- Category: Guitar Tone & Sound
Soundgarden was formed in 1984 in Seattle, WA by vocalist Chris Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto, right before the Seattle grunge explosion. Other members include full-time drummer Matt Cameron, added in 1986, and Ben Shepherd, who became Yamamoto’s replacement in 1990. Soundgarden has won two Grammy awards, both from their groundbreaking album Superunknown, released in 1997. However, that same year, the band broke up due to creative difficulties. In 2010, they reunited after Chris Cornell’s solo career and other projects, and plan to release a new album in late 2012.
Vocalist Chris Cornell is a true tenor with a relatively broad range. To replicate his vocal style, one would need to be able to hit both baritone and tenor notes. Much of Soundgarden’s music was written by Chris Cornell, and they often do not conform with one diatonic scale. This is an important note in Soundgarden’s music; the guitarist will need to have a good knowledge of non-standard chord progressions and melodies. Cornell also plays rhythm guitar for the band, and typically plays a Fender Stratocaster. Cornell also uses distortion effects and for amplification, he uses an AXE FX, and a Randall/Egnater RT 2/50 with Marshall cabinets.
Lead guitarist Kim Thayil favors Guild guitars and often uses a Guild S-100 in the studio and during live performances. He also uses a Gibson Les Paul. For effects, Thayil uses a Boss TU-2 chromatic tuner, EHX Micro Pog, MXR Doubleshot Distortion, and a Dunlop 535Q Wah. Soundgarden has a heavy, distorted sound, and effects will definitely be needed to sound like them. For amplification, Kim uses Mesa Boogie Tremo-Verb 2x12 combo amplifiers, and Mesa Boogie Electra Dyne heads with Mesa Boogie Stiletto 4x12 cabinets.
Bassist Ben Shepherd typically plays a 1972 Fender Jazz Bass, through a Mesa Boogie 400B head. For amplification, he uses two Mesa Boogie Strategy amps and one Peavey CS 1200 amp. For effects, he uses a ProCo rat pedal. Knowledge of tuning methods and non-standard scales will also be important here to play Soundgarden’s music.
Drummer Matt Cameron currently uses a Yamaha Oak Custom drum kit, with Zildjian cymbals. He uses exclusively only Vic Firth drumsticks, and uses his own signature model.
To sound like Soundgarden, you’ll need at least intermediate knowledge from all of the musicians, especially in the area of scales and tunings. A strong drummer will be needed, as well as a powerful vocalist with a broad range.
Soundgarden by mediageek taken on August 5, 2010
Chris Cornell by Dena Flows taken on August 15, 2009
Guild S-100 by Sumlin taken on June 12, 2008
1972 Fender Jazz Bass by Beefy Basses taken on April 29, 2011
Yamaha Oak Custom by Rob Stillwell taken on July 18, 2009