Wormrider was the first time I ever really thought about my guitar tone. I had done things in the past to change the tone of my guitar, sure. But Wormrider was the first time I really thought about what I was doing.
I remember Erik (our bass player) had this absolutely crushing tone, while my guitar sounded, ehh… like a distorted guitar. I started listening to music a little differently, listening to how the guitar sounded, especially on records we could call influences, however loosely. Then I heard it:
Oh yeah… Fudge Tunnel was right up our alley. I started to search online for clips of Fudge Tunnel, checked GuitarGeek, and anything I could find about Alex Newport’s gear. I turned up almost nothing, save a forum post about him using a Marshall 100w Master Volume and his website.
I’ve never heard a Marshall get that much crunch without being modded… surely there was more to it.
So I sent Alex an email. Eventually he replied.
Hi Matt how are you?
Oh, I remember, it’s pretty easy. I had a Marshall JMP 100W master volume. It has to be that amp. JCM 800, 900, 2000, Plexi, none of them will work. There’s something about the JMP, it’s the only Marshall I ever liked.
As you guessed, there is a trick – stock JMP doesn’t have quite enough gain.
For Hate Songs, I used a little Boss booster amp before the Marshall, to overdrive the preamp more. I can’t remember the model number, but any booster pedal will do, MXR micro amp is the same kinda thing.
Later on I started using a pedal – Boss Turbo Distortion, and sometimes DS1, before the Marshall.
Same thing pretty much. Marshall had everything on full, except the mids which were all the way off.
Typically in the studio the amp signal would get EQ’s again with more mids pulled out. You also need to play a guitar with Gibson humbuckers (SG, LP) and use the bridge pickup BUT roll off the tone. All the way off. Instant Sabbath.
JMP’s have got way pricey these days, but well worth it.
Well… I didn’t have a booster pedal, nor did I have a vintage Marshall amp (still don’t). But I did have Gibson guitars with humbuckers, and an old MXR Distortion+ (block logo, no LED for those that care).
So the next practice I set it up using the clean channel of my Dual Rectifier and the Distortion+. I used Alex’s suggestion as a starting place, everything all the way up (except the volume) and mids all the they down. I rolled off the tone on my guitar (turns out that part was key). The sound was way too brittle with the presence control all the way up, so I cut it too. A little bit of tweaking the amp’s gain and I had it! My version of the Fudge Tunnel guitar tone!
Later, I got a boost pedal to push the distorted channel of my amp, rather than using a distortion pedal. The boost pedal has an LED so I can see the pedal is on (unlike my old Distortion+). Sometimes it was hard to hear if the Distortion+ was engaged when we were all playing.
You can hear the results on our last recording. The songs are epically long, but the guitar tone is crushing.