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Eric Johnson Tone

Eric Johnson's live rig is very complicated and usually involves 2 Fender Deluxe Reverbs and a pair of Marshall 50 or 100 watt Plexi's depending on the venue. Effects include numerous overdrives and delays. You can check this out at Guitar Geek.

This article is not aimed at getting a perfect Eric Johnson amp tone but to get you in the ball park with only a couple of pedals focusing on the Cliff's of Dover sound. Of course starting with Fender's new Eric Johnson Signature Stratocaster wouldn't hurt.

Eric Johnson Amp Tone

It is always best to start with a Marshall Plexi amp but any medium gain amp will work. Based on a 100 watt Marshall Plexi here are the basic settings to start:

Drive3 oclock
Bass12 - 12:30
Mid12 -12:30
Treble9 - 9:30
Presence8 oclock
Volume3 - 4 oclock

Eric Johnson's raw amp tone is based on pushing the power tube section hard. Next in line is to push the amp further with a basic Tubescreamer type pedal with settings as follows:

DriveNoon / Mid point
Tone0 or minimum

Following the Tubescreamer is a delay and Eric loves delay. Eric's live rig contains both a MXR 1500 digital delay and an old Maestro Echoplex. Start with delay settings:

Time380 ms

The finishing touches are a bit of reverb. Start with a medium hall on these settings:


These settings should be a great starting point for getting close to Eric Johnson's Cliff's of Dover tones.

Please leave feedback on this article here. Also, we have built a database for you to share your pre distortion EQ settings and amp settings. Click on the Tone Settings menu selection.

Feedback on Eric Johnson Tone Article

2015 02 01-Criss
Just for the record,EJ used a Strat for all of Cliffs Of Dover except the second half of the solo which was the 335. He talked about this in an interview I read.

2013 08 05-
FYI,EJ uses a 335 as well as a vintage strat with a 12 in radius neck, for the original recording

2009 08 23-Ryan
What exactly are you referring to when you talk about the "Drive" knob on a plexi. They're a Non Master Volume amp so they didn't have a separate preamp section drive like a modern 2204 or newer Marshall. Just thought I'd clarify.

2006 09 03-jeff denny
yet fyi i saw him play Cliffs of Dover on a video and he used a vintage strat it sounded better, fyi it must have something to do with his fings lol peace j

2006 08 02-Jonas
... as a number on the '88 Austin City Limits, that's 2 years before he made A Via Musicom using Roscoe Beck's ES-335 on that tune.

2006 05 09-Jonas
This article is much appreciated, though I miss settings for a fuzz, like the Fuzz Face that Eric uses and I believe a chorus, like the TC Electronic SCF of his. It's correct Cliffs of Dover was recorded on album using an ES-335, though it was featured

2006 02 16-Garth
Great tone article - I used most of these setting with my BOSS GT-PRO into a VOX AD50VT (clean setting) and achieved a good Eric J. tone. I'm using it for Cliffs of Dover. Couldn't use exact settings as the GT PRO had some different knobs, but it's clos

2005 11 18-Michael
Just wanted to make a quick comment on the Cliffs of Dover sound description. You mention that it wouldn't hurt to start by getting a EJ Strat. My understanding is he used his ES-335 to record that tune. Just FYI. Michael

Eric Johnson CD's and Books

Products mentioned in this article

Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster Electric Guitar Black Maple Fretboard
Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster Black Maple Fretboard

Marshall 1959SLPX Vintage Series 100W Tube Head
Marshall 1959SLPX Vintage Series 100W Tube Head

Maxon OD808 Overdrive
Maxon OD808 Overdrive

Boss DD-3 Digital Delay Pedal
Boss DD-3 Digital Delay Pedal

Line 6 ToneCore Verbzilla Pedal
Line 6 ToneCore Verbzilla Pedal

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