When it comes to metal music, Dimebag Darrell was by far one of the most influential guitar players we had the privilege to see. His technique, tone, and charisma shaped a whole new genre that would grow to be a staple of today’s metal scene.
Here’s a video to remind everyone of the guitar-shredding greatness of Dimebag Darrell and of course Pantera.
Unfortunately, we lost him too soon. His death was a shock for everyone. Whether you were a fan of Pantera or not, losing Dimebag hit too close to home. But despite everything, Pantera’s music is still making its impact to this day, with Dime’s riffs and solos still being an essential part of every younger or older metalhead’s playlist.
But while we are familiar with this music and how great it was, a huge part of his legacy lies in his tone. There was no other player out there that sounded like him, which definitely makes him an individual who pushed the boundaries and revolutionized modern music. So there’s always been a lot of interest about what his preferences were when it comes to all the guitars and gear.
Dimebag was always looking to improve his tone. Whenever he reached a stable configuration, he tried to squeeze a little bit extra out of his gear. You would see him swap pickups on his guitars almost weekly, trying to find the best possible combination.
He knew exactly what he wanted, and was not afraid to experiment with gear in order to achieve that perfect tone. In this article, we are going to go through some of the equipment he used on regular basis, including guitars, amps, and different effects pedals.
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Compared to other guitar players of his caliber, Dimebag Darrell preferred to use a pretty simple setup. His choice of guitars and amps usually came down to one or two models which he stuck with during his entire career.
We know that some guitar players will use up to ten different guitar models from various brands, both bigger and lesser-known ones. However, this was not the case with Dime. His taste was very specific, and he never really compromised for anything.
When it comes to Dimebag’s guitars, there was only one specific type he was seen playing.
Ever since he was a kid, Dimebag Darrell was just obsessed with Dean guitars. Their shape, tone, and overall appeal were something he just couldn’t resist.
As luck would have it, Dimebag went from owning no Dean guitars to owning two. One was a Dean ML Standard, which was a gift he got from his father. And the other was a Dean ML he won at a contest. Both of these guitars arrived pretty much the same day.
Here is a picture of a Dean ML Standard. If you are a fan of Dimebag and have seen him on stage or on live footage, then it’s a guitar you’ll most likely recognize.
Ever since Dimebag was rocking a Dean ML, the only thing that he changed on those guitars were the pickups. As we have mentioned above, he was experimenting with various combinations of humbuckers while chasing the perfect tone for his taste.
His main setup came down to a Dean ML, the one he won from the contest, fitted with a Bill Lawrence XL500 at the bridge, and a Seymour Duncan í59 at the neck position. He used that guitar as his primary until the very end.
In general, the Dean ML guitars have always featured mahogany or maple bodies, mahogany necks, and either ebony or rosewood fretboards. These guitars became very well-known for their peculiar, yet very likeable, shape that’s sort of a crossbreed between classic Flying V and a classic Explorer.
But although he was a Dean guy at the core, Dimebag started working with Washburn once Dean closed shop, sometime in 1994.
Guitars Washburn produced for him were pretty much the exact copies of the Dean ML. There were several models in play, including Washburn Stealth, x33, and Culprit. One of the Washburn guitars he had was also the Hellflague, which he used a lot with his band Damageplan.
Here’s a quick pic of the Washburn Dime.
However, some years later, Dean finally got back in business. Of course, Dimebag went back to the old manufacturer and continued his cooperation with the brand.
One of the last models that came out of this joint effort was the Dean Razorback. Unfortunately, he only got to work with the prototype before his death. He never used it live, but the story goes that he approved the guitar shortly before he passed away.
As for this particular model, it’s based on the Dean ML shape Dimebag got used to. The only difference here is that it has some additional edges on it, making it look even weirder than the ML.
This design was done in collaboration with Dime and there were a few versions of it released later on, some of them even featuring 24 frets. They also came with a Floyd Rose tremolo and you can easily recognize one of these guitars for its razor inlay on the 12th fret.
Aside from these, there were some other electric guitars in his collection. He was also a proud owner of the Jackson Randy Rhoads models, most notably the RR5 and the RR3.
There were also some Fender Stratocasters and even Fender Telecasters in there, as well as a Super Strat type of instrument by Charvel, called San Dimas.
Dimebag’s policy on amps was very simple. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For the largest portion of his career, he was using one of three Randall amps. The most popular one out of the bunch was probably the Randall RG100H.
