Slipknot’s guitar players Mick Thompson and Jim Root sat down with Music Radar to discuss the band’s early days and the gear choices they made that shaped Slipknot’s distinct sound. Thompson and Root talk about how being flat-broke influenced the gear they used on Slipknot’s debut album and how, as the band became commercially successful, what gear they used when they had the money to get whatever they wanted.

Both Thompson and Root said that when they recorded the band’s first album, their choices in gear were very limited because they couldn’t afford anything other than what they already had. Thompson used a Rocktron Piranha pre-amplifier powered by a Mesa Boogie 295 power amp. Although he liked the sound, he wasn’t completely satisfied with this set-up. He said he couldn’t get the sound he wanted from the Rocktron pre-amplifier, so he used a 31-band graphic equalizer in his loop to tweak his sound, and ran this mongrel rig through carbon cabinets. As for his guitar, Thompson was playing a custom Jackson V that he’d had since he was 19-years-old. The Jackson was hand-built and had EMG pickups.

Root, under similar financial constraints, had only one guitar: a flame-top green Jackson. He ran the Jackson through a Mesa Boogie DC-10 amplifier. He said that later on, singer Corey Taylor bought him a second guitar so he’d have a backup for shows. He added that despite their limitations, they preferred what they had to what producer Ross Robinson had in his studio. “Even when you’re dead broke you can find ways to make gear sound like you. That was what I did on the first record. In the end we decided that what we had sounded better than running through the s--- that Ross had,” said Root.

For the second record, Thompson started using a Marshall JMP-1 pre-amp. Shortly thereafter, he came across the VHT PitBull Ultra Lead, which he switched to and used on the next few records. Root switched to a combination of a Rivera Knucklehead Reverb and a Diezel Herbert. The guitarist added that there’s a balancing act to maintain when choosing gear. "It’s weird, you can get into this tone chasing thing live but you also have to be aware of what is roadworthy and what will hold up. I didn’t want to sound like every other guitar player,” said Root.