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EJ Style: Gear & Tone


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The Eric Johnson Style

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If you have ever watched Eric Johnson live (especially in the early days) you know that to emulate his exact tone might take years of hunting vintage amps and effects. So I am going to give you some creative ideas on how you can get very close. But for good measure lets talk about his early amp rig.

Lead Tone: For Eric's incredible and unmistakeable lead tone, he favored using vintage Marshall Plexi heads (50 watt) with 1960A cabs cranked WAY up. The second Marshall amp in the chain for color was a very early JTM 45 (50 watt). In the signal chain he preferred a Chandler tube driver pedal to push the clean vintage Plexi and JTM 45 to achieve that creamy signature lead tone. In the effects loops chain he runs an Electro Harmonix Memory Man analog delay and a TC Electronics TCF Chorus Flanger pedal. Lastly, in nearly every early video you will find, he was using the very worn-in 1957 Fender Stratocaster. The mids are EQ'd quite high in the lead tone mix with the treble rolled off so it sounds very smooth even with single coils.

Clean Tone: Eric's set up was a bit more basic for the cleans. He used mostly Fender Deluxe Reverb black faces in tandom with black face Fender Twin Reverbs using the stock reverb and Tremolo with the ElectroHarmonix memory man and TC-electronics TCF Chorus Flanger in the signal chain or in effects loop when the Fender amps were modded to have an effects loop. He used a fairly mid scooped sound with single coil pick ups for a crisp bright clean tone.

The tones used in this example were all created using the Axe-FX II by Fractal Audio. Lead tone is Marshall Plexi, 808 Tube Screamer, analog delay with chorus mod, and Hall reverb going through a 4x12 cab simulator with Celestian greenbacks.