Linkin Park’s ‘Numb’ Tone Dissected

Let’s take a look at the gear used by guitarist Brad Delson (Linkin Park) and how we might replicated the tone for the track “Numb” with the ME-80.
Contributed by Joshua Munday for the Roland Australia Blog In 2003 Linkin Park released their much anticipated second studio album Meteora. The final track on that album “Numb” features the classic Nu Metal Hi-Gain guitar tone that Linkin Park are famous for. Guitarist Brad Delson combines multiple guitar tracks into an awesome thick “Wall of Gain”. This tone is particularly difficult to replicate live and/or with a single guitar as it’s usually made up of multiple layers of guitar takes. With this type of Multi-Track Hi-Gain Guitar Tone it’s quite common for the guitarist to record each track at least twice then pan one track left and the next one right. But there could also be multiple “Stereo pairs” recorded sometimes playing slightly different parts or playing the same part but EQing each stereo pair of recorded tracks quite differently to retain clarity within all of that distortion. So how to we replicate all those guitar tracks with one guitar!? Using the 4 Elements of Guitar Tone formula for this song we have:

1. The Guitar

guitar_numbDuring the “Meteora Period” Brad’s guitars tend to be Models of PRS or Ibanez so we at least know that it’s probably a double humbucker guitar.

2. The Pickup Selection

This is a bridge pickup tone which you can tell by how sharp the sound is and the amount of “bite” to the tone. – IMPORTANT: If you don’t happen to own a guitar with a Humbucker pickup in the bridge position just go for the closest approximation on your guitar. e.g. on a 3 single coil guitar like a Strat, just select the bridge pickup and we can deal with the tonal differences later in the EQ, Compressor and FX sections.

3. The Amp

numb_amp Brad has been associated with many guitar amplifier brands including Marshall, Soldano, Bogner, Mesa Boogie and even Vox. In the studio he may have used a combination of several amps to get that tone, what we know for sure is that’s its a Hi-Gain tone. When selecting an amp there are some basic rules of thumb that will help: ALWAYS START WITH EVERYTHING OFF!!! I can’t stress this enough. Find the OFF button for everything in the signal chain so all you can hear is your dry old guitar sound coming through. Remember any multiFX/amp simulator like the BOSS ME-80 are just simulating a room full of gear, so think about it like that, you wouldn’t walk into a room full of amps and FX and start by turning everything ON would you? You would plug into an amp, get a good basic tone, then turn on any effects one at a time and build up your sound…likewise with any multiFX. ▀  Set the EQ “flat” (i.e. all settings at the half way point or 12 o’clock) this gives you a neutral starting point so that the EQ isn’t colouring the tone too much yet. ▀  Put the gain up to about a quarter to half a turn so you can hear the gain character. The obvious temptation for this tone is to find the most hi-gain amplifier setting and just crank up the gain to get that “BIG” sound. The problem with this is you can lose clarity and potentially turn your sound to mush. Maintaining clarity is especially important in a live scenario where drums, bass and vocals can cloud your tone. What I’ve done with the ME-80 is to wind the gain back slightly from full-on and EQ the tone to still cut through but while maintaining “Fullness”. I’ve selected a “Marshall-esk” tone by using the STACK Amp setting on the ME-80. I find the STACK setting can give enough gain for this sound and the Marshall style gain has some nice high frequencies that keep it cutting through in the mix. I’ve set the GAIN to 80, BASS to 60, MIDDLE to 53 and TREBLE to 99 (I’ve tweaked the EQ again with the dedicated EQ Section but I’ll explain that in the Effects Section). In the end I probably could have scooped (turned down) the MID EQ of the amp slightly more, but any time you adjust one EQ Setting you alter the others as everything moves in sympathy with everything else, e.g. if you turn down the mid range then the perceived volume of the guitar can drop in the mix, so you turn the guitar volume up, but then there’s too much bass (because you boost everything from turning the volume up)…and so on …and so on it goes….

4. The Effects

In this section we’ll cover the Pickup Converter, added EQ and Reverb. me-80 ▀  Starting with the COMP/FX1 Setting. I’m using a Fender Strat as the guitar which only has 3 single coils so in order to get that to sound more like a humbucker the ME-80 has a handy feature called the Single-Humbucker Converter. This thickens up the single coil and lets you adjusted the EQ and Gain of  the pickup specifically . The settings I’ve used are Low at 58, High at 38 and Level at 45. ▀  I’ve used the EQ setting to boost the Bass and Treble response even further than the Amps EQ. BASS on 62, MIDDLE on 54 and TREBLE on 60 ▀  There’s also some reverb on this sound to give it some “Space”. It’s pretty subtle as the sound is fairly dry as far as the room goes. I’ve just added a ROOM Reverb at a setting of 9.

Download

There you have it guys the guitar tone from “Numb” by Linkin Park. If you have an ME-80 and don’t want to have to program this tone yourself you can download it at this link HERE Download the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ patch for BOSS GT-100 HERE Download the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ patch for ME-80 HERE

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