His love for Randall began with an old Century 200 amp. This is what he used during the days before he became famous. With that said, he never really got rid of that amp and continued to use it in his practice setup. Interestingly enough, all of these Randalls were solid-state amps.
He wasn’t really into tube amps. However, the only tube amp Dimebag was impressed with was the Krank Revolution.
He got in touch with Krank and he was soon equipped with a brand new Revolution model which he apparently fell in love with right from the very start.
Krank later went to create Dimebag signature model called the Krankenstein. With this in mind, it was only obvious that he also used the company’s cabinets, most notably a piece like Revolution 412 cabinet with four 12-inch speakers in it.
Here’s a video from when Dimebag was visiting Krank back in the day and having a good time making some noise and kickin’ it with the crew.
Going back to the Randall stuff, he was also pretty fond of the very powerful Randall Warhead. This two-channel amp has the power of an impressive 300 watts. Not unusual for a hard-hitting groove metal player like Dimebag Darrell was.
Here’s a quote from Dimebag from GuitarWorld in 1994 talking about Randall Amps to shed some light on what he was thinking when it came to his choice of amps: “Solid-state to me is more in your face, while tube sounds like it’s surrounding your body. I’m not going for a soft sound. I ain’t lookin’ for a warm sound. My sound is warm, but I don’t need tubes to do it. The Randall RG-100 is the best amp for what I do. Randall made a tube amp that they sent out to me. It sounded killer, but it wasn’t solid-state, so I’m going to stay with solid. To this day, when people find out that I use solid-state they’ll come up to me and go, “Are you sure? That sounds like tubes, dude.” The Randall has the warmth of tubes, but it has the chunk and the fuckin’ grind right in your face.”
Anyone who has ever listened to Pantera or any other project Dimebag was a part of, knows that he used a very limited selection of effects pedals. However, all of these pedals served their purpose and were crucial for his signature tone.
Of course, we also need to mention Dunlop‘s Cry Baby From Hell – a signature model wah pedal he worked on with Dunlop.
The pedal’s casing is the classic one we’ve seen on the Cry Baby models over the years. The addition here is the camo print that definitely makes it stand out in a pedalboard.
But, above all, the pedal’s circuitry is designed to accommodate to Dimebag’s desires, making its frequency sweep a bit different compared to the classic Cry Baby. Of course, he also used to have that one as well back in the day, the well-known 535-Q model.
Hereís Dimebag demoing the pedal. As you can see, he knows how to work that little thing.
Before he got into Dunlop’s wahs, Dimebag used to have an original Vox unit. Besides these, there was a number of various pedals which he occasionally included in his signal chain.
There have been a few pedals here and there in his rig over the years. Some of the most notable ones are the Electro-Harmonix Little Big Muff, Boss CE-1 Chorus, and MXR 6 Band EQ.
He has also used an MXR Zakk Wylde signature overdrive. While it didn’t serve as his main dirt box, it was a simple but effective booster for his solos, but only during his time in Damageplan.
Either way, it is a pretty simple overdrive pedal with volume, tone, and gain controls, yet it adds a certain color to the tone that makes it really stand out and cut through the mix.
Boosting an already distorted tone with an overdrive pedal is something that’s been done by many players over the years. The Zakk Wylde signature MXR really does this job well and will most definitely help you in your search of Dime’s tone.
We should also not forget the very famous DigiTech Whammy pedal that he implemented here and there during Pantera’s career. The song “Good Friends And A Bottle Of Pills” comes as a great example of this.
Some of the most notable ones are the Electro-HarmonixLittle Big Muff, BossCE1 Chorus, and MXR6 Band EQ.
Just what kind of influence Dimebag had on metal music is evident from a whole variety of bands you can find on the scene today.
He shaped the minds of many aspiring guitar players, and he still does. However, that’s not the only impact he had on the music industry.
Dimebag Darrell is the reason why Dean came back after they went out of business. The founder of this company, Dean Zelinsky, saw that Dimebag was practically copying the Dean ML with Washburn, which prompted him to reconsider his decision about closing down Dean.
Recreating Dimebag’s tone is something many are trying to do these days. Fortunately for us, everything necessary to get that job done is readily available.
Dean ML is still being produced, along with pickups specifically designed to replicate the Bill Lawrence and Seymour Duncan combo he used on his Dean From Hell. There are countless versions of the Dime guitar, everything from cheaper entry models and all the way to the more expensive ones.
