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How to Capture the Magical Tone of Billy Corgan | Smashing Pumpkins

Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins. His tone is a fun one especially if you love fuzz. I've been chasing it for awhile now and I share more about how you can capture it here.

This dates me, but I remember sporting a Siamese Dream t-shirt in high school. At the time, my best friend was really into Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Guns N' Roses so I wanted to discover a band I could call my own.

Enter The Smashing Pumpkins. I have been a fan ever since so I am excited today to share with you how to capture their unique sound.

 

AMPS

At the core of Billy's tone are several Preamp mods from Salvation Mods of the Czech Republic. There are too many to list here so we'll keep it simple and focus on his most popular amp which his Marshall JCM 800 better known as his Soul Amp. This amp is a huge part of his tone and is featured in the I Am One video. 

So, we have talked about his main amp and his preamp mods. Let's talk about his guitars.

GUITARS

When you think of Billy Corgan it is difficult to not think about a stratocaster. On that note, let's talk his famous yellow strat - his Gish guitar. This guitar was stolen and later recovered in 2019 making it probably one of the most sentimental pieces of gear for Billy.

Next up, we have Billy's Mid 70's blue strat which has Di Marzio pickups. This guitar is primarily used for e Flat songs and be heard on songs from the Mellon Collie era.

Speaking of DiMarzio pickups, Billy also has his signature Fender Billy Corgan Stratocaster. If you love his work, this a great one to have.

There are obviously other guitars from his collection including his red jaguars, Harmony, and Reverend but going with a strat is really what Billy Corgan is all about.

Let's talk about his pedals. Billy doesn't use a ton of pedals since he likes a pure amp tone but if you are chasing his sound, here's a good place to start.

PEDALS

MXR Phase 90

The first one on the list is Billy's MXR Phase 90. Billy likes to use this to get more movement in his solos and has used it for years.

Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi

Next up is the Big Muff Pi from Electro-Harmonix. Billy's sound is synonymous with this pedal. Think about your favorite Smashing Pumpkins songs. Most of them were done utilizing this pedal.

Strymon El Capistan

Billy is also known to use a Strymon El Capistan. This pedal provides a 60's tape delay which Billy likes to use on a few songs here and there.

Fulltone Catalyst

Another pedal which gets utilized lightly is his Fulltone Catalyst. This pedal is a featured on a handful of songs as well.

Skreddy Echo

An interesting pedal in his mix is his Skreddy Echo pedal. Billy has always admired the shimmering sound of Pink Floyd and this pedal captures some similar magic.

Bloody Finger

Another unique choice is his Bloody Finger pedal. Billy has said this is favorite pedal for solos. This pedal company is no longer is business so it is difficult one to track down.

BOSS PH-3 Phase Shifter

And, as we near the end here...there is his BOSS PH-3 Phase Shifter.

Chicago Iron Shifter

And, finally we have Billy's Chicago Iron Shifter which allows him to achieve Jim Hendrix octave fuzz tones.

That's how you capture the the magical tone of Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins. At it's most basic level...get yourself a stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups, a Big Muff Pi pedal, and run it through a Marshall JCM 800.

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DISCLAIMERS: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

This blog post was not paid for by outside persons or manufacturers. No gear was supplied to us for this project The content of this blog post and video are our opinions and not reviewed or paid for by any outside persons.

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