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At some point in our lives as musicians, we’ve all gone down the rabbit hole when it comes to gear. It starts with learning about pickups, string gauges, pedals and then winds up spending seven hours researching speaker sizes on the verge of tearing your hair out.

Listen. Gear is a means to an end. Gear gets us to the music. The less time spent thinking and worrying about gear, the more time you can spend thinking and worrying about music. 

Let’s look over the basics of capturing the classic rock sound and explore the fundamentals of that sound and what you should look out for when buying gear to get you there.

How about a quick gear 101 to help you maximize your gear to make your music come alive? 


We always start here on our quest for our sound, and rightly so! Besides your fingers and your amplifier, nothing else will mold your sound more than your guitar, so choose wisely. 

If you want to sound like Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, or Jeff Beck, look into what guitars they play. Get detailed with it. Find out what kind of necks they use. For instance, a long scale neck such as on a Stratocaster will give you a brighter, elastic sound. A short scale neck on the other hand, such as a Gibson Les Paul will lend you a warmer, broader sound.

Strats and Telecasters and realize they buzz or “hum” when plugged in. That’s why we have humbuckers (they “buck” the hum). What humbuckers lose in the clarity of single coils, they make up for with grit and warmth.


Amps are scary. Amps are heavy. Amps are confusing. Amps are expensive. Let me lend you some advice that applies to all significant purchases in life, not just limited to gear.

You have to do your research.

Use internet forums like reddit and scour the comments reading people’s reviews of the amps they’ve bought. Find some old players and ask them about what they use. Go into stores and play around on as many amps as you can to get an idea of what you like and what you don’t like.

For classic rock, people will usually point you to Marshall, and with reason. Marshall’s been providing the sound to the best guitarists for generations. Marshall definitely has its own sound though, but if you like that sound then, why worry?

Orange amplifiers and Mesa/Boogie are also popular amp choices for rock. They have no problem accessing that edge of classic rock though they do tend to fall on the more expensive side.

Ready to get the classic rock sound you want? Here’s a look at how to set up your amps.


I have a love-hate relationship with pedals. Too often they’re used as a crutch for a lack of creativity and practice. I say that because I used to abuse pedals that way. But pedals can be amazing tools in the toolkit of musicians and they are great for classic rock.

Usually what you’re going to be dealing with are a lot of boost, distortion, and overdrive pedals. Basically they’re there to make you sound loud and dirty. Mesa/Boogie makes a great line of these types of pedals as does Boss and Electro Harmonix. I would truly be doing you a disservice if I failed to mention the Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer. 

Loud and dirty my friends, loud and dirty.

Want to use effects to create the classic rock sound? Watch how. 

The JamPlay Electric Essentials Toolkit includes the Maximize Your Gear Pack with 15 videos covering everything from simple guitar setup and changing strings to basic amp setup and gain stacking. Get this toolkit or others of your choice FREE with the annual membership to JamPlay. 

A Question of Money

I haven’t met a musician yet who didn’t spend an inordinate amount of their income on instruments and equipment. We can’t help it, we tell ourselves. So when you’re looking at the price tags of your dream gear I want you to keep a few things mind.

  • Cheap doesn’t equal bad, Expensive doesn’t equal good.
  • You’re making an investment in musical real estate. Make what you buy count.
  • If you feel uncertain, and you’re not on a time crunch, walk away.

Buying gear is a lot like gambling. The stakes are high, it gets your pulse up, narrows your field of vision and your sense of time. So take a deep breath, do your research, and remember: it’s a means to an end.

Once you have that new gear make sure you know how to use it right! can help. 

Join the more than 500,000 guitarists who have experienced JamPlay. Guitar lessons from world class instructor artists in every genre and for every interest to power up your guitar skill. Become a member today at

Photo credits in order of appearance:
Header Photo by Krys Amon on Unsplash
Photo by Giancarlo Duarte on Unsplash
Photo by
José Pinto on Unsplash
Photo by
Cristian Guanipa on Unsplash

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