What guitar amps does Meshuggah use? Good question. Here’s the skinny on Meshuggah’s amazing custom-built guitar amps…
How do you sound like Meshuggah? First, you’ll need a PHD-grade understanding of timing and rhythm; second, you’ll need an 8-string guitar, this is a must; and third, you’ll need a killer guitar amp to dial in Meshuggah’s trade-mark crushing guitar tone.
Over the years, Meshuggah has been known to use Line 6 and AXE FX, both live and in the studio, which allowed the band’s guitarists – Fredrik Thordendal, Mårten Hagström, and Dick Lövgren – to plug directly into the PA system and get the exact same tone at every show. There’s no guesswork involved: you plug in and you get the exact same sound every damn time.
For touring bands, this reliability and consistency are one of the main drawers of using tech like Axe FX – even Metallica use AXE FX these days. But AXE FX isn’t the only tech Meshuggah uses on their guitar rigs. The band also use laptops in live situations to switch between patches and effects automatically.
Like all guitarists, the band use a selection of guitar amps as well – both live and in the studio – and from just before the release of The Violent Sleep of Reason, the band commissioned some custom-built 50W amplifiers from Fortin.
What Guitar Amp Do Meshuggah Use?
Since around 2016 Meshuggah has used custom-built Fortin amplifiers for its guitars. The amp itself is known as the Fortin Meshuggah Signature 50W amplifier and, unlike the band’s music, it is a fairly simple guitar amp featuring just two gain channels (GAIN I and GAIN II) and something called a “Meshuggah Volume Control” (MVC) which can be used to push-pull the gain compression.
On the back of the Fortin Meshuggah Signature 50W amplifier, you’ll find DUAL BIAS that lets the user set the bias output of the tubes used inside the amp itself. The Fortin Meshuggah Signature 50W amplifier comes with its bias set to 32mV per tube.
The idea with this amp, prior to its inception, again, was pretty simple: create something that could replicate ALL of Meshuggah’s iconic guitar tones across its now fairly large discography – from its earlier material right up to The Violent Sleep of Reason.
As far as I am aware, however, the band is currently using AXE FX for its live shows, meaning they plug directly into the PA system with all the effects controlled by laptops, running Cubase, backstage. This means no physical amps are required, as everything is created and managed digitally.
But the band did have custom tube amps built-in 2016, and it had them made for the purpose of playing live shows. Whether Meshuggah used these amps to create sounds that were then digitised for live shows and/or records remains to be seen – guess we’ll have to wait for the making of Immutable to come out to find out.
Kemper, however, does now offer an amp profile based on the Fortin Meshuggah Signature 50W amplifier which, if you use Kemper, you can download right now. All the tones were recorded in Sweden using the following cabinets:
- Mesa Boogie 4X12 Recto Standard
- Engl XXL E412 PRO Marshall JCM800 LEAD Line 6 Spider II 412
- Fortin Custom 4×12
As for the REAL Fortin Meshuggah Signature 50W amplifier, of which there were only 150 made, here’s a quote from Mike Fortin of Fortin Amps discussing the process of creating and designing the Fortin Meshuggah Signature 50W amplifier.
Late 2016 just before The Violent Sleep of Reason Tour, I was asked to create an amplifier for Fredrik & Mårten that would not only cover the entire arsenal of amps used on the new record, but could also nail the older classic tones. As a result of much research and development, we are pleased to present this machine of torture, the MESHUGGAH Signature 50W amplifier!
And here’s a quote from a gushing Fredrik Thordendal, discussing the brilliance of his Fortin Meshuggah Signature 50W amplifiers, of which there were only 150 ever made – they’re super rare.
The best of the best! Mr. Mike Fortin! Thank you for building us these exquisite machines of torture! There are just no words to describe how pleased we are with them! It’s like having the whole arsenal of amps used on ‘The Violent Sleep of Reason record built into one head – and we have three!!! ???? Mind blown!
Meshuggah Amp Settings
If you’re interested in the EXACT amp settings Meshuggah uses, you can find out the exact settings used – at one live performance, anyway – by Meshuggah’s Frederik and Marten back when they first took home their shiny, new Fortin Meshuggah Signature 50W amplifiers.
- MVC Not pulled 4
- Bass 10
- Middle 7
- Treble 3,5
- Gain II 7,5
- Gain I 4
- Presence 4
As for the FX and everything else that goes into making Meshuggah’s tone, well… that’s another story entirely. But we do know that Frederik of Meshuggah is a big fan of the Fortin 33 Fredrik Thordendal Signature Pedal, so getting your hands on one of them probably wouldn’t hurt if you’re trying to emulate Meshuggah’s guitar tone.
As for the guitars used by Meshuggah, the guys have a few 8-string guitars in rotation these days – we’ve already covered them inside our feature on The Guitars Used By Meshuggah. Beyond this, you’ll also need to invest in something like Axe FX III as well, and Cubase – this is what Meshuggah has used to create its effects for decades, both live and in the studio.
If you’re looking for a slightly more affordable 8-string guitar, you do have some excellent options right now – this one being our current #1 recommendation.
And if you’re interested in a detailed overview of Meshuggah’s latest album, IMMUTABLE, you can check out ELECTRIKJAM’s Meshuggah IMMUTABLE review for more details on the new album. Spoiler alert: it is really, really good. The band, even after 32 years, is still innovating. And they’ve never sounded better.