Amp Module: Tone Stack

Tone Stack


The tone stack is a specialized type of audio filter incorporated into the circuit of an amplifier for altering the frequency response of the amplifier. Tone stacks are typically placed between the preamp and power amplifier. They are the most important tonal circuit in most amplifiers.

Tone Stack Topology

Each tone stack was designed differently to shape the tone of its amplifier in order to fulfill different sonic applications. Thus, every tone stack plays an important role by shaping the sound for which that tone stack was originally designed. Pick a tone stack topology that’s matched to your currently selected amp or get creative and experiment using different, unrelated tone stacks to create your own tone.

Here is the description for each tone stack:

American Clean

This is the 3-knob tone stack used (in assorted variations) in so many classic amps. Tried and true, it has fairly responsive gain and can create a big scoop in the mids.

American Tweed

Designed for the ’50s-era Tweed guitar amps, these tone controls are highly interactive and not very linear—in a musical way! They work extremely well together, allowing you to precisely dial in your sound. Best used for country, blues and rock.

Tweed Bass

Initially intended to amplify bass guitars, the ’50s-era tube amp to which this tonestack was originally matched was also used by musicians playing electric guitar, harmonica, harp and pedal steel guitar—and the sound of this classic tone stack was part of the reason why!

British Top Boost

This classic British tone stack was designed for the seminal “Top Boost” amps in 1959 and was universally adopted in the British invasion by the The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Yardbirds. Later, Brian May and The Edge used it to craft their signature sounds. Never strident and always warm-sounding, this is the perfect tone stack for guitarists in ’60s cover bands and anyone wanting a beautifully dark, analog sound.

British Crunch

Harking back to the amp stacks used by 1980s-era hard rock and heavy metal bands, these tone stacks pull the midrange band forward with respect to lows and highs, putting a brilliant spotlight on your playing. Used by Anthrax, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Bad Company and practically every other hard-driving group of the decade, this is the tone stack of choice for soaring leads and blazing power chords.

British Modern

This modern tone stack has a thoroughly British flavor. Three bands of warm and silky tone. Never glassy-sounding, it’s the perfect tone stack for clean and crunchy patches. A Classic Rock favorite!

German Fireball

Precision German engineering meets raucous heavy metal in this tone stack designed for high-performance guitar amps. Think aggressive tone.

American Treadplate

Distinctly American, this custom 3-knob tone stack is tailor-made for rock and metal. Dial in your tone settings and crank your amp’s gain to play massively heavy chords!

American 5153

These tone stacks are the perfect match when you’re dishing out insane preamp distortion for harmonically rich leads and overdriven rock chords. Their matching amps are identical to those Eddie Van Halen uses both when recording and on tour.

Bass GK

A solid-state classic from the early ’80s, this West Coast tone stack produces a dry growl that sounds fantastic on bass guitar.

Bass American

Passive filters are sought after for their round, pure, musical tone. The lack of amplification in their circuits prevents phasiness from polluting their pristine sound. True to its passive origin, this vintage American tone stack delivers the full, warm sound of a classic late-’60s/early-’70s “blackface” rig.

Bass British

This classic 3-band beauty produces the round, musical tone of passive filters. Voiced specifically for bass, its design was a big step forward from previous passive tone stacks, which were typically copied from standard guitar-amp designs and not particularly suited for bass.

Bass Blueline

Widely praised for its fat, clear and punchy sound, this vintage tone stack from 1969 is a leading choice for rock bass players.

Acoustic Equalizer

Three bands of filters that won’t impose a strong personality on your sound. The perfect filter set for sculpting clean, natural, woody tones.

Studio Equalizer

Studio-grade filters offering precision control over three bands. When you need to dial in the exact frequency for each band, this is your ticket! Each filter is designed to emulate the response of a classic analog filter. The result is both surgical precision and ultra-smooth sound, useful in applications from mixing to mastering.

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