Synyster Gates tone (How he achieves his distortion)

Eduardo96

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I’m sure similar topics have been discussed already, but I’m curious specifically about how he achieves distortion.

Does he use distortion pedals into a clean amp? Does he get the amp to distort then run distortion pedals? I’m sure these answers may vary based on albums, live performances, and even specific songs, but if any insight could be provided, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Also what distortion pedals does he use? I’ve watched some videos covering his pedals, and read some articles, but it doesn’t ever seem that the pedals mentioned, have enough gain to get to what I hear from him.

EDIT: I’m asking about before he started using Fractal.
 
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Dominik Gräber

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    Hey! True, we had this topic before, check out "Similar Threads" beneath this one.

    However, he may switch it up just now. Syn has a new amp coming, which only features a Clean Channel if I remember correctly (right Captain @Ed Seith ?)

    He has a Pedal coming as well so I am assuming this will be his Signature distortion to go with it.
     
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    Eduardo96

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    Hey! True, we had this topic before, check out "Similar Threads" beneath this one.

    However, he may switch it up just now. Syn has a new amp coming, which only features a Clean Channel if I remember correctly (right Captain @Ed Seith ?)

    He has a Pedal coming as well so I am assuming this will be his Signature distortion to go with it.
    Sorry, I’m not seeing anything that covers specifically how he has achieved his distortion in the past. So while his new gear that is coming out is probably going to be awesome, I’m specifically looking for what he has done for records and live performances in the past.

    I’d specifically like to know if he was running a clean amp with gain pedals, or overdriven amp and gain pedals, etc. Also I’d like to know what distortion pedals he favored in reference to specific albums. This information hasn’t been too easy to find.
     

    Dominik Gräber

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    Sorry, I’m not seeing anything that covers specifically how he has achieved his distortion in the past. So while his new gear that is coming out is probably going to be awesome, I’m specifically looking for what he has done for records and live performances in the past.

    I’d specifically like to know if he was running a clean amp with gain pedals, or overdriven amp and gain pedals, etc. Also I’d like to know what distortion pedals he favored in reference to specific albums. This information hasn’t been too easy to find.
    He used the Hellwin for a while and on Tour he's using the Axe FX. So most likely no Pedal for distortion.
    Maybe a more detailed answer was already given in another Thread.
    Or maybe you're lucky and @Syn Gates himself helps you out
     

    William Byerley

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    For awhile I think they used the Mesa Boogie ( if that's right )
    On the "Wish You Were Here" Cover I think he used the Korg Miku pedal
    My guess is as a professional you can't share all the ingredients to your special sauce
    might be why the pedals are covered.
     

    Calvin Phillips

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    Sorry, I’m not seeing anything that covers specifically how he has achieved his distortion in the past. So while his new gear that is coming out is probably going to be awesome, I’m specifically looking for what he has done for records and live performances in the past.

    I’d specifically like to know if he was running a clean amp with gain pedals, or overdriven amp and gain pedals, etc. Also I’d like to know what distortion pedals he favored in reference to specific albums. This information hasn’t been too easy to find.
    I've heard syn likes to produce clean tones off the amp. I think he then distorts it. His Helix.from what I remember was more.a clean tone amp then anything. I think similar to what I do. I use my grundge pedal to distort my clean tones. Sometimes I'd use the metal zone option on the me 25 but now I grt meaner tone since I played with it a month ago so grundge all the way. So thick.

    What pedals he uses I.dont think you'll find easy. There are different compression pedals and whatnot that he uses to add elements. That's pretty much all I got for you.
     
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    Ed Seith

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    Well, he's typically used a bevy of high-gain amps. Before the signature Hellwin, there were various Bogners and probably 5150s and such. I know his Fractal tone uses the 5150 model, and he typically uses some compression on his lead channel, but I don't know if he augments or tames the amp gain with something like a Tube Screamer. I typically don't, but I also don't try to emulate anyone's tone - I just find what I like and go with it.

    Syn prefers people to find their own way, too, rather than exactly copy his tone, which is why he has only released cabinet models for the Fractal/Kemper and not full on "here's muh tone, peeps!" packs.
     

    Brian Haner Sr.

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    Early on, (COE, Self, Nightmare), it was a Bogner. No distortion pedals. Once he got the the Hellwin up and running he used that - also no distortion pedals. Just a Boss Compressor pedal. The Stage was a Hellwin (and no doubt some other amps as well). But he also used a ton of pedals for different effects and textures. Not sure if he used any distortion/OD pedals though. My guess is - not.
    He uses the neck pickup on most of his solos which is also a big part of his tone.

