Home » Tame Impala Guitar Tone Ultimate Guide 2024 (7 Key Pedals & Tricks for Kevin Parker’s Sound)

Tame Impala Guitar Tone Ultimate Guide 2024 (7 Key Pedals & Tricks for Kevin Parker’s Sound)

Kevin Parker music gear in studio


Want to learn how to get that swirling psychedelic rock Tame Impala guitar tone that Kevin Parker is famous for? Or how to get that velcro-ripping, torn speaker fuzz sound that featured heavily on Innerspeaker and Lonerism?

I’ve been quite literally studying Kevin Parker’s guitar tone for over 10 years now. It’s arguably my favourite guitar sound of all-time and I’m here to share all the secrets to achieving it that I’ve learned over the years.

Huge huge huge apologies, but we won’t be talking about Kevin Parker’s scarf collection here today. Head here for that instead 😉

Tame Impala Kevin Parker live on stage

The aim of this article is to be the definitive Tame Impala guitar tone guide, with a rundown of Kevin Parker’s pedal settings, and also to reveal some tricks and secrets that you won’t find anywhere else on how to utilise this gear.

If you’re a bass player, then read my full review of the Hofner bass guitar that Kevin Parker uses in Tame Impala right here

A true example of a bold musician is Kevin Parker – he created a seismic shift in the psychedelic rock genre when he hit the scene, and it all started from the comfort of his small bedroom in Perth, Australia.

By going against the grain, he crafted a unique, dreamy psychedelic sound, and utilised the guitar in a completely different way to other bands. This was all in an era dominated by a more traditional, stripped-down, indie rock guitar sound.

These bold moves have made him an absolute music God in many circles (see the adoration in the Tame Impala sub-Reddit).

Basically, he’s an absolute creative force, to put in mildly (and you can be too by reading this article right here).

Follow along and I’ll give you the 7 must-have guitar effects pedals to get the Tame Impala guitar tone (plus some extra secret tips and tricks you won’t find anywhere else!). Stick around for the bonus bit of gear at the end.

The 7 Guitar Pedals You Need to Sound Like Tame Impala (Plus 1 Bonus Bit of Gear!)

Kevin Parker Tame Impala pedalboard
Kevin Parker is a man of many pedals

Kevin Parker has constantly evolved his guitar sound over the course of his career. However, there are 7 essential pedals that have remained pretty much the same through the years.

Stick around to the end of the article and I’ll reveal an extra bit of gear that Tame Impala used that may come as a surprise to you.

EffectPedal
PhaserEHX Small Stone
OverdriveBoss Blues Driver
FuzzDunlop Fuzz Face
ReverbEHX Holy Grail
VibratoDiamond Vibrato
CompressionMXR Dyna Comp
DelayMXR Carbon Copy


1. Phaser – Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Phaser Pedal

Electro Harmonix Small Stone Phaser guitar pedal

When people think of the Tame Impala guitar sound, phaser is often the effect that they associate with it. Phaser has become synonymous with Kevin Parker. So much so that if you look at the font on the pedal you’ll notice that it’s the same font as the Tame Impala logo (‘Microgramma’ font for any design nerds out there).

What does a phaser pedal do? Essentially, it gives your guitar sound a swirling, whooshy texture. You can make it sound like your guitar is soaring through space when you set it to a slow rate. Speed the rate up and it can sound like you’re underwater.

EXAMPLES: Solitude Is Bliss, Endors Toi, It Is Not Meant to Be, Alter Ego, Sundown Syndrome

Kevin Parker’s phaser pedal of choice is the Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Phaser. He actually uses a vintage one from the 90s (Small Stone V4), and some report that they like the sound of this one better.

Regardless, I find that the Small Stone Nano version does the job perfectly, and it also only takes up about half the pedalboard space that the V4 does. It’s also much cheaper!

In my opinion, this is the best sounding phaser pedal out there. Owning one will not only unlock those Tame Impala guitar tones you love, but it will inspire you to make more interesting music due to all the fresh, dreamy sounds within it.

I find the sound of this pedal to be absolutely addictive, and it’s become a pedal that I almost always have switched-on on my pedalboard. It’s also versatile, with a Color switch allowing you to control how intense the effect is.

