replicating Johnny Greenwood's unique sound- a look at his pedalboard

Johnny Greenwood is a name that is synonymous with innovative and experimental guitar playing. As the lead guitarist for the English rock band Radiohead, Greenwood has been pushing the boundaries of the instrument for over two decades, creating complex and unique sounds that have helped to redefine the role of the guitar in modern music.


The Classical Connection: Greenwood's Background

Born in Oxford, England in 1971, Greenwood started playing the guitar at a young age. He began by learning classical music, but quickly became interested in rock and roll, and started playing in local bands. In 1991, he joined Radiohead, and has been with the band ever since, playing a key role in shaping their sound and direction.

Greenwood's background in classical music is evident in his playing, as he often incorporates elements of classical composition into his work. He began studying the violin at the age of three, and later went on to study music at Oxford University, where he focused on classical composition. This classical training has informed his approach to guitar playing, as he often employs complex chord progressions and unconventional time signatures in his work.


Sonic Exploration & Evolution of Style

One of the things that sets Greenwood apart from other guitarists is his willingness to experiment with unconventional techniques and sounds. He is a master of controlled feedback, using it to create sonic landscapes that are both beautiful and haunting. He is also skilled at creating complex layers of sound, using a combination of effects pedals, synthesizers, and live looping.

One of the most striking examples of Greenwood's innovative guitar playing can be heard in the song "Paranoid Android" from Radiohead's 1997 album "OK Computer." In this song, Greenwood uses a technique called "microtonal guitar," in which he tunes his guitar to intervals that are smaller than the standard half-step. This gives the song a unique, otherworldly quality that is unmatched by any other guitar player.

Greenwood is also known for his use of unconventional tunings. In the song "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" from the band's 2007 album "In Rainbows," he uses a tuning that is so low that it almost sounds like a bass guitar. This adds depth and texture to the song, and helps to create a sense of atmosphere that is both eerie and mesmerizing.

In addition to his guitar playing, Greenwood is also an accomplished composer. He has written scores for several films, including "There Will Be Blood" and "Phantom Thread," and his classical music has been performed by orchestras around the world. His classical compositions often incorporate elements of electronic music and experimental guitar playing, blurring the lines between different musical genres and styles.

Overall, Jonny Greenwood's guitar style is a unique and constantly evolving blend of influences, including classical music, experimental rock, and film scores. His use of effects pedals, extended techniques, and unconventional playing styles have made him one of the most distinctive and innovative guitarists of his generation.


Get his signature sound

Checkout our breakdown of his early era pedalboard below and all the gear that helps attribute to his unique, experimental guitar tone. 

Here's links to pedals you can get directly from us plus some similar sounds: 

Johnny Greenwood's full signal chain.


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