Deftones, an American alternative metal band formed in the late 1980s, has become synonymous with a distinct sonic landscape that merges aggressive riffs with atmospheric soundscapes.

The guitar work of Stephen Carpenter, one of the band’s founding members, plays a pivotal role in crafting the band’s signature sound.

Carpenter’s preference for extended range guitars, specifically baritone and seven-string models, provides the heavy, downtuned sounds that Deftones’ music is known for.

His prototypical sound has evolved from the six-string roots of their debut album ‘Adrenaline’, to incorporating eight-string guitars on later records, influencing metal and rock music alike.

deftones guitar

Over the years, Deftones have expanded their tonal palette with various guitar models and intricate setups. While Fender models like the Jazzmaster, Stratocaster, and Telecaster have been mainstays for the band, they have also employed an array of other guitars suited for different tuning systems and playing styles.

Carpenter’s innovative approach to guitar tunings and his adoption of digital and analog effects units have been instrumental in the band’s ability to traverse musical boundaries. As Deftones continues to release music, the gear and techniques they employ play a crucial role in the ongoing evolution of their groundbreaking sound.

Key Takeaways

  • Stephen Carpenter’s use of extended range guitars is crucial to the Deftones’ sound.
  • The band employs a variety of guitar models and tunings to create their music.
  • Deftones’ guitar usage has had a significant impact on rock and metal genres.

History of the Deftones Guitar Utilization

Initiated in the late 1980s, Deftones have established themselves within the dynamic alt-metal scene. Stephen Carpenter, the band’s lead guitarist, has shaped their sound with his distinctive guitar work. Over the years, Carpenter’s preference has impacted the guitars the band uses.

From 2018 to 2021, there has been a noteworthy evolution in guitar selection. Notably, the band has shown allegiance to Fender guitars. Carpenter, who initially played six-string guitars, has transitioned to using seven and eight-string guitars, accommodating Deftones’ heavier and more complex tunes.

Fender Jazzmaster models have been a consistent choice for Stephen Carpenter, complemented by the extended range of seven and eight-string guitars for their newer material. The preference for Fender extends across the band, with different models appearing in various recordings and performances.

YearGuitar Models Used by Stephen Carpenter
Pre-2018Mainly six-string guitars including Fender models
2018 – 2021Seven-string and eight-string guitars

The band’s experimentation with tunings and sonic textures are pivotal in their evolution. Embodying a combination of heavy riffs and melodic interludes, their approach to guitar utilization mirrors their unique sound — a mix of aggressive rhythms juxtaposed with ethereal melodies.

In conclusion, Deftones and Stephen Carpenter have demonstrated a strategic and evolving approach to guitar selection, contributing significantly to their distinctive musical identity.

Stephen Carpenter’s Guitars Over the Years

As the lead guitarist of the alt-metal band Deftones, Stephen Carpenter has been recognized for his distinctive heavy guitar sound. His choice of instruments has evolved significantly, contributing to the unique sonic landscape that defines the band’s albums from Adrenaline through to Around the Fur and beyond.

Early Years and Guitars

In the early stages of his career, particularly during the era of Deftones’ debut album Adrenaline, Carpenter’s guitar of choice was a Gibson SG Standard. His predilection for Gibson models framed the raw, edgy sound for which Deftones would become known.

Shift to 7 and 8-String Guitars

Moving beyond six-string models, Carpenter ventured into the realm of 7-string guitars in the mid-90s. By the time Around the Fur was recorded, he had adopted 7-string models which allowed him to delve deeper into lower tunings, augmenting the band’s heavy, atmospheric sound. His iterative journey with these instruments marked a defining shift in Deftones’ sound.

Exploring the 8-String Models

Carpenter did not stop at 7-strings; by 2018, his explorations had led him to frequently employ 8-string guitars, specifically those from the manufacturers ESP and its subsidiary, LTD. Embracing these models allowed him to further expand the tonal range and textural qualities of his playing.

His use of 8-string instruments was not only an evolvement in his technical gear but also signaled a progression in his approach to creating music, which continued to be evident in Deftones’ works up to 2021 and arguably set a trend within the genre.

Evolution of Deftones’ Sound

The Deftones’ progression through the years exhibits not only a refinement of their alternative metal sound but showcases their embrace of technology and changing guitar tones.