I’ll leave the Color switch down when I want it to be more of a subtle texture that isn’t immediately noticeable, then I’ll flip the switch up (the “on” position, essentially) when I want to get into whooshy psychedelic territory.

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2. Overdrive – Boss BD-2 Blues Driver

Boss Blues Driver guitar pedal

Don’t be fooled by the name, this pedal isn’t only for blues (you can make shoegaze with it!). To get that gritty, crunchy, lo-fi Tame Impala guitar sound, you want to get yourself a Boss BD-2 Blues Driver overdrive pedal.

There are a lot of overdrive pedals out there that do different things and have different vibes, but this one is the ticket aboard the psychedelic train. This is not to be confused with fuzz, which is a whole different effect (more on the Tame Impala fuzz sound coming up below).

EXAMPLES: Half Full Glass of Wine, Lucidity, Mind Mischief

Kevin loves this pedal so much that he has two of them on his pedalboard:

  1. His 1st one is set lightly, and he always leaves it switched on – yes, even his “clean” sounds have some overdrive on it. As you start exploring guitar tones, you will find that a lot of guitarists still have some light overdrive in their clean tone to give it that little extra something. Often this is added by their amp.

  2. His 2nd one he switches on when he wants to do more traditional crunchy overdrive sounds and stack with his fuzz pedal (I’ll get deeper into this a bit later).

So the way Kevin Parker tends to use the Blues Driver is as an additional texture in his guitar tone. It makes it sound more like a saturated, analog tape sound. It’s the little details like this that add up and go a long way to making your guitar sound stand out from everyone else.

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3. Fuzz – Dunlop Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face

tame impala fuzz face pedal

Fuzz was a vital component of the early Tame Impala guitar tone, and the Fuzz Face was all over Innerspeaker & Lonerism.

Kevin Parker’s fuzz tone is truly special. I remember how instantly it grabbed me when I first heard it. That fizzy, velcro-ripping, torn speaker fuzz sound has so much bite and mojo to it. It was unlike anything I’d ever heard before.

EXAMPLES: Desire Be Desire Go, Elephant, Endors Toi, Mind Mischief, Lucidity

Kevin used a vintage Dunlop Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face from the 70s. These are amazing pedals, but they can be hard to come by and have some disadvantages. Namely, they don’t have power supplies, so you’ll constantly be replacing batteries. They’re also very big and will take up a lot of vital space on your pedalboard.

I recommend the Dunlop FFM2 Germanium Fuzz Face Mini. This is a recreation of the same fuzz pedal Kevin Parker uses, but it’s nice and small, and it has a power supply!

Make sure to get the red germanium one – this is the one Kevin uses. The blue silicon one is great too, but it has a slightly different vibe.

The Dunlop Fuzz Face is truly iconic, having been used a lot in 1960s psychedelic rock, like Pink Floyd (David Gilmour) & Jimi Hendrix. There are a lot of incredible fuzz pedals out there, but nothing truly matches the Fuzz Face.

There is one other secret to getting those ripped fuzz sounds which I will touch on in the BONUS section at the end, so stick around for that.

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4. Reverb – Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb

Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb  guitar pedal

What a fitting name for this pedal. This truly is the holy grail of reverb pedals for unlocking that spacey, psychedelic, Tame Impala guitar tone.

There’s a lot of reverb pedals out there that do a million different things and have a million different knobs, but this one has one knob and a 3-way switch – and that’s all it needs, it’s that damn good!

EXAMPLES: Led Zeppelin (the Tame Impala song), Alter Ego, Endors Toi, Runway Houses City Clouds, It Is Not Meant to Be

Kevin Parker has used the Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail reverb pedal since the beginning and it’s a vital component to getting his sound. He uses it to add texture and space to his tone, and he also runs it into his Fuzz Face pedal for extra craziness.

There’s something magical about this pedal that just feels right. It transports your mind to another realm, so it’s no wonder that Kevin’s music has that ability to transport you to the stratosphere.

