how to darken guitar tone

How To Darken Guitar Tone: What Is Dark Guitar Tone?

What is dark guitar tone? How can I make my guitar sound darker? What is the necessary equipment I should use to make my guitar produce a darker sound? What genre do you usually hear dark guitar tones? Are there any specific guitars that cannot produce dark guitar tones? These questions usually come up when it comes to this topic, and we are here to clear up everything about the mystery of the dark guitar tone.

So, what is a dark guitar tone? Although there are no specifics for a dark guitar tone, many define it as a guitar tone that has boosted bass and mid-range frequencies while the high frequencies are reduced. It usually sounds with less treble and the lows are higher than normal.

So, where do you usually hear this kind of tone? When it comes to the word dark, these genres usually come to everyone’s mind: rock and metal. Yes, you typically hear the dark guitar tone when you listen to rock and metal songs, but there are also other guitar players in different genres that play with a dark guitar tone in their songs. One can be blues, while jazz can also be a good choice.

So, how do guitar players make their guitars sound dark? I hope you are excited to read and learn how to make your guitar sound dark, like how your favourite guitar players make their guitars sound dark.

Electric Guitar


Guitar pickups are an essential part of an electric guitar as it would be difficult to hear its tone if it did not have any pickups attached to its body. This is why many consider the pickup as the heart of a guitar. So, how do pickups work? It converts the vibration produced from the strumming of the guitar strings into electrical signals. If you plug your guitar into an amplifier, the signals will be boosted, making them audible to people.

So how can pickups make your guitar sound dark? There are two main types of pickups that you usually see on guitars, a single coil or a humbucker. Single coils are known to produce a bright sound, while humbuckers are known to have a darker tone and are more bassy. Although there are more ways to make your guitar sound dark, having a humbucker in your guitar will quickly help you get the dark tone you want to hear.

Most rock and metal guitar players use electric guitars with humbucker pickups, as it helps produce darker tones usually required in playing these genres. Even with jazz guitars, they are also equipped with humbucker pickups as it gives them the fat and dark tone, which is preferred in playing the jazz genre.

If you do not know the best humbucker pickups you can put on your guitar to make it sound dark; then you should try a DiMarzio Tone Zone. You can also try Seymour Duncan Custom or Trembuckers. A DiMarzio Super Distortion or Super 3 will also work if you want your guitar to sound dark. Other options are Seymour Duncan Invader and Distortion Parallel Axis. 

There are still many humbuckers you can try out to get the dark tone you want to hear, but for single coil pickups, I believe there is only a limited number that can do the job you are looking for.

Guitar Amplifiers

Although pickups can convert the vibration produced from strumming the guitar into electric signals, you will still need to plug it into a guitar amplifier so you can hear how your electric guitar sounds. This is one way you can make your guitar sound dark. A little bit of tweaking on it, you’re good to go.

To make your electric guitar sound dark in a guitar amplifier, you have to tweak the EQs of the amp. For dark tones, you should cut the high frequencies by toning down the amp’s treble while you boost the amp’s mid and low frequencies by turning the amp’s knob into seven up to 10, depending on your preference. This way, your guitar will sound dark by tweaking the amp’s settings.

There are also some amps in the market that are perfect for playing the dark tone. Most Marshall amps, especially those valve ones, can easily be set up to produce dark guitar tones. There are also many Vox guitar amps that can make the dark guitar tone you are looking for. However, for Fender amps, it can be a little difficult, even if you boost its bass knob.

Guitar Pedals

Aside from changing your guitar pickups and tweaking the EQ of a guitar amplifier, you can also make your electric guitar sound dark by using guitar pedals. Most guitar players now use either multi-effects or single pedals when playing on stage or studio, so using guitar pedals is now a norm for all guitar players.

For dark guitar tones, the best guitar pedal you should use in your collection is a distortion pedal. Distortion pedals can produce more gain compared to other guitar pedals, and they clip the signals way harder compared to an overdrive pedal, while it still sounds tight and articulate.

Popular pedal brands like Boss, Strymon, TC Electronic, MXR, and many others offer several options for distortion pedals that you can use to help you make your electric guitar sound dark. Boss Metal Zone, Metal Core, Heavy Metal Waza Craft, or even the DS-1 can be great options if you are looking to darken your guitar tone.

However, aside from distortion pedals, you can also use EQ guitar pedals to darken your guitar tone. Major guitar pedal companies like Boss, MXR, Mesa Boogie, and many others have EQ guitar pedals of their own and are available in the market. 

To darken your guitar tone using the EQ guitar pedal, cut the high frequencies, while you also cut down some of the 2 to 3 kHz frequency range to aid in making your guitar sound darker. To darken the sound totally, boost the low frequencies as much as possible, and you will surely get the dark tone you really want to hear.

Acoustic Guitar

Wood Materials

For electric guitars, the pickup, the guitar amplifier, and the guitar pedals are the most important things when it comes to making your guitar sound dark, but for acoustic guitars, the most determining factor in how they sound is the type of wood used in making the guitar.

When it comes to acoustic guitars, those bodies that are made of either mahogany or walnut are really known for producing a dark acoustic sound. Acoustic guitars made of mahogany are known to have a deep sound. Cedar or rosewood can also be a good option if you are looking for an acoustic guitar with a dark tone. For top guitar brands, you can find more Martin guitars than Taylor when it comes to acoustic guitars with a dark tone.

So, what is dark guitar tone? How can I make my guitar sound darker? There is no specific definition for the dark guitar tone, but it is known by many as the guitar tone that sounds a little bit deep and a little bassy. There are many ways you can make your guitar sound dark; you change your pickups, you tweak your amp’s EQ, or use guitar pedals. The wood used in making the guitar is also a great contributor to producing the dark guitar tone.

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