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Randy Rhoads was one of the most influential guitarists of the 80s. He played with Ozzy Osbourne and helped to define the sound of the metal guitar. His fast, aggressive playing style was imitated by many guitarists who came after him.
Getting his tone can be tough unless you have similar gear and the right settings. In this guide, we’ll go over the essential Randy Rhoads amp settings and gear to get his iconic tone.
What Was Randy Rhoads Sound?
Randy Rhoads had a distinctive, aggressive tone. It was perfect for hard rock and heavy metal. His playing was characterized by fast, precise riffs and solos. They were full of energy and emotion. To get this tone, you’ll need the right gear and settings.
One of the key elements of Randy’s sound was his use of Marshall amplifiers. He usually played Marshall amps that were modded to his liking and cranked to be loud. He also used a lot of different effects pedals to shape his sound.
Some quick Randy Rhoads amp settings are:
- Gain: 8
- Treble: 7
- Mids: 6-7
- Bass: 5
- Presence: 6
Getting Randy’s tone can be tough, but it’s possible with the right gear and settings. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need.
Not sure what amp settings actually do? Check out my guide to amp controls and settings to get up to speed!
What Equipment Do You Need For A Randy Rhodes Sound?
To get Randy’s tone, you’ll need the following:
- A Marshall-style amplifier with a strong midrange. Randy used Marshall amps like the 100-watt super lead and cranked them to get his sound. But you can reproduce it and get somewhat close with other amps, even digital modeling.
- Guitars with humbucker pickups are preferred for this tone. Randy used guitars like the Gibson Les Paul and Jackson RR1. These guitars are somewhat warm with a good bite in the top end.
- Randy used the MXR distortion plus to aid in his sound. This pedal is a staple when you want to get his tone and comes highly recommended.
Randy Rhoads Amp Settings
Having the right gear is only half the battle, now it needs to be set up correctly. Here is how the controls work on your amplifier.
This knob determines how much gain your amplifier produces. The more you turn it up, the more distortion you’ll get until you hit the maximum drive. As you increase your setting, you will also notice it becomes saturated and bass-heavy.
Keep in mind that the higher the level, the more you will lose clarity with some guitars. If you find your sound becoming muddy, turn your gain down a bit until it clears up.
There is a balance between saturation and bass content that needs to be met. All amps and guitars are different, so experiment with what that level is for you and your gear.
Check out these Black Sabbath amp settings next!
The treble, mids, and bass controls will provide you with your equalization levels. Each one will interact with the other, and so the right settings are crucial to a Randy Rhoads sound.
- The treble control will adjust how much brightness and bite will exist in your tone. Keep this level high enough to provide clarity without a harsh sound.
- Your middle control will provide thickness and allow the sound to be present in a mix. Randy liked high mids so keep them above halfway.
- Bass is a monster that can destroy a good tone. You want to dial in a punchy tone without any mud. A good balance between high gain and the right bass setting is key.
Popular Randy Rhoads Songs And Their Amp Settings
To help give you a better idea, we’ve put together a list of some of Randy’s popular songs and the amp settings he used.
- Gain: 8
- Treble: 6
- Mids: 6
- Bass: 4-5
- Presence: 5
In this song, you can hear the power and punch of Randy’s tone. The gain is set high enough to provide a full sound with good distortion.
But this is also a result of amplifiers that are cranked. Power tube distortion played a huge role in Randy’s sound.
We have some great AC/DC amp setting here!
- Gain: 7
- Treble: 7
- Mids: 6-7
- Bass: 6
- Presence: 5-6
This song is a bit cleaner, but that doesn’t mean it lacks power. The gain on this track is set a little lower, relying more on the preamp of the amp and the MXR distortion plus.
Randy’s tone still has some bite and clarity in the high end for lead parts. His mids are higher to provide warmth without muddiness, and the bass is set to add some punch.
The solo has a lot more gain to saturate and provides tons of sustain, so turn it up for this part.
Revelation (Mother Earth)
- Gain: 6-7
- Treble: 6
- Mids: 7
- Bass: 6
- Presence: 5
This song has a bit more of an old-school metal sound to it. The gain is set high to provide that thick, somewhat saturated distortion.
The treble is toned down, so it doesn’t get too harsh, and the mids are pushed up to provide some warmth and thickness.
The bass is increased to add power and punch, but not so much that it becomes overwhelming.
Randy Rhoads Tone Tips
When things don’t go quite as planned, there are things you can do to help your tone.
- Getting a saturated gain tone is the goal for these sounds. For some amplifiers, this might be difficult. If that’s your experience, try a boost or distortion pedal. The MXR Distortion plus is Randy’s favorite.
- Using a guitar with single-coil pickups will not get you this sound. It’s very important to have the right guitar. This means humbuckers are required.
- Randy liked a lot of mids in his sound to provide a thick tone. If you find your results are too bright, turn down the treble and increase mids. You will have a great cut without harshness.
- When your sound becomes too muddy, turn down the bass knob. If this isn’t the fix, try your gain control. If it’s too high, the sound will be far too bass-heavy. There is a delicate balance between gain and bass.
- If you can do extreme volume, this will help you get the right sound. Randy cranked his amps, this is part of the magic. If you have a lower powered amp, this can be the best way to get his tone. If your amps are high-powered, use hearing protection!
Randy Rhoads is a legend in the world of guitar. His tone was unique and has influenced many guitarists over the years. It’s important to take time to understand how his amps worked. Plus, the settings that were used to get that iconic sound.
Do you want to create the same killer tone as Randy Rhoads? Try out these amp settings and see how they work for you. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to get that signature sound.
What amp did Randy Rhoads use?
Randy Rhoads used Marshall amps like the 1979 100-watt super lead. The magic of his sound is that they were turned up very high! The volume would hurt your ears, but the sound was perfect!
What guitar did Randy Rhoads use?
Randy used a 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom with Seymour Duncan pickups. This guitar had great sustain and was perfect for his metal sound.