How To Sound Like The Arctic Monkeys – A Complete Gear Guide
This is an October 2009 update, with loads of new info!Also updated December 2012, although not quite as much new info!
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.
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”. Back then, they had a much simpler setup:
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.
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 CE-1 chorus. If you want to get that vintage chorus tone then you're either going to need deep pockets and a lot of patience to score one on Ebay or turn to a quality emulation, like the one from Line 6 which offers a great number of beautiful vintage modulation effects.
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.
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 Vox 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. Dolphin Music has even a Arctic Monkey Bundle…worth a look!
- Fender Jazzmaster
- 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 RE-20
- Boss LS-2 Line Selector
- Dunlop Univibe
Listing all the Arctic Monkey gear currently available! Click Here
The pedal that started it all The distortion countless musicians such as Hendrix, Santana and Jack White relied on for its rich, creamy, violin-like sustain. A timeless piece, the Big Muff has been defining the sound of rock guitar for the past 30 years. Like the legendary Big Muff Pi of the '70s, the reissue Electro-Harmonix USA Big Muff…
In the middle ranges of the Output and Distortion controls, you'll find soft-clipped distortion tones that sound truly retro-authentic, especially when they're mixed with a splash of reverb. Pushing Distortion up higher produces classic fuzz tones that are finding their way onto an increasing number of albums. A welcome, enjoyable alternative to LA saturation and British crunch