Dexter Holland Gear, Effects, Tone, Rig Examples – In-Depth Guide


Dexter Holland is one of the most influential punk-rock icons still active today. As the founding member, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and primary songwriter of the famous American rock band the Offspring, he kept the candles of punk-rock burning since 1984. Holland released 10 studio albums and sold over 40 million records worldwide with the Offspring, gaining the reputation as legitimate rock legends.

Besides his musical career, Dexter Holland is a virologist who obtained his Ph.D. in molecular biology in 2017. On the other hand, he brilliantly mixes his social commentary with gallows of humor in the Offspring song lyrics. He is also the owner of Gringo Bandito hot sauce brand.

However, before everything, Dexter Holland is a fantastic guitarist. He uses simple gear to create his iconic punk-rock tone. His classic driving electric guitar sound is a dream for punk rock enthusiasts, and the production style of the band is old-school yet interesting.

Let’s take a closer look at Dexter Holland’s gear and how he creates his tone using them. The gear listed here is taken from his interviews, live footage the band shared during recording sessions, live performance videos, and pictures they shared.

Contents show

Dexter Holland’s Electric Guitars

Although Dexter Holland is known for his Ibanez RG570 that he regularly uses in recording sessions and live performances, he occasionally experiments with different guitars for various projects.

Ibanez Custom RG Series

Dexter Holland’s favorite guitar is undoubtedly Ibanez RG Series Custom versions. He has used lots of versions of these guitars since the beginning of his career in many concerts and recordings. He even used it in many music videos such as (Can’t Get My)Head Around You.

Dexter Holland’s version of RG features a chrome diamond-plate finish on top and matte black sides and back. It is made out of mahogany and fitted with DiMarzio Super Distortion bridge pick-ups. 

Holland has many versions of this guitar with different finishes and fretboard materials such as rosewood and maple. It is the most used guitar by him, and he has a collaboration with Ibanez thanks to his love for this guitar. Mostly he prefers similar models to Ibanez RG570 and RG1570 which is the modernized version of the previous model.

All of the guitars he uses are different RG series based on 570. In the attached videos he is clearly seen with those guitars and in this interview with Australian Musician Magazine he says his most preferred guitars are custom-made Ibanez RG series.

Gibson 1965 SG Junior

In his recent recordings, Dexter Holland used a vintage Gibson SG, a Gibson 1965 SG Junior to be exact, as he liked the thick and crunchy vintage sound. The guitar features a single P-90 pick-up.

The iconic guitar is known for its great mahogany body and neck with a warm, resonant tonewood and a rich color. With its thin neck, it provides a fast playing experience, and it is called the fastest neck in the world.

Holland used this guitar for the recordings of The Offsprings’ later albums, such as the 9th studio album Days Go By and the 8th album Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace. But he does not use this guitar often for live performances.

In this interview with Guitar World Magazine, Dexter Holland admits he is in love with his vintage SG and uses it on recordings often but not in live shows as he prefers Ibanez RG for the concerts.

Fender American Stratocaster

Although it is not a guitar that Dexter Holland regularly uses, Fender American Stratocaster is one of the instruments in his collection. He occasionally uses this guitar for recordings and live performances, as can be seen on the video of the recording sessions of Can’t Get My Head Around You.

Fender American Strat is one of the most iconic guitars of all time that almost every guitarist uses at some point in their careers, either for recordings or concerts. It is a highly versatile guitar, as you already know, that can be used for many genres, from punk to blues to heavy metal.

In this video from the studio sessions of The Offspring, Dexter is seen playing a Fender Stratocaster that looks like an American model.

Ibanez Single Cut Custom

Another guitar that Dexter Holland uses during live shows is a custom single-cut Ibanez guitar that resembles the ARZ800 model. It has a single Ibanez body along with a fixed bridge and a single humbucker on the bridge position. 

In this live show, Dexter is on the stage with his custom single-cut Ibanez that resembles the ARZ series.

Dexter Holland’s Signature Pick-ups

DiMarzio Super Distortion

Dexter Holland needs a high-gain pick-up to create his iconic punk-rock tone, and the DiMarzio Super Distortion humbucker duo is an excellent choice for that. Designed to kick a tube amp into total overdrive, the pick-up has a great balance between power and tone.

The tone gets thick with boosted mids and big lows and fat highs with Super Distortion pick-ups and is preferred by many musicians such as Al Di Meola, Paul Gilbert, and Dexter Holland in this case. Holland has many variations of Ibanez RG series guitars, and all of them are equipped with DiMarzio Super Distortion. He used the Ibanez RG – DiMarzio Super Distortion combination for most of his recordings and live performances.

Gibson P-90

Another pick-up that Holland loves is Gibson P-90. He used Gibson 1965 SG Junior with a single P-90 pick-up on the bridge position for the recording sessions of his later albums such as Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace, and Days Go By.

The P-90 variation Dexter uses seems like the vintage P-90, which is actually the recreation of the original 1946 Gibson single-coil with all of the midrange grittiness, growl, and sparkle. The power chords sound has a lovely harmonic bloom which is great for Dexter’s punk-rock playing style. 

The P-90 has a unique tonal character with a powerful midrange and higher output which is probably the reason Dexter Holland uses it.

Dexter Holland’s Acoustic Guitars

Gibson J-45

The Offspring does not use acoustic guitar sound often, but occasionally they perform and record small partitions with them. For example, they performed their most famous songs, such as Kids Aren’t Alright and Self Esteem unplugged for various platforms. Holland has a Gibson J-45, which is his first choice for acoustic guitar tones for this kind of situation.

