RIG ONE: El Hefe

STEP #1:

Some tones aren’t overly impacted by the type of the guitar the guitarist is using but in the case of NOFX’s Aaron “El Hefe” Abeyta, he is playing a telecaster. Pretty much the only thing that sounds like a telecaster is a telecaster so not having one in this case is going to change your results a little. El Hefe has used a wide mix of single coil and humbucking pickups in the studio and live so we can be fairly flexible on that.

STEP #2:

El Hefe has mostly used a Mesa Boogie Mark III throughout his career but the only Mesa Mark III sim on the market is trapped inside Amplitube 3 and 4. You can by all means use our tone tutorials to create signal chains inside full amp suites like Amplitube but for those that don’t have it, we need to improvise.

We could go with a Mesa Mark IIC+ or a Mesa Mark IV. Both amps have been modeled into a plugin or two. If you own Thermionik, this whole tutorial is going to be a lot easier but if not we have a few options listed for you.

For settings it’s going to depend on the specific amp sim but a general guide here would be putting the bass at 7, middle at 2-3, treble at 7-8 and gain around 5. These are simply a guideline to get you started but either way, keep the mids low.

STEP #3:

El Hefe uses a Mesa Boogie 412 cab but he has gone between the standard and oversize/OS cabs throughout his career. You can use either really and we always recommend that you use the Shure SM57 options in whatever impulse packs you are choosing from. If you have another preference, by all means go with it but our standard is the SM57 or modded SM57.

Whether you are using your own loader or an internal loader, you should be able to choose a 412 Mesa Cabinet and an SM57 mic. Even if you are using a full suite like Amplitube for the tutorial, you should have these options. Mic placement is to your preference but in punk rock, we aren’t looking at overly airy tones so you may wanna have the mic stay close.

STEP #4:

It’s time for some processing. Punk rock generally doesn’t feature overly processed guitar tones though there are bands like Strung Out that take a more metal approach to their tones. The tones NOFX employ are sort of half modern and half vintage in that they are nice and tight but not overly processed.

  • First, we are going to add an EQ plugin after the impulse loader. In here you will just scrape off some of the stuff you don’t need. Put a high pass filter around 100hz and a low pass filter around 10Khz. These will vary and if you aren’t sure how to use high and low pass filters, please pause, CLICK HERE and return. In many dual guitar bands, one tone is scooped and one has a mid boost. El Hefe is typically the scooped tone so that means you will need to take out some of the mids. How and where depends on your taste generally but somewhere around 1k is a start.
  • You might have your own way of warming up your amp sims and we have many over here but for this one, we are going to advise a tape emulation plugin . You will need to learn how specifically to use tape emulation plugins for warmth. Good thing there’s about 2000 videos and links available on the subject.

Our processing steps are always a little bit vague at times but in this case there just isn’t a whole lot to do. You want to make sure you don’t process too much because punk rock tones generally have a rawness to them.


El Hefe uses a few modulation effects like phaser, flanger, tremolo and then he also adds a wah for some of his solos. For modulation effects we recommend the Kuassa Efektor series of pedal plugins.


El Hefe can bring some heat with his leads and solos. From time to time you can hear some delay and reverb in his lead tone. There’s also a mid boost in the leads and solos to help it cut through the mix and sit nicely. When you want to use this rig for leads, go into your EQ plugin, bypass the EQ point that you are using to scoop out the mids and maybe turn the mid control on the amp and bring up to about 7. Add effects depending on which of El Hefe’s lead tones you are chasing.

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