How To Sound Like The Arctic Monkeys – A Complete Gear Guide
This is a November 2014 Update, with lots of new info at the end of this article, as well as featuring some suggestions for those who want a similar setup but on a smaller budget!
Arguably the biggest rock band in Britain right now, the Arctic Monkeys. Here’s a look at what gear they’ve been using in their gigs.
BEFORE WE START...QUICK "ALEX" TONE GUIDE (NEW!)
Here's a quick overview of recommended gear if you want an affordable setup that's similar to what Alex Turner has used through the years. Our Complete Gear Guide will then go into as much detail as possible regarding Alex Turner's (and to a small degree, Jamie Cook's) gear from their debut album all the way through "A.M."
We hope you'll enjoy! Please feel free to share, comment, and post suggestions or correct any info! This guide aims to be the most complete Arctic Monkeys guitar guide on the web...
How to get smiliar gear, on a budget!
Fender Standard Stratocaster
Epiphone Les Paul Custom
Orange Crush Pix 20LDX
Laney Cub 8
MXR Distortion +
Ibanez Tubescreamer TS9
Dunlop Fuzz Face Mini
Ibanez Tubescreamer TS808
TC Electronic Alter Ego Delay
THE COMPLETE ARCTIC MONKEYS GEAR GUIDE (2014 UPDATE)
Firstly, it’s good to point out that their current setup is quite different from the one they used to have when they were touring their first album, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”.
EARLY YEARS (Whatever You Say I Am, That's What I'm Not)
Singer/ guitarist Alex Turner had two Pro Co Rat 2 pedals, a Boss TU-2 Tuner (discontinued, now TU-3) and that was it. His amp of choice was an Orange AD30. His main guitar was a white Fender Standard Stratocaster. View Alex Turner pedalboard
Lead guitarist Jamie Cook ’s setup was fairly simple too: A Fender Telecaster 62 reissue. His pedals were a MXR Distortion+ , a Electro-Harmonix Big Muff and, at least for a while, he could be seen using a T-Rex Dr. Swamp twin distortion pedal. View Jamie Cook pedalboard.
He also had a Boss TU-2 Tuner (again, now TU-3). His amp back then was a Hiwatt Custom 50-Watt 2×12 Combo
Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys and Hiwatt Hi-Gain 50 combo plus Hiwatt Cabs
Both of them have always used a Dunlop DC Brick Power Supply.
Favourite Worst Nightmare Gear
The second Arctic Monkeys album sounds much more varied than their first one, and, indeed, it is reflected on their choice of pedals. Both guitarists use more FX onstage now.
from left: Alex pedals, Jamie’s pedalboard (click to enlarge)
Alex: His setup is entirely different now. In a few gigs this year he was still using the two Pro Co Rat 2, but it didn’t look as if he was using them at their recent Old Trafford gig. Instead, he was using an Ibanez Ts-808 Tubescreamer, one of the most classic overdrive pedals out there, used by everyone from Noel Gallagher to Stevie Ray Vaughn.
His other pedals are:
- Hughes & Kettner Tube Rotosphere, a preamp pedal that simulates the sounds of a Leslie speaker. Great stuff, also used by Franz Ferdinand, Oasis and others.
- Danelectro Reel Echo
- Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man
It appears that Alex also uses a Boss LS-2 Line Selector. He’s been using a Vox AC-30, as well. His main guitar now is the rare, discontinued Fender Bronco, very similar to the Fender Mustang, the main difference being that the Bronco, originally a starter guitar, has only one pickup.
above: Arctic Monkeys and their Vox AC-30 amps
Jamie: The lead Arctic Monkeys guitarist has quite a elaborate pedalboard now. Apart from the ever-reliable MXR Distortion pedal, his setup has completely changed. It seems, looking at recent photographs, that he uses a Little Big Muff now…maybe because it’s smaller and he has too many pedals now? Who knows…the Dr Swamp is nowhere to be seem, and instead he has:
- one Electro-Harmonix HOG, a polyphonic guitar synthesizer pedal.
- two Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man
- one Electro-Harmonix Pulsar tremolo pedal.
Jamie also uses a Boss LS-2 Line Selector, some sort of Wah/ Volume pedal and, according to some, a phaser pedal as well (which sits between the Big Muff and LS-2, but is not clear on any photograph we’ve seen). View Jamie’s new pedalboard.
Jamie Cook’s main guitar now is an old Gibson ES semi-acoustic model. Amp-wise, he still sticks to Hiwatts.
Arctic Monkeys 'Humbug' Gear
As ever, the Arctic Monkeys boys keep collecting new gear and changing their setup. Reports from the Electric Ladyland Studios in New York, where they recorded their new material, mentions the Fender Blender fx pedal.
Around that time, Alex started playing a few Fender Jazzmasters and custom-made guitars inspired by the Jazzmaster.
In order, here’s the pedals Alex Turner has used recently:
The Cornell First Fuzz fuzz pedal is a copy of the Fuzz Face, so if you want to have a Alex Turner fuzz sound, get the original Dunlop Fuzz Face!
