Dimebag Darrell was and remains one of the greatest guitar players to ever walk the earth. But what pedals did Dimebag Darrell use? Here’s everything you need to know…
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When it comes to writing killer riffs and head-splitting lead, Dimebag Darrell is very much in a league of his own. Sonically, Dimebag Darrell was one of the greatest players to ever pick up a guitar.
Although most of his most notable work was done in the 1990s, Dimebag’s legacy lives on today. Pantera still sounds as fresh today as it did two decades ago – and that applies of all of Pantera’s albums.
Dimebag Darrell was a huge part of Pantera’s sound, arguably the most important component. Without his riffs, his ear for tone, and his devastatingly accurate rhythm and lead, Pantera would have been just another metal band.
Part of Dime’s skill as a player was his natural born talent. He was born to play the guitar. But another integral part of his tone and style, which is often overlooked, was his choice of pedals.
Dime used a pretty scant pedalboard by today’s standards but he got a lot out of it, so if you’re looking to emulate Dimebag Darrell’s guitar tone, you’ll need to know exactly what pedals he used and why.
Let’s do this…
Dimebag Darrell’s Main Pedals For Pantera
Noise Gate Pedal
One of Dimebag’s most famous pedals was the Noise Gate. This pedal is used to reduce any unwanted noise that may be created when playing electric guitar.
The Noise Gate is designed to only open when there is a signal coming from the guitar, and then close quickly afterwards to reduce any hum or unwanted sound that could be present in an otherwise quiet passage.
This pedal was integral to Dime’s guitar tone. If you play metal and use lots of gain and distortion or fuzz, a noise gate pedal is an essential addition to your pedal board. Your guitar will cut through the mix better and it will sound fuller and cleaner (without losing any of its filth).
If you’re on a budget and you want a solid, reliable noise gate pedal to add to your board, we’re massive fans of the MXR M-135 Smart Gate Pedal – it’s affordable and it works like a goddamn dream.
Digitech Whammy IV Pedal
Another of Dimebag’s favorite pedals was the Digitech Whammy IV Pedal. This pedal can be used to subtly add vibrato or create extreme pitch-shifting effects, allowing for a wide range of creative sounds. The iconic vocal-like wails heard in many of Dimebag’s solos were likely produced using this pedal.
The Digitech Whammy IV Pedal features two main modes of operation – Classic and Chords. The Classic mode allows for smooth and gradual pitch shifts, while the Chords mode allows for more extreme effects such as octave jumps and dive bombs.
The pedal also has an envelope feature which can be used to adjust the release time of any effect applied. In addition, the pedal comes with dedicated foot switches for octave up/down and harmony intervals, giving you maximum control over your tone.
And while it is expensive, it is one of the most versatile pedals you can own.
XR EVH-117 Eddie Van Halen Signature Flanger
The MXR EVH-117 Eddie Van Halen Signature Flanger was also found among Dimebag Darrell’s arsenal of pedals.
This pedal gives a classic flange sound as heard on tracks like Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”.
However it can also create smooth dynamic swells with its manual mode option which allows you to dictate how much effect will be applied at each note with just your foot switch.
This particular pedal is next to impossible to find these days but a solid alternative would be the relatively inexpensive MXR M-117R Flanger Effects Pedal.
Crybaby Wah-Wah Pedal
Finally, the Crybaby Wah-Wah Pedal had become an essential part of Darrell Abbott’s live rig over the years.
By changing the “Q” filter, this pedal allows you to control the tone and frequency range of your wah effect, allowing you to attain everything from a classic funk wah sound all the way up to scooped out metal tones heard on tracks like Pantera’s “Walk”.
How To Sound Like Dimebag Darrell
If you want to properly dial-in Dimebag Darrell’s guitar tone, you’ll need to tune down half a step and utilise a very good amp – Dime used both Marshall, Diezel VH4 and a Randall RG1003H. And all of these are HELLA expensive.
For the bedroom player looking to emulate his sound, or, more specifically his approach to tone, the choice of pedals you use will be more important.
You can get a solid high gain sound from most cheap amps these days, so don’t go thinking you need to break the bank when it comes to rigs.
The Boss Katana 100 comes with ALL of Boss’ pedals installed inside it, so that’d be a great option (and it retails for around $300).
But to really dial-in that iconic Pantera tone, there are certain pedals that are essential. And they are as follows: a noise gate, the Digitech Whammy IV Pedal, and some kind of flanger – Dime loved his flange.
If you can get your hands on these pedals – or use digital equivalents inside software like Positive Grid’s BIAS FX 2 – you’ll be well on your way to unlocking the secrets of Dimebag Darrell’s iconic guitar tone.
Gear Mentioned In This Article:
If you need any help building out your first pedalboard, check out our beginner’s guide to building your first pedalboard – it covers everything you need to know to get started.