Learn How To Sound Like…Jack White (The White Stripes)

Last week the White Stripes’ new album, “Icky Thumb”, went straight to number One in the Charts, proving they are still one of the most popular acts in the world today. Since they first struck stardom with hit-single “7 Nation Army”, one thing many guitarists would like to know is how to sound like Jack White. Here’s how…

 

 

The secret weapon of Jack White is his pedalboard, which has been subject of several discussions on web-forums, ever since they became famous. Fortunately for us mere mortals, his setup is very simple and he doesn’t use anything too rare or obscure as far as FX pedals go: MXR Micro Amp >> Digitech Whammy >> Electro Harmonix Big Muff >> Electro Harmonix POG.

 

MXR M-133 Micro Amp BoostDigitech WhammyElectro Harmonix Big Muff USA OriginalElectro Harmonix POG

 

The MXR Micro Amp is used to boost the signal whenever he needs it – some sources say it’s on at all times. Jack White’s main distortion is the classic Big Muff Fuzz pedal, which now has been painted red.He uses the Digitech Whammy for solos (2 Octaves up) and that’s one of his trademark sounds – the crunchy Big Muff and the Digitech Whammy at the same time… most of Jack White’s solos are played like that.

Jack also uses the Digitech Whammy with the Octaves down setting, to make his guitar sound like a bass on “7 Nation Army”. As you can see, it’s a very versatile pedal.
The POG is one of EHX’s newest pedals, and was used for the guitar sounds on “Blue Orchid”, the first single from their previous album “Get Behind Me Satan”. It’s unknown if he uses it for anything else.
Jack White also uses two other pedals, but which have nothing to do with his sound: the Boss TU-2 Tuner, and a pedal to cutoff the signal, to mute his guitar whenever he needs it.
Guitars:
Here, things get a bit more complicated…up until recently, when he started playing Gretsch guitars (notably the White Penguin model, used in the Icky Thumb video), Jack White only used old, obscure guitars – not even particularly good! Such as the Montgomery Ward Airline, which used to be sold in department stores in the USA in the 60s. The new Airline guitars are completely different than Jack’s: the old ones were semi-hollow bodied, made of fiberglass, and cheap! The new ones are expensive, with  solid wood bodies.

Another Jack White favourite is a 60’s Kay Hollow Body.

 

 

 

 

Amps:

Jack White’s favourite amp is a super-rare Silvertone model, but he also uses a Fender Twin Reverb. In an interview for Guitar Player a few years ago, White said:

“The Silvertone is really rare,” says White. “It took me five years to find it, and now I have two. The Silvertone gives me the crunch-and the crunch that comes from those six Jensen speakers is amazing-and the Twin gives me the reverb. I run both amps all the way up. I used to get upset because of that theory you get from sound guys-you know, ‘Turn it down onstage and we’ll pump you through the monitors.’ I don’t trust that. I need my amps pointed at me full blast. That’s a weakness of mine, but I have to have it. I mean, it’s just me and Meg up there, so the guitar has to be strong.”

Above: Jack and his Silvertone. Great info on the amp can be found on this link

Jack On A Budget (or “Easier ways to sound like Jack White”)

Well…Maybe you can’t get hold of all this gear on Ebay, but there are lots of cool options if you still want to get a sound a look that have the same feel of the White Stripes, without necessarily copying Jack or blowing your budget.

FX Pedals – Suggestions:

For instance, instead of a Big Muff, you can get a Little Big Muff, which is cheaper and smaller but sounds very close to the original. Or, even better, that little beauty called Double Muff, which is amazing! Much cheaper and smaller than the Big Muff, the Double Muff has a great, dirty lo-fi tone when engaged on “double muff” mode. I bought one recently and I love it! “Single Muff” is more like a dirty boost, but when on “double muff” I can’t help but play the “Dead Leaves On The Dirty Ground” riff…sounds great!

To play Jack White-like solos, having an Octave UP pedal is essential. Instead of the Digitech Whammy, you can try the new Jimi Hendrix Octavio by Dunlop, a retro-styled copy of the one Hendrix used, which is also a fuzz pedal and goes one octave up. Or the Z-Vex Jonny Octave, which goes one or two octaves above.

Dunlop JIMI HENDRIX™ OCTAVIO PEDALZ-vex Jonny OctaveElectro Harmonix Micro POG

There’s also a cheap Danelectro Octave Fuzz Pedal, that’s also a great option.

