Sound Like Slayer: Amp Settings and Gear Guide

Slayer is a very well-known metal band! They have earned a position in the big 4 alongside Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Kerry King has a unique playing style that is all his own. To get the same type of sound, you need the right gear and amp settings.

In this Killer Rig guide, we will be discussing Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman’s guitar gear. Plus their Slayer Amp Settings.

What Is The Slayer Sound?

The Slayer sound is a combination of Kerry King’s fast and aggressive guitar playing. Along with Jeff Hanneman’s more melodic leads.

They are both known for their aggressive guitar tone and use of down-tuning to E flat.

To get this sound, you will need an amp that can handle high gain and lots of distortion. The Marshall JCM800 2203KK is a great option for this as it is Kerry King’s signature amplifier.

Some quick amp settings to sound like Slayer are:

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

This will give you a good starting point to get the classic Slayer metal tone. From there, you can experiment with the EQ to find what sounds best for you. If you want to add more distortion, you can turn up the gain or use a boost pedal in front of the amp.

What Gear Is Needed For A Slayer Sound?

When it comes to getting a tone similar to Slayer, you will need some gear that can do what you want.

  1. Having an amplifier that is heavy in mid-range frequency is very important. Kerry King used a JCM800 2203 before getting his signature model. Using a lot of distortion is crucial to your sound and can’t be overlooked.
  2. An electric guitar with high-output pickups. Something like super distortions will help you get the thick, heavy sound. You will need them for these tones.
  3. Using a 10-band EQ to help push more midrange can be helpful. You may also want to have a boost or overdrive pedal to help saturate your tone.
slayer amp setting infographic

Get your Anthrax amp settings right here!

Slayer Amp Settings

Have all the gear you will need to get a good Slayer tone? Then it’s important to understand how the amplifier controls work.

Gain Knob

The gain knob will control how much distortion is in your sound. It is important to have a good amount of distortion for this tone. Kerry King typically has his gain set around 8.

It’s important to remember that the higher this setting, the more bass you will get. Especially when it starts to saturate.

Some amps that are bass-heavy might lose clarity sooner. This is compared to others with higher settings.


Next will be proper EQ settings which will require treble, mid, and bass adjustments. It’s best to start with your EQ set to halfway on each of the controls. This will allow for a flat response, which is the perfect place to start.

  1. Treble adjustments should be done a little at a time until you find the right brightness. Too much could result in a harsh tone, which will not be desirable. Some guitars will require more, depending on how dark sounding they are.
  2. The middle control will add thickness to the sound, and Slayer was known to use a lot of it. If turned too low, the sound will be scooped, which is what you would expect from a metal band. Slayer on the other hand preferred the frequencies in this range.
  3. Bass is a delicate adjustment, as too much can remove clarity and add a muddy tone quite quickly. With very high gain settings, the bass can normally remain around halfway. But this depends on the guitar and amplifier being used.

If your amplifier has presence and depth controls, set these at halfway or noon to begin. Then, once your EQ is set, adjust them to taste.

Popular Slayer Songs And Their Settings

Do you have an understanding of what is needed to get a good Slayer sound? Great! Then let’s take a look at some popular songs and the settings they used.

Raining Blood

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

This is a perfect example of what a typical Slayer song sounds like. It has a very thick, heavy sound with lots of distortion. The EQ is set to give the guitar a mid-range boost, which helps cut through the mix.

Check out our John Petrucci amp settings here.

South of Heaven

  • Gain: 6-7
  • Bass: 6
  • Middle: 8
  • Treble: 6
  • Presence: 7

This song has a slightly different sound than “Raining Blood”. The gain is turned down a bit, which gives the guitar a cleaner tone. The EQ is still set to give the guitar a mid-range emphasis, but the bass and treble are dialed back a bit.

Check out our Megadeth amp settings here!

Angel of Death

  • Gain: 8-9
  • Bass: 5
  • Middle: 8
  • Treble: 6
  • Presence: 8

Angel of death is one of the heaviest Slayer songs out there. The gain is turned up high to get a very saturated sound. The EQ is still heavy in the midrange, and the bass and treble are set to provide good clarity in the notes.

Tone Troubleshooting Tips

While our suggested settings will work for a lot of gear, not every amp and guitar will sound good using them. There are a few things that you can try to help your tone.

  • Using a guitar with high output humbuckers is suggested. Single-coil pickups are too thin-sounding for this kind of tone.
  • If your tone is very muddy, try turning down the bass control until it cleans up. If you still cannot get the definition you desire, the gain control might be too high.
  • When your sound is too thin, try turning down the treble and increasing the bass. Higher mid-settings can also add thickness, but too much can cause the tone to be boxy.
  • It’s also good practice to use the tone control on your guitar. This can help add more warmth and thickness to your sound.
  • Is your amplifier just not able to produce the saturated tone you need for Slayer? I suggest you try using a boost or distortion pedal. Some great models on the market can help you get this sound.
slayer amp setting tips


As you can see, getting a good Slayer tone is not as difficult as it might seem. With a few simple adjustments, you can get close to their sound.

Just remember to start with your EQ at noon and make small adjustments until you find the right sound. If you have any trouble, refer back to our troubleshooting tips. And most importantly, have fun!


What amp does Slayer use?

Kerry King of Slayer uses Marshall amplifiers. He is usually seen using the JCM800 2203 model. Later in his career, he had Marshall build him a signature model called the 2203KK.

What kind of guitar does Kerry King use?

Kerry King uses a Gibson Flying V with high-output humbucking pickups. He also uses a lot of other guitars, including B.C. Rich and Dean 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!