Slipknot: 'Even When You're Dead Broke You Can Make Gear Sound Like You'

"Guitars and tone are very personal things," says guitarist Mick Thomson.

Ultimate Guitar

Slipknot may be one of today's most successful acts, but Iowa-based metallers weren't always at the top of the metal world.

Guitarist Mick Thomson remembered the days of early struggle during a recent Music Radar interview, noting that tone-wise, there is only so much the fancy gear can do.

"It has to feel right," the guitarist said. "Guitars and tone are very personal things. Even when you're dead broke you can find ways to make gear sound like you. That was what I did on the first record. In the end we decided that what we had sounded better than running through the sh-t that [producer] Ross [Robinson] had."

Thomson explained further, "Like I will grab Jim's guitars and they feel so different to the way that mine feel. His amps sound so different to how mine sound and feel and it feels so foreign that I'm like, 'I don't know how the hell you play this!'"

Mick's fellow axeman Jim Root agreed, saying that "every experience you have in life can be applied to different things." Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell took a similar stance couple of months ago when he stated that "it doesn't matter what gear you're playing on - you're gonna sound how you sound."

Slipknot are currently warming up to hit the studio earlier next year to work on a follow-up to their 2008 effort "All Hope is Gone."

51 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Very true, Mick is a great player and so is Jim but their styles are so different. I have a Dean, Schecter and Ibanez and they're all great but the Ibanez is what feels right to me.
    ive played ibanez, gibsons, and schecters. i love the tone you can get from an ibanez but to me the shecter is what feels right. love ibanez's though.
    Lots of Ibanez and Schecter fans on this site. I'm not an Ibanez fan, nor Schecter. I love my Gibson and PRS, but for thinner neck "metal" guitars I can't go past ESP. Or even old Jacksons! Fantastically aggressive guitars and changing them up a bit is dead easy, and effective.
    I'm actually a Fender-man, myself. I have a Spalted Maple Custom Telecaster model and it can pull off metal quite nicely. Sure, it doesn't have a Floyd, and it has a wood-grain-finish, but it can definitely hang out with the big-leagues. It is the guitar in my profile-pic.
    Love me some ibanez's
    I got it from a cash converters store for 180, couldn't have got a better deal.
    that just means some unfortunate guy had to sell his expensive guitar to a pawnshop and got ripped off. sorry to piss in your cereal but that sucks. unless he just sold it to buy blow
    It's an area where literally nobody plays guitar so I doubt it
    someone had to own it in order to sell it. im just saying your gain is someone else's loss. the 'couldn't have got a better deal' part is what made me say it, youre happy about getting a good deal even though its only a good deal because someone else got a real bad deal
    Don't you hate when you are happy about something you bought and someone has to say something negative to try to take your happiness, like some of the comments below? It similar to "Hey check out my car. I finally got a decent one", then the first thing out of the person's mouth is "WTF is that? Is that a dent on the side?" Sourpuss!
    The Cash Converters around the corner from me has a Dimebag Dean for 200. I can;t imagine what they gave him for it... or how much that poor guy must've cried when he handed it over.
    I believe them, mainly because they have band members who use baseball bats and beer kegs as instruments
    oh UG, you can bitch and you can argue about stupid things but when it comes to talking about guitar you turn into such a nice group of guys n gals
    This is why I am not a fan of pedals and amps that simply mirror other guitarists tones. I am a big fan of bands that once you hear the tone, you know who the guitarist is (i.e. Synyster Gates, Tremonti etc.)
    Not that I'm going to blame you directly of anything, but those were the names that first came to mind?
    Couldn't agree more. A guitar and an amp is something that is a part of you, and only you. It's an extension of your body, which only you can use in its fullest. Holding a different guitar just feels so foreign and distant.
    I've had a few Ibanez over the years, never liked how they've sounded
    I love my Ibanez, but I enjoy the feel of a PRS more. One day....
    I have an Ibanez RG series and an Epiphone Les Paul Standard. I have to say I prefer the feel and tone of the Ibanez any day. I only use my Les Paul for drop C tuning.
    I play a guitar that most of the guitar community would say is a really shitty guitar (an Ibanez AX7221), and I've managed to wring some incredible tones out of 'er. A fresh change of pickups and some locking tuners would make this a $250 guitar that will kick your $2500 Les Paul's ass. At least if I'm playing it.
    That, and a correct set up can make any cheap guitar with a decent feeling neck play like a $1500 guitar. People who don't know any better are amazed at what a good fret leveling, crowning, intonation, truss rod and bridge adjustment will do.
