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If you’re searching for some good amps or pedals for doom metal for your rig, you might need to check several options and consider what makes a suitable one for this extreme genre.
In this article we’ll go through what to consider, the main features that you need for a great sound and (finally) what models and particular brands to consider.
WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR A GOOD SOUND IN YOUR SIGNAL CHAIN
What is the best amp or pedal for this dark heavy metal music?
This particular subgenre of metal heavily focuses on brutal and strong distortion, but the fact is that even with a hell of a distortion you still need to have solid foundations (aka good clean channels and sounds).
This is because, even if saturations and gain tend to flatten the dynamics and the EQ, this doesn’t mean that you can start from the beginning with a bad gear: doing things like this will result in a muddy and definitely not defined sounds and not clear playing.
Having a good clean will result, on the other hand, in nicer chords and also definitely better solos, without having your audience wonder if they’re hearing a guitar or an undefined low sound coming from under the ground of your playing stage.
Making sure that you can also use your cleans isn’t all you need: it is definitely one of the most evident thing, but why trying for the bare minimum when you can try to reach the top?
THE MAIN FACTORS TO CONSIDER
- EQ and Range: you need a good amount of body (mid frequencies) for your sound, and also great bass (because that’s the range of frequencies that can seriously influence how “brutal and doomed” you can sound;
- Distortion: having a great distortion and saturation directly built-in in the amp can make a lot of things easier, as you won’t need to rely only on your distortion pedals (even if it is usually necessary to use one as well);
- great cleans: as said before, having a model that sounds great with cleans will probably mean that it will have a good sound even when heavily distorted, as well as great clarity;
- Solidity: despite seeming a side factor, this is always important for live gigs and playing, as a malfunction can definitely be one of the major problems during a session.
1 – ORANGE OR15H 15W: A CLASSIC BEAST
Orange amps are some very well known models in metal thanks to the huge amount of mids and lows that they can provide: for example, the doom band Sleep’s guitarist, Matt Pyke, used one of those for the album “Holy Mountain”.
In particular, the Orange OR15H 15W (a Tube Head) is particularly good for this subgenre of metal thanks to the clean sound of the tubes as well as the great mids that it gives when you add some gain (or in this case A LOT of gain), and it can also be switched down from 15 W to 7 W for less volume.
- Tube amp head with 15W of output: the used tubes are 3 tubes of the model ECC83s for the Pre-amp, 2 EL84 tubes for Power-amp and 1 12AT7 tube for the effects loop;
- 1 channel;
- A master volume control, a gain control and 3 knobs for EQ , letting you adjust bass, mids and treble with their dedicated control;
- You can switch to a less loud mode, going from 15W of output to 7W of output.
- Great and very versatile tube sound used by lots of guitarists for rock and metal music;
- The gain of the amp is very well done and can give you “that” sound even on its own without lots of other pedals;
- lots of mids and bass frequencies that can give big depth to your sound;
- You can switch to a less loud mode with the 7W built-in switch;
- effects loop available
You can also hear a demo on Youtube here.
- It’s only a head, so you’ll have to buy a separated speaker, and it might be not very suitable for every budget
2. MARSHALL M-DSL5CR: THE COMBO DOOM AMP
This tube combo amp is one of the most versatile from Marshall catalogue, having 2 channels, 2 controls, Volume and Gain, for the “Classic Gain” (that’s how it is called on the controls) and 2 separated knobs for “Ultra Gain”, for heavier styles.
Another good thing is that despite the 5W output you can enable a “home practice” mode that will let you play with the same settings but with a reduced power output of 0.5W, a blessing if you (or probably the others) don’t want to blast the house with heavy metal riffs.
- 5W of output, that can be reduced to 0.5 (for home practice);
- 8 knobs: 2 for Classic Gain (volume and gain), 2 for Ultra Gain (the same volume and gain), 3 Equalisation knobs (Bass, Middle and Treble) and a knob for the built-in Reverb effect, and 3 buttons (Channel Select, Tone Shift, and deep EQ shift);
- FX Loop available;
- 2 Channels that can be easily footswitched;
- 2 Preamp valves model ECC83 and 1 Power amp valve model 12BH7
- Double channel for gain and for even-more-gain;
- A lot of controls that let you adjust the EQ and the tone;
- Power output that can be adjusted for less volume during practice;
- FX Loop;
- Built-in Digital Reverb effect;
- Great control during your playing thanks to the included Footswitch that let you change Gain channel even on stage during a gig
- Lots of mids and Bass
- Medium-high price, but at least this is a combo amp, so you don’t necessarily have to use and buy a separated cab for the speakers
3. ORANGE MICRO DARK: THE BUDGET AMP OPTION
This micro amplifier is definitely one of the best budget options for metal music, with less than 200$ you can still get a great sound with the signature sound of Orange products and the features of this model, specifically designed for hard rock and heavy metal.
With this model you can also get a fairly good tube sound, and the fact that this only has 1 tube in the Preamp and is in fact an hybrid model (so obviously the sound won’t be the same as a full-tube model) makes this way cheaper but still capable of giving a good amount of tube punch to your electric guitar’s sound.
- One tube in preamp section, model 12AX7;
- Available with head-only (you have to buy a separated speaker cabinet);
- Output Wattage: 20 Watt;
- Controls, Gain, Shape, Volume controls;
- CabSim circuit for headphones, that let you hear an optimised sound while playing with headphones during home practice or other situations where you have to play in a quieter way.
- Low price;
- You definitely hear that there is a tube somewhere inside (not like the true tube amplifiers but well, less tube means less price);
- The sound is great for metal;
- Optimised headphone output for home practice
- nothing (and at this price you can say that this is one of the most valuable model for the money you pay).
