How to Sound Like Linkin Park: Amp Settings Guide


The Linkin Park tone guitar tone can be pretty hard to dial in. Most players simply crank up the gain, but there’s more that goes into the sound than just distortion.

In this article, I’ll be taking you through how to set your amp to get the Linkin Park tone. First, I’ll go through the basics, then I’ll jump into each album and dissect the amp settings a bit more. So let’s get started.

The Quick Answer

To sound like Linkin Park in the earlier albums like Meteor and Hybrid Theory, you’ll need high gain and bass settings on your amp to produce a smooth distorted tone. The Minutes to Midnight and Living Things albums have a thinner more overdriven tone, so increase the treble and decrease the bass. For the later tone, in “The Hunting Party” album the mids are lower and the treble higher, producing a crunchier, saturated tone.

The Basics

So what do you think of when you think about Linkin Park’s guitar tone? For me, it’s characterised as a thick wall of sound. The beefy distortion is best described as smooth than crunchy, and sounds dark, full and warm. So how is this achieved?

Granted, Linkin Park’s tone did change quite a bit over the years. In the earlier albums, the tone was very dark, full and distorted, however, in the later albums it became a little crisper and not quite as thick.

If you want a good starting point for Linkin Park’s tone, I’d go with these settings.

  • Gain: 10
  • Treble: 6
  • Bass: 8
  • Mids: 5

If the tone sounds too muddy, then dial back the bass, and increase the treble. If the tone sounds too thin, increase the bass and mids, this will thicken out the tone.

A lot of Linkin Park’s tone is due to the heavily compressed distortion. If you’ve got a decent amp, then you may be able to achieve this very thick and heavy tone. If it sounds a little too thin and weak, then consider investing in a distortion pedal.

Useful Pedal Effects

You don’t need a tonne of pedal effects to get the Linkin Park tone, but there are definitely a few that could be beneficial, particularly if you’re amp isn’t built for distorted tones.

There are two things you need plenty of: distortion, and compression. This will give you enough sustain to produce that “wall of sound”.

Compression and distortion pedals will be the two most important pedal effects if you really want to dial in Brad Delson’s tone.

Hybrid Theory

The very early Linkin Park guitar tone was super thick and heavy. You’ll need lots of sustain to get the tone right. If you have a compression pedal, then definitely make use of it.

Thing about the tone in “In The End” and “Crawling”, it’s super heavy and compressed, but also quite smooth sounding. Here’s a good starting point for your amp settings.

  • Bass: 8
  • Treble: 4
  • Mids: 6
  • Gain: 10

Meteora

The band’s second album, Meteora, was released in 2003, and again the guitar tone was thick, heavy and smooth sounding. Think of the chorus in “Numb”. You’ll need plenty of compression and distortion, supported by enough bass to prevent the tone from sounding too thin and weak.

Here’s a good starting point for your amp settings.

  • Bass: 8
  • Treble: 5
  • Mids: 5
  • Gain: 10

Minutes to Midnight

There’s definitely a difference in the guitar tone in the 2007 album Minutes to Midnight, compared to the first two albums the band released. Some songs have the heavy, distorted tone whilst others sound a little thinner and sharper.

Think about “What I’ve Done”, the tone is much thinner and more overdriven compared to the previous album. But the song “No More Sorrow”, has a tone more reflective of the earlier albums.

Here’s where I’d start with my amp settings to produce these two different tones.

Full Distorted Tone

  • Bass: 7
  • Treble: 4
  • Mids: 5
  • Gain: 10

Lighter Overdriven Tone

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

A Thousand Suns

The guitar was definitely less of a focus in the album “A Thousand Suns” compared to “Minutes to Midnight”. The tone is definitely not as full and distorted, and the EQ is less aggressive. Here’s a good place to start with your amp settings.

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

Living Things

The guitar tone in this album was quite fuzzy and muffled compared to the previous two albums. The bass is definitely higher, as is the distortion, and the treble is knocked back a bit. Think about the song “Burn it Down”, the guitar in the chorus is very fuzzy and creates a wall of sound, but not quite as heavily as in the first two albums.

Here’s a good place to begin dialing in the tone.

  • Bass: 9
  • Mids: 4
  • Treble: 2
  • Gain: 9

The Hunting Party

The album “The Hunting Party”, has a pretty distinctive tone compared to the band’s previous albums. The guitar definitely sounds less compressed and artificial. Thing of the song “Wastelands”. The riffs have far more bite and clarity, compared to the fuzzy tone in “Living Things”.

Here’s how to get that distinctive later Linkin Park sound.

  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 8
  • Treble: 5
  • Gain: 8

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and found it useful. Take a look at the rest of the website to learn more about amp settings and dialing in the ultimate tone.

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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