How to sound like IV from Sleep Token: "He likes long necks and heavy gauge strings, with 084-010s his set of choice to provide a thick, rounded tone"

Sleep Token guitarist IV playing live on stage
(Image credit: Adamross Williams)

Few bands in recent history have enjoyed a rise as meteoric as Sleep Token. Obscured identities, a villainous mystique and three celebrated albums in three years have coalesced to make them one of the most talked about bands in the world.

They’ve found huge success with a polyamorous sound where crunching djent riffs, sultry hip-hop turns, and sugary pop motifs are all equally at home in their atmospheric prog metal melting pot.

No expense spared

Jackson X Series Soloist Archtop Slat8 FF

While IV's custom Jackson is a slight departure from his factory Soloist SLAT8, the multi-scale guitar is still extensively used on the road. It features a 26-28" scale, with its archtop basswood body sporting a gloss finish. It's paired with a one-piece maple neck (12-16" compound radius) with laurel fretboard and 24 jumbo frets. Noticeably, it stocks EMG 909 humbuckers, which are actually built for nine-string guitars, but have proven effective in eights, too.

On a budget

Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS32-8 DKA HT

Keeping it in the arch-topped Jackson family, the Dinky Arch Top JS32-8 DKA HT is the most affordable alternative available right now. There are still eight strings, and 24 jumbo frets on a maple neck with the same 12-16" compound radius. However, it’s body and neck woods have been swapped out for poplar and amaranth respectively. Own-brand Jackson High Output 8-String humbuckers are the biggest difference, and what helps keep the price point down.

If you want a budget eight-string with the same 26-28" multiscale and Fishman Fluence pickups, you're not going to find a cheaper option than Cort's KX508M $1,119.99 which gets a great low-end growl with its Okoume body and poplar top.

No expense spared

Jackson custom shop build ($5,000+)/Gretsch G5260 Electromatic Jet Baritone ($549/£519)

Failing convincing Jackson to recreate IV’s off-menu baritone, the fairly cent-sensitive Gretsch G5260 has been IV’s go-to for years prior to his tailored beast. This too sports a giraffe-esque 29.75” scale length, mahogany body, and – this time unroasted – maple neck. Its laurel fretboard and Gretsch mini humbuckers are your biggest differences, but it’s a guitar that has long since had IV’s stamp of approval.

On a budget

Harley Benton JA-Baritone BK

Harley Benton's JA-Baritone BK is the best 30" scale budget build – uniting a poplar body with a maple neck and purple heart fretboard and equipping it with P90-style vintage single coil pickups. It also looks the part with its black-on-black aesthetic – although IV’s ice blue SoCal does make a mockery of that.

No expense spared

Neural DSP Quad Cortex

While the band’s secrecy means they’re unlikely to share their tone secrets any time soon, there is a whole community of tone chasers creating and sharing their hacks, like YouTube account, Soundwavespr.

They’ve crafted a whole suite of Quad Cortex presets for nailing Sleep Token’s live sound. For rhythm and lead tones, the Soundwavespr pack takes a Bogner Überschall-style amp on the blue channel, and an ‘Exotic’ overdrive pedal, and splits its signal between two cabs based on the Mesa Standard OS and Orange PPC412 cabs respectively.

The other guitar amps used in this pack are Freeman 100 Lead (HBE channel) and Solo 100 (crunch bright channel) which gives players a head start in sculpting their own IV patches.

On a budget

Valeton GP-200

The Valeton GP-200 is arguably the best and most versatile budget floor modeler on the market. It features a dizzying 140 amp/cab sounds – including an Überschall copy – over 240 effects and eight footswitches. External IRs can be loaded in, too, and it offers 24-bit, 44.1kHz processing. So there’s plenty of tone sculpting possibilities within its housing.

What's more, there are even cheaper versions of the model like the GP-200LT ($279/£239) which do away with the expression pedal – something there’s no evidence of IV using – and the GP-100 ($1495/£119) which has an expression pedal and two footswitches.

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Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to Prog, Guitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.