Beyond just the Tame Impala guitar tone, the other two reverb settings (Spring & Flerb – Kevin almost exclusively uses Hall) are incredibly good too. Flerb in particular has so much potential for creating unique guitar tones – hopefully a reader on here will experiment with this setting and create something awesome (send it to me if you do).

No guitar sound would be complete without a reverb pedal and this one is an amazing choice.

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5. Vibrato – Diamond Vibrato

Diamond Vibrato guitar pedal

Now this is a damn cool pedal. This has been an absolutely vital part of Kevin Parker’s guitar tone since Lonerism (he didn’t get this pedal until after the release of Innerspeaker, so it’s not featured on that album, but he did have it on his live pedalboard in the latter half of that album tour).

EXAMPLES: Mind Mischief, Led Zeppelin, Endors Toi, Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control

The Diamond Vibrato will give you that nice, warbly, syrupy tone that you’ll find all across Tame Impala. Basically, it continuously bends the pitch up and down slightly, which adds this amazingly colourful, lush, psychedelic texture to the music.

It really makes it stand out in a mix and does beautiful, funny things to your brain when you hear it. It’s as if the guitar is alive and slithering around in space.

This is easily mistaken for a chorus pedal, and while they’re somewhat related, a chorus pedal alone isn’t going to get you the Tame Impala sound. Get yourself a vibrato pedal, and get a quality one like the Diamond Vibrato (it even has an in-built chorus setting for some extra bang for your buck).

This one is such a gem and it’s as if you can see the sound in front of you – you’ll understand what I mean once you try it!

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6. Compression – MXR Dyna Comp

MXR Dyna Comp guitar pedal

This is a huge component of the Tame Impala guitar tone that may get overlooked. And it’s easy to see why it gets overlooked when things like phasers, fuzz, and delay pedals have such a strong and obvious effect.

Make no mistake though, this pedal is VITAL and I’d consider the SECRET to unlocking the Tame Impala guitar tone. It basically squashes the signal of your guitar and creates this rich, rounded, full-bodied sound. All of the notes come alive.

EXAMPLES: literally every Tame Impala song, but an obvious example of the effect is in Jeremy’s Storm

Kevin’s go-to pedal for compression has always been the MXR Dyna Comp. It’s quite an aggressive compressor, and that’s what I love about it. Tame Impala’s use of compression isn’t subtle, and yours shouldn’t be either.

Kevin runs it near the end of his pedalboard, so all of the reverb & delay gets compressed. This is what makes every chord and note that he plays come to life.

It’s as if the reverb is right in front of your face and you’re swimming in the sound, rather than just observing the sound from a distance. Truly immersive and psychedelic.

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7. Delay – MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay

tame impala mxr carbon copy delay pedal

Kevin Parker likes to add some extra dimension to his guitar tone by adding a touch of delay. He obviously loves this sound on his vocals, and his guitars get a nice dose of it too.

EXAMPLES: Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?, Runway Houses City Clouds, It Is Not Meant to Be

Kevin’s go to for the Innerspeaker/Lonerism era was the MXR Carbon Analog Delay.

An important requirement to getting the sound of that era is that it’s an analog delay and not a digital delay (recently he has been using the Boss DD-20 Giga Delay, which is digital though!).

I have to admit, I feel like this aspect of Kevin’s guitar sound is a little bit overstated, and most of what people hear as delay is actually reverb, but there’s no doubt that he often incorporates delay in there in subtle ways (and sometimes not so subtle, particularly when playing live).

I’ll touch on just how uses it in the pedal settings section below

All that aside, this is an incredible pedal. The analog nature of it gives you that vintage, tape echo sound that makes Tame Impala sound so nostalgic.

You can make this effect even more retro by hitting the Mod setting, which will add some warbly modulation effects to the delays, just like an old-school tape delay from the 60s would!

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Tame Impala Guitar Pedal Settings

Kevin Parker Tame Impala live pedals

Now that we have the tools needed to get the Tame Impala guitar tone, let’s look at exactly what settings you need to nail those psychedelic sounds.

Here’s a quick and dirty guide, then head below for important information and tricks for each of the individual pedal settings.

