Sound Like Slipknot: Amp Settings and Gear Guide

Slipknot is a popular metal band that has a raw but articulate tone for the style that they play.

Jim Root and Mick Thomson have a thick, heavy sound that many guitarists seek to emulate. This iconic sound is hard to recreate without the right gear and amp settings.

In this Killer Rig guide, we will break down what type of equipment is needed to produce this sound. Plus the slipknot amp settings to get there.

What is the Slipknot Sound?

The Slipknot sound is a mix of heavy and alternative metal. The electric guitars are typically down-tuned.

The distortion is set to create a thick, dense sound. They are also often played in unison or with slight variations to create a wall of sound effects.

The key to getting this sound is using the right guitars, amplifiers, effects, and settings. This will vary depending on the type of equipment you are using, but we will go over some general guidelines.

For an amplifier, Mick Thomson has been a big fan of the Mesa Boogie JP-2C. This type of sound is what you will also want to go for.

If you want to sound like Jim Root, thick high-gain is what you need, and so the right amp is crucial.

Some quick Slipknot amp settings are:

  • Gain: 8
  • Treble: 6
  • Mids: 4
  • Bass: 6
  • Presence: 5
  • Resonance: 5

Then, adjust your volume to the level that you can handle to add the rest of the heavy tone. If you have a good solid state amp, this can also work very well.

Slipknot Amp Settings

So you have gathered all the equipment necessary. Now you need to know how the amp settings work and influence each other.

slipknot amp settings infographic

The Gain Control

The gain knob will control how much distortion you have in your sound. You want to turn it up until the point where the sound is saturated. This will produce a thick sound that is perfect for Slipknot’s style.

But keep in mind that some amplifiers get real muddy when the gain is turned up too much. Because of this, you want to find the spot that still allows your tone to remain articulate.

On a lot of high-gain amplifiers, this is normally around 7-8. But with an amp like the Orange Rocker verb, this can be as high as 10.


When starting, always set your equalizers to halfway. This is normally 5 on amps with a scale around the controls and is best as it allows you to obtain a flat response.

This way you can start adjusting from a point that allows you a large range in either direction. Then begin to adjust with these concepts in mind.

  1. Slipknot’s sound is very clear and somewhat bright. Your treble control will allow you to adjust the top end and prevent any harshness from the sound. Adjust this to taste based on the guitar’s output.
  2. Your middle control is used to add thickness and depth. If turned too low, it will result in a scooped tone. Jim Root uses mids and so set this to 4 or 5 and then adjust to taste.
  3. The bass control will add a punch to the tone. Too much and it can get overbearing and muddy in a hurry. So make sure you set your gain before the bass. This will help get a nice punchy response.

If your amplifier also has a presence and depth control, set these after the initial EQ. These controls are there to enhance your sound.

They should not be relied on for any primary frequency response. Set them halfway when getting started and then adjust based on the way your equipment sounds.

We have some great Korn amp settings in this guide here.

Popular Slipknot Songs And Their Amp Settings

Slipknot has used a lot of different amplifiers. These settings for some of their songs are only a starting point.

You will need to adjust your gear and bring it the rest of the way. Let’s have a look at some of their more popular songs and their settings.

Before I Forget

This song has a ton of energy and a smooth, distorted sound. You will need to saturate your tone a bit, but keep clarity. This song is thick but not over the top.

Keep in mind that a lot of processing has gone into the record, and so you will only get as close as you can with amp settings.

A good place to start with a high-gain amp would be settings like:

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

There are a few lines that will need effects and even a tube screamer that could help boost.


Duality is a thicker, more aggressive sound, as the band was using different gear during this time. Down tuning your guitar and using heavy strings will help get this tone.

The use of a wah pedal and some effects can be helpful for certain parts, otherwise set your amp like this:

  • Gain: 8-9
  • Treble: 5
  • Mids: 5
  • Bass: 7
  • Presence: 6

If your amp has a resonance control, you can use it to add more punch and low-end response.

Take a look at our Black Sabbath amp settings next!

Wait And Bleed

This song is a bit more distorted and angry than the others. You will need to turn your gain up, but not so much that it gets muddy.

An Orange amp would do this well, as it doesn’t saturate until it’s turned up quite high.

This also allows the sound to get very thick. Some good amp settings are:

  • Gain: 9
  • Treble: 6
  • Mids: 4
  • Bass: 6

Does your amplifier get out of control and super muddy with these settings? Then turn the gain down, but leave the others to see if it becomes clear.

What Gear Do You Need For a Slipknot Sound?

When you are just getting started with the Slipknot sound, you need to first evaluate your gear. Does it have the necessary high-gain sound that is needed for this tone?

There are a couple of things to consider:

  1. Having the right electric guitar is the first place to start. You need to have one with medium-output humbucker pickups. It must have thickness but remain clear. Slipknot uses 6-string guitars for the most part. So most players should have no issues obtaining their sound.
  2. Then, you need an amplifier that can produce distortion that is over the top. Saturation produces the thick sound that Jim Root is typically associated with having. There are many amplifiers on the market that can provide this tone, just make sure it retains clarity.
  3. There are a few effects pedals that can help get this sound. Some of these include delays, fuzz, compressor, and other modulation type effects.
  4. A good set of thick strings can also help to thicken up your sound. If you find you just can’t get the right tone, try new strings.

With gear like this, it’s going to be much easier to get close to Slipknot’s sound. Single coil pickups will not do well trying to obtain this tone.

Trouble Shooting Tips

Not every amp and guitar will work the same together. Do you have equipment quite different from what we have talked about? Then you may have issues getting the right tone. If so, there are a few things that you can try:

  • The amplifier used to obtain these sounds will need to be very high-gain. If your amp won’t quite get there, you may want to try a boost pedal to push the input harder.
  • If your tone isn’t as thick as you would like, try increasing the mids. This can be a great way to add extra depth. At the same time, experiment with less treble.
  • Use your guitar’s tone control to add more warmth. Most players forget that the tone control on the guitar itself can change your sound.
  • If your sound is too muddy, try lowering the bass control. Just remember that the gain setting will also affect how thick and bass-heavy the tone will be. This depends heavily on the guitar being used.
  • When you are primarily using the neck pickup, try the bridge position as well. This position is much brighter and biting and can change the tone drastically.
  • If your amplifier just doesn’t have the drive to get saturated sounds, try a distortion pedal. There are plenty of products on the market that can produce this tone with ease.

We have more great info on metal amp settings here!


You should now have a good starting point for getting the Slipknot sound. Remember that these are only guidelines and that you will need to experiment to get the perfect tone.

Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to your amplifier settings. Try different things until you find what works best for you. And most importantly, enjoy the journey!


What amps does Slipknot use?

Slipknot has used a variety of amps over the years. But some of their favorites include Orange amplification, Rivera, Mesa Boogie, and VHT.

What guitars does Slipknot use?

Some of Slipknot’s favorite guitars include Gibson, Fender, Ibanez, and Jackson. Jim Root is typically seen using a modified Fender Telecaster with EMG pickups. Mick Thomson on the other hand uses customized Jackson Soloist models.

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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!