Warning: the sound you’re about to experience was achieved by professionals (or wannabe professionals), so for your enjoyment and the irritation of neighbors around you, please DO attempt any and all of the instructions you’re about to hear.
One question I constantly receive from my Guitar Super System students is something along the lines of, “How do I get the heaviest sound possible?” While the real answer is to time travel back to Paris in 1970 and steal Tony Iommi’s rig, I try to be as helpful as I can, so I created a video lesson that describes certain techniques and approaches to get the heaviest sound out of your guitar, regardless of your amp or gear setup.
Step 1: Drop Tuning. This should be obvious, but tuning your low E string to drop D will instantly fatten up your sound. If you’re feeling really boisterous, you can share the wealth with all six strings and descend to drop Db or drop C. Just remember, too much down tuning may require an increase in string gauge to avoid buzzing. These low tones may also call for a change of underwear.
Step 2: Expansive Chords. Anybody can down tune their strings. It’s what you do with that tuning that allows you to find a sincerely heavy sound. By utilizing open strings and hitting chords that take up the most possible space in the sound spectrum, you’re guaranteeing a formidable resonance out of your amplifier. Crank up the gain and try some stacked fourth or fifth note combinations. Remember, it’s not necessarily about the amount of strings you’re playing–it’s the attitude you’re playing them with.
Step 3: Palm Muted Rhythms. Take a page out of the book of Dave Mustaine as you search for the densest noise your ax can muster. The blend of muted strings with the proper harmonic choices can yield a seriously deep sound fit for a metal god, so do ensure you have your wits about you before you gallop toward the throne with these heavy syncopations.
For the full list of tips on how to sound heavy on guitar, check out the video below.
Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric brand Music is Win. His insightful, uncomplicated guitar lessons and gear demonstrations along with entertaining, satirical content about life as a musician receive tens of millions of video views per month across social media. Tyler is also the creator of the extremely popular online guitar learning platform, Guitar Super System. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Tyler has been teaching guitar for over a decade and operates a production studio in Nashville, TN.