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Alex Turner Rig Rundown: Guitars, Amps & Pedals

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Let’s be real – Alex Turner used A LOT of various guitars, amps and pedals over the last twenty years. And you know what? Some of the things that he uses are actually not that expensive.

In today’s guide, I’m going to highlight gear that was frequently used by Alex during live gigs and studio performances. Hopefully after reading this you’ll be able to recreate his characteristic tone!

It doesn’t matter if you prefer the early Arctic Monkeys or their newest albums – I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading this. Let’s get into it.

Guitars Used By Alex Turner

guitars used by alex turner

Alex Turner, the frontman of Arctic Monkeys, has used a wide array of guitars over the years, each contributing to the band’s evolving sound across their discography.

Here’s a rundown of some of the guitars Alex Turner has been known to use frequently:

  • Gibson Les Paul Custom: A staple in Turner’s arsenal, used notably during the “Favourite Worst Nightmare” tour. Its rich tone and sustain have been a key element in defining the heavier aspects of Arctic Monkeys’ sound.
  • Fender Stratocaster MIM (Made In Mexico): Identified by its 21 frets and 6 screw bridge, this guitar is known for its versatility and was seen in Turner’s hands early in the band’s career, contributing to the sharp and clear tones characteristic of their debut era.
  • Vox Starstream XII: This 12-string guitar has a distinctive jangle and was used in the recording and live performances of “Do I Wanna Know?” Its unique sound played a significant role in the success of the track, showcasing Turner’s penchant for incorporating unusual tones into the band’s music.
  • Warmoth Custom Jazzmaster: Featuring a custom setup that includes a bridge pickup similar to his old Fender Bronco, this guitar exemplifies Turner’s taste for personalized instruments that suit his specific sound preferences.
  • Fender Standard Stratocaster Electric Guitar (USA): With 22 frets, distinguishing it from his MIM Strat, this guitar in Olympic white finish has been a part of Turner’s collection, offering the classic Stratocaster tone with a bit more finesse and quality.
  • Fender Bronco: Used during the “Favourite Worst Nightmare” era, this guitar is known for its funky, punchy tone, contributing to the gritty indie rock sound of Arctic Monkeys’ earlier works.
  • Gibson J-45: For acoustic performances, Turner often turns to this model for its rich, warm sound that complements his vocal style during more intimate performances.
  • Fender Telecaster: Another iconic model in Turner’s collection, this guitar is known for its bright, cutting tone, which has been a part of Turner’s sound on various occasions.
  • Fender Jazzmaster Troy Van Leeuwen Signature: Seen during performances with Alexandra Savior, this guitar highlights Turner’s interest in exploring different sounds and styles, incorporating the Jazzmaster’s smooth, atmospheric tones into his performances.
  • Ovation Viper Electric Guitar: An oddity among Turner’s mostly traditional setup, this guitar has been used during both Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets tours, offering a unique sound that stands out in the band’s discography.
  • Woolworth Top 20: Perhaps the most unusual choice in Turner’s guitar collection, this model showcases his willingness to experiment with different sounds and textures, further emphasizing his versatility as a guitarist.

Throughout his career with the Arctic Monkeys and side projects, Alex Turner has demonstrated a deep understanding and appreciation for the nuanced tones that different guitars can bring to his music.

From the solid body rock tones of the Gibson Les Paul Custom and Fender Stratocaster models to the unique jangle of the Vox Starstream XII, Turner’s choice in guitars reflects his evolution as a musician and the band’s journey through different sonic landscapes.

Which one is the most iconic? Probably the Gibson. Have a look on the performance below.

Each guitar has played a role in defining the sound of an era for the Arctic Monkeys, from the gritty indie rock of their early days to the more polished and experimental sounds of their later albums.

Want to explore rigs of other guitarists? Check out the Famous Guitarists Category.