PedalSettings
EHX Small Stone PhaserColour switch - up
Rate - 10-1 o'clock
Boss Blues DriverClean:
Gain - 7-9 o'clock
Tone - 12 o'clock
Level - adjust

Dirty:
Gain - 10-2 o'clock
Tone - 12 o'clock
Level - adjust
Dunlop Fuzz FaceFuzz - 2-4 o'clock
Volume - high
EHX Holy Grail ReverbReverb - 10 o'clock
Mode switch - Hall
Diamond VibratoVolume - 12 o'clock
Chorus - 10 o'clock
Depth - 12 o'clock
Speed - 12 o'clock
Jazz switch - up
High switch - up
MXR Dyna CompSensitivity - 2 o'clock
Output - 2 o'clock
MXR Carbon Copy DelayMix - 10-11 o'clock
Regen - 11 o'clock
Delay - 9 o'clock
Mod switch - up



1. Small Stone Phaser Pedal Settings

tame impala ehx small stone phaser pedal
  • Color switch – set to up (the “on” position) – this makes the effect more intense
  • Rate knob – between 10 o’clock & 1 o’clock – a slow Rate is the secret to getting that Tame Impala phaser sound

BONUS TIP

  • Adjust the Rate knob depending on what you’re playing. This is so that it stays in time with the music when it finishes a phase “cycle” (the phaser whooshes “up” and then back “down” – this is one cycle). Generally, you won’t hear Kevin moving that rate knob any higher than about 1 o’clock.



2. Blues Driver Overdrive Pedal Settings

tame impala boss blues driver pedal

As I said before, Kevin has two Blues Drivers on his pedalboard, each set differently.

This is a massively overlooked secret to getting Kevin’s tone.

The “Clean” Blues Driver Trick

  • Gain knob – about 7-9 o’clock – you want to make sure that this one doesn’t sound like an obviously distorted guitar – think in terms of adding texture, rather than distortion
  • Tone knob – generally around 12 o’clock – you’ll have to use your ears and adjust depending on the song, but this is a good rule of thumb
  • Level knob – set it so that when you click the pedal on and off, there’s no big difference in volume

The “Dirty” Blues Driver Trick

  • Gain knob – between 10-2 o’clock – this will vary depending on the song, but you’ll want to set the Gain knob higher on this one to unlock those Innerspeaker/Lonerism overdrive sounds – this one is supposed to sound like an overdriven guitar
  • Tone knob – see above – set to 12 o’clock and then use your ears to sweep around until you get the right tone for the song you want to play
  • Level knob – slightly different to the clean Blues Driver. You’ll want to set this one so there’s a little bit of an increase in volume. When this pedal gets switched on, the guitars are meant to get louder and more distorted, so you’ll want a bit of an increase in volume for it to sound natural. Don’t push it too far though – it should feel like a natural increase, not blast your face off (you’ll want to let the fuzz do all the face-blasting!).

BONUS TIP

  • The way you set the Tone knob for both pedals will also depend on what EQ settings you have on your amp and what pickups you have selected on your guitar. I generally find that I never have to go past about 1 o’clock with this setting as the combination of guitar, pickups and amp are bright/trebly enough of a tone.



3. Fuzz Face Pedal Settings

Dunlop Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face guitar pedal

This is an in-your-face fuzz sound that you can adjust on the fly (more on that in Bonus Tip #1).

  • Fuzz knob – 2-4 o’clock – varies depending on the song
  • Volume knob – set relatively high – you want a bit of an increase in volume when you switch it on

BONUS TIP #1

  • The Fuzz Face is very versatile and a key here is using your volume knob on your guitar to clean up the sound when you need to. The pedal is sensitive to these changes and will react differently and produce a wide variety of tones as you alter the amount of volume that’s hitting it.

BONUS TIP #2 – The Reverb Into Fuzz Trick

Kevin Parker uses this pedal in such an individual way, and he does this by running the reverb into his Fuzz Face. This is commonly considered “wrong” for pedal order.

To do this:

  1. Ensure that you place your Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb pedal BEFORE the Dunlop Fuzz Face in your pedal chain. You’ll notice the fuzz sound thicken up and instantly have more character. It basically makes your fuzz more textured and out-of-control.

