In this post, I’m going to try to answer what the best pop punk amp settings are!
Let’s get to it!
The Pop Punk Guitar Tone
Although some classic punk fans won’t completely accept it, pop punk has stood the test of time. The genre has combined old-school punk and more contemporary mainstream pop styles. And this also goes for the guitar tone.
Now, it’s hard to completely define what the pop punk guitar tone is. On the other hand, there are certain sonic traits that are frequently featured in pop punk.
As I said, the genre is where old-school punk and modern pop meet. That’s what we can say about the guitar tone. The general idea is to have the grittiness of classic punk. But, at the same time, you should keep things cleaner.
In simpler terms, this means that your distorted guitar tone shouldn’t be too muddy. You can go into high-gain settings, but you should keep it at lower volumes. Additionally, I’d advise having some compression in there, be it low-gain or high-gain settings.
Of course, this is a very broad topic. So it would be easier to say what pop punk guitar tone isn’t. Don’t use the following settings or effects:
- High-gain super-compressed thick metal tone settings
- A fuzz of any kind
- Slightly overdrive mellow blues or jazz tones
- Strong chorus or other modulation effects
- Nothing twangy, like the classic country Telecaster or Stratocaster tone
Meanwhile, crunchy and slightly sharp tones are more than welcome. In fact, I’d say that this is the perfect tone, along with a moderately high gain. And, of course, I’d always recommend a tube rather than solid-state amp.
The Best Pop Punk Amp Settings
But the most important part is to have your amp all set up. Now, bear in mind that what I’ll explain here is not the definitive way. There is no such thing as the definitive or perfect way. However, these will definitely work well for pop punk. So let’s get into it.
Setting Your EQ
So let’s start with the EQ. In most cases, amps come with a standard 3-band EQ. We’ll look at it from this perspective.
First, I’d advise that you lower the bass levels below 50%. If your amp is bass-heavy, you may even cut them out altogether, or just keep it at 10 to 20%.
Meanwhile, mid and treble knobs should go above 50%. It depends on the amp, but I usually like to put them both at around 75%. If I hear that one of the frequency bands is too strong, I dial it down for a nice balance.
And that’s the whole idea, to find a balanced tone in the mid and treble areas. But you’re also free to play around and see what works with your amp. In my experience, this is usually the best setting for pop punk and other modern punk:
- Bass at 20%
- Mids at 75%
- Treble at 60%
Are You Playing a Tube-Driven or a Solid-State Amp? (Yes, It’s Important)
As you may already know, tube amps make a world of difference compared to solid-state ones. And it’s not just about the tone itself, but how the amp reacts to controls.
I’m mainly talking about volume and gain knobs. So let’s explore these two parameters on tube-driven amps.
In almost all cases, tube amps distort if you push the volume knob too high. This also happens on the clean channel. And this is actually a good thing. It can actually help you achieve an awesome pop punk tone.
From my experience, you can get some great results for the genre when you push the volume high on tube amps. Preferably, you should have a lower-wattage amp or at least a power attenuation option.
Then set the distorted channel on a lower gain setting and push the volume high. You’ll get this natural organic tube-driven tone. Honestly, it works wonders for an abundance of genres.
If you play a solid-state amp, pushing the volume high won’t really change the color of your tone. In this case, you’ll have to fully rely on your distortion pedal or the distorted amp channel.
The master volume knob controls the power amp. The gain knob controls the input signal in the preamp section. As a result, the signal gets clipped and you get distortion.
A gain knob completely changes the tone, both on tube-driven and solid-state amps. Now, how it reacts depends on the exact amp model. But no matter the amp, I’d advise that you keep it below 50%.
What’s more, I’d even keep it at 20 to 30% in most cases. This is especially the case with high-gain metal-oriented amps. A lot of pop punk musicians actually use metal amps. They just keep the settings at lower levels.
The best setting is to have the gain at around 10% and use an overdrive in front of the amp. A tube amp with an Ibanez Tube Screamer does wonders for any genre.
Does Your Amp Have Effects?
Pop punk guitar tone should be relatively dry. This means that you shouldn’t add too many effects. Some slight compression and slight delay or reverb will be more than enough. Other effects are only for specific parts of songs.
If your amp has reverb, keep it subtle. The same goes for delay. It’s also important to note that you should use one or the other. I don’t advise using both at the same time.
You can maybe apply stronger compression if you have a guitar with Fender-style single-coil pickups. Other than that, you can maybe add some mild compression depending on your other gear.
Making It All Work With Your Pedals and Guitars
Getting a great tone for any genre is not just about amp settings. The right guitar tone is a very complex equation. It’s about how your guitar, pedals, amp, and other units work together.
In short, don’t think solely about your amp. Think about the combination of the gear that you have. In my opinion, the perfect setting includes:
- A vintage-style Fender or any similar tube amp
- An overdrive like a Tube Screamer
- A compressor pedal
- A reverb pedal
The mids on the amp should be slightly stronger than high-ends. If you have a gain knob, keep it low and crank up the volume. Finally, keep your overdrive pedal on milder settings. But try tweaking it and pay attention to how the amp reacts.
Compression is optional but can be useful. Add just a dash of reverb or delay and you’re good to go.
Pop Punk Amp Settings: Conclusion
I hope this article has helped you brainstorm some amp settings to try for that perfect pop punk sound!
And as usual, feel free to message me in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related subject!