BEST EFFECTS PEDALS FOR DOOM METAL FOR YOUR PEDALBOARD
1. PROCO RAT 2
The Proco Rat is one of the most well know distortion pedals, and for good reasons.
If you don’t have money for a new amp and you still want a good doom sound, you can probably compensate your need for Gain with this model, at a relatively low price, taking your doom metal pedalboard to a whole new level as well.
You can hear a demo with ProcoRat used for doom here on Youtube
- Versatile and with the sound of a tube beast, great both for rhythm and lead players;
- Silicon clipping type (versatile sound for hard rock and metal as well as a good amount of compression);
- Good headroom with a great palette of mids;
- Can also be used without gain setting as a Boost pedal (Gain put to 0 or very low and adjusting the volume knob alone)
- Great for both leads and rhytmh guitar;
- tube-like sound pedal;
- Low price;
- Can also be used as a Boost
- nothing bad comes to mind
2. BEHRINGER SF300
This pedal (as for the vast majority of Behringer pedals) has a very low price even between the cheap guitar effects, and also below 50$, and despite that affordable pricing it can still deliver a good fuzzy tone to your metal playing.
This is also capable of generating a huge wall of fuzzy sound, coming very close to the signature sound of Electric Wizard’s “Dopethrone” album and also Monolord guitar tones, making this one of the best fuzz pedals for this genre.
- 3 different modes: classic Fuzz (called Fuzz 1 on the pedal), Grunge (called Fuzz 2, for a more aggressive sound) and Gain Boost (simply called “Boost” on the enclosure, for even more punch), and for doom metal the mode 2 can be a great healp in shaping your tone, as well as 3 if you want to experiment a bit more;
- separate control knobs for level and gain, as well as EQ for bass and treble
- Very low price but still a great sound;
- Very similar to that kind of fuzzy sound that you need for nailing the tone of the metal subgenre
- Behringer pedals can be quite delicate (as the enclosure is made in plastic) but given the price range this is fairly understandable
3. EHX BIG MUFF
This classic distortion effect has indeed a huge versatility, so no wonder that it can also spice up your tone for metal music as well as the rock tones that made this little box famous between electric guitarists.
This stompbox also has a great sustain, as well as true bypass and a very transparent EQ: all these things mean that your tone won’t be ruined by the circuits of the big muff and won’t make a worse guitar tone.
- Versatile distortion pedal that can be used for metal tones as well as rock tones;
- 3 commands: Volume, Tone and Sustain
- A lot of sustain;
- Transparent EQ, and it won’t alter a lot your treble and bass sound frequencies;
- True bypass;
- Silicon transistor (more treble frequencies boosted)
- Very versatile;
- Huge distortion;
- Transparent circuit
4. EARTHQUAKER DEVICES HOOF V2
This hybrid germanium/silicon fuzz pedal (with the benefits of both, enhanced mids from germanium and better treble from silicon) can be another good fuzz for metal music thanks to the rich mids and treble and the great added gain for your pedalboard and amp setup.
The controls also let you adjust the EQ, but having just one knob for that you have a limited control (the Shift knob can let you control only the Mids output of this fuzz box).
- 4 control knobs: Shift (for adjusting mids, clockwise for scooped mids, counterclockwise for boosted mid frequencies), Tone (left for bass, right for trebl), Level and Fuzz;
- Germanium and Silicon hybrid design;
- From dirty amp-like sound to a huge fuzz sound;
- True bypass;
- Metal housing and durable construction
- Versatile sound thanks to the hybrid design;
- From dirty amp overdrive to huge fuzz;
- Durable housing;
- True bypass
- Limited EQ control
CONCLUSION: CHOOSING THE BEST GEAR
The article has introduced a selection of amplifiers and pedals tailored for doom metal, each offering its unique characteristics to help you achieve the desired tone:
- The Orange OR15H 15W Tube Head, renowned for its mid-range and low-end power, is an excellent choice for achieving that distinct doom sound. Its versatile options, including the switchable wattage, make it a versatile companion for any doom guitarist.
- The Marshall M-DSL5CR Tube Combo Amp offers a blend of classic and ultra gain channels, making it adaptable for various styles within the doom genre. Its adjustable wattage and ample controls allow for precise tonal shaping.
- The Orange Micro Dark, an affordable option, provides a significant tube punch for your sound. Despite its compact size and hybrid design, it delivers a satisfyingly gritty tone suitable for doom.
The article also explores a selection of pedals to enhance your doom metal pedalboard:
- The Proco Rat 2 distortion pedal, known for its versatility and tube-like sound, is a budget-friendly choice that can significantly enhance your doom sound.
- The Behringer SF300 fuzz pedal, despite its affordability, delivers a massive wall of fuzzy sound, making it a valuable addition to your pedalboard for achieving those quintessential doom tones.
- The EHX Big Muff distortion pedal offers versatility and a transparent EQ, preserving your guitar’s tonal integrity while delivering a hefty dose of distortion.
- The EarthQuaker Devices Hoof V2 fuzz pedal, with its hybrid germanium/silicon design, provides rich mids and treble, making it a suitable option for crafting doom metal tones.
Ultimately, selecting the best gear for doom metal involves finding a balance between distortion, EQ, and durability. These carefully chosen amplifiers and pedals can serve as valuable tools in your quest to create the crushing and evocative soundscapes that define the doom metal genre. Whether you’re a seasoned doom guitarist or just starting your journey into this genre, this article provides a solid foundation for building your ideal doom metal rig. Happy dooming!