    Agreed. I've never been a gear kind of guy - it's all about sounding like THAT guy or THAT band. I write music for self expression, to me it doesn't make sense to want to sound like THAT guy, and I don't see why people spend all this money on doing so when you could be spending that time and money on good material - it doesn't take much to feel right with a guitar
    Nah man, gear is gonna help you define a sound. You may be influenced by someone's sound, but you'll never be able to replicate it. In the end, it'll only sound like you. Then again, experimenting with gear is fun.
    I really like my B.C Rich Mockingbird. Although it's a little neck heavy it feels really great and sounds awesome to me.
    Good point made in this article. I once read in an interview with Phil Anselmo where he said other guitar players would play through Dime's rig and sound like crap (granted some people here don't like his tone). But the minute he started playing he somehow made it work. Another example was Jeff Healy. I've seen videos of him playing a Squier Strat and it sounds unbelievable. I've always been a firm believer that tone starts with the person, not the gear he/she uses.
    I use different guitars for different sounds. Right now I play with the Gibson '61 SG with 57 Humbuckers, The ESP/LTD H-500 with 85/81 Emg's. And I have just recently treated myself to the most Amazing guitar I have ever played with. The Gibson "GOLDEN AXE" Explorer. The Nitro Lace Hemi Humbucking pickups are out of this world. I've owned and played with Jackson's, Ibanez, Fender, Dean etc etc and Nothing Has ever dropped my jaw like this one Has. If anyone has the chancee to try one out, let alone buy one, do yourself a favor and try it out.
    Ya I totally agree. I use different guitars for different things. When I play rhythms I feel like nothing beats my Les Paul, but for anything shred or extended range I grab my Ibanezs. Although because I learned to play on a Les Paul, for some reason it always feels like coming home every time I grab one.
    As musicians I believe were always searching for tone and what may be crap to somone else could be heaven to you
    my LTD's F series just doesnt fail me and the body shape fits me so well to the point that i owe the f-250 6 string model sprayed painted it white and hunted down for the 7 string version f-207 with the rose
    This may be true for blues and jazz guitarists but metal... come on.. they have the distortion up so high how can you hear any of the nuances in a particular persons playing?
    Agreed. I'm up to 6 guitars, but there's definitely 1 guitar that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Bought a body to fit my style (LP shape), neck with the feel I like, pickups for exactly my sound, even down to the pickguard. It's an extension of me, and my Jackson and Kramer haven't got a hope in hell of ever standing up to it.
    I own a Fender telecaster, Gretsch 5120, Danelectro DC-59, and a old Epiphone G-400 in worn cherry. Though most of those guitars are arguably better than the latter (the DC-59 is grey territory - I use it for experimenting, so it sounds nothing like the original), around 95% of everything I write is done on the Epiphone. Its clean tone is clear and solid, never flimsy, and when I play sludge, or some of my own oddball metal, I can downtune it very low, without the metallic rattling noise I get from the other guitars, and additionally always keep the tone precise and clear. It's also by a long shot the most comfortable guitar I've ever played, and I never have any pet peeves with it. Unless the circumstances are special, I play almost everything with my good ol' G-400.
    I own the G400 SG as well, in silverburst. Love the hell out of that guitar. It's my go-to for anything I play.
    I have a MIM Tele and I love it to death. I swapped out the pups and put some Bill Lawrence Pick Ups in and my god. It sounds and plays better than an american deluxe in my opinion. I wouldn't trade that guitar for the world
    I have always a very blues oriented sound for what I grew up listening to (SRV, Clapton, Allman Bros). Everything sounded good to me (at the time) on that first guitar I had. A Mexi Fender Strat. Especially on a clean channel thru a Fender Deluxe 90 amp. It's what I built my playing around for years. I went on to play thru a few cheap Marshall amps, but wasn't satisfied until I broke down and finally bought a PRS. A year or two later, I pieced together a Mesa Rig. Sounds great, but as these guys stated, with all the gear, guitars, amps, or whatever it is you go thru, YOU still come across thru any of it. Your influences and early beginnings will always reign thru what you play throughout the years. I'll always have a bluesy core at heart.
    I've been through numerous amps as well, but the one thing that never changes is the core of my sound, just like you said. My three biggest influences, as far as guitar tone is concerned, are Dimebag, Iommi and Kirk Windstein. No matter what I play through I get that sludgy, dirty and somewhat bluesy sound.