    To confuse things more -
    He was recording solos on The Stage when I came in to record my solo for the outro of Angels. He finished what he was working on and handed me his guitar. It was his just guitar through the Hellwin. No pedals. Same settings. My tone sounded NOTHING like his. It sounded like a completely different guitar and amp.
    At the end of the solo he said, "How are you making my guitar sound like that?" lol.
    I have a very light touch (in both hands). Syn plays with much more power and strength. He even holds the pick differently than I do. When we play gypsy jazz together, his acoustic guitar is almost twice as loud as mine. That's all in his hands and fingers.
    The point is that you can come close with equipment, but it also has to do with technique.

    So after all that nonsense, suffice us to say - An overdriven Hellwin, Bogner or Axe-FX (with Syn settings) and a Syn Gates model guitar will definitely get you in the ballpark.
    Good luck!
    pg
     

    Muz Malek

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    Early on, (COE, Self, Nightmare), it was a Bogner. No distortion pedals. Once he got the the Hellwin up and running he used that - also no distortion pedals. Just a Boss Compressor pedal. The Stage was a Hellwin (and no doubt some other amps as well). But he also used a ton of pedals for different effects and textures. Not sure if he used any distortion/OD pedals though. My guess is - not.
    He uses the neck pickup on most of his solos which is also a big part of his tone.

    To confuse things more -
    He was recording solos on The Stage when I came in to record my solo for the outro of Angels. He finished what he was working on and handed me his guitar. It was his just guitar through the Hellwin. No pedals. Same settings. My tone sounded NOTHING like his. It sounded like a completely different guitar and amp.
    At the end of the solo he said, "How are you making my guitar sound like that?" lol.
    I have a very light touch (in both hands). Syn plays with much more power and strength. He even holds the pick differently than I do. When we play gypsy jazz together, his acoustic guitar is almost twice as loud as mine. That's all in his hands and fingers.
    The point is that you can come close with equipment, but it also has to do with technique.

    So after all that nonsense, suffice us to say - An overdriven Hellwin, Bogner or Axe-FX (with Syn settings) and a Syn Gates model guitar will definitely get you in the ballpark.
    Good luck!
    pg
    People go nuts when I tell them that the fingers and technique play a role in tonality as well, asides the gear. No one would believe!

    Hahaha. Thanks for the very enlightening info, PG! Cheers!
     
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    Eduardo96

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    Early on, (COE, Self, Nightmare), it was a Bogner. No distortion pedals. Once he got the the Hellwin up and running he used that - also no distortion pedals. Just a Boss Compressor pedal. The Stage was a Hellwin (and no doubt some other amps as well). But he also used a ton of pedals for different effects and textures. Not sure if he used any distortion/OD pedals though. My guess is - not.
    He uses the neck pickup on most of his solos which is also a big part of his tone.

    To confuse things more -
    He was recording solos on The Stage when I came in to record my solo for the outro of Angels. He finished what he was working on and handed me his guitar. It was his just guitar through the Hellwin. No pedals. Same settings. My tone sounded NOTHING like his. It sounded like a completely different guitar and amp.
    At the end of the solo he said, "How are you making my guitar sound like that?" lol.
    I have a very light touch (in both hands). Syn plays with much more power and strength. He even holds the pick differently than I do. When we play gypsy jazz together, his acoustic guitar is almost twice as loud as mine. That's all in his hands and fingers.
    The point is that you can come close with equipment, but it also has to do with technique.

    So after all that nonsense, suffice us to say - An overdriven Hellwin, Bogner or Axe-FX (with Syn settings) and a Syn Gates model guitar will definitely get you in the ballpark.
    Good luck!
    pg
    Thank you Mr. Haner! This is exactly the information I was looking for. And who better than you or the man himself to answer? I’m a bit surprised that he was using mostly amp distortion for his whole career. Simple but iconic tone.

    Being that you mentioned gypsy jazz, when will we get to hear you two play some more of that together? I remember there being a brief clip of you two playing on YouTube but no full performance. I’d love to hear you two chomp out some swing.
     

    Brian Haner Sr.

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    Thank you Mr. Haner! This is exactly the information I was looking for. And who better than you or the man himself to answer? I’m a bit surprised that he was using mostly amp distortion for his whole career. Simple but iconic tone.

    Being that you mentioned gypsy jazz, when will we get to hear you two play some more of that together? I remember there being a brief clip of you two playing on YouTube but no full performance. I’d love to hear you two chomp out some swing.
    Thank you, Eduardo!
    There may have been a variation or two over the years that I'm not aware of, but as far as I know - that "iconic tone" was always amp gain. Any pedals were compression, chorus, eq, etc. Syn would obviously have the definitive answers. On the last album I know they experimented a lot. Their producer (Joe Barrisi) was/is a pedal maniac.
    As far as Gypsy - we haven't touched Gypsy guitars in a couple of years (and it shows.lol). Eventually, we will put something together for the school with some jams and lessons. I'm working on a straight jazz "master lesson" video series right now.

    The past year has been a nightmare (for everyone). It's set back some of our plans for growth, but I feel like we're finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
    Lots of cool stuff coming for the school in the next few months.
    Cheers!