Sound Like The Foo Fighters: Amp Settings and Gear Guide

Dave Grohl’s return to the music scene with the Foo Fighters brought with it some unique tones. His new, unpolished songs eventually turned into a world-class tone that captured the hearts of millions.

But getting his tone not only requires the right gear, but the perfect amp settings.

This guide will give you a run-down on how to get these tones for yourself by using the best Foo Fighters amp settings.

foo fighters amp settings

What Is The Foo Fighters Sound?

The Foo Fighters is a hard rock band with roots in grunge music, and their sound can be best described as being both heavy and bright.

Their guitar tones are noted for having tons of gain that drive the front end of an amp, producing thick saturation and a crunchy texture that can cut through high-tempo rhythms.

Some quick Foo Fighters amp settings are:

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

Their use of effects is also notable, as they often use modulation effects such as chorus and delay to create a “wash” of sound that further adds to the fullness of their tones.

What Gear Do You Need For A Foo Fighters Sound?

When going after a Foo Fighters tone, the right gear is the first step.

  1. Dave Grohl uses a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier for dirty tones and Vox AC30 for cleans. So if you have an amp that is similar to a Boogie, you will get these tones quite easily.
  2. Your guitar choice can be quite broad for the Foo Fighters sound. Dave is known to have a broad range of guitars, if you can get your hands on a Gibson Les Paul, you should have your bases covered.
  3. A few distortion pedals will come in handy for some sounds. A Rat style distortion and a good clean boost can go a long way.
  4. Effects like delay, reverb, and a phase pedal can come in handy. You may also consider a compressor to help when relying on dirty tones from pedals.

Foo Fighters Amp Settings

The way you set up your amplifier is the next thing of great importance. But first, you need to know how the controls work.

foo fighters amp setting infographic

Gain Control

This control affects the amount of preamp gain and distortion, so it’s usually set higher to get heavier tones. Foo Fighter’s sound has a good amount of distortion, so you want higher settings.

It is important to remember, however, that with higher settings comes more bass. When your levels are set high, some amps might begin to sound muddy. Most musicians just assume it’s the bass control, but the gain also plays a role here.

So the right balance is crucial to also keep clarity. Tube and solid-state amps will react differently from one another, so this will need to be experimented with to find the best setting.

Equalizer Controls

Next, your treble, middle and bass controls need to be set just right. A properly set EQ is a fundamental to good tone. To begin, start with all controls adjusted to halfway.

  1. Your treble control will adjust the brightness and clarity of the tone. Your setting will need to be above the halfway point with an amplifier like a Mesa Boogie. This will provide bite in your high-gain tone, but be careful not to make it harsh.
  2. The mids knob adds body and thickness to the sound. This is a primary control and will add to the throaty tone the Foo Fighters go after. When your sound is muddy, you can always back down the bass and add more mids for thickness.
  3. Your bass control will add fullness and low end to the sound. As with the treble, you want to be careful not to make it overbearing and loose. You want a thick, punchy sound, but you also don’t want to sacrifice fullness for clarity.

If your amplifier has depth or presence controls, these are normally used to enhance your main EQ. Set these to halfway initially and then adjust them to taste afterward.

Overall, don’t be afraid to use the full range of your controls to see what they can do for your sound.

Popular Foo Fighters Songs and Their Amp Settings

Once you are ready to try some Foo Fighters settings, it’s best to begin with some of your favorite songs by the band!

Everlong

This is a great example of the Foo Fighters sound. For this song, you want to set your amp to the following initially:

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

These are just general settings to get you in the ballpark. From there, you can make adjustments to your tone as needed.

With these settings, you will get the thick and punchy sound that the Foo Fighters are known for. For any of the lighter parts, simply roll your volume down on the guitar. This will slightly clean up your sound to match these parts.

Times Like These

This song is perfect for a cleaner crunch tone at some parts and then thick and heavier at others. The following settings should work well:

  • Gain: 5-6
  • Treble: 6
  • Mids: 7-8
  • Bass: 5
  • Presence: 4-5

Again, these are general settings to get you started. While the gain is set a bit lower, you can still achieve a good amount of distortion in the melodies.

The trick with this song is to use the volume knob on your guitar. For the lighter passages, back down the volume to clean things up. This will give you more control over your sound without having to adjust your amp settings.

Monkey Wrench

For an aggressive rock tone, this is a perfect song to try. In general, a good starting point for settings is:

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

This will give you a more aggressive tone, with plenty of distortion and a fuller sound in your power chords. But set your bass knob for a more punchy tone and focus on clarity.

A majority of high-gain amps and digital modelers can achieve this song with the right settings, so experiment until you get close.

Learn To Fly

This song is a good example of a more classic rock tone. You want to achieve a thick sound without sacrificing clarity. Start with these settings for this song:

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

These settings will give you a classic rock tone. They will work better with the right channel or preset on your amp.

It’s important to focus on the mids for this song, as that is where a lot of the thickness comes from.

You can also experiment with rolling back the volume on your guitar for some cleaner sections. This will help you achieve a more versatile sound without having to change your settings on the fly.

Otherwise, use your clean channel if your amp is designed with one. A Vox AC30-type sound will work great for the clean parts.

Check out our Alice In Chains amp settings here!

Foo Fighters Tone Tips

When you have tried all the suggested settings and just can’t seem to get it right, consider the following common troubleshooting tips.

  • If your amplifier is not able to get the thick crunchy sound that Foo Fighters uses, try a distortion pedal. Some great models can get these sounds quite easily.
  • If your tone is too thin, try lowering your treble control and adding more bass. Likewise, the gain setting is also important when trying to fill things out.
  • Don’t forget to use your guitar’s tone control. This is another great way of warming up your tone when things are too bright.
  • If your sound is too thick and muddy, try turning down your bass. This can be a great way of keeping things thick and punchy while keeping clarity. Add more mids and treble to try and resolve the issue as well.
  • Make sure that you are using different pickup positions as well. Your neck pickup will be much warmer than the bridge. Your bridge pickup can be a great way to introduce more bite and clarity.
  • If you are able, try using different electric guitars. While not every one of us can afford multiple instruments, if you are, then switch it up. Hollow Bodies are a favorite of Dave Grohl.
  • A different string gauge is also a good way of getting a thicker sound. This is common practice with rhythm players.
foo fighters amp setting tips infographic

Conclusion

Whether you are trying to get the perfect Foo Fighters tone for your band or just for fun, it’s important to keep experimenting. With a bit of trial and error and some expert advice, you should be able to achieve that perfect sound in no time.

Don’t forget to have fun while doing so, it’s a great way to have fun and learn new tricks.

FAQs

What amps do the Foo Fighters use?

The Foo Fighters have used a variety of amps over the years. For many of their albums, they used Mesa Boogie amps. Dave has also made it a point to use Vox AC30 amps for his clean tones.

What guitars do the Foo Fighters use?

The Foo Fighters have used many guitars for lots of sounds. Dave has been known to use Gibson Les Pauls, ES-355s, and Flying Vs. Chris Shiflett is keen on Fender Telecasters with humbuckers pickups installed.

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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!