Sound Like Anthrax: Amp Settings and Gear

Welcome to your ultimate guide on how to nail that Anthrax sound! You are most likely here because you’re a fan of Anthrax. I’m sure you’ve probably wondered how they achieve that thrash metal guitar tone.

Anthrax, as you know, is a monster in the world of thrash metal. Their sound is powerful and crushing, but it has also inspired countless musicians worldwide.

But what makes their sound so unique? It’s a combination of their gear, their technique, and, importantly, their amp settings.

Getting the Anthrax sound isn’t just about cranking up the gain and letting it rip. It’s about knowing how each setting or piece of gear in your setup contributes to the overall sound. It’s about tweaking and fine-tuning until you hit that sweet spot.

This Killer Rig article will walk you through the ins and outs of amp settings, explain the role of each piece of gear, and even dive into the specifics for some of Anthrax’s most popular songs.

What is the Anthrax Sound?

Anthrax is a force to be reckoned with! Especially in the thrash metal scene. Their music is the perfect fusion of hard-hitting rhythms, aggressive guitars, and a raw, gritty tone.

It’s heavy, yet melodic, filled with intensity and a certain kind of controlled chaos that’s become their trademark.

The secret to their sound lies in the way they use their gear, particularly their amp settings. They’re known for their heavy distortion, which gives their music a thick, saturated texture.

This is achieved by using a high-gain guitar amp, often paired with distortion or boost pedals, to really drive the sound home.

However, it goes beyond simply turning up the gain. Along with the strong distortion, Anthrax’s sound also possesses a certain brightness and crispness that prevents their music from degenerating into a muddled mass. The amp settings definitely matter in this situation.

Some quick Anthrax amp settings are:

  • Gain: 7
  • Treble: 7
  • Mids: 3
  • Bass: 6
  • Presence: 5

So, if you’re looking to replicate the Anthrax sound, you’ll need to pay close attention to your amp settings.

It’s about finding the right balance, the right mix of gain, treble, mids, and bass that will give you that powerful, punchy Anthrax tone. And that’s what we’ll be diving into next.

Not sure what amp settings actually do? Check out my guide to amp controls and settings to get up to speed!

Anthrax Amp Settings

Let’s examine what each of these amp settings accomplishes in more detail. You can improve your sound and get closer to the Anthrax tone by really grasping and using them.

Anthrax Amp Control Diagram
  • Gain: This is essentially your distortion control. The higher the gain, the more distorted and heavy your sound will be. But be careful not to push it to the point of loosing clarity. The bass can get pretty out of hand with some amps when the gain is increased.
  • Treble: This controls the high frequencies in your sound. Increasing the treble will make your sound brighter and sharper, which can help it cut through the mix. But it can become too harsh with higher settings.
  • Mids: This controls the middle frequencies. It’s a crucial setting for shaping your overall tone in this genre. Anthrax tends to keep their mids at a lower level to maintain a balanced or scooped sound.
  • Bass: This controls the low frequencies. A higher bass setting will give your sound more depth and fullness. But again, don’t go overboard, or your sound might become muddy.
  • Presence: This is a bit like a second treble control, but it operates on a slightly different range of high frequencies. Adjusting the presence can add some sparkle to your sound and help it stand out.

Every amp and guitar is different, so play around with these settings to dial in a good tone. The key is to listen carefully and adjust until you find the sound that feels right to you. And don’t be afraid to use them, they exist there for a reason!

Get your Metallica amp settings here!

Popular Anthrax Songs and Their Amp Settings

Now that you know how to use the controls on your amp, we can try out a few of their popular songs. These are just general settings, so use them as a starting point only, then begin the process of tweaking to taste.

Caught in a Mosh

The aggressive, high-energy sound of Anthrax is perfectly exemplified in this song. With lots of gain for distortion and a nice balance of treble, mids, and bass, these settings try to capture that raw, hefty tone.

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

I’ve got your Bullet for my Valentine amp settings too!