Another good buy could be the new Electro-Harmonix Micro POG, which’s a more compact (and affordable!) version of the POG (an essential Jack White tool nowadays). The Micro Pog is a fantastic-sounding pedal…

Guitars – Suggestions:

The best idea is to get any good retro-style guitar. But it must be red, obviously, like his guitars! Here’s our sugegstions:

He also uses a Semi-Acoustic, 335-style guitar for some more bluesy numbers. A good and cheap suggestion would be the red Tanglewood TH502 guitar Simple, cheap, sturdy and effective…simply, an amazing value for the money.

Amps – Suggestions:

Fender 65 Twin with Jensen

Well…if you can’t have a Fender Twin AND a Silvertone with Jensen speakers, what about just a Fender Twin EQUIPPED WITH Jensens??? That sounds perfect, and the Fender Twin ’65 is just that amp, as it comes with two 12″ jensen speakers and is simply excellent!

 

If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative to the Fender Twin, you might like to try the Fender Blues Junior, which has the classic Fender tone and reverb in a small – but still quite loud – 15-watt amp.

Fender Blues JuniorFender Pro Junior 60th Anniversary Woody

Though, we must say, the Fender Pro Junior 60th Anniversary Woody (Above, right) is simply…”totally” White Stripes! You can bet Jack White would love it! The new Fender Hot Rod Deluxe 112 (Texas Red) also gives a very cool “white stripes” vibe…more derails here

If you want a crunchier amp, but can’t get a Silvertone, then try the Orange Crush 30R, that should give you all the crunchy sounds you need to get your Jack White tone nailed! For a bit more, the new Orange Tiny Terror Combo is a great option!

That’s it!

We hope this info will have helped you to get the sound you want!

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~ by dolphinblog on July 5, 2007.

43 Responses to “Learn How To Sound Like…Jack White (The White Stripes)”

  1. The MXR micro amp and the Big Muff makes a lot of sense. I’ve very surprised about the Digitech though. It’s interesting that he’d be using the micro amp on all the time, but I could see that. Like Matchless Hot Box or Bad Cat X-treme tone or something to give to help fill in the gaps of your tone possibly.

    Nice work. Icky Thumb is a really great album.
    PN

  2. an Eastwood Airline Deluxe guitar can be purchased from http://www.myrareguitars.com/airline2005models.html relatively inexpensively.

  3. the micro amp is to boost the sound as the whammy sucks a lot of tone.

    the whammy and micro amp are in a loop which it turned on/off by the far red pedal.

  4. Thank you so much:) I found this very helpful

  5. Love the Jensen put them in my amp and I sounded like Jack!

  6. Yes Jensen rule! Check out Jensentone.com

  7. Hey
    Im after an amp in the price range of 300 – £500 and i dunno what to go for
    I dont want an orange amp and i think a blues junior might not be very good.
    im thinking of a fender Blues Deluxe or a Hot Rod Deluxe maybe?
    Anyone know of any good amps that will give me a tone similar to Jack
    I already own a Big Muff so the amp doesn’t need to have an overdrive chanel
    Please help me!
    email me please handleyjack@hotmail.com

  8. I have a question. It’s something i’ve wanted to know for a while–how do you run one guitar through 3 amps at one time?

  9. Nice! I’ll save up and buy some of that stuff… does anyone know a good place to get these? Would they be at second hand stores? I’m looking especially for a 50’s/60’s classic guitar similar to Jacks.

    Thanks.

    Oh and P.S., I hate to be a smartass, but it’s actually Icky Thump.

  10. […] View info on Jack White Gear […]

  11. There is the Ibanez JTK4 RD which is very jack white looking in red in case anyone was interested. Also Jack White uses an analog man mute switch. There is a website http://www.brokenbricks.com with all the white stripes tabs and equipment.

  12. Eastwood’s new Airline ’59 reissue is an expensive, but less expensive, airline alternative
    http://www.eastwoodguitars.com/GTRs/airline59custom2p/airline59-2P_frm.htm

    It’s like their other model, which is tone chambered to sound as close to res-o-glass as wood can and has alnico humbuckers, but with single coil pickups and more visual features.

    Another alternative is an old Kent or Teisco which can be found for anywhere from $100-$300 on ebay and in paw shops.

    A good cheaper pedal combination is a Danelectro T-Bone and a Big Muff. I use their Russian Pi Model, which isn’t the kind Jack has, but sounds closer to his tone with the Dano.

    Thanks for the Tips!
    -Josh

    Oh, Eastwood also sells the single coul pickups they’ve put in their new guitar for about $80 if you want a similar tone and are using a guitar with humbuckers.

  13. The new Airline guitars don’t sound anything like the real fiberglass ones 😦

  14. That is insane how everything is red. Red red and red. I bet that is a great sound to hear.

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