Amps Used By Alex Turner

amps used by alex turner

Alex Turner’s choice of amplifiers over the years reflects his nuanced approach to achieving the Arctic Monkeys’ signature sound across different albums and tours. Here’s a detailed look at the amps that have shaped the band’s sound:

  • Selmer Zodiac Twin 30: This rare gem has been Turner’s go-to amp for its distinctive British sound, contributing to the band’s recordings and live performances. Its unique tone, coated in a crocodile skin finish, has been a constant in the Arctic Monkeys’ sonic evolution, showcasing Turner’s preference for vintage tones that stand out.
  • Vox AC30 Guitar Combo Amp: A classic choice for many guitarists, the AC30 has made its appearance during various phases of Turner’s career, including early tours and the “Suck It and See” era. Its rich, jangly tone has been a staple in achieving the band’s dynamic range of sounds.
  • Vox AC15: Smaller than the AC30 but no less impactful, the AC15 has been used by Turner during shows and recording sessions, particularly noted during the “Suck It and See” tour. Its use alongside the Selmer Zodiac Twin 30 illustrates Turner’s layering of amps to create depth in the band’s live sound.
  • Fender ’65 Twin Reverb: Known for its clean, crisp sound, this Fender Vintage Reissue amp has been a part of Turner’s setup for recording sessions and live performances. Its versatility and reliability make it a solid choice for capturing the Arctic Monkeys’ cleaner tones.
  • Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III: This amp was spotted beneath the Vox AC30 during a performance of “Reckless Serenade” on The Tonight Show. Its inclusion in Turner’s gear lineup highlights his willingness to experiment with different amp combinations to suit the band’s evolving musical direction.
  • Orange AD30TC: Early in their career, Turner favored the warm, overdriven tone of the Orange AD30TC, particularly during the recording of the band’s debut album. This amp’s contribution to the gritty, raw sound of their early work is undeniable.
  • Orange Amplifiers AD30HTC 30W Tube Guitar Amp Head: Although less frequently seen, this Orange amp head has also been a part of Turner’s arsenal, showcasing his fondness for Orange’s rich, harmonic overdrive in the band’s formative years.

Alex Turner’s diverse selection of amplifiers, ranging from the rare Selmer Zodiac Twin 30 to the versatile Fender Twin Reverb and the iconic Vox AC30, demonstrates his meticulous approach to crafting the Arctic Monkeys’ sound.

Each amplifier choice reveals a facet of Turner’s musical identity, from gritty indie rock riffs to expansive, atmospheric soundscapes, underscoring the integral role that gear plays in the evolution of the band’s sonic palette.

Pedals Used By Alex Turner

pedals used by alex turner

Now it’s time for the pedals! Some of these were absolutely crucial during the early stages of AM’s growth.

  • Electro-Harmonix Hum Debugger: An essential tool in Turner’s pedalboard, the Hum Debugger eliminates unwanted noise, ensuring the clarity and purity of his guitar tone during both live performances and studio recordings.
  • Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer: A cornerstone of Turner’s sound, particularly noted during the “Favourite Worst Nightmare” era. This overdrive pedal is celebrated for its warm, creamy overdrive tone that enhances Turner’s riffs and solos without overpowering the original signal.
  • Pro Co RAT 2: Utilized during the “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” tour, the RAT 2 is known for its versatile distortion, capable of delivering everything from slight overdrive to full-on fuzz, a testament to the gritty sound of Arctic Monkeys’ early works.
  • MXR M133 Micro Amp: This boost pedal is a staple in Turner’s setup, used to elevate his signal for solos or to push his amp and overdrive pedals further, giving his guitar work a pronounced presence in the mix.
  • Fulltone Mini DejaVibe Stereo: A nod to the psychedelic sounds of the ’60s, this chorus/vibrato pedal has been a part of Turner’s arsenal since the “Suck It and See” sessions, adding a lush, swirling texture to songs like “Knee Socks.”
  • Cornell The First Fuzz: Employed for its rich, harmonic fuzz, this pedal has been essential for the heavier riffs and solos on albums like “Humbug” and “AM,” before being replaced by the Wattson Super Fuzz in later tours.
  • Danelectro DTE-1 Reel Echo: A tape echo simulator that has seen use since the band’s debut album, providing vintage, warm delay sounds that complement Turner’s guitar work.
  • Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner: A practical addition to any pedalboard, the TU-3 has been with Turner since the beginning, ensuring his guitar is always in perfect tune.
  • Coopersonic Valveslapper Dual-Valve Distortion: Key to the iconic tone of “Do I Wanna Know,” this pedal combines valve distortion with Turner’s playing style to create a sound that’s become synonymous with Arctic Monkeys’ “AM” era.
  • Hughes & Kettner Tube Rotosphere MKII: This analog Leslie simulator was prominently featured during the “Favourite Worst Nightmare” period, adding a unique, rotating speaker effect that enhanced live performances.
  • Morley ABY Footswitch: Used by Turner to switch between or combine different amps, this pedal underscores his meticulous approach to achieving the perfect live sound.
  • Electro-Harmonix XO Holy Grail Plus: A reverb pedal that adds spatial depth and atmosphere to Turner’s guitar, essential for the expansive soundscapes of the “Humbug” tour.
  • Electro-Harmonix XO Deluxe Memory Man: Providing analog delay, this pedal was briefly part of Turner’s setup, contributing to the layered, echo-laden tones of the band’s second album tour.
  • Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble: Used during the “Humbug” era, this chorus pedal adds richness and depth, contributing to the dreamy, atmospheric layers of Arctic Monkeys’ sound at the time.

