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Mac DeMarco Rig Rundown: Guitars, Amps & Pedals

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Dive into the unique world of Mac DeMarco’s guitar rig, where vintage vibes meet modern twists.

This indie icon’s setup is as cool as his music, offering a mix of various guitars, versatile amps, and eclectic pedals. He mostly uses Fenders, but he uses guitars by other brands too.

Whether you’re an amateur guitarist or a gear enthusiast, this rundown will give you the scoop on how to capture that laid-back, DeMarco sound. Let’s kick off with the guitars that define Mac’s jangly tones.

Mac DeMarco’s Guitars

mac demarco guitars

Diving into Mac DeMarco’s eclectic guitar lineup reveals the heart of his indie sound. From vintage classics to unique hybrids, each guitar brings its own flavor to the mix.

Here’s a closer look at some of the most frequently used axes in Mac’s collection:

  • Mosrite/Teisco Hybrid Guitar: The crown jewel of Mac’s collection, this solid body electric guitar combines unique aesthetics with a sound that’s all its own. Its appearance in numerous performances underscores its significance in creating Mac’s signature tones.
  • Fender Mustang: A classic that adds bright, punchy tones to Mac’s sound. The Mustang’s versatility is a testament to its enduring popularity, capable of delivering everything from surf vibes to indie rock rhythms.
  • Fender Telecaster: Known for its crisp, articulate sound, the Telecaster brings clarity and a touch of twang to Mac’s music, showcasing the guitar’s renowned versatility across genres.
  • Fender Stratocaster: A staple in Mac’s guitar arsenal, providing smooth, versatile tones perfect for his melodic lead lines. The Stratocaster’s presence in Mac’s setup highlights its role in shaping modern music sounds.
  • Danelectro 59 DC: Adds a unique, retro touch with its distinctive lipstick pickups, offering a different character that complements Mac’s diverse musical style.
  • Squier Stratocaster: A 1992 model that proves great sound doesn’t have to break the bank. This guitar demonstrates Mac’s ability to create compelling music with instruments that are accessible to a wide range of players.
  • Fender Jaguar: Brings a surf-rock vibe with its jangly tones, adding a vintage flavor to Mac’s guitar collection.
  • 1973 Fender Mocha Brown Stratocaster: Seen in performances like on Conan O’Brien’s show, this guitar adds a classic rock sound with its natural Fender tone.
  • Gibson SG Original: With its rich, powerful tones, the Gibson SG offers a heavier sound in Mac’s predominantly Fender-focused lineup, showcasing his versatility as a guitarist.

Each guitar in Mac DeMarco’s collection contributes to the distinct, laid-back sound that fans have come to love, proving that the right mix of gear can create a musical identity that’s both unique and captivating.

Looking for more rig rundowns? Check out the gear used by Alex Turner, Jamie Cook and James Hetfield.

Mac DeMarco’s Amps

mac demarco amps

Mac DeMarco’s choice of amplifiers plays a crucial role in crafting his signature sound, blending warmth, clarity, and a touch of vintage charm. Here’s a breakdown of the amps that power his performances:

  • Fender Vibro-Champ: A compact combo that Mac uses for recording. Known for its rich, warm tones, the Vibro-Champ adds a vintage vibe to Mac’s sound, perfect for capturing intimate studio performances.
  • Fender ’65 Twin Reverb: This iconic amp brings clean, powerful tones with its lush reverb, making it a staple for Mac’s live and studio setups. Its full-bodied sound is a key component of the DeMarco sound palette.
  • Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus: Famous for its clean sound and built-in chorus effect, this amp appears behind Mac in some performances, adding a shimmering, stereo spread to his guitar tone.
  • Fender ’68 Custom Princeton Reverb: Spotted during Mac’s 2019 tour, this amp is known for its manageable size and rich, vintage tones, offering a blend of portability and sonic excellence.
  • Fender Princeton Reverb (original issue, 1963-1981): This classic amp model provides the quintessential Fender clean sound with a sweet reverb, contributing to Mac’s characteristic jangly tone.
  • Roland KC-550: While primarily a keyboard amp, Mac uses this for a unique setup, combining it with a small Fender amp for a distinctive onstage sound, showcasing his innovative approach to amplification.
  • 1970s Fender Silverface Twin Reverb: Another classic, the Twin Reverb Silverface delivers a clean, powerful output that has become synonymous with the Fender brand, used by Mac for its reliable performance and iconic sound.
  • Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb: Spotted in recent tours, the Deluxe Reverb offers a slightly smaller, more manageable alternative to the Twin Reverb, allowing Mac to crank up the volume without overwhelming the stage.
  • Fender Hot Rod DeVille 410 III: Used during a KEXP set, this amp provides a blend of modern reliability and classic Fender tones, capable of delivering both sparkling cleans and gritty overdrives.