Talking about his legacy and gear, MXR paid a tribute to the famous Pantera and Damageplan guitarist by making their own pedal with Dimebag Darrell’s name on it.
Marked as DD11, it’s called Dime Distortion and does a pretty good job at replicating some of his signature tones.
In addition, the camo paint definitely is a nice finishing touch on it, going along with the signature Dunlop Cry Baby Dime wah.
As already mentioned, Dimebag’s setup was pretty simple and straightforward. The Dean guitars and Randall amps are definitely a good start if you want to get his sound.
Adding his signature wah, or any wah pedal that does a bit of a deeper sweep, will be a good addition for lead tones. Using an overdrive as a booster to highlight some lead parts or some riffs is also necessary, especially if you’re getting a sharper sounding overdrive like the MXR Zakk Wylde one.
Needless to say, Dimebag’s death was a tragedy that hit thousands of people all over the world. He left us too early, and we can only imagine what he would be creating if he was still around. With that said, his legacy is immortal.
Pantera’s discography is every bit as popular today as it was while he was still alive. It’s safe to say that Dimebag Darrell will be influencing young generations for years to come. We are yet to see how much his playing will make an impact to the generations of future musicians.
What was Dimebag Darrell's guitar setup? ›
It features a set mahogany V neck shape, Ebony fingerboard, an Original Floyd Rose Top Mount tremolo system with mixed chrome and black hardware, and comes loaded with Seymour Duncan SH-6 neck pickup in the bridge (as Dime had on his original Far Beyond Driven ML) and a DiMarzio Super Distortion in the neck.What amps did Dimebag use live? ›
Dimebag was a hugely influential figure in popularising the use of solid-state amps in metal. He used a Randall RG100 for the recording of Cowboys From Hell and The Great Southern Trendkill, then moved on to Randall Century 200 heads for Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven.What was Dimebag Darrell's favorite guitar? ›
Dimebag Darrell was famous for playing his Dean ML model guitars. His most famous guitar was known as “Dean from Hell”, which was a Dean ML custom painted in a blue finish with lightning bolts. He played Deans until they stopped manufacturing guitars in the mid-'90s.What guitar pickups did Dimebag Darrell use? ›
Towards the end of his life Dime had been using his signature Seymour Duncan Dimebucker pickup, but Grady tells us that Dime was also a fan of the '59 Model, using the bridge version of the '59 in the neck position of his guitars.How many frets did Dimebag use? ›
Dimebag Darrell: It's 22 frets. Near the end of their whole setup, they started making 24 frets and stuff, I got one 24 fret Dean.What strings did dime use? ›
HI-VOLTAGE™ Electric Guitar Strings are the signature strings played by the late metal icon Dimebag Darrell. They feature a hexagonal core wire and nickel-plated steel wrap wire treated with a liquid polymer that protects them from corrosive elements.Did Dimebag use a whammy pedal? ›
Dimebag was well-known for his use of the Digitech Whammy, without it songs like “Becoming” wouldn't have been possible. The same goes for the Electro Harmonix Pitch Fork and additional Expression Pedal.What made Dimebag so good? ›
Dimebag Darrell wasn't just a phenomenal musician: he was a revolutionary. Like most of the greatest guitarists in rock history, he played as if the guitar was some magical vestigial limb, as the very essence of his being poured out of him as a bewildering array of ageless riffs and spinetingling lead breaks.What distortion did Dimebag use? ›
Dimebag had used the Dunlop Crybaby DCR-1SR, a remote pedal to run his rack unit, onstage and then received a signature Dunlop Crybaby. Despite having his own signature model, the MXR DD11 Dime Distortion, he often favoured the Zakk Wylde version onstage.How do you get Dimebags tone? ›
Turning the gain and treble as high as possible will quickly achieve this sharp aggressive sound. So, the quickest way to achieve the Dimebag tone is to simply turn everything up, and then turning the mids all the way down. I have seen other variations where the treble and mids are both set to just below half.
