Jack White’s Guitar Tone
The music world was changed forever when Jack Anthony Gillis (better known as Jack White) was born on the ninth of July way back in 1975. White, who Rolling Stone has named as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, has been a driving force in modern rock music since the release of the White Stripe’s self-titled debut album in the summer of 1999. Indeed, White’s career has helped define modern rock. Tracks such as Seven Nation Army, Icky Thump, and most recently Over and Over and Over from 2018’s Boarding House Reach have provided the blueprint for today’s generation of guitarists who want to be a part of the long and storied history of the rock n’ roll tradition.
Considering his influence and place among the greats of the pantheon of rock music, it’s understandable you’d want to replicate the classic Jack White sound. But how do you even go about doing this? How does one replicate a rock legend? The devil is in the details, as White is one of the most technical sound guitarists working today — basically, he’s a total gear head. Guitar skills are all well and good but to sound like White you have to have the proper arsenal. Read on to know more about what you’ll need to sound like Jack White!
If you’ve seen the iconic rock documentary It Might Get Loud, then you remember the truly baffling scene when White asked his son to step on his iconic red Valco Airline guitar. He also mentions that he likes playing on really old plastic guitars, which is what this Airline guitar is. The guitar features an odd shape and even odder design, as the tone and volume controls are located above the pickups. Not to mention that it only has 20 frets. But what defines this guitar is the pickups and single coils that give the Airline the iconic rounded out sound that has been associated with the White Stripes. If you’re looking for something more modern, White also plays a Gretsch G5435 Pro Jet that takes vintage guitar aesthetics and combines it with modern engineering.
Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi
Now, this is a pedal that has been used by many great guitarists over the years. From Jimi Hendrix to Carlos Santana, the Big Muff Pi is the quintessential pedal for the modern rock musician. White makes use of the Big Muff Pi for its creamy sustain and distortion, particularly in songs like Blue Orchid and Dead Leaves on the Ground. This fuzz pedal may just be the key to emulating White’s tone, as it gives you the power to rip out heavy riffs while also having a violin-like sustain. The Big Muff Pi now also comes in a smaller form via the Electro-Harmonix Nano Big Muff for the musician on the go. If for whatever reason you’re not a fan of the Big Muff Pi, then you may opt for other great fuzz pedals such as the Janus from boutique guitar pedal makers Walrus Audio.
Fender 1968 Custom Deluxe Reverb
Lastly, you’ll have to plug all of these into an amplifier. White personally prefers using busted up and antique amps, but this isn’t a plausible option for many. However, we can settle for the next best thing. The “next best thing” in this case being the Fender 1968 Custom Deluxe Reverb, a reissue of the classic 1968 amp that White particularly has a penchant for. This is a reverb centric amp that’ll floor the senses with earth-shaking tones, especially when you crank it up. For those of you on a budget, you can give the Fender Pro Junior a try as it is one of the better no-nonsense amps out on the market today.
If you enjoyed reading this article, expand your musical horizons and check out our feature on the Bogota-based shoegaze band Encarta 98!