Mac DeMarco’s eclectic mix of amplifiers reflects his diverse musical influences and his knack for blending different tones to create a sound that’s unmistakably his own. From the studio to the stage, these amps are key to the warm, vibrant soundscapes that define his music.

Mac DeMarco’s Pedals

mac demarco pedals

Mac DeMarco’s pedalboard is an integral part of his sound, mixing classic effects with unique stompboxes for a distinctive sonic palette. Here’s a glimpse into the pedals that shape his music:

  • Boss CE-2 Chorus: A staple in Mac’s setup, this pedal adds a lush, watery depth to his sound, essential for achieving that dreamy, indie vibe.
  • MXR M133 Micro Amp: Boosting Mac’s signal for a bit more punch, this simple yet effective pedal ensures his guitar cuts through the mix, whether in the studio or on stage.
  • Ibanez SC-10 Super Stereo Chorus: Occasionally swapped in for the Boss CE-2, this pedal offers a wider stereo image, enriching Mac’s tone with a dimensional, swirling effect.
  • JHS Colour Box V2: Loved by Mac for its ability to replicate the sound of a direct-in guitar, this preamp pedal is crucial for capturing the crisp, clean tones heard on his records.
  • Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Nano: Providing lush reverb tones, this pedal is perfect for adding space and depth to Mac’s guitar, enhancing the atmosphere of his music.
  • Electro-Harmonix POG2 Polyphonic Octave Generator: Used for creating organ-like sounds, this pedal adds a layer of richness and texture to Mac’s guitar work, showcasing his creative use of effects.
  • Boss VB-2W Vibrato: Offering a range of vibrato effects, from subtle to dramatic, this pedal helps Mac achieve his signature wobbly, seasick guitar tones that are instantly recognizable.
  • MXR M169 Carbon Copy: Though not a constant in Mac’s rig, when used, this delay pedal adds a warm, analog echo to his sound, perfect for solos or atmospheric passages.
  • Boss RV-6 Reverb: Another option for reverb, this pedal provides a variety of reverb types, allowing Mac to dial in everything from room sounds to expansive, ambient landscapes.
  • TC Electronic Shaker Mini Vibrato: Compact and versatile, this pedal lets Mac add a vibrato effect to his sound, giving his guitar lines a unique, undulating character.
  • JHS Colour Box: Before the V2, this original preamp pedal was used by Mac for its ability to mimic a direct-to-console sound, crucial for his clean, unadulterated tones.
  • Little Lanilei Reverb: Known for its spring reverb sound, this pedal adds a vintage vibe to Mac’s setup, perfect for those looking for that classic surf-rock tone.
  • Akai E1 Headrush Delay/Looper: Mac’s first delay pedal, used for its looping capabilities and echo effects, showcasing his experimental side and love for layered sounds.

Mac DeMarco’s carefully curated pedalboard is a testament to his detailed approach to tone crafting. Each pedal is chosen for its ability to contribute to his distinctive sound, blending the familiar with the unexpected to create a musical experience that’s both nostalgic and fresh.

How To Get The Mac DeMarco Sound?

how to get the mac demarco sound

Achieving the laid-back, jangly sound of Mac DeMarco involves a blend of specific gear, playing technique, and effects settings. Here’s a straightforward guide to capturing that signature vibe:

1. Choose Your Guitar Wisely

  • Start with a Fender Mustang or Squier Stratocaster for that classic Mac tone. These guitars are known for their bright, punchy sound, ideal for indie music.
  • If you’re after the unique flavor of Mac’s sound, try finding a Mosrite or a Teisco model, or even a hybrid of the two, to replicate his most distinctive tones.

2. Dial In Your Amp Settings

  • Use a Fender amp like the Vibro-Champ or Twin Reverb for their clean, warm sound. Set the amp for a clean tone with a slight edge when pushed hard, but mainly stay in the clean territory.
  • The goal is to achieve a sound that’s bright and clear, without too much bass. This will serve as the perfect canvas for your effects.