Who was Dimebags favorite kiss member? ›
It's no secret that Dimebag Darrell's guitar hero was longtime KISS guitarist Ace Frehley.What neck pickup did dime use? ›
Dime preferred the warm, smooth power of a '59 bridge pickup in the neck position to balance with his signature bridge Dimebag pickup. It gave extra teeth to his solos.Why did Dimebag put tape on his neck pickup? ›
I did a lot of little customizations for him. The knobs I did with a soldering iron tip, disconnected tone knob, put tape along the neck pickup so no strings would get caught underneath, put foam in between the back plate and springs, and a little piece of foam behind the nut as well.Why did Dimebag put tape on his pickups? ›
he did it so the strings wouldnt get stuck under/caught on them whilst dive bombing.What Whammy pedal did Dimebag Darrell use? ›
The first pedal to get you the Dimebag sound is the DigiTech Whammy DT Pedal Pitch Shifting Pedal. A versatile and unique pedal, the DigiTech Whammy DT lets you nail those classic pitch-shifting riffs and solos found across the entire Pantera discography.How many hours did Dimebag practice? ›
Darrell was playing 8 to 12 hours a day for the whole summer, at least that's how it came across. Dime even brought the guitar into the bathroom with him, heh heh. He just would not put his guitar down unless he was sleeping.Was Dimebag the best guitarist of all time? ›
Dimebag Darrell is considered by many to be one of the greatest guitarists ever. He's obviously one of, if not the best heavy metal axeman of all time. But, he's also arguably one of the greatest electric guitar players, too, agnostic of any genre label.What is the hardest Pantera song to play on guitar? ›
Pantera – Domination
"His highspeed shredding during the breakdown in the middle part of Domination was the most brutal thing I knew and impressed me. It was also the first time I got to know the Phrygian scale."
Synth. A synth pedal will use oscillators to trigger a functioning synth circuit in the pedal, allowing you to make your guitar sound like a huge layered pad, or screaming lead synth at the touch of a button!What tuning did Dime use? ›
This tuning (D,G,C,F,A,D-a quarter step flat) was used extensively on “Walk” and “A New Level.” Further use of this tuning was used on Far Beyond Driven (“Becoming,” “I'm Broken,” “5 Minutes Alone,” etc.), and by Reinventing the Steel it was Dime's main “standard” tuning.”
What tuning did Dimebag use for Damageplan? ›
As his guitar tech has noted, that meant that the guitars were tuned to “D# plus 40 cents on his Korg tuner.What strings did Garcia use? ›
Garcia used Vinci strings, gauged . 010 - . 046, but from time to time used an . 011 on the highE and a .Did Dimebag use Dean or Washburn? ›
He won a lot of other guitars, but the Dean guitars were the only ones he kept.” The Dean ML model remained Dimebag's main guitar from 1980 through 1994. “Dimebag took the ML model's popularity to another level,” Zelinsky says.What Bill Lawrence pickup did Dimebag use? ›
Before switching to Seymour Duncan, Dimebag Darrell had used the L-500 and later switched to the XL-500. The L-500XLZ is a fully shielded, high output blade humbucker with 4-conductor wiring for multiple for split/series/parallel/out of phase wiring combinations. All Bill Lawrence pickups are made in the USA.Are Dr Dimebag strings good? ›
These strings are amazing. I used to use GHS Dave Mustaines and those were good but the quality of sound deteriated after about a week. But withthe Dimebags the tone lasts forever,the feel lasts forever. They are sturdy and the only string I break is the D.Who was the first to use distortion? ›
Many credit the first deliberately distorted electric guitar to Johnny Burnette's Rock 'n Roll Trio in 1956.What Hz did Dimebag tune to? ›
Dimebag tuned to this on Cowboys, Vulgar, and Far Beyond Driven. He went down to C# on The Great Southern Trendkill, and then he tuned 1 and a 1/4 steps down for Reinventing the Steel. 1:4 tone below 440 Hz is 427.5 Hz.Who was the first to use a distortion pedal? ›
The first effects pedal was created by DeArmond and was a Volume pedal, followed by a tremolo pedal but they weren't suitable for stage use. Gibson produced the first distortion pedal in the '60s which was popularised by The Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards on '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction'.Are Dimebags smell proof? ›
You bitched and we listened! After much ado, we have re-released our smell- and spill-proof pouches. With reinforced sides and a sturdy locking zipper, these pouches keep almost any smells locked away. We also made a small batch of wine in one and it a) didn't leak and b) didn't smell.What were Dimebags last words? ›
Van Halen's impact is further felt as the words “Van Halen!” were actually Dimebag's last words spoken before he was tragically murdered. “Van Halen” was something Dime would say to his brother Vinnie before a live performance to inspire them both to play a fun, lively, rocking show.
