Eric Melvin has used Les Pauls for the majority of his career but even before that, he used a classic BC Rich that had a Les Paul type tone. His tone remained very similar for the bulk of their work but somewhere along the line, Melvin changed from humbuckers to Seymour Duncan Phat Cats and around the same time he also seemed to stop liking distortion as well but we will get to that in a minute.
A P90 has a pretty unique sound but in this tutorial, I am aiming for classic NOFX so let’s try and use humbuckers with this rig if we can.
Eric Melvin used the Mesa Boogie Mark IV for 20+ years until about 2011 when he switched to a Mark V. The sound of a Les Paul and a Mesa Mark IV or V is guaranteed to give you stellar punk rock tone with no help whatsoever and Eric’s tone in the 90s was a fine example of that.
For this rig, you will need a solid Mark IV or Mark V plugin. For a good starting point to acquiring Eric Melvin’s tone, set the bass at 4-5, mids at 7-8, treble at 5-6 and the gain at 4-5. You can dial things in as you see fit but the settings on the amps in both rigs are meant to offset each other to create a thicker sound. So where you increase a control on one amp, ideally you want to back off that same area in the other rig to keep the tones fitting together.
Eric Melvin has always used Mesa Boogie 412 cabinets but the models have changed over the years from a 412 with a metal grille and Black Shadow speakers to a bunch of Mesa 412 oversized/OS cabs. Start with your favorite Mesa 412 impulse and go from there. He used Marshalls for a time so feel free to experiment with a Marshall cab or two or perhaps blend the Mesa and Marshall cabs together in your IR loader.
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.
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 110-115hz 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. Melvin has typically been the guy with more mids in his tone so after the high and low pass filters, we can leave it alone or if you want to add a subtle boost somewhere you are comfortable in the hi-mids, that would work out fine as well but use your ears.
- 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 which is partially to push our readers to learn more on their own terms or to give experienced users more room to employ their own general processing preferences 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.
Eric Melvin uses a phase shifter very sparingly so it’s really not a big deal but if you are interested, you can probably find a number of plugins capable of phase shifting effects. Not really my bag so you are on your own there 🙂
Melvin plays his leads on his regular tone. Most of his leads are just octave strumming leads so there’s not a lot of processing or effects needed but when you use this rig for leads, you should probably change the amp settings and/or your post EQ settings a little to separate them more from your rhythm tone.