John Squire's Sound

So I've compiled a short description of how to get a guitar sound like John Squire, the guitarist from the seminal 80s british rock band, The Stone Roses. I'm using The Squire Files as a starting point, however, I get more specific in many areas I feel have been overlooked. Here I've concentrated specifically on his sound from "Waterfall" but it can be applied to a lot of other songs too.

He plays a Gretsch Country Gentleman on almost all the early songs. He started playing a Strat a little later on but one of the key elements to his early sound is a guitar with humbuckers. Most any guitar with average output humbuckers can get you the sound. I know, you're like, but it sounds so chimey! You can't get that with humbuckers! Not only is he playing with humbuckers I'm pretty sure he using the neck pickup. Yea, that's right. Here's the key, look at the picture, look where he's playing, all the way down by the bridge. Playing like this on most humbucker equiped guitars combined with the right effects will absolutely nail the sound.

So, about those effects...

This picture is from their television performance of Waterfall. You can watch the video on youtube. The guy doesn't have the most unique pedal selection but instead relies on some old standards. He's definitely more defined by his playing style than his specific choice of effects. If you didn't have these exact effects you could still get 95% there.

The pedal closest to us in the picture is a TS-9 Tubescreamer. It's a pedal used by probably millions of guitar players. It gives his sound a mid boost and adds some grit. These are being re-issued currently and you can get them new for around $100. Not bad. But the other option is to get a TS7 which you can easily find for less than half that price. The TS7 has the exact same circuit as the TS9. It's not just close to it, like the TS10 and TS5, it is the exact same circuit. But it also has a "HOT" mode switch. So really it's like a TS9 plus.

Apparently that far pedal, the first one in his chain is an Ibanez CS-9 Stereo Chorus. In the picture it looks like a darker pedal and the CS-9 is a light violet color but apparently there are some early ones that are a dark red color. I have no first hand experience with this specific chorus but looking at the market it seems to be a really good value for a classic analog chorus. You can usually find the re-issues used on eBay for around $85. The comparable BOSS CE-2 (out of production) would cost you at least twice that much.

So the pedal in the middle is pretty unmistakably a Fuzz Face. He uses this pedal for some extra crunch when playing a solo. So if you look real closely you can tell by the knobs that it is a Crest Audio Re-Issue. These were being produced around the mid to late 80's so it would make sense for him to have one of these. These are an NPN silicon transistor version of the fuzz face. They use BC109C transistors to be exact. Fuzz Faces are pretty popular with DIYers due to the simplicity of the circuit. It wouldn't be that hard to make one yourself or find a crafty person to make one for you.

He also uses an Alesis Midiverb or Quadraverb or some shit. A lot of people blab about this but seriously, most any digital reverb will approximate the sound.

So in summary the essential elements are: Guitar w/ humbuckers (neck pickup and played by bridge) --> Chorus --> Tubescreamer --> Amp (Fender and/or Mesa Boogie) w/ Reverb in effects loop. Fuzz Face for solos.


Anonymous said...

he also used a flanger for "Made of stone", wah-wah on "I am the resurrection"

Anonymous said...

Nice summary of Johns set-up from this period.
I started my own blog showing my attempts to play some of his tastier moments. I'll probably tackle Waterfall in due course.

Anonymous said...

John Squire DID NOT use a wah wah on i am the ressurection

Niall said...

Good job keep it up. The SmithsOnGuitar blog is an amazing resource if you built this one up to something like that it would amazing :)