Mastering the Amp Settings for the Metallica Sound 

When naming the best metal bands of all time, you simply have to place Metallica near the top. This is a band that does more than just make great, meaningful music. Metallica has also managed to stick around for almost four decades, entertaining audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

The band has also inspired quite a few musicians to recreate their music. Half the fun is in trying to figure out just what makes them such a metal staple. If this is something you are trying to do as well, you could certainly use some guidance with the Metallica amp settings.

If so, this article will help you dissect all things Metallica amp-related. So, without further ado, here is what you need to know.

Dissecting the Metallica Sound

If there is one thing that defines Metallica, it is evolution. This isn’t a band that was satisfied with simply doing the same things over and over again. Sometimes, the results were pure magic and other times, well… perhaps those are best forgotten.

Regardless of what the outcome was, Metallica has never been afraid to take chances. This is why you find the raw, adrenaline-driven Kill ’Em All followed by the almost symphonic Ride the Lightning. As such, it can be tough to narrow down the exact ‘sound’ of Metallica.

At the same time, this does give provide you with more opportunities if you are trying to get their sound just right. Depending on your capabilities – and gear – you have a lot more options to play around with.

The Original Metallica Amps

Now, if you are so inclined, you can find the same amps that James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett actually relied on when recording songs. After all, most guitarists will readily share this information at interviews and their sound guys are only too happy to help as well.

For most of their careers, both Hetfield and Hammett worked with Mesa/Boogie amps. They used the Mark IIC+ when recording both the Master of Puppets and And Justice For All albums. This is what gave them that tight and saturated distortion.

Hetfield has been known to switch things up with the Diezel VH4 amplifiers and he worked with this a lot on St. Anger. Another favorite was the Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus. Use this and you will be able to recreate the opening riff for Welcome Home (Sanitarium). These days, though, James tend to stick with the Mesa TriAxis preamps and pairs it with Simul-Class 2:90 power amps.

Hammett has graduated from using the Mesa/Boogie amps. This, of course, is largely to do with the fact that he has his own signature line with Randall. So, he mostly uses these now.

Amps vs. Amp Settings

Now, what you will realize about the Mesa/Boogie amps is that they come with a hefty price tag attached. As you can imagine, if the members of Metallica can afford them – you probably can’t. The silver lining here, nonetheless, is that you don’t actually need that gear to recreate these songs.

See, the real magic is with the Metallica amp settings. Technically, you can pick up virtually any good amp and be able to play One, Nothing Else Matters, or any other Metallica song without too much difficulty. That, of course, is provided that you know how to tune your amps.

An Amp Settings Guide to the Metallica Albums

While the members of the band may have been forthcoming about their gear, they didn’t actually take the time to write down the amp settings. So, for the most part, people have had to use a lot of guesswork and a bit of luck to get the settings down right.

Fortunately, a few guitarists have been successful in narrowing down the settings. As such, there is a general consensus of what they are. Here are the settings, ordered by album:

Kill Em All

  • Gain – 8
  • Bass – 8.5
  • Mid – 1.5
  • Treble – 10

Ride The Lightning

  • Gain – 7
  • Bass – 6
  • Mid – 1
  • Treble – 9 – 10

Master Of Puppets

  • Gain – 7
  • Bass – 6
  • Mid – 3
  • Treble – 7
  • Reverb – 1

… And Justice For All (Clean Sound)

  • Bass – 10
  • Mid – 3.5
  • Treble – 8.5

Black Album

  • Gain – 9
  • Bass – 8
  • Mid – 1
  • Treble – 6
  • Reverb – 4

Load and Reload (Clean Sound)

  • Gain – 2
  • Bass – 4
  • Mid – 2
  • Treble – 5

St. Anger (Clean Sound)

  • Gain – 2
  • Bass – 5
  • Mid – 5
  • Treble – 6

Death Magnetic (Clean Sound)

  • Gain – 2
  • Bass – 5
  • Mid – 2
  • Treble – 6

Hardwired… To Self-Destruct

  • Gain – 5
  • Bass – 4
  • Mid – 7
  • Treble – 8

So, there you have it, the amp settings for your favorite (and not-so-favorite) albums. Now, remember, depending on the amps you are using, the resulting sound might not be an exact match. However, this just gives you the chance to put your very own spin on it, much like Metallica has been doing for all of these years.

Natalie
 

Hey there, my name is Natalie Landecker and I am the creator and main contributor to this site. My love for guitar and music has existed for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a musically inclined household and my love for music bloomed very early on. This site is a way for me to share what I am most passionate about – everything to do with guitars.