  2. Then put your “dirty” Boss Blues Driver pedal AFTER your fuzz. This will give the Fuzz Face an extra push

  • By doing this, you can now adjust the actual tone of the fuzz with the Tone knob on the Blues Driver! The Fuzz Face doesn’t have a tone knob, so this is a HUGE advantage of stacking your pedals in this way.

No one was really doing this prior to Tame Impala (aside from some shoegaze bands) and this really set Kevin Parker apart. The way he would manipulate it while improvising live, and bending his whammy bar also makes this effect truly come to life.

If you put reverb after fuzz then it’ll just sound like you’re playing a fuzz guitar inside of a physical location, such as a church. This is considered “correct” for pedal order, but honestly, it’s incredibly boring and waters down the impact the fuzz has. You’re just not going to get that Tame Impala fuzz guitar tone doing that.



4. Holy Grail Reverb Pedal Settings

tame impala ehx holy grail reverb pedal
  • Reverb knob – about 10 o’clock
  • Switch – set to Hall setting

As soon as you land on that setting and combine it with all the other pedals, you’ll instantly hear that Innerspeaker & Lonerism guitar sound.

You can really hear this pedal at work on live recordings where Kevin usually runs the Reverb knob higher than on studio recordings, to amazing effect.

Check out this incredible performance of Apocalypse Dreams from the Live Versions album where you can hear this effect at play in the outro, at 6:11 (along with a heavy dose of the next pedal below).



5. Diamond Vibrato Pedal Settings

tame impala diamond vibrato pedal

This one needs to be set just right depending on the song. I’ve seen videos of people recreating Kevin’s guitar tone and they set this effect too high. It needs to be somewhat subtle and just add a little warble to the sound (set it too high and you’ll just sound like you’re out of tune and make the listener dizzy).

  • Volume knob – about 12 o’clock
  • Chorus knob – about 10 o’clock
  • Depth – about 12 o’clock
  • Speed – 12 o’clock
  • Jazz & High switch – both flicked into the UP positions

BONUS TIP

  • Use these settings as a general guide, and increase certain settings (like Depth & Speed) depending on the song. The song Led Zeppelin in particular has an increased amount of Depth & Speed in it.



6. Dyna Comp Pedal Settings

tame impala mxr dyna comp pedal

Kevin basically has this pedal on all the time. It’s a core part of his sound.

  • Sensitivity knob – about 2 o’clock – this is the important knob on this pedal and will control how much compression you’re adding to your guitar. Have a play around with it because it will react differently in different setups.
  • Output/volume knob – roughly about 2 o’clock – not all that important, because you’ll most likely never be turning this pedal off when playing Tame Impala, as it’s such a core ingredient of Kevin’s sound. However, it’s ideal to set this knob so that there isn’t a huge difference in volume when you switch it on and off.



7. Carbon Copy Analog Delay Pedal Settings

MXR Carbon Copy Delay guitar pedal

Kevin tends to favour a medium-length slapback delay setting. This will add a bit of depth without cluttering up the sound like a slow/long delay would.

  • Mix knob – about 10-11 o’clock. The delay signal should be a bit lower in volume than the dry guitar signal. This ensures the clarity of what you’re playing is retained.
  • Regen knob – about 11 o’clock. This will set how many times the delay will keep repeating. You want to set this to a short to medium setting, so you can hear the delay’s tail, but it doesn’t repeat for too long. Aim for the delay to stop after about 1-2 seconds.
  • Delay knob – about 9 o’clock. You want the delays to happen quite rapidly, rather than being super long and atmospheric. Turning the knob to the left will speed the delays up. This will vary a bit from song-to-song, but this setting is a good rule of thumb.
  • Mod knob – set to ON. This will add that nice, rich, warbly, tape echo effect



Kevin Parker’s Guitars

Another aspect to achieving the Tame Impala guitar tone is the guitar you’re using itself. A big chunk of the tone is coming from the pedals, but the kind of guitar you use has an impact too. Kevin used different guitars on Innerspeaker & Lonerism.

Fender Deluxe Roadhouse StratocasterInnerspeaker Guitar

Fender Stratocaster maple neck
I favour maple neck/fretboard Strats, but Kevin prefers rosewood – it’s all just personal preference – find what works for you!

