Scott Ian is the rhythm guitarist for the metal band Anthrax, guitarist for Damnocracy (formed for the VH1 reality show SuperGroup) as former guitarist Stormtroopers of Death. Chances are if you don't know Scott Ian for his music, then you'll at the very least recognise his goatee. In a Guitar.com interview promoting the release of "We've Come For You All" album, Ian describes his guitar tone as, "angry, dark, exciting, physical, burly, energetic, electric, thick, clear, and it's in own way very clean because I can't stand overly-distorted fuzzy tones. It's just all those things together".
In terms of guitars, throughout much of the 1980's Ian predominantly used ESP guitars, before he took on a Jackson endorsement.
In August 2003, Scott Ian's rig was profiled in the Vulgar Display's of Power column. At that time he was using a Jackson JJ Scott Ian Signature tuned 1/2 step down, fitted with custom Seymour Duncan "El Diablo" pickups. His second guitar was the exact same specifications however tuned dropped-D 1/2 a step down.
Since that article he has left Jackson and taken up a Washburn endorsement. His main guitar now is a custom Washburn "SI75TI". Other Washburn models he currently uses are Washburn WV540VASI, Washburn WV40VASI, Washburn SI60MW and Washburn SI61G.
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Amplifier wise, Ian played through Marshall head, including the JCM800, for a long period, before making the switch to Randall heads. After his move to Randall he started out playing though the Randall Warhead, before switching to the Cyclone, prior to the release of the Vmax head. His stage rig as of 2003 featured a Randall VMax heads with custom cabinets loaded with two 12-inch speakers and a 15-inch speaker. His heads are set up in a "Master"/"Slave" configuration.
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For the recording of the "We've Come For You All" album, Scott Ian's rhythm tone was a combination of the Randall VMax and the Bogner Uberschall. For some tracks on the album Ian looked turned to Marshall's.
"For other stuff, for instance, on "Safe Home," I didn't need my big, fat, huge, crushing rhythm tone on that because that song has a different vibe to it. So I actually went back and used a Marshall for that. I went straight into a JCM 800."
For the recording of the "We've Come For You All" album, Ian kept effects to a minimum.
"For effects, I used the BBE Sonic Maximizer 482i running in line, and that was about it."
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In his 2003 Guitar World profile Ian described his effects setup.
"I basically only use three sounds: clean with chorus, my heavy sound and then my heavy sound with the Whammy Pedal".
Scott Ian's signal flow diagram as featured in the August 2003 edition of Guitar World is pictured below.
His Whammy pedal is a black version Digitech Whammy II while his chorus pedal is a Digitech XMC Multi Chorus.
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Not long after the Guitar World profile he added a DigiTech digital delay to his line up.
Ian also uses a few rack units to sculpt his tone. The BBE 462 Sonic Maximizer, Rocktron HUSH IIC and Korg DTR-1 Tuner are all powered Furman PL-Plus Power Conditioner. A Samson UHF Synth 6 Wireless also sits in his rack.
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In the 2004 Guitar.com interview, Ian commented on his strings and guitar action.
"I'm using .011-.056 gauge DR Strings and I keep my action as low as possible, but not too low. It's more medium height. I'm playing rhythm all night, so I want to sink into it. I play really heavy with my right hand and I really dig in, so I can't have the action too low, just because I'd be fretting out all over the place and it would just be buzzing constantly."
Scott Ian also has his own signature Digitech pedal, the DigiTech Black 13. The Black 13 is designed to simulate seven of Ian's best known and most sought after tones. They are:
- 1. I Am The Law from "Among the Living"
- 2. Madhouse from "Spreading the Disease"
- 3. March of the S.O.D. from "Speak English or Die"
- 4. Protest & Survive from "Attack of the Killer B's"
- 5. Room For One More from "Sound of White Noise"
- 6. What Doesn't Die from "We've Come for You All"
- 7. Finale from "State of Euphoria"
Whether he actually uses the Black 13 or not, I'm not really sure, I mean why would you want to simulate your own tone?
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If you want to have a listen to some Anthrax, check out "We've Come for You All".