How to Sound Like Aerosmith: Amp Settings Guide


Aerosmith have countless classic rock and blues songs which many electric guitarists love learning. It’s not just about learning the riffs if you want to sound like Joe Perry and Brad Whitford though, you’ll need to dial in the right amp settings too.

In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of setting up your amp to sound like Aerosmith on the electric guitar and take you through plenty of example settings for some of their most popular songs.

Quick Guide to Aerosmith Amp Settings

To sound like Aerosmith on the electric guitar, start with the following amp settings:

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 6
  • Reverb: 2

It’s important to remember that these example amp settings are designed to be used as a starting point. Unless you are using Joe Perry’s or Brad Whitford’s exact rigs for a particular song, it’s almost impossible to sound exactly like them. However, to make this article as useful as possible, I’ll take you through the fundamentals first, followed by some presets and finally wrap things up with fixes for common problems.

The Basics

Before we go and dive into some presets for Aerosmith’s most popular songs, let’s take a look at the settings which underpin their tone so you can get a good understanding of how to emulate it using your particular rig. Let’s look at the following three key areas:

  • Gain
  • EQ
  • Effects

Gain

Aerosmith songs have a crunchy, British kind of distortion which means that the gain setting will usually be fairly moderate for most songs. It’s important to consider the two types of amp here: solid state and valve (tube).

If you have a solid state amp (most reading this probably will), then you’ll want to start with your gain on 5. The key is to get a good level of overdrive but without it being too heavy.

If you have a tube (valve) amp, then you’ll need to crank this so you achieve an overdrive tone, rather than a heavily distorted one. This will vary depending on the amount of headroom the amp has.

Alternatively, you can use an overdrive/ distortion pedal run through a clean amp to achieve a good level of gain by following the same rules as above.

The type of amp will influence how much gain you really need. If you have something like an Orange amp which is quite high gain already, you may not need the gain setting as high. However, if you have something a bit cleaner like a Fender, then the gain will need to be higher. For something like a Marshall, starting on 5 is a good idea.

EQ/ Tone (Bass, Mids, Treble)

The EQ section of the amplifier shapes the tone. For some amps, you’ll have individual bass, mids and treble controls and for others you’ll have a single control called something like EQ or tone.

The bass control adjusts the low-end frequencies and helps to provide depth. It’s a good idea to start with this on around 5 to begin with to make sure the tone is full but not loose.

The mids control is really important in determining Aerosmith’s tone. You’ll usually need this on around 6 at least to provide plenty of depth to the tone. If the tone sounds thin, turn it up, if it sounds to dominating in the mix then you can turn it down.

The treble control adjusts the high-end frequencies so affects how bright and crisp the tone is. It’s a good idea to start with this on 6 to begin with to provide you with enough definition. If the tone is too harsh and interfering with the vocals, turn it down. If it sounds too muddy, turn it up.

If you have a single EQ/ tone control then this will usually need to be in a central position, or turned slightly clockwise (turned up) to favour the treble frequencies.

It’s important to note that using different pickups will heavily influence what the EQ controls should be set to. If you are using single coil pickups, then you’ll likely need less treble and more bass and mids. On the other hand, if you are using humbucker pickups then you may need more treble and less bass and mids.

Also, depending on whether you’re playing Joe Perry’s or Brad Whiford’s parts, the EQ controls will need to be altered. Although there’s not a dramatic difference between their tones in most songs, Perry often plays lead guitar which means the treble and mids need to be a bit higher compared to the rhythm parts played by Whitford.

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:

Effects

Although Aerosmith have used plenty of pedals, don’t worry if you don’t have access to loads of effects. To get very close to Aerosmith tones you can get away without using many effects. However, here are some that may be useful:

  • Reverb: you can use a separate reverb pedal or the reverb built into your amplifier. This will stop your tone sounding dry and lifeless and is useful in most Aerosmith songs.
  • Compressor: this will help to make the tone a bit smoother and improve the sustain.
  • Booster/ Overdrive: this is useful for switching to solos.
  • Flanger: useful for some songs e.g. Walk This Way

Next, let’s take a look at some example amp settings for Aerosmith’s most popular songs. Keep in mind that these are not the exact settings used by Aerosmith, and they will likely need tweaking slightly to suit your rig, but they can be used as a good starting point. Don’t worry if thing’s don’t sound perfect when you plug them in, in the next section I’ll address some common issues you might have.

Walk This Way Amp Settings

  • Gain: 6
  • Bass: 6
  • Mids: 4
  • Treble 4
  • Reverb: 2

Same Old Song and Dance Amp Settings

Lead:

  • Gain: 4
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 7
  • Reverb: 3

Rhythm:

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 6
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 4
  • Reverb: 2

I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing Amp Settings

  • Gain: 3
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 7
  • Reverb: 3

Dream On Amp Settings

Clean:

  • Gain: 1
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 6
  • Reverb: 4

Distorted:

  • Gain: 6
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 5
  • Reverb: 2

Cryin’ Amp Settings

Lead:

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 7
  • Reverb: 2

Rhythm:

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 5
  • Treble: 5
  • Reverb: 1

Crazy Amp Settings

Lead

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 6
  • Reverb: 2

Rhythm:

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 5
  • Treble: 5
  • Reverb: 2

Sweet Emotion Amp Settings

Clean (Intro):

  • Gain: 1
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 5
  • Reverb: 4

Distorted:

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 5
  • Reverb: 2

Eat The Rich Amp Settings

Lead

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 5
  • Treble: 5
  • Reverb: 2

Rhythm

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 6
  • Reverb: 2

Cryin’ Amp Settings

Lead:

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 5
  • Treble: 4
  • Reverb: 1

Rhythm:

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 6
  • Reverb: 2

Last Child Amp Settings

  • Gain: 4
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 5
  • Reverb: 2

I’ve also made an article with example amp settings for over 40 popular guitar songs here to help you sound more like your favourite players.

Common Issues

Don’t worry if you’ve plugged in the settings above and it doesn’t sound spot on yet. I’ve listed some common issues here and how to fix them to make sure you can sound as close as possible to Aerosmith.

In each section, multiple “fixes” are listed. However, you should work through each fix at a time and listen for the differences. It may be that one tweak to a single setting is all you need! Just adjust the control by 2-3 points at a time and then play a bit and see whether it’s fixed the proble.

Dull and Dry Tone

  • Add some reverb
  • Increase the treble
  • Increase the mids

High Feedback

  • Decrease the gain
  • Decrease the volume
  • Position the amp in front of the guitar and as far away from it as you can
  • Use a noise gate pedal

Muddy and Muffled Tone

  • Make sure you are using the bridge pickup and that the guitar’s volume and tone controls are on full
  • Increase the treble
  • Decrease the bass

Not Enough Sustain

  • Increase the gain
  • Increase the bass
  • Increase the mids
  • Use a compressor pedal

Tone Sounds Weak Instead of Punchy

  • Increase the mids
  • Increase the gain
  • Increase the bass
  • Use a distortion pedal

Frequently Asked Questions

What amps did Aerosmith use?

Aerosmith have used a range of electric guitar amplifiers through their career including Marshalls and Fenders.

What guitars did Aerosmith use?

Aerosmith’s Joe Perry is best known for using a Gibson Les Paul and Brad Whitford is best known for using Les Pauls and Stratocasters, however both guitarists have used a range of guitars over their careers.

Here are some more articles you might find useful:

Heather

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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