3. Pedalboard Essentials

  • Chorus: The Boss CE-2 or an Ibanez SC-10 will be crucial. Set the rate and depth to achieve a lush, liquid texture without overwhelming your guitar’s natural tone.
  • Reverb: An Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail or a Fender reverb unit can add depth and space to your sound. Aim for a subtle, ambient effect rather than a cavernous echo.
  • Vibrato: A Boss VB-2W or TC Electronic Shaker can replicate Mac’s seasick, wobbly tones. Use sparingly for leads or to add interest to rhythm parts.
  • Boost/Preamp: The MXR Micro Amp or JHS Colour Box will help push your signal, ensuring clarity and punch, mimicking the direct-in sound Mac loves.

4. Playing Style and Technique

  • Focus on chord voicings that include open strings for a jangly, resonant sound. Mac often uses standard tuning but isn’t afraid to explore open tunings for a different vibe.
  • Fingerpicking and light strumming with a loose wrist are key. Mac’s playing is relaxed and expressive, with a focus on groove and melody.
  • Experiment with slight bends and vibrato by hand, adding a personal touch to notes and chords, a hallmark of Mac’s lead style.

5. Embrace Imperfection

  • Part of Mac’s charm is the lo-fi, home-recorded quality of his music. Don’t stress about getting a pristine sound; a bit of noise or roughness around the edges can add character.

6. Experiment and Personalize

  • While gear and technique are important, the essence of Mac’s sound comes from experimentation and personal expression. Don’t be afraid to tweak settings, try different pedal combinations, and put your own spin on things.

Capturing the Mac DeMarco sound is as much about the attitude and approach to music as it is about the specific gear. Keep it laid-back, be creative, and let your personality shine through your playing.



1. What guitar strings does Mac DeMarco use?
Mac DeMarco prefers medium gauge strings for a balance of playability and tone, allowing him to achieve his signature sound with ease.

2. How does Mac DeMarco record his guitars?
Mac often records directly into his computer or tape machine, using a Fender Vibro-Champ or a preamp pedal like the JHS Colour Box for that direct-in tone.

3. Can I get Mac DeMarco’s sound with a digital amp modeler?
Yes, digital amp modelers can replicate vintage amp sounds and effects. Look for models that include Fender amp simulations and chorus, reverb, and vibrato effects.

4. What pick does Mac DeMarco use?
Mac isn’t known for being particular about picks. He focuses more on the feel and sound, often using standard medium picks.

5. How important is the amp versus the guitar in achieving Mac DeMarco’s sound?
Both are important, but Mac’s sound leans more on his choice of guitars and effects. A clean, warm amp setting is a solid foundation, but the unique character comes from his guitar and pedal choices.

6. Does Mac DeMarco use any software effects or plugins?
While Mac prefers hardware effects for recording and live shows, he’s not opposed to using software effects, especially for convenience during home recordings.

7. What is the best budget setup to get a sound like Mac DeMarco’s?
Start with a Squier Stratocaster or Mustang, pair it with a budget-friendly Fender amp model like the Mustang LT25 for its clean tones, and add a chorus and reverb pedal to your setup.

8. How does Mac DeMarco achieve his distinctive vibrato sound?
His vibrato sound comes from a combination of his playing technique and the use of a vibrato pedal like the Boss VB-2W, manipulating the string bending and vibrato speed for that warble effect.

9. Are there any specific pedal settings Mac DeMarco recommends for his sound?
Mac suggests starting with moderate settings on your chorus and reverb pedals and adjusting to taste. The key is subtlety, ensuring the effects enhance rather than overwhelm the guitar’s natural sound.

10. How does Mac DeMarco’s use of vintage gear affect his sound?
Vintage gear adds a layer of warmth and character to Mac’s sound that’s hard to replicate with modern equipment. The quirks and imperfections of older guitars and amps contribute to his distinctive tone.

Final Thoughts

Capturing the essence of Mac DeMarco’s sound involves a mix of the right gear, playing style, and a bit of creative flair.

Whether you’re diving into his world with a high-end setup or a budget-friendly rig, remember that the heart of Mac’s sound lies in the way he blends these elements with his laid-back, expressive approach to music.

Experiment with your gear, play with feeling, and don’t be afraid to embrace the imperfections. After all, it’s those little quirks that make Mac DeMarco’s music resonate with so many listeners.