- Category: Guitar Tone & Sound
System of a Down is a hard rock band that was formed by guitarist Daron Malakian and vocalist Serj Tankian in 1992, as a band named Soil. Bassist Shavo Odadjian joined Soil as a rhythm guitarist in 1993. System of a Down's standard lineup since 1997 includes drummer John Dolmayan. Tankian also occasionally plays guitar and keyboards for the band. SOAD has been nominated for Grammy awards several times and won in 2006 for Best Hard Rock Performance for B.Y.O.B.
Lead guitarist Malakian does not use many pedals, and typically plays the Ibanez Iceman, Gibson SG, Fender Stratocaster, and the 50th Anniversary Flying V. Malakian writes the majority of the music for System of a Down’s songs, and most songs are written in drop C tuning. His effects include a BOSS MT-2 Metal Zone, a FullTone Clyde Wah Wah Pedal, and a Vox Wah, which gives System of a Down most of its crunchy sound. Malakian also uses heavy amplification, including Marshall MF 400 cabinets, three amplifiers, and two rectifiers.
Bassist Odadjian plays a variety of different basses, including the Ibanez BTB-405 and Music Man StingRay, but his bass of choice is the Gibson Thunderbird IV. Shavo’s style of playing usually consists of picking, however, he does fingerpick some System songs. Odadjian uses heavy amplification, including four Ashdown ABM900 Evo II heads, and four Ashdown 8x10 cabinets. His only effect pedal is the Tech 21 SansAmp bass pedal.
Vocalist Serj Tankian has a powerful tenor voice. To copy his style you’ll need a lot of power and be able to scream. Additionally, Serj plays acoustic guitar on songs such as Question! and electric guitar on Aerials.
Drummer Dolmayan has an elaborate drum set, and uses only Tama drums and hardware. Dolmayan uses only Paiste cymbals as well, including two full crash cymbals, and a signature splash. For sticks, Dolmayan uses Vic Firth John Dolmayan Signature sticks, 16 inches in length, and .585 inches in diameter.
Overall, to sound like System of a Down, you won’t need many special effects, but you will need a fairly good knowledge of power chords and different tunings, as well as a powerful bassist and vocalist.
System of a Down by Daniel F. Pigatto taken on December 19, 2006
Photo Library – 2742 by Mister Asta taken on May 29, 2009
Music Man Stingray_Bass08 by jjay69 taken on November 26, 2011
Serj Tankian by PanARMENIAN_Photo taken on August 12, 2010
John Dolmayan’s Drum Kit @ Super-Con 2007 by r3v || cls taken on June 3, 2007