Sound Like The Strokes: Amp Settings and Gear

The Strokes are what some would say, the return of a British invasion, but from an all-American angle.

Their sound is a garage-rock/post-punk revival. It has been lovingly dubbed The New Rock Revolution. Their sound is not overly complicated. But still requires the right gear and amplifier settings.

In this Killer Rig guide, we’ll show you how to get The Strokes amp settings right so that their sound is under your fingers.

What Is The Strokes’ Sound?

The Strokes have a very signature sound that is often imitated but never duplicated. It’s a mix of garage rock and post-punk, with a touch of new wave thrown in for good measure. Their songs are catchy and often have an anthemic quality to them.

The key to getting The Strokes’ sound is to have the right amplifier settings. They are a very guitar-driven band, so you’ll want to make sure that your amp is set up correctly.

The right amp settings for The Strokes will give you a raw, garage-rock sound that is perfect for their music.

Some quick amp settings for The Strokes are:

  • Gain: 4
  • Treble: 7
  • Mids: 5
  • Bass: 6
  • Reverb: 3

The above settings are just a starting point. You’ll want to experiment with them until you find the perfect sound for your setup.

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

What Gear Is Needed For The Strokes’ Sound?

Sounding like The Strokes is quite easy with the right gear. Equipment like:

  1. A guitar with both single-coil and humbucker pickups or coil taps would be ideal. Otherwise, a Fender Stratocaster or similar guitar is preferred. If you are able, it would be best to also have a semi-hollow body model for better tone capture.
  2. The right guitar amp is also very important. In this case, you will want to use a Fender Hot Rod or similar amplifier. A Vox AC30 and some Hiwatt style amps can also do this sound well.
  3. For some overdrive, you will need to get your hands on the right pedal. Something like a JHS color box or Klon Centaur-type overdrive.

The Strokes Amp Settings

While the gear used is quite straightforward to get, you will also need to know how to set them up to get the right sound.

the strokes amp setting infographic

Gain Control

To get the right distortion for The Strokes’ sound, you will need to set the gain on your amplifier to about four. This will give you a raw, garage-rock sound that is perfect for their music.

Because their sound is very bright and clean, the gain settings can be tricky to set. You don’t want to set it too low as this will result in a lack of bass. Too high and it can lose focus on the sound you are going for.

When setting the gain, try to find the right balance of bass, depth, and clarity. Then proper equalization will come next.

Check out our Arctic Monkey’s amp settings here.


Learning to set your EQ controls right is very important to get the right tone for The Strokes.

  1. The treble control should be set to around seven. This will give you the bright, clean tone that is signature to their sound. This depends on the guitar you are using and may require less.
  2. The mids control adds thickness to your sound. This can be set relatively high, just try to prevent the tone from becoming boxy.
  3. Bass is also important as you do not want too much that the sound may become muddy. Setting your gain control to the desired level first is always best. Then set your bass knob to taste to retain clarity.

The Strokes Amp Settings Of Popular Songs

If you are ready to start getting your tone in line with The Strokes, then it’s best to try some of their popular songs.


The opening riff to this song is one of the most recognizable by The Strokes. It’s a great example of their garage-rock sound. There are a few different guitar tones going on, but they are easily obtained with the same gear.

To get this tone, set your amp’s control as follows:

  • Gain: 4
  • Treble: 7
  • Mids: 5
  • Bass: 6

Hard To Explain

This song has a bit more of a post-punk sound to it. The tone is still very clean and bright, but there is a bit more overdrive added in on some electric guitar parts.

Set your amp with these settings:

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


This song is a bit more distorted than the previous two and has more of a ‘wall of sound’ type of feel to it. The guitars are still very clean, but there is a lot going on.

For this sound, set your amp like this:

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

Check out our guide on clean amp settings here!

You Only Live Once

This song has a bit more of a 80s feel to it and is one of The Strokes’ more popular songs. The tone is still quite clean, but a touch of reverb added in is nice. For the distorted parts, use a fuzz or overdrive pedal.

To get this sound, set your amp to:

  • Gain: 4
  • Treble: 7
  • Mids: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Reverb: 2-3

The Strokes are a great band to learn how to get a good guitar tone. With the right gear and settings, you can easily get their signature sound.

Check out our John Mayer amp settings here.

Tone Tips For The Strokes

Have tried everything you can think of to sound like The Strokes? But maybe you just can’t get their tone. Here are some things to add to the list.

  • Single-coil and P-90 pickups are perfect for The Strokes’ sound. If you have warmer-sounding humbuckers, then you will need to try and brighten up the tone. Do so by turning down the bass and increasing treble and mids.
  • If your sound is too thin, try turning down your treble control. You can also try warming up your sound using the guitar’s tone control.
  • If your sound is too aggressive, lower your gain control and try and find a good, clean tone.
  • When your bass is too muddy or overwhelming, turn it down to try and clean it up. If this doesn’t work, then the gain control might be a bit too high.
  • Your choice of pickup will help you get the right tones. Use a combination of selections between bridge and neck and see what works best.


Now that you know the Strokes’ amp settings and what they use to get their tone, go out and experiment. With a bit of practice, you will be able to get their sound in no time.


What amps do The Strokes use?

The Strokes use a variety of amps, but their main ones are the Fender Hot Rod Deville and Princeton reverb.

What guitars do The Strokes use?

Some guitars used by The Strokes include the Fender Stratocaster. Even the Gibson Les Paul, and Nick Valensi’s own signature Epiphone Riviera.

Photo of author

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!