Josh Homme has a very distinct guitar tone, and I have been speaking to Sen in the guitar department about how best to replicate this iconic sound.
Josh Homme, frontman of Queens of the Stone Age, has a distinct tone that has dominated the heavy rock scene. There are few guitar players with a tone as recognisably unique as his; one that was developed through the stoner-rock band Kyuss, into that heard in Queens of the Stone Age, and into Them Crooked Vultures. It’s fuzzy, yet clear. In-your-face, but somehow – not? With its mid-heavy sound, it’s a meaty tone, contrary to the popular Californian boosted lows and tops. Using a combination of amp distortion and fuzz, Josh Homme has that squeezed, clipped tone that stands out. You can find a list of his various gear online, but in honesty, Josh is certainly not keen on revealing how he achieves his trademark sound on particular tracks.
I was speaking to Sen in our guitar department about this, and he has come up with an affordable cheat-sheet way to Own the Tone, (specifically the one heard in Lullabies to Paralyse and Songs for the Deaf), without buying all 56 guitars, 31 amps and 33 pedals compiled on his Wikipedia page! Each item we’ve chosen is below the £300 mark, while still providing the tone, but we have suggested alternative options as well!
Epiphone G-400 Vintage SG - £289
With the right gear, you can match the Josh Homme tone with nearly any guitar, providing that is a humbucker. Josh Homme almost always uses a humbucker, which provides the creamy, chunky tone that is so recognisable when paired with the right amp and pedals. For this, Sen suggested that we go for an Epiphone Vintage SG.
Any humbucker guitar!
Orange Fur Coat Octave Fuzz - £119
Taking its inspiration from the popular fuzz pedals of the 1970s, a good place to start is the Fur Coat, by Orange. An octave fuzz pedal, with 4 controls and 2 switches, the pedal provides enough control, while locking into a Homme-esque fuzz without much fiddling. A volume control, EQ, fuzz level and octave level; this pedal is simple in nature, and if anything, it is a little understated. As Sen put it, “it growls with an authority that I don’t get with any other fuzz pedal”. He went on to explain that unlike other octave pedals, as this is a dual pedal, the octave is more of an accent, rather than a feature, which is why it lends itself so nicely to the tone.
When it comes to pedals, you’ll already know that there are thousands of options. Sen has chosen the best in terms of true-to-Josh Homme tone and price. However, here are some alternatives that we’ve also taken a look at what we think fit the bill!
If not going for a dual pedal, you’ll need to buy both a fuzz and an octave pedal!
Dunlop Silicon Fuzz Face - £116
Sen’s choice of amp was the Orange Micro Terror MT20, a 20 Watt lunchbox amp. This gives a nice, pinched sound, and really does come across as an angry little box. Pairing perfectly with the Orange Fur Coat, the Micro Terror gives the bark and the fuzz gives the bite, for a seriously commanding tone. The MT20 is the cheaper brother of the Brent Hinds Terror Amp, and the Dual Terror 30 Watt, which do provide an awesome tone, but are £460 and up, compared to the Micro Terror.
So there we have it. Use this cheat sheet to affordably replicate the tone which is so recognisably Josh Homme. As always, once you’re set up, have a play around! Find variations on the tone and call it yours. Keep your eyes peeled for more posts on how to Own the Tone.
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