How to Sound Like The Beatles: Amp Settings Guide


The Beatles need no introduction and many guitarists would love to emulate John Lennon’s, George Harrison’s and Paul McCartney’s tones. It can be tough to do if you don’t have the exact same amp and guitars, however you can tweak your amp settings no matter what gear you have to try and sound more like them.

In this article, I’ll go through the basic amp settings to start with, followed by examples for some of their most popular tones and then some tips to fix common issues.

Quick Guide to The Beatles’ Amp Settings

To sound like The Beatles on an electric guitar use either a tube amp which is cranked to the point where it starts to break up or use a solid state amp and set the gain to around 2-3. The EQ should favour mids and treble frequencies as opposed to bass frequencies.

  • Gain: 2-3
  • Bass: 2-3
  • Mids: 6-7
  • Treble: 5-6

Keep in mind that this is just a rough starting point as it’s incredibly difficult to match the tone without the same equipment and you’ll likely need to make some adjustments for each song. This is a guide to help you get as close as possible with your rig but understand that there will always be some limitations.

The Basics

The Beatles are most synonymous with Vox amplifiers such as the AC30 which have a compressed, bright and chimey tone with plenty of mid-range. If you are using a Vox amp then things will be a lot easier, but if you’re using another brand then you’ll need to keep some adjustments in mind. Let’s take a look at all the main amplifier controls and where to start with them to get the classic Harrison and Lennon tones.

Gain

The amount of gain you’ll need really depends on the song. For some songs such as “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Twist and Shout”, the gain will be quite low as the tone is relatively clean. However for songs where you can hear a bit of grit such as “Day Tripper” or more overdriven songs like “Revolution” it will depend on your amp.

If you are using a solid state or modelling amplifier, then having the gain on around 3 to start with is a good idea. However, if you have a tube amp then you’ll want to crank it so that it’s just on the edge of break-up for most songs.

In both cases, you need to keep the gain under control as you don’t want it to ever sound distorted. It needs to sound overdriven at the very most as even the “heavier” songs are best described as fizzy and gritty compared to distorted.

EQ/ Tone (Bass, Mids, Treble)

On some amplifiers you will have separate bass, mids and treble controls whereas some amplifiers combine these into a single setting usually called either EQ or Tone. These settings adjust the different frequencies to control how bright and full the tone is.

The bass control adjusts the low-end frequencies and needs to be kept relatively low for most of The Beatles’ songs so they don’t sound too loose and boomy. Start with this on around 2-3. You may need this to be lower if you have an Orange or Marshall amp, and higher if you have a Fender amp.

The mids control adjusts the mid-range frequencies and affects how full the tone is. The Vox range of amplifiers typically has quite high mids, particularly upper-mids so start with this on 6-7. If you have a Fender amp then you’ll likely need to turn this up higher to compensate for Fender’s scooped characteristic.

The mids control adjusts the high-end frequencies so dictates how sharp, bright and crisp the tone is. Start with this on around 6 for most songs. With Fender amps you may need it even lower since they are already quite bright.

If your amp has a single EQ or tone control, adjust this so that it slightly favours treble as opposed to bass frequencies (around 3/4 the way to the right on most amps).

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

The Beatles aren’t well known for using loads of effects pedals and are only really associated with fuzz pedals. One of the best songs to demonstrate this is “Revolution”. For most songs though a fuzz pedal is not needed. A compressor pedal can also be useful for many songs. The only other pedal you may want to consider is an overdrive pedal run into a clean amp if you have a solid state amplifier and are struggling to achieve the right type of gain.

Sounding like The Beatles isn’t just about your amp settings, it’s about your skills too.
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Now that we’ve had a look at the basic controls and how to adjust them, let’s take a deeper dive into some specific tracks. Remember that these are just starting points and not the exact controls that the band used. They will almost always need some adjustment depending on your rig. Skip ahead to the next section for some fixes to common problems if things don’t sound quite right.

Day Tripper Amp Settings

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

Twist and Shout Amp Settings

  • Gain: 2
  • Bass: 3
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 4

Let It Be Amp Settings

  • Gain:
  • Bass:
  • Mids:
  • Treble:

A Hard Day’s Night Amp Settings

  • Gain: 4
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 8

Something Amp Settings

  • Gain: 3
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 8
  • Treble: 7

Revolution Amp Settings

  • Gain: 5 (or use a fuzz pedal ideally)
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 8
  • Treble: 8

She Loves You Amp Settings

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

Come Together Amp Settings

  • Gain: 3
  • Bass: 6
  • Mids: 5
  • Treble: 4

We Can Work It Out Amp Settings

  • Gain: 1
  • Bass: 3
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 7

I Want To Hold Your Hand Amp Settings

  • Gain: 2
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 7

Can’t Buy Me Love Amp Settings

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

I Feel Fine Amp Settings

  • Gain: 2
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 8

In My Life Amp Settings

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

Help! Amp Settings

  • Gain: 3
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 5
  • Treble: 5

All My Loving Amp Settings

  • Gain: 2
  • Bass: 3
  • Mids: 5
  • Treble: 7

Drive My Car Amp Settings

  • Gain: 3
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 8
  • Treble: 6

Ticket To Ride Amp Settings

  • Gain: 2
  • Bass: 3
  • Mids: 5
  • Treble: 8

Helter Skelter Amp Settings

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

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

This is probably the most important part of the article if you want to get your tone as close as possible to The Beatles. If you’ve used the starting points above, then the tone may not sound quite right so in this section I’ll go through some common issues and how to adjust your amp to help combat them. Make sure you only make one adjustment at a time and listen for the changes so you’re able to pinpoint the issue.

Muddy Tone

  • Switch to the bridge pickup if you are using the neck or middle
  • Decrease the bass
  • Decrease the gain
  • Increase the treble

Tone Sounds Too Harsh

  • Switch to the neck pickup if you are using the bridge or middle
  • Decrease the treble
  • Increase the bass

Thin and Weak Sounding Tone

  • Increase the mids
  • Increase the bass
  • Increase the gain

Frequently Asked Questions

What amps did The Beatles use?

The Beatles mainly used Vox amplifiers and notably the AC series.

What guitars did The Beatles use?

George Harrison was best known for playing an Epiphone Casino, Gibson SG, Gibson Les Paul and Fender Telecaster. John Lennon was best known for playing a Rickenbacker and Epiphone Casino.

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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