5 Tips to Sound Like Blink 182 on Guitar

Are you trying to sound more like Blink 182 on guitar? Here’s the ultimate guide to replicating Tom DeLonge’s guitar tone. Please keep in mind that this is just a guide though. Unless you have the exact setup and skills, you won’t be able to get the exact tone, but you can definitely use these tips as a great starting point.

How to Sound Like Blink 182
  • Use the right guitars e.g. Strats, Jaguars, semi-hollow ES-333
  • Pick a good quality amp e.g. VOX AV/AC amps or a Marshall JMC 
  • Crank up the gain and treble 
  • Use pedal effects sparingly 
  • Practice your power chords, palm-muting, pull-offs and hammer-ons 

Blink 182 Guitars

If you really want to sound like Blink-182, then you should take a look at the guitars they play. Blink 182 famously sport Fender guitars like the Fender Stratocaster and the Fender Jaguar. 

Both of these guitars are known for their bright sounds. The Stratocaster is well known for it’s sharp and twangy tone, but the Jaguar pickups produce an even brighter sound. These are of course high-end instruments with premium price tags, but if you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, then check out the Squier Stratocaster or the Squier Jaguar.

As well as the bright and sharp sounding Fender models, Tom Delonge has also been seen using a ES-333. This guitar is produced by Gibson and their more entry level associated Epiphone brand. It’s a semi-hollow body electric guitar that’s based on the famous ES-335. Check out the Epiphone ES-333 Tom Delonge Signature Guitar on Guitar Center if you’re interested in this option. 

Blink 182 Amps

Blink 182 have used various amps throughout their career. They’re a fan of premium amp manafacturers like VOX, Marshall and Fender in particular. 

They’ve used the VOX AC30 which is a classic looking amplifier that has been very popular amongst British bands in particular. It’s versatile so adapts well to the clean verses and distorted choruses that Blink 182 famously play. 

The Marshall JMC900 is another popular British amp that Blink 182 have been seen using. It’s well known for doing the basics flawlessly and being uncomplicated and reliable. 

Blink 182 have also been seen using Fender Twin Reverb Amps. This amp is best known for producing an outstanding clean tone. 

Blink 182 Amp Settings

Blink 182 mainly use two different tones, a crunch punk rock tone and a clean tone. The clean tone is used almost exclusively in first verses, bridges and intros, whereas the distorted tone is used in the choruses but also throughout the entirety of some songs. If you want to sound like Blink 182, you’ll need to master both sounds. 

Clean Tone 

The clean tone is quite twangy and sharp. So you can try adjusting your amp to increase the treble. Go for around 7 and work from there. The exact setting will depend on your amp. Switching to the bridge pickup will help too. Have the gain as low as your amp will allow it, and set the bass to around 4 and mids to about 5. 

Distorted Tone 

The distorted tone is punchy and sharp, rather than muffled and flat. Switching to the bridge pickup will help to produce this clearer tone. Have the treble at around 7 and the bass and mids on around 4 to start with and then work from there. The gain also doesn’t usually have to be as loud as you might think. Aim to have your gain on about 7, and adjust it higher if necessary. Don’t go too high though, or you’ll use the classic crunchy tone. 

Some amps also have other controls such as presence and contour. Check out my complete guide to amplifier controls to learn how to adjust these controls and many more to get the best settings possible.

Make sure you also check out the brand-specific amp controls guide which is relevant to you, to get the most from your rig:

Blink 182 Pedal Effects

Blink 182 aren’t associated with using complicated or extensive pedal boards. Instead, they keep things simple. Here are a few pedals that can help you achieve a similar tone to the band. 

Overdrive Pedal

Being a punk band, rather than a metal band, Blink 182 use overdrive pedals more than distortion pedals. Overdrive pedals are used to mimic the sound of driving a tube amp hard enough to distort the signal produced on a clean setting. The result is a gritty and crunchy tone. It gives you more sustain without reducing the clarity of the tone, which can happen if you use a distortion pedal or crank the gain up on your amp too high. 

There are a few different types of overdrive pedal, but the most famous is the tube screamer. It produces an iconic tone associated with loads of famous guitarists. The Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer is the most popular option to help you achieve this tone. I was surprised on how cheap I could find it on Guitar Center

Delay Pedal 

Blink 182 also use delay pedals. These are pretty self-explanatory. They take a note or chord and play it back repeatedly. You can change the parameters like the number of repeats, rate of repeats and volume on most basic delay pedals. The Boss DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal will help you achieve this tone. 

Fuzz Pedals 

Fuzz pedals are also useful to help you replicate Blink 182’s sound. They produce a unique tone which can be described as fizzy and noisy. The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff is a great option to help you achieve this kind of tone. 

Guitar Technique

Sounding like Blink 182 isn’t all about using their guitars, amps and pedals. The best way to sound like them, is to play like them. Using all their equipment won’t help if you can’t master their technique. But improving your playing ability will go a lot further to help you sound like Blink 182. Here’s a few techniques you should think about practising!

Power Chords 

Power chords are the bread and butter of pretty much every rock band out there. Blink 182 almost exclusively use power chords when playing rhythm guitar so it’s vital that you master them properly. Here are some tips to make your power chords sound better. 

  • Make sure you mute any unused strings using your first finger. Rest it lightly on any strings that are not involved in the power chord.
  • Practice moving the power chord position around the fret board. Start slowly at first and work up the speed being careful not to get sloppy. 
  • Practise holding the power chord for longer than you’d normally need it. This will help build up strength in your fingers so you can hold the position more comfortably when it comes to performing the song. 

Next on the list of techniques used by Blink 182, is palm-muting. It’s used heavily during the verses of loads of songs including “What’s Your Name Again” and “Dammit”.

It results in a dampening effect on the string so it doesn’t ring out as it normally would. It’s not the hardest technique in the world but it takes a lot of practise. You need to dampen the sound but not too much so that it doesn’t have any sustain. Here’s how to do it.

  • Rest the outside of your strumming hand just before the bridge of your guitar.
  • Strum the strings using the plectrum whilst still maintaining contact with them using the outside of your hand. 
  • Adjust the amount of weight you put on the strings using the outside of your hand to dampen the sound less or more. 

Try this using only downstrokes and keeping the speed low until you master the amount of pressure you should put on the strings. Then increase the speed gradually and use upstrokes as well. Blink 182 use palm-muting using very quick strumming patterns. So you’ll need to build up your stamina and be patient to nail this technique!

Pull-Offs and Hammer-Ons 

Another technique you’ll need to master, is the hammer-on and pull-off. These are ways of changing notes without plucking the strings. 

Hammering-on, is when you fret a string and then fret a higher note without plucking. Pulling-off is when you fret a string high on the fretboard and then release this finger whilst also fretting a note lower on the same string. It’s basically a hammer-on in reverse. Here are some tips to improve this technique:

  • Press your finger hard on the fret when you hammer-on.
  • Make the movements swift and emphatic.
  • Practise slowly at first and then build up speed.
  • Practice hammering-on and pulling-off repeatedly at speed. 
  • Attempt the technique using each string at a time, working from thin to thick. This will help you build up your strength and stamina. 

Looking for more punk songs? Check out my complete guide to punk amp settings for more examples.

Want to learn to take your skills to the next level? Guitar Tricks makes learning to play guitar super easy. And it’s not all boring lessons either. It can teach you to play songs by your favourite artists with a library of over 1000 songs with new releases weekly. Check out Guitar Tricks to find out how to make the most out of your guitar!


So there you go! Those are the best tips for sounding like Blink 182 on guitar! Thanks for reading. Here are some other posts you might like.


Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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