The guys attempt to sound like one of the biggest bands in the world: American outfit Foo Fighters. And they have an unlimited budget to spend on their full bore, slamming tone.
Dave Grohl is the face of popular rock. People who don’t even listen to the Foo Fighters will recognise the singer/songwriter/guitarist/drummer/producer from one of his projects, his time in Nirvana or simply through general popularity.
He’s never claimed to be the best guitarist ever, but he does write some kick-ass riffs and has a tone to die for. Band member Chris Shiflett takes on most of the fiery lead duties, while it’s down to Dave to hold up the rhythm spot.
With a band of Foo Fighters’ size, an unlimited budget is the only way to go in getting a sound anywhere near the original. Especially considering the Foos have an unlimited budget themselves to perfect their crisp old school guitar tone with a few modern twists.
Let’s start off with the axes. Chris Shiflett has a signature Fender Telecaster equipped with fat-sounding humbuckers, but as Rabea couldn’t get his hands on one, he opted for the Fender American Profession Tele Deluxe. This has similar specs, such as Shawbucker pickups, 22 tall frets and a rounded ‘C’ neck.
Dave Grohl has used a lot of guitars over his three decades of guitar playing, but he’s most famous for his limited run ES-335 in Pelham Blue. So Matt opts for the ES-335 but in a different colour. It’s semi-hollow so produces a lot of natural resonance. But that doesn’t mean it’s not got a crunch – the ES-335 uses Gibson Burstbucker pickups, best used for thick high gain and sweet cleans.
Mesa Boogie was the only way to go for Matt in order to recreate Dave’s tone. The Mark V combo definitely busts the bank and is packed with extensive EQ options. This beast of an amp can go from sparkling cleans to heavy metal distortion and everything in between. Great for Foo Fighters, who like to mix up the tone from album to album.
Rabea picked the Tone King Sky King handwired combo; another expensive boutique purchase. This gets closer to Shiflett’s roaring classic tone, that keeps the Foos close to their rock ‘n’ roll roots. It has two channels like the Mesa, but with a much-simplified EQ layout. You can add bite to the lead channel, or add some wetness using the built-in spring reverb with control over the depth, rate and strength of the effect.
Foo Fighters aren’t afraid to delve into the world off pedals to spice up their guitar sound. Rabea used the Boss RV-6 reverb and luscious Origin Effects Cali76 compressor to sculpt The Pretender’s clean intro.
Boss are less known for their reverb effects than for the likes of modulation and overdrive. But the RV6 does a great job of providing an extensive choice of reverb types like spring, plate, room and hall variants, with added shimmer and delay settings.
The Cali76 is regarded as one of the best compressors ever created. This levels out your guitar signal – and you have a load of parameters at your disposal to shape it.
He also used a combination of the T-Rex Mudhoney, Wampler Thirty Something and J Rockett Archer Ikon overdrives to obtain the gritty, punchy gain the Foo Fighters are renowned for. All of these pedals sound great on their own, but together they open up a range of tonal possibilities.
Matt only used two pedals: the classic MXR Phase 90 and Boss Waza Craft DM-2W delay – a reissue of the original ‘80s stompbox. Both pedals are super simple and what you see is what you get. You know you’re getting proven, great effects used by some of the biggest names in music.
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