Adrenaline to Around the Fur Era

In their debut album Adrenaline and the follow-up Around the Fur, Deftones established a raw and aggressive guitar tone that would become foundational to the emerging alternative metal scene. Early on, they employed a combination of heavy distortion and raw energy to convey the emotive power in their sound.

White Pony and Saturday Night Wrist Period

By the time White Pony was released, Deftones had started to integrate a more complex and sophisticated approach. The guitar work on tracks like “Change (In the House of Flies)” became more atmospheric, contributing to a more layered and textured sound.

The transition into the Saturday Night Wrist period saw continued experimentation with guitar tones, moving further away from genre conventions and towards an increasingly unique sound.

Diamond Eyes to Ohms Transformation

The band’s sonic landscape from Diamond Eyes through to Ohms reveals a deliberate evolution in guitar tone, characterized by the blend of heavy riffs and ethereal ambiance.

They explored the usage of different effects and tunings to broaden their sound palette, producing a more nuanced and expansive guitar tone that helped solidify their position as pioneers in the alternative metal genre.

Deftones’ Signature Techniques and Tunings

Deftones have carved a niche within the alternative metal scene, largely due to their innovative use of extended range guitars, non-traditional tuning methods, and a distinct combination of effects pedals and amp settings which create their signature sound.

Utilizing Extended Range Guitars

Deftones’ guitarist, Stephen Carpenter, has been known to favor 8-string guitars for their extended range, which allows the band to explore deeper sonic territories. These guitars are not limited to just lower notes but also broaden the harmonic capabilities of the instrument, enabling rich, dense, and textural work within their music.

Creative Tuning Approaches

The band frequently employs a variety of unique tunings that contribute significantly to their sound’s distinctiveness. Carpenter’s use of tunings such as Drop D, C# Standard, and even lower tunings on the 8-string guitars, facilitates the heavy, droning riffs that are a staple of Deftones’ music. These tunings, when applied to both electric and bass guitars, help in weaving a dense and immersive soundscape.

Effect Pedals and Amp Settings

Deftones blend their heavy riffs with atmospheric sounds using an array of effect pedals. Key effects include delay, reverb, distortion, and chorus, which when combined, contribute to the ethereal quality associated with their music.

In terms of amplification, they have been known to use the Marshall JMP-1 preamp along with the iconic JCM800, setting their controls to achieve a balance between clarity and saturation, aptly showcasing the Deftones’ amp settings and bringing out the textured nuances of their tonality.

Guitar Gear and Equipment Setup

The Deftones’ distinct sound is cultivated by a unique assembly of guitars, amplification systems, and assorted gear, which has been honed over the course of their expansive career.

Carpenter’s Mainstay Guitars

Stephen Carpenter, a pivotal figure in defining the Deftones’ sound, predominantly uses ESP guitars, which are known for their robust construction and versatility.

He often plays the signature ESP SC-608, an eight-string baritone behemoth tailored to handle the band’s lower tunings. His arsenal also includes the ESP Stef-T7B and the Stef B-8, each allowing him to explore sonic territories that align with the band’s evolving musical directions.

Amplification and Effects

Carpenter’s amp settings play an essential role in carving the sonic landscape Deftones is known for. His setup includes a well-curated selection of amplifiers that cater to heavy and nuanced tones, complemented by a diverse array of effects pedals. These pedals add layers of texture and depth to the guitar’s output, facilitating expression across a wide dynamic range.

Other Gear and Accessories

Apart from Carpenter, Deftones’ soundscape is co-created by the critical contributions of bassist Sergio Vega and additional guitars, which all come together to create the band’s signature tonality.

The utilization of various music accessories, such as unique string sets and custom picks, further refines their aural output. These elements are integral to the collective effect that resonates with their audience.

Impact and Influence on Music

The Deftones’ employment of varied guitar design and innovative sounds has notably shaped the alternative metal genre, and the band’s unique approach has inspired a generation of guitarists and bands.

Impact on the Alternative Metal Genre

The Deftones have significantly impacted the alternative metal scene, pioneering a sound that is both heavy and ethereal. Stephen Carpenter’s guitar work is central to this, deploying heavy riffs that are juxtaposed with melodic vocals, creating a sound that blurs the lines between aggression and harmony.

This distinctive approach owes a debt to the disparate influences of heavy metal icons like Metallica and the shoegazing textures of My Bloody Valentine.

Influence on Guitarists and Bands

Carpenter’s style has inspired many players seeking a unique sound within the metal and hard rock domains. Guitarists often seek to emulate the ambient layering and tonal quality that Deftones have mastered.

