The Secrets Behind Joe Perry's Guitar Tone on Aerosmith's "Walk This Way"

Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Steven Tyler perform in Honolulu in 1975 (Image credit: Robert Knight Archive/Redferns/Getty Images)

Aerosmith’s mid-Seventies albums Toys in the Attic and Rocks are virtual encyclopedias of awesome hard rock guitar tones. The rhythm guitar tracks have balls of steel and Joe Perry’s solos are as fat as a Cajun master chef with twice as much badass attitude. Awesome riffs abound on both albums, including the galloping pummel of “Back in the Saddle” and hypnotic swagger of “Sweet Emotion,” but the ne plus ultra riff of these efforts is undoubtedly the raunchy low-down funk of “Walk This Way.”

Joe Perry and Brad Whitford’s guitar tones on this song have bewildered guitarists for years. Many assumed that the guitarists used Sixties Marshalls or Fifties Fender tweed combos, but there’s a very distinctive midrange honk and percussive crunch prevalent on the guitar tracks that a Fender or Marshall can’t deliver on its own. Perry gave a hint about what he used in an interview with Steve Rosen in the March 1979 issue of Guitar Player, where he said, “When I’m at the Record Plant in New York City I use some Ampegs they have there — really hot Ampegs that sounds a lot like Fender Dual Showmans.”

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.