How To Sound Like Arctic Monkeys

Want to channel the Arctic Monkeys’ vibe from your guitar? Buckle up; it’s a ride through indie rock, psychedelia, and hard-hitting riffs that’ll make your neighbors either join the party or call the cops. Let’s dive in:

  • Start with the Right Axe: Grab a Fender Stratocaster for those early indie vibes or a Gibson Les Paul for the heavier tones of their later albums. Alex Turner’s varied guitar choice is key to nailing their sound across different eras.
  • Amp It Up: The Vox AC30 has been a staple for that clean, jangly tone. For more grunt, switch to a Selmer Zodiac Twin 30 or an Orange AD30TC. These amps are the backbone of their sonic identity, from gritty riffs to lush, atmospheric layers.
  • Build the right pedalboard:
    • The Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer was Turner’s go-to for overdrive on Favourite Worst Nightmare.
    • Pro Co RAT 2 will give you the distortion needed for that raw Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not sound.
    • The Fulltone Mini DejaVibe adds that psychedelic swirl to tracks like “Knee Socks.”
    • Don’t forget the Electro-Harmonix Hum Debugger to keep your sound clean in the mix.
  • Mix and Match: Combine these tools creatively. Arctic Monkeys’ sound evolved by blending gear across eras, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Remember, sounding like Arctic Monkeys isn’t just about the gear; it’s about attitude, energy, and a bit of Sheffield charm. Crank up the amps, dial in the pedals, and let your guitar do the talking. Whether you’re serenading “505” or riffing through “Do I Wanna Know?”, have fun with it.

FAQ

1. What guitar tuning does Alex Turner frequently use in Arctic Monkeys songs? Alex Turner primarily uses standard tuning for the versatility it offers across Arctic Monkeys’ diverse catalog. For songs with a heavier edge, he occasionally employs drop D tuning, adding depth and power to the guitar’s sound.

2. How did Arctic Monkeys record their guitar tracks in the studio? The Arctic Monkeys are known for layering their guitar tracks to achieve a rich, full sound. They’ve embraced a combination of vintage and modern recording techniques, often experimenting with different amps and effects to capture the essence of their music.

3. Can you achieve Arctic Monkeys’ guitar tone with digital amp models or software? Yes, digital amp models and guitar software have become incredibly sophisticated, allowing players to closely emulate the Arctic Monkeys’ tones. By selecting models of the amps and pedals Alex Turner uses, guitarists can achieve similar sounds through digital means.

4. What are some beginner-friendly Arctic Monkeys songs to learn on guitar? Songs like “Mardy Bum” and “Fluorescent Adolescent” are great starting points for beginners, featuring straightforward chord progressions and memorable riffs. “Do I Wanna Know?” is another accessible option, with its slow tempo and iconic riff.

5. What role does the bass play in achieving the Arctic Monkeys’ sound, and can I replicate it without a band? The bass in Arctic Monkeys’ songs provides a foundational groove that complements the guitar work, crucial for the band’s rhythm and energy. Solo players can use loop stations to overlay bass lines or use backing tracks to fill in the bass parts, replicating the band’s sound in a solo setup.

Final Thoughts

Diving into the Arctic Monkeys’ sound is a journey through indie rock’s heart, blending gritty riffs, evocative melodies, and that distinct Sheffield edge.

By exploring the combination of guitars, amps, and pedals Alex Turner utilizes, you’re not just mimicking tones but tapping into the spirit of creativity and experimentation that defines the band.

Hopefully this guide was helpful. Thanks for reading!