Both rhythmic brutality and airy melodies play a role in influencing bands to explore beyond traditional metal confines, prompting them to incorporate a broader sonic palette into their music.

The Deftones’ sonic influence has carved a niche in alternative metal. This has empowered other artists to expand their creative horizons and has undoubtedly reshaped what heavy music can be.

Deftones Members and Collaborations

The Deftones, hailing from Sacramento, California, have made significant contributions to the alternative metal genre with a steady lineup and impactful collaborations. Their music showcases the diverse talents of Chino Moreno’s compelling vocals and Stephen Carpenter’s heavy guitar riffs, underpinned by the groove of their bassist.

Band Members and Their Contribution

  • Chino Moreno: As the band’s frontman, Moreno’s lyrical expressiveness and dynamic vocal range have become hallmarks of the Deftones’ sound.
  • Stephen Carpenter: Carpenter’s innovative guitar work, often characterized by its heavy, intricate layering, has played a pivotal role in sculpting the band’s sonic identity.
  • Bassist: The position was previously held by Chi Cheng up to his tragic accident; afterward, Sergio Vega stepped in and has since contributed his own style and energy to the band’s rhythm section.

Notable Collaborations and Tours

The Deftones have toured extensively, sharing stages with various prominent artists and engaging in collaborations that have broadened their audience. Their reputation in the music scene, especially in their home state of California, is a testament to their adaptability and the lasting impact they’ve had on the rock genre.

Band’s Discography and Notable Works

Deftones, an influential alternative metal band hailing from Sacramento, California, has cultivated a rich discography since their inception.

The band’s debut album, Adrenaline, released in 1995, served as a foundational piece for their aggressive yet melodic sound. Following up on their initial success, Deftones released Around the Fur in 1997, which included hits like My Own Summer (Shove It) and Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)—tracks that solidified their place in the metal scene.

The year 2000 marked a major milestone with the release of White Pony, an album often regarded as one of their magnum opuses. It featured Change (In the House of Flies) and Digital Bath, songs that showcased the band’s evolving sound and ability to balance heaviness with nuanced emotion.

Continuing to expand their musical landscape, Saturday Night Wrist came out in 2006, followed by Diamond Eyes in 2010. The latter received critical acclaim for its layered guitars and atmospheric elements. Koi No Yokan, the 2012 release, further demonstrated Deftones’ signature blend of aggression and melody with tracks like Swerve City and Tempest.

The band’s later albums, Gore in 2016, and Ohms in 2020, continued to showcase their consistent evolution as artists. These works delve into a fusion of raw energy and intricate dynamics, cementing Deftones’ reputation as innovator in the genre. Their body of work demonstrates a band that has remained true to their roots while pushing the boundaries of their sound.

YearAlbum Title
1997Around the Fur
2000White Pony
2006Saturday Night Wrist
2010Diamond Eyes
2012Koi No Yokan

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we’ll address some of the most common inquiries about the gear used by Deftones to create their signature sound. From the type of guitars to their preferred strings, we’ll cover the specifics that fans and musicians alike seek to understand.

What type of guitar is commonly played by the Deftones guitarist?

Deftones’ guitarists are primarily known to play various models of Fender guitars. Each member has their own preference, with the band’s lineup including iconic Fender models like the Jazzmaster and Telecaster.

Which signature guitar model is associated with Stephen Carpenter of Deftones?

Stephen Carpenter has a signature line with ESP Guitars, including several models over the years designed to meet his specifications and playing style suited to Deftones’ music.

What kind of baritone guitar is used by Deftones in their music?

The Deftones have utilized baritone guitars to achieve their deeper, extended-range sound. These instruments often feature longer scale lengths and are tuned lower than standard electric guitars.

What distortion pedals are favored by the Deftones for their distinct sound?

When it comes to pedals, Deftones often use MXR EVH Flangers and an array of other effects to shape their distinctive heavy tones and ambient soundscapes.

Can you describe the typical guitar amp settings Deftones use for their performances?

The Deftones’ guitar amp settings typically balance treble, bass, and mids to create their nuanced tones, adjusting the levels to suit specific songs and albums throughout their career.

What kind of strings do Deftones prefer for their guitars?

Deftones guitarists use various strings to complement their playing style and guitar tuning, ranging from standard to heavier gauges depending on the desired sound and technical requirements of their music.


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