Kevin used this Strat in the studio and live in the Innerspeaker-era. It’s a “mongrel” Strat that has a Mexican body and an American neck. A guitar with single coil pickups is key to getting the tones on this album.

Kevin often (not 100% of the time though) had the pickup selector on this guitar set to the bridge pickup, and then on the amp (his Vox AC30) he would roll back some of the treble and emphasise the mid-range. This is because the bridge pickup can get quite bright and piercing, but it has its own interesting timbre.

The guitars on Lonerism were recorded DI without an amp (more on that in a second), and the bridge pickup on a Stratocaster can often have that thin sound that you get when recording guitars DI.

It’s no wonder he had the pickup in this position as Kevin clearly likes the sound he gets with DI guitars.

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1967 Rickenbacker 335 Jetglo – Lonerism Guitar

Kevin Parker Rickenbacker 335 Jetglo guitar

Beginning with Lonerism, Kevin’s main guitar has been his 1967 Rickenbacker 335. He favours this guitar because the “toaster pickups on the old ones just sing to [him]”. Rickenbacker’s have an incredibly rich, chimey guitar tone that can be found all over that album.

If you can get your hands on one of these guitars, then congratulations – you’ve just hit the holy grail!

BONUS TIP – Guitar Tuning

The guitars in Tame Impala have always been down-tuned to D standard, two semi-tones BELOW standard tuning (with Lucidity being a notable exception, recorded in standard). This is an overlooked aspect of the Tame Impala guitar tone for 3 reasons:

  1. Chords will ring out differently when there is less string tension, which occurs when you down-tune your guitar. Kevin has stated that he likes his strings to be a little bit “floppy”. Often this will lead to subtle pitch differences from the intonation of the guitar being slightly off. We can’t tell for sure what his guitar intonation is like (someone ask his guitar tech!), but Kevin’s comment indicates that he may not like it being too precise. This can create a nice, subtle, chorus-like effect as you play further up the neck.

  2. Due to the lower string tension, your hands will interact differently with the strings and make you play differently than you would in standard. For example, you will be able to bend strings a lot higher than you can in standard tuning. You’ll also naturally add a different type of vibrato when you play single notes.

  3. There are chords and notes that you won’t be able to access in standard tuning when trying to play Tame Impala songs (e.g. Eb & D in the lowest position)




Amplifier vs DI

Amplifier – VOX AC30H2Innerspeaker

Tame Impala white Vox amp
Vox amps just put a smile on your face

This iconic guitar amp was used on Innerspeaker and continues to be used live by Kevin Parker. Amps play a massive role in the tone of a guitar and the sound of this one definitely shaped that album.

A nice tube amp is important for getting vintage psychedelic guitar sounds, so this one is a fantastic choice.

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BONUS TIP – Dialling in Amp EQ

For amp EQ settings, like I mentioned in the above section about the Strat, you’ll want to try and emphasise the mid-range of the sound and tame some of the brightness that will occur from having the guitar on the bridge pickup. Have a play around here.

Here’s a trick I like to use:

I shut my eyes, play some open strings on the guitar with my right hand, and use my left hand to sweep around the knobs on the amp until it feels right. It sounds counter-productive, but our eyes can trick us into thinking that something sounds different just based on what position the knobs are in.

Because you have the bright bridge pickup selected, you may find that you need to roll off more of the treble on the amp than you’d think.

Shutting your eyes and doing this step will stop you from being fooled into thinking the highs have been rolled off enough, when in actuality you still have a trebly/harsh guitar sound.



DI – Seymour Duncan KTG-1 Tube Preamp – Lonerism

Seymour Duncan KTG-1 Tube Preamp

For Lonerism, Kevin removed the amp from his recording process altogether. To record guitar, he would have his guitar going into his pedalboard, and then his pedalboard going into the Seymour Duncan KTG-1 Tube Preamp.

Kevin has said: “it makes your guitar sound like it’s already coming out of an album. Without me realising, I fell in love with it because it sounds similar to the way that producers were recording guitar in the ’70s, which was just DI’ed straight into the desk and then driving the channel.”

