Epic Riffs Await: Discover Your Perfect Nu Metal Setup!


head welsh gitarrensound 128x71 1Epic Riffs Await: Discover Your Perfect Nu Metal Setup!

Brian "Head" Welsh von Korn - Master of the Nu Metal Sound

When Nu Metal rocked the scene in the late 90s, it was a sonic revolution. The way we play guitar and dial-in sounds today was changed fundamentally by Nu Metal’s innovative guitar players. Let’s take a look at how you can tune your equipment to the sound of Wes Borland, Brian Welch, or Daron Malakian.

History of the Nu Metal sound

Back in the late 90s, when cell phones were largely absent and the internet was still in its infancy, a new (nu?) guitar sound started popping up. The music world had slowly been adapting to the dissonant guitar sounds introduced by the Grunge wave from Seattle in the early 90s. Behind it, crawling in the shadows, came Nu Metal.

The aggression of Metal combined with the rebellious nature of Hip Hop drew from the dark, emotional tone of Grunge.

The roots of Nu Metal are deeply rooted in the musical experimentation of bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit. The pioneers of the genre paid no heed to musical conventions or boundaries. They created a guitar sound that was so raw and direct that it took many musicians’ hearts by storm.

Drop tunings, palm muting, and aggressive patterns formed the backbone of iconic songs like “Blind” or “Nookie”. And it was all supported by a selection of equipment that catapulted the Nu Metal sound onto the stages of the world.

Before we look at how to set up the Nu Metal sound for your guitar, let’s look at the equipment you need. We wouldn’t be Gearnews if we skipped this part.

The best equipment for the  Nu Metal sound

James Munky Shaffer – Korn guitarrist and Nu Metal pioneer

James Munky Shaffer – Korn guitarrist and Nu Metal pioneer

Attitude and skill are not enough to truly capture this genre’s sonic depths and nuances. You also need the right gear.

Guitar, strings, and tuning: The Nu Metal guitarist generally prefers guitars with a powerful, assertive tone. So, axes with humbucker pickups best provide the necessary basis thanks to their assertiveness and simultaneous minimization of hum and noise.

If you just want to dip your toes into the Nu Metal sound, look for guitars with a fixed bridge. These offer better tuning stability at lower (drop) tunings. And if you want to stay longer, you can always adjust the Floyd Rose … The models in the Harley Benton Active series are classics for newcomers – the JA-20HH Active SBK, for example, is a very good choice for metalheads!

Harley Benton JA-20HH Active SBK
Harley Benton JA-20HH Active SBK

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Available for 149.00 € at thomann

Amplifiers and cabinets for Nu Metal

Wes Borland – Avantgard guitar player and Nu Metal Icon

Wes Borland – Avantgard guitar player and Nu Metal Icon

An amp with a high-gain channel is essential to achieve the amount of distortion required for the Nu Metal sound. Most Nu Metal guitarists prefer tube amps for their warm, rich tone. High-quality solid-state amps can also get you there.

Evh 5150 Iconic 80W Top BK
Evh 5150 Iconic 80W Top BK

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Available for 749.00 € at thomann

The EVH 5150, for example, is reminiscent of the classic tube amps. In addition, it comes with modern features such as an integrated noise gate.

The best cabinet to combine with your amp should be able to reproduce the low frequencies without loss of clarity. 4×12″ cabinets are a common choice as they offer a powerful output. The Harley Benton G412A Celestion has proven to be a good option – the Thomann house brand delivers the necessary pressure with its integrated Celestion speakers.

Harley Benton G412A Celestion V30
Harley Benton G412A Celestion V30

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Available for 499.00 € at thomann

The best effect pedals for the Nu Metal sound

Select the right pedal for the sound

Select the right pedal for the sound

Maddening amounts of distortion are at the core of the Nu Metal sound – so you need a good distortion pedal! A fuzz pedal might also work.

It might be a controversial choice for other Rock or Metal genres, but the BOSS Metal Zone definitely has a right to exist – especially for this type of sound. The WAZA edition of the BOSS HM-2w is a reliable Death Metal distortion unit. In addition, it adds plenty of weight to your sound to make it punch through within a full band arrangement.

Boss HM-2w Heavy Metal Distortion
Boss HM-2w Heavy Metal Distortion

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Available for 159.00 € at thomann

In addition to distortion effects, wah pedals can also be useful to give your sound a more dynamic component. And a noise gate can be helpful in controlling unwanted noise at high gain settings. My personal choice: The Noise Reaper from Stone Deaf!

Stone Deaf Noise Reaper Noise Gate
Stone Deaf Noise Reaper Noise Gate

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Available for 124.00 € at thomann

Dialing it in –  Setting up the Nu Metal sound

The subtleties that shape the texture and dynamics of the Nu Metal sound lie primarily in the gain structure of the amp’s distortion.

Distortion and gain structure: In Nu Metal, distortion is not just an effect but a fundamental component of its sound. So, using amps with lots of gain reserves is crucial to achieve the necessary saturation and fullness without sounding muddy. It’s also about finding a balance between clarity and aggression.

Although it’s tempting to turn the knob up to eleven, too much gain can also result in a muddy sound. And too little will take away the punchiness. A good starting point might be around 70-80% of the maximum gain value.

Bass (EQ): It is crucial to emphasize the low frequencies in your signal in order to bring out the typical depth and heaviness of the Nu Metal sound. However, with low-tuned guitars, try to keep a respectful distance from the frequencies of the bass player to avoid clashing frequencies.

Mids (EQ): The mids should only be boosted moderately for Nu Metal sound in order to create a balance between warmth and clarity. But if the mids are set too low, the sound can sound hollow (the so-called “mid-scoop” can also be a stylistic device), while dialing mids too high can make the sound seem overloaded.

Treble (EQ): Treble should be adjusted for the desired crispness and clarity of the sound. But be careful. Too much can lead to a shrill, sawing sound that massively influences the dynamics of the overall sound.

Videos on the subject of nu-metal sound

Just want to listen to the sound of the 90s again? Let’s take a listen!

Originally published on Gearnews.de by Jan Rotring. Translation by Julian Schmauch.

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The post Epic Riffs Await: Discover Your Perfect Nu Metal Setup! appeared first on gearnews.com.

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