If you’re looking for doom metal amp settings to help you accomplish this unique sound, you’ve come to the right post!
What You Need to Know Before Getting to the Amp
I know you’d like a simple answer. But good doom metal tone doesn’t come down to just amp settings. Getting the tone shouldn’t be that complicated. However, it’s still a combination of different factors. So let’s first explore what goes before the amp.
Two Directions: Fuzzy or Growling?
The first thing to consider is the overall direction of your tone. There isn’t a consensus on what exactly qualifies as a good doom metal tone. However, I’d say you could go in one of two main directions.
The first one is a muddy and fuzzy tone. It’s inspired by old-school psychedelic rock. Some would even call it messy and ugly. The guitar feels a little bit more distant and scooped with such a tone.
The second one is a tighter and grittier-sounding one. It’s more similar to classic metal tones but it’s throatier and growling. Such a tone cuts more through the mix and hits you in the face.
Each of these two is a viable choice. It just comes down to what you prefer. Regardless, I will try to make this guide useful for either of these directions you’d like to go in for your sound.
When it comes to guitars, I’d go with anything that has humbuckers. The only other viable option to me is something with P-90 pickups. P-90s could be a better option for that fuzzy and muddy tone.
In my opinion, Fender-style single-coils, Filter’Tron-style humbuckers, or mini-humbuckers won’t cut it. Sure, you can use them, but you’ll have a hard time setting up the tone.
As far as other guitar features go, there aren’t any limitations. I’d only suggest going with fixed rather than tremolo bridges. But that’s my personal preference. I just find them simpler to use. And they usually have more sustain compared to floating bridges.
Generally speaking, guitars that allow more sustain could be better options. This refers to guitars with set-in necks or that feature neck-through construction.
In my opinion, distortion or overdrive pedals are a must. If you want that fuzzy or muddy tone, you can get a regular fuzz pedal. I always found the classic Big Muff to work best for these settings. However, something in the style of Boss’ HM-2 could also serve you well for this kind of tone.
Overdrives and your average distortion pedals are also great options, especially if you’re using tube-driven amps. In particular, they’re a better option for that throaty and gritty kind of tone that I mentioned.
I find Boss’ DS-2 Turbo distortion very useful. It’s simple, and it provides you with a sound that can go in either of the directions I mentioned above. If you have more to spend, I think Friedman BE-OD Deluxe is probably the best choice.
Octaver pedals aren’t uncommon for doom metal. But they usually find a use for solos or single-note riffs. Try to avoid them with power chords, or any other combination of two or more notes.
As far as other effects go, it’s all up to you. However, I’d recommend keeping your tone as dry as possible. Some reverb can help you make it darker. You can also add a wah and an EQ if necessary.
One super-useful pedal is also Laney’s TI-Boost. This is not a high-gain distortion, but it works great with tube amps. It replicates Tony Iommi’s early Black Sabbath tone.
Tube-driven amps are, obviously, a better choice than not. They come with unmatched warmth and grittiness. However, the second best thing is using a good amp modeler.
In particular, I always gravitate towards British-style amps. Something with EL34 tubes in the power amp should be a great choice. The only exception is classic Vox amps.
American-style amps with 6L6 tubes are okay too. But they’re a better option for those scooped tones.
Vintage or vintage-style amps can work great for doom metal tones. Even an old Fender can serve you well with a nice overdrive or a distortion pedal in front of it.
You could also use solid-state amps. But it’s always tricky to make them sound full and thick enough.
Doom Metal Amp Settings
Now, amp settings will depend on two things. Firstly, it depends on which of the directions I mentioned above you’d like to go in. And secondly, it depends on the amp that you’re using.
Amps with 6L6 tubes might lack some mids in the mix. Meanwhile, EL34s might be too punchy for someone’s tastes. Keeping that in mind, let’s dive in.
Fuzzy and Muddy
So let’s first take a look at the EQ. If you’re aiming for the fuzzy and muddy tone, keep it scooped. You can even push the bass to its limits and see how the amp reacts. This could be done in combination with a fuzz pedal for massive saturation.
For this approach, you should also cut the mids. Keep them at 50% tops. Don’t let them shine through the mix. Make the tone as dark as possible. But don’t remove them altogether either. You still need some of that punch. In addition to that, just push the high-ends to about 70% or higher.
Growling and Throaty
If we’re talking about the growling direction, you should do the opposite. Push the mids up high. Go for 75% or higher, especially if you have an amp with 6L6 tubes. Meanwhile, keep the high-ends and bottom-ends more controlled.
At the same time, try not to lose all of the bottom ends. You still need them to keep the power in the tone. But don’t let them overwhelm the mix. They should be tight rather than boomy and muddy.
If your amp has a presence control, set it up high. In fact, I’d even max it out. It controls the tone within the power amp section and boosts higher-mids.
Although you might think that gain should go all the way up, there are a few things to discuss here.
If you’re using a simple booster or an overdrive with a clean channel on a tube amp, then push the clean gain up. If your amp has one, that is. This will drive the tubes and give you that nice natural saturation.
But if you have a regular distortion pedal or a fuzz, you’ll need to be careful. Although a doom tone can be messy, it shouldn’t be unbearable. Try to find that perfect sweet spot between saturated and crazy.
If you’re using your amp’s distortion channel, then you can go as high as you want. Even the highest gain setting can make things sound great. However, always have the main tone character in mind.
Pushing the gain control high can completely change the character of the tone. But if that particular character is what you’re looking for, then go for it.
Although we’re talking about just one knob, there are so many things that you can achieve with it. Every amp model will react differently to it. This is why you’ll probably spend a lot of your time adjusting the gain.
Have a specific tone in mind. Then start adding gain to find that sweet spot that works for you.
Doom Metal Amp Settings: Conclusion
I hope this article has helped you think through the best amp settings to accomplish this unique sound.
And if you want to read more about amp settings for different sounds on this blog, check out:
Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related subject!