Kevin liked this approach for getting the “sizzling highs” that an amp usually cuts off. This sound is very apparent when you listen to the guitars on Lonerism compared to Innerspeaker. They have a lot more high end brightness to them and aren’t as thick.

This lack of thickness fits the vibe of the album perfectly as it’s more like a “symphony of sound”, so to speak, with a lot of different instrument timbres and textures coming together.

The guitars being recorded in this manner allow for more space in the mix for everything else.

The KTG-1 Tube Preamp is incredibly expensive these days, mainly due to the popularity of Tame Impala. Ideally, you’d have a tube preamp to get these tones, but I’ve found I can skip this step entirely and just run out from my pedalboard straight into my interface, then mess with saturation in post for similar results.




BONUS Gear – Boss BR-864

Boss BR-864
Guitar pedal?!

This is an unconventional one. The Boss BR-864 is actually an 8-track digital recorder, which isn’t something you’d usually find being used as a guitar “pedal”.

However, it has in-built effects that Kevin has used to create two iconic Tame Impala sounds. Kevin would even bring it on tour and perform live on stage with it.

Synth Guitar Tone

This one had people fooled (including me!) when Innerspeaker came out. It’s actually a guitar pitch-shifted up an octave, which many mistook for a synth. Technically, this is the Boss BR-600 (another digital recorder), but the BR-864 uses a similar effects algorithm, so this tone can be achieved on that as well.

Examples: Alter Ego, Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?, Apocalypse Dreams

If you have the Boss BR-864, then watch the video below to get the settings needed for this sound:

For everyone that doesn’t have one and would like to imitate it then here’s what you want to do:

  1. get yourself a pedal that can pitch-shift your guitar up an octave, and also has a wet-dry knob. This is important because the sound is probably about 70% wet/up an octave signal and about 30% dry signal. You need the dry signal in there as well.

  2. From there, you just run the usual pedal suspects: overdrive, reverb, & delay (longer delay time and higher amount of repeats for this sound).

A good alternative/actual guitar pedal option would be the Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork, which has the necessary knobs to unlock the synth guitar sound.

DI Fuzz Tone

This was a cool discovery when Tame Impala played the entire Innerspeaker album at Wave House in early 2021.

A core ingredient to getting that “extreme DI-fuzz sound” on Innerspeaker was revealed as the Boss BR-864. Check out 6:45 below to see/hear this in action:

The fuzz tone in the video is from Kevin driving the input gain on the unit, which then sends the signal clipping into an almost sawtooth-like fuzz sound. The hard limiting on the signal turns the fuzz into a gnarly synth-like texture. It’s incredibly visceral and one-of-a-kind.



In Conclusion

Phew, that was a lot of ground to cover! Hopefully you’ve learnt a lot of things by now about how to achieve the Tame Impala guitar tone, specifically from Innerspeaker & Lonerism.

I really wanted to cover as much ground as I possibly could and make this the go-to resource on this topic. There’s a lot of details that simply get missed when just presenting a dot-point checklist on gear!

By studying and modelling the masters in a field, we can absorb some of that energy and learn great lessons in the process. Kevin Parker’s career is full of great lessons on having a vision, being bold and experimenting, and going against the grain.

Check out my guide to starting your own bedroom music studio just like Kevin Parker, get some of his gear and do something unique with it! Switch the pedal orders around and mess with the settings. This will make your music stand out.

If you found this article useful, then please feel free to drop a comment down below. If you have any questions about anything or would like more clarity on something covered in this article then also drop a comment, or shoot me an email.

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2 thoughts on “Tame Impala Guitar Tone Ultimate Guide 2024 (7 Key Pedals & Tricks for Kevin Parker’s Sound)”

  1. Awesome article! It’s great to find others that are just as in awe with Kevin Parker’s guitar tones as I am. I’ve been really trying to perfect as much of it as I can and it’s cool to cross-check settings and whatnot with articles and posts like this! Definitely going to keep some of this info in mind for future covers.

    1. Ah that’s awesome to hear Andrew! I really put my heart and soul into making this the most comprehensive guide out there, so it’s amazing to see people getting value out of it. Keep doing your thing and feel free to come back with any questions you may have in future!

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