Madhouse has a slightly less distorted, but still powerful sound. The gain is a bit lower here, but the treble, mids, and bass are balanced to maintain a full, punchy tone.

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


Indians is another classic Anthrax track, with a heavy, driving sound. The settings here are similar to Caught in a Mosh, aiming to capture that signature Anthrax aggression and energy.

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

Gear Used by Anthrax

To truly capture the Anthrax sound, it’s not just about the amp settings. The gear they use plays a significant role in shaping their unique tone. Let’s take a look at some of the key pieces of equipment that Anthrax uses:

  • Guitars: Anthrax’s guitarists, Scott Ian and Jon Donais, have been known to use a variety of guitars over the years. Scott Ian is particularly known for his signature Jackson guitars, while Jon Donais often uses Dean guitars. Both guitarists favor guitars equipped with active pickups for their high output and clarity.
  • Amplifiers: Anthrax has used a variety of amps throughout their career. Scott Ian has often been seen using Randall amplifiers, particularly the Vmax and Nullifier models. Jon Donais, on the other hand, has been known to use EVH 5150 amplifiers. These amps are known for their high gain and tight, aggressive sound.
  • Pedals: Anthrax also makes use of a variety of effects pedals to shape their sound. A crucial component of their setup is an overdrive or distortion pedal, which is used to increase gain and give their sound more grit. In order to give their sound more dimension and character, they also employ a range of modulation and delay effects.

While using equipment that is similar can make you sound more like Anthrax, it is not necessary. The most crucial element is to know how to mold your sound using your equipment, whatever it may be.

Even on a tight budget, you can get shockingly close to the Anthrax sound with the appropriate amp settings and some experimentation.

Learn more about metal amp settings here!

Anthrax Tone Setting Tips

It could take some time and fine-tuning to get the perfect Anthrax tone. Here are a few pointers to get you there:

  1. Experiment with Gain: Anthrax has a high-gain sound, but too much can make your tone muddy. Start with a high gain setting and gradually dial it back until you find the sweet spot where your tone is heavy but still clear.
  2. Balance Your EQ: The treble, mids, and bass controls on your amp can drastically affect your tone. Start with them all set to halfway and adjust from there. Remember, Anthrax’s sound is heavy and bright, so you might need to boost the treble and bass while keeping the mids in check.
  3. Use Your Guitar’s Controls: Your guitar’s volume and tone controls can also help shape your sound. If your tone is too bright, try rolling back the tone control on your guitar. If you need to clean up your sound for a particular section, try rolling back the volume control.
  4. Try Different Pickups: If your guitar has multiple pickups, try switching between them. The bridge pickup will give you a brighter, more aggressive tone, while the neck pickup will be warmer and fuller.
  5. Don’t Forget About Pedals: Effects pedals can be a great way to add extra flavor to your tone. Overdrive or distortion pedals can add extra gain, while delay or reverb can add depth and space to your sound.
Anthrax Amp Adjustment Diagram


With this guide, you’re well on your way to getting that Anthrax sound. Remember that knowing your equipment, experimenting with your amp settings, and not being afraid to tune are the keys to capturing their tone.

While I’ve provided you with a starting point, the journey to perfecting your tone is a personal one. Every piece of gear will respond differently. So, take these tips, apply them to your setup, and let your ears be the final judge.


Can I get the Anthrax sound with different gear?

Absolutely! While having similar gear can help you get closer to the Anthrax sound, the most important thing is understanding how to use your gear to shape your sound.

With the right amp settings and a bit of experimentation, you can get surprisingly close to the Anthrax sound, even on a budget.

What if my amp doesn’t have a presence control?

Not all amps have a presence control, and that’s okay. The presence control adjusts a specific range of high frequencies, but you can still achieve a great tone without it.

If your amp doesn’t have a presence control, focus on adjusting the other settings to get the sound you want.

What tuning does anthrax use?

For their albums, Anthrax just uses standard tuning, which is E-A-D-G-B-E. But for some of their live shows, they have been known to use E flat.

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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!