Turnstile is very close to what the drummer is doing at all times.

Get those power chords right, find some friends, and have fun while headbanging to these mighty and groovy guitar riffs.

Happy (melodic hardcore) 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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