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.

Own the Tone

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!

GUITAR

Epiphone G-400 Vintage SG - £289

Epiphone G-400 Vintage SG Electric Guitar - Worn Brown

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.

Alternatives

Any humbucker guitar!

PEDAL

Orange Fur Coat Octave Fuzz - £119

Orange Fur Coat Octave Fuzz Pedal


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.

Alternatives

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!

 Dual Pedals

Electro Harmonix Soul POG Octave Drive - £245

 Electro Harmonix Soul POG Octave Drive

Catalinbread Octapussy Octave Fuzz - £136

Catalinbread Octapussy Octave Fuzz

If not going for a dual pedal, you’ll need to buy both a fuzz and an octave pedal!

Fuzz Pedals

Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Gypsy Fuzz - £144

Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Gypsy Fuzz

Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi - £81

Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi

Dunlop Silicon Fuzz Face - £116

Dunlop Silicon Fuzz Face

 
Octave Pedals

Electro Harmonix POG 2 Polyphonic Octave Pedal - £295

Electro Harmonix POG 2 Polyphonic Octave Pedal

Mooer MPO1 Pure Octave Effects Pedal - £58

Mooer MPO1 Pure Octave Effects Pedal

Electro Harmonix Nano POG Polyphonic Octave Generator - £187

Electro Harmonix Nano POG Polyphonic Octave Generator

 

 AMP

Orange Micro Terror MT20 20W Hybrid Guitar Amp Head - £109

Orange Micro Terror MT20 20W Hybrid Guitar Amp Head


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.

Alternatives

Orange Brent Hinds Terror Signature 15 Watt Guitar Amp Head - £569

Orange Brent Hinds Terror Signature 15 Watt Guitar Amp Head

Orange Jim Root #4 Terror 15 Watt Guitar Head - £465

 Orange Jim Root #4 Terror 15 Watt Guitar Head

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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