Turner also seems to have been using a Coopersonic Valveslapper distortion, and, after his Tubescreamer, a MXR Micro Amp. He also uses an Electro-Harmonix Hum Debugger - an essential tool if you use vintage gear (which are noisier than new, modern ones)
Jamie Cook's pedalboard (above) has been slightly updated. He now uses a Boss RE-20 Space Echo, which is quickly becoming one of the most popular new fx from Boss...everyone just loves it! New effects include the Fulltone OCD overdrive and what appears to be a Z-Vez Super Duper Distortion (small orange box, 3 knobs and 2 footswitches...check!)Arctic Monkeys 'Suck It And See' Gear
In 2011 the Monkey's released their 4th studio album, representing something of a change to 'Humbug' by working once again with James Ford and practicing the songs more before entering the studio rather than experimenting whilst there. Similarly the guitar gear of Jamie and Alex hasn't changed a great deal, still rocking Fender guitars, great British amps and a vast array of pedals from classic Tubescreamers to a rare Roland/Boss DM-1 Delay.
This pedal seems to be one of Alex's favourites, and it is quite rare - and expensive! However, for those who want to get a similar delay tone, the best option is the new Boss DM-2W Waza Craft, a reissue of the other famous analogue "Delay Machine" by Boss.
The original DM-2 was simply a more compact version of the DM-1, the delay sounds were pretty much identical. Other pedals that recreate that organic delay sound are te TC Electronic Alter Ego and the TC Electronic Alter Ego X4 pedals.
Still there, the Cornell Fuzz, which means Alex is still loves a thick Fuzz Face-style fuzz.
Not as much is known about Nick O'Malley's bass pedal board but he can be seen using a great range of bass gear including a Fender Precision Bass and the eternal rock classic Ampeg SVT-VR amp with a big bass cab.
If you're looking for the organ tones of 505 or My Propeller then look no further than the Nord Electro 4 which the Monkey's have taken touring.
Arctic Monkey's A.M. Gear - 2014
The Arctic Monkeys are going for a classic rock'n'roll sound with A.M. Alex Turner now play mostly a Gibson Les Paul Custom and a Teardrop 12-string guitar (besides the Jazzmaster). Another important guitar is his Gretsch Duo Jet, which lends its unique tone to their hit single "R. U. Mine?"
As for Jamie, he seems to be using Gibson SG guitars a lot, now. In particular, a model similar to the Gibson Robby Krieger SG, with vintage-style tailpiece.
As for their pedalboards, we've noticed a few changes on Alex Turner's pedals of choice:
His most current setup includes: Boss Tuner, MXR Micro Amp, original Electro-Harmonix POG (discontinued and replaced by the POG 2), Ibanez TS-808 Tubescreamer, Boss LS-2 Line Selector, Morley A/B Switch, Coopersonic Valveslapper (on first pic it's the original model, on 2nd pic a newer version of the same pedal), Boss DM-1 delay and a Fulltone Mini Deja Vibe Chorus/Vibrato (a replacement to his old Rotosphere, it seems).
The Deja Vibe reproduces the classic Univibe sound from the sixties. It sounds identical to the cheaper MXR Uni-Vibe or the even better Korg NuVibe.
If you notice the settings of his POG, you'll see that the DRY OUTPUT is almost all the way up, with small hints of SUB OCTAVE and +1 OCTAVE. The LOW PASS FILTER is almost all the way up, meaning the sound he gets out of pedal won't be too bassy or "muddy". All other sliders (+1 Octave Detune, +2 Octave and +2 Octave detune) are down. Which means, more or less, that you could get a similar tone simply using the cheaper Micro POG!
Amp-wise, Alex goes for vintage tube amps for a classic tone, using two amps: A classic Selmer Zodiac, and a smaller 5-watt Magnatone 410, though by no means those are the only ones he uses - it can be Fenders or others, depending on tour circunstances!
A good choice if you want a similar setup is to get a Laney Cub 8 valve amp, which is very cheap and, just like Alex's Magnatone 410, is a 5-watt amp with a single 6V6 valve.
Getting the sound:
If you want to get an “Arctic Monkeys sound” but don’t want to break the bank there are some quite good alternatives: A cheap Orange Crush or small Blackstar Valve amp can get you all the crunchy tones you need. Squier Strats and Teles or a Epiphone Semi-Acoustic can do a good job and offer a good, affordable alternative, too.
- Fender Arctic White American standard Stratocaster (maple fretboard)
- Black Mexican standard Fender Stratocaster guitar (maple fretboard)
- Black Fender Bronco with a black pickguard and rosewood fretboard
- Gretsch Spectra Sonic
- Ovation Viper
Amps and Cabinets
- Orange AD30T amplifiers (used in the past)
- Fender Vibrolux for clean tones
- Selmer Zodiac 30 watt for more distorted tones
Effects and More
- Pro Co Rat 2 distortion pedals- Boss TU-2 tuner
- Ibanez TS-808 Vintage Tubescreamer overdrive pedal
- Danelectro Reel Echo
- Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere MK2
- Boss RE-20
- Boss LS-2 Line Selector
- Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man
- Dunlop DC Brick Power Supply
- Dunlop Univibe
NEW! VISIT THE ARCTIC MONKEYS ARTIST PAGE AT DOLPHIN
Listing all the Arctic Monkey gear currently available! Click Here
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