Sound Like Alice In Chains: Amp Settings and Gear Guide

Alice In Chains and the 90s grunge movement paved the way for many bands with unique and original sounds. With their more aggressive tone, Alice In Chains’ sound can be tough to get right with just one amplifier.

With the use of many great amps all at the same time, the AIC tone is thick and aggressive

In this guide, we’ll go over some different Alice In Chains amp settings and the gear that can help get you their tone.

alice in chains amp settings

What Is The Alice In Chains Sound?

The Alice In Chains sound is driven by very heavy distortion, but at the same time is slightly cleaner in the mix. To achieve this, you’ll need to combine many amplifiers and effects.

Some of the key amps that have been used by AIC include Marshall, Bogner, Mesa Boogie, and Peavey.

The use of multiple amps is essential to getting that signature AIC sound, as each one will provide a different element to the overall tone.

Some quick amp settings that can help you get the Alice in Chains sounds are:

  • Gain: 7-8
  • Treble: 7
  • Mids: 6
  • Bass: 5
  • Presence: 5
  • Depth: 6

What Gear Do You Need for an Alice In Chains Sound?

To sound like Alice In Chains, you will need a few key pieces of gear.

  1. The best electric guitar to have for this tone would be a Gibson Les Paul. While AIC used Gibson a great deal, a guitar with humbuckers and a warmer output will work.
  2. High gain amplifiers will be best to acquire the distorted and slightly saturated tone of Alice In Chains. They used many amps set differently to obtain unique sounds.
  3. A few different effects pedals like a cry baby, delay, tube screamer, compressor, and fuzz can come in very handy for some of their songs.

With this type of equipment, all you need now are the right amp settings.

Alice In Chains Amp Settings

Once you have the right gear, it’s a good idea to get to know how to properly set your amps. First, learning how each control works is the best place to start.

Alice In Chains Amp Setting infographic

Gain Control

This will control the amount of distortion your guitar signal is getting. Adjust this from high to low depending on how aggressive you want your tone to be. For a more saturated tone, you need a lot of gain.

But with more gain comes a thicker and heavier bass response as well. Some amplifiers get far too bass-heavy to the point that they become muddy. So use this control wisely as too much bass will result in a loss of clarity.

Equalizer Controls

The equalizer controls on your amp can be adjusted to change the frequencies of your tone.

  1. The treble control will adjust the amount of brightness in your tone. This can also be the source of your clarity, but too much treble can also result in a harsh tone.
  2. The mids control on your amp will provide thickness and body. The guitar is centered around midrange frequencies, so having a good level can help keep the instrument present in a mix. Too much can create a boxy tone with some amps.
  3. Your bass knob will help provide a punchy response to your sound. Too much, however, and you can lose clarity fast. Your gain and bass control work together, so find the right settings for the best sound.

Adjusting the EQ can take some time. Each amp and guitar are different, and so even our settings may not be perfect for every combination.

It is best to start with all controls set to halfway or 5 for a flat response that will allow you plenty of range in adjustment.

If your amplifier also has a presence and depth control, set them to 5 to begin. From there, you can adjust each of these controls after the EQ is where you like it.

Popular Alice In Chains Songs and Their Amp Settings

Once you understand how each control affects your sound, it’s a good idea to take a look at some popular Alice In Chains songs and learn how to get their tone.

Main In The Box Settings

One of Alice In Chains’ most popular songs is “Man In The Box.” This song has a very decently heavy and distorted tone, but has plenty of clarity as well.

Some great amp settings to start with are:

  • Gain: 6-7
  • Treble: 6
  • Mids: 4
  • Bass: 5
  • Presence: 5
  • Depth: 5

For this tone, start by setting your gain around 6 or 7. This will give you a slightly saturated sound that is still clean enough to hear all the notes being played.

From there, adjust your treble and mids to taste. The midrange is quite present in this tone, so don’t be afraid to experiment a bit. Try setting your treble at around 6 and mids to 4, then adjust them as needed.

You may also want to lower your bass knob to between 4 and 5 depending on the amp you are using. This will help keep things tight and focused while giving you a nice punch in your tone.

Rooster

Another popular Alice In Chains song is “Rooster.” This song is more aggressive and has a very broad midrange tone.

To get this tone, start with the following settings:

  • Gain: 7-8
  • Treble: 6
  • Mids: 5-6
  • Bass: 6
  • Presence: 5
  • Depth: 6

For the “Rooster” tone, the gain control is best set to 7 or 8. This will give you a good distorted sound that still has good clarity and can be dialed in to be punchy.

The treble and mids can be set to around 6, then adjusted based on how your gear responds. The midrange is very important for this tone, so try a few different settings until it’s just right.

Your bass can be adjusted to taste. It entirely depends on your amplifier and how bass-heavy it has been designed to be.

Check out our Nirvana amp settings here.

Would?

“Would?” is another iconic Alice In Chains song that has a bit more of an open and airy rhythm, while remaining thick and heavy.

Start with these amp settings:

  • Gain: 6
  • Treble: 5
  • Mids: 6
  • Bass: 6
  • Presence: 7
  • Depth: 6

For “Would?”, try starting with the gain around 6. This will give you a great throaty, distorted tone without being too saturated or muddy.

From here, set your treble to around 5 and mids to 6, then adjust them slightly as needed to get that throaty AIC tone.

The bass should be set to around 6, but adjusting it up or down a bit may be necessary depending on your amp and guitar.

Trouble Shooting Your AIC Tone

When you can’t quite seem to get the right Alice In Chains sound no matter what you try, there are a few things you should keep in mind when adjusting.

  • If you attempt to get this tone with single-coil pickups, you might be disappointed. They won’t have the output or thickness, so humbuckers are strongly recommended.
  • If your tone is too thin and harsh, try lowering your treble control and increasing mids. You can also adjust the tone control on your guitar to get a warmer response. If all else fails, try the neck pickup on your electric guitar, it’s not just for leads.
  • On the other hand, if things are lacking clarity, you may have too much bass. If the sound is muddy, turn down the bass knob.
  • Effects like delay and reverb can help add depth and body to your sound. If you need a more well-rounded tone, try using effects.
  • When your amplifier is struggling to provide the same thick and heavy sound that you need for Alice In Chains, consider an overdrive or distortion pedal. There are plenty of models on the market that can do this all day long.
  • If you have not been using your bridge pickup and your sound is bass-heavy, give it a try. It is much brighter and has a great bite for this type of music.

Learn how to set your amp for Rock tones here.

Alice in chains amp setting tips

Conclusion

Now that you know how to get an Alice In Chains tone, go out and experiment with your settings. Remember, it’s all about trial and error until you find what works best for you.

Don’t be afraid to adjust your settings until they’re perfect, even if it seems unconventional.

FAQs

What amps does Alice In Chains use?

Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley use amps like the Bogner Shiva, Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, Marshall JCM800, and Peavey 5150.

What guitars does Alice In Chains use?

Alice In Chains uses guitars made by Gibson the most. Models like the Les Paul, SG, and Firebird. They have also used the Fender Telecaster and G&L Rampage.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear.I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!