What was Dimebag Darrell's favorite beer? ›
For those who don't know, Dimebag Darrell's signature drink, the Black Tooth Grin (named after a lyric from Megadeth's “Sweating Bullets”) is a double shot of Seagram's 7, a double shot of Crown Royal, and a splash of Coke to give it a dark color.What was Dimebag Darrell's favorite food? ›
Dimebag was a culinary whiz with a particular love of spicy food, whose exuberant sense of humor infused even his cooking. “For some reason, he called shrimp 'lobster chickens,'” Haney said.Why couldnt Phil go to Dimebags funeral? ›
Does anyone find it unfair that Phil Anselmo wasn't allowed to attend the funeral and any memorial service of his former band mate Dimebag Darrell because the Family requested that "He's not Welcomed." I mean It's been stated that Dimebag and Phil had issues before his his death and probably couldn't change anything ...What pickup did Jimmy Page use? ›
Jimmy Page used various gear throughout his career, but two types of pickups stand out from the rest as they were the cores of his iconic tones. He used hand-wound '58 single-coil pickups in his Fender Telecaster and Gibson PAF Humbuckers in his Gibson Les Paul.Does anyone use the neck pickup? ›
The typical sound of a neck pickup most players might refer to is the “Strat tone” – a warm woody tone that still retains some attack. Players like Jimmi Hendrix, David Gilmour, Steve Ray Vaughan, and many others are known to use it for guitar solos as the pickup tends to round up the tone and make it overall sweeter.Did Eddie Van Halen use DiMarzio pickups? ›
The closest sounding pickups that DiMarzio offers to the Van Halen set are the Air Norton™ for the neck position and either the The Tone Zone® or the DiMarzio® AT-1™ for the bridge position. 2) The reddish color neck position single coil in Eddie's Frankenstrat is a DiMarzio Fat Strat, later renamed the FS-1™.Why did Eddie Van Halen angle his pickup? ›
The pickup was installed at a slight angle to compensate for the differing string spacings of the Fender tremolo and the Gibson humbucker.What size pick did Dimebag Darrell use? ›
Dimebag's Guitar Picks:
Dime used green Dunlop Tortex . 88mm picks.
Guitarists tape their right (picking) hand to avoid cuts and bruises to the fingers from the guitar strings and to protect the palm from pointy and sharp edges on the tremolo bridge of electric guitars. Aggressive pickers, like Kirk Hammett and other Metal players, are more likely to tape their right hand.Why do guitarists wrap cloth around the neck? ›
The cloth material dampens the strings and removes a lot of the natural but annoying overtones that come with playing a stringed instrument like guitar and bass.
What guitar did Eddie Van Halen use in Dimebag's coffin? ›
A TALE OF TWO GUITARISTS: Pantera's Dimebag Darrell (right) was buried with Eddie Van Halen's 'bumblebee' guitar (shown with Eddie on left) after Dime's tragic 2004 death.What did Dimebag tune his guitar to? ›
“Dimebag also experimented with “drop D” tuning on Cowboys From Hell (C# plus 40 cents), but later become a fan of tuning the entire guitar down a whole step, beginning with A Vulgar Display of Power.What size strings did Dimebag use? ›
Dimebag's Guitar Strings:
009-. 046 set and the other is . 009-. 050.
Dimebag's Tone (Amp Settings)
Turning the gain and treble as high as possible will quickly achieve this sharp aggressive sound. So, the quickest way to achieve the Dimebag tone is to simply turn everything up, and then turning the mids all the way down.
The first pedal to get you the Dimebag sound is the DigiTech Whammy DT Pedal Pitch Shifting Pedal. A versatile and unique pedal, the DigiTech Whammy DT lets you nail those classic pitch-shifting riffs and solos found across the entire Pantera discography.How do you get death metal guitar tone? ›
The best way to go about it is to leave the bass and treble knobs at 12 o'clock, while the mids are cut out completely. Then slowly start adding the mids until you get a bit of their "punch" while not completely removing the "scooped" aspect of the tone.Why did Dimebag leave Washburn? ›
I left US Music. US Music asked me to renew my contract and I chose not to, for many, many reasons... I took the Washburn thing as far as it could go, but I needed to move on to get where I want this to be. Dean Guitars is the answer to moving forward.