Gibson J-45 is one of the most popular round-shoulder dreadnought guitars in the world. It is known for its full, balanced expression, warm bass, and incredible highs. It is one of the most technically advanced acoustic guitars of all time, and that is why it is called The Workhorse. The high-quality mahogany and Sitka spruce are easily felt on the guitar’s playability and tone.

Dexter Holland’s Guitars Strings

DR 10 Gauge Strings

Dexter Holland prefers DR 10 Gauge Strings on all of his guitars. These Tite-Fit round-wound nickel-plated electric guitar strings are designed to be a great all-around string that can be used for many occasions for comfort.

Dexter Holland’s Picks/Accessories

Stickers

When I talk about Dexter Holland’s guitars and gear, the first thing that comes to my mind is his love for stickers. Like many punk guitarists, Dexter Holland also likes to decorate his guitar’s front face with many colorful and different-shaped stickers to personalize his gear.

On his Ibanez RH, he has a Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil sticker and plane-shaped stickers, which are the most iconic ones I remember. Of course, he has many more, but these are the first ones that catch my eye.

Ibanez Picks

Dexter Holland uses medium thick 0.8 mm Ibanez picks in many different colors with a skull illustration on the backside of the pick.

Dexter Holland’s Amps

Marshall JCM2000

For most of his recordings of rhythm guitar, Dexter Holland runs his guitar through a Marshall JCM2000 combined with a VOX AC 30. He cranks up the gain, and his tone heavily relies on the amps as he often does not use any pedals.

Marshall JCM2000 is one of the most iconic amps of rock history as it was used by many great artists and bands. The amp was discontinued and is not produced anymore; however, it is still used by many guitarists. It provides the great tones of 80’s classic and hard rock and heavy metal tones.

Dexter uses it to have a valve-like distortion tone provided by the red channel/high gain tones mode of the amp.

Vox AC30

The second leg of the Marshall JCM2000-Vox AC 30 combination is a power machine tube combo amp. Vox AC30 is a classic-looking amp that is mainly preferred by British Bands in particular for lovely crunchy tones.

Holland uses this combination and mics up the amplifiers to have high-gain tones for his rhythm guitar partitions. It is his main source of overdrive and distortion in the combination.

Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier

Dexter Holland likes thick and crunchy tones while still being super edgy. For this passion, he started using one of the most preferred high-gain monsters in the amp world, Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier. 

In one of his interviews, he said, “Yeah! We are usually playing through multiple amps at the same time. In the studio we’re sitting in right now, there’s a Marshall and a Mesa/Boogie.” Mesa Boogie is Holland’s first choice for live performances as well as recordings since the early times of The Offspring.

For the recordings of the album Smash, for example, he used Mesa Boogie Mark IV amps. The distortion was simply provided by the heavily distorted channel of the amp without any other pedals.

VHT Pitbull CLX100

Another amp that Dexter Holland uses for live performances is VHT Pitbull CLX100. He started using the amp after 2010, like in the iconic concerts of The Offspring in Rock em Ring in 2014. As a tube amp, it is known for being the tightest metal amp that provides ultra high-gain tones. It is an excellent amp that Dexter Holland uses when he wants aggressive tones.

Dexter Holland’s Pedals/Effects

Ibanez Tube Screamer

Although Dexter Holland relies on amps for overdrive and distortion tones, he sometimes gets the help of the iconic Tube Screamer for his overdrive tones. Tube Screamer is a legendary pedal that can be used for many different tones, from blues to metal.

Dexter uses the Tube Screamer when he wants a more characteristic mid-boosted overdrive tone, such as in the song You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid.

Fractal Axe-Fx II Guitar Effects Processor

In an interview, the second guitarist of The Offspring, Noodles, who uses almost the same setup with Dexter Holland, said, “We almost always rely solely on our amps for any given sound, but we’ll occasionally add some chorus or delay to highlight a certain part or passage of a song. Usually, this is done during a clean breakdown that is arpeggiated or strummed.”

All of these extra effects are provided by Fractal Axe-Fx II Guitar Effects Processor, which is a highly versatile top-notch effects processor. It is a complete rack-mounted system for guitar amplification modeling and effects. Dexter’s and Noodle’s tones are saved in this system.

Dexter Holland’s Microphones

Sennheiser EW 135P G4

In recent years Dexter Holland has been singing through a Sennheiser EW 135 G3 wireless microphone. He has always been a fan of Sennheiser microphones and preferred different models from their collection.

Shure SM57

Shure SM57 is an iconic mic that is an industry-standard in music history. In most of the live performances, Dexter Holland used an SM57 for his vocals. Also, in the “All I Want” music video Dexter Holland sings through a Shure Sm57 microphone.

Shure SM58

In the Gotta Get Away music video Dexter Holland sings through a Shure Sm58 microphone. He also used this microphone occasionally live back in the 90s in the early times of The Offspring.

What Is Special About Dexter Holland’s Guitar Tone?

Dexter Holland’s guitar tone is not particularly unique, but it is a great and tasty punk-rock guitar tone. It is loud, thick, crunchy but yet it is also highly edgy. Dexter’s guitars are almost always heavily distorted with a valve-like distortion. He likes dry and heavy high-gain tones.

His signature tone can be heard on the iconic The Offspring tunes like Come Out and Play, Self Esteem, Pretty Fly For A White Guy, and Kids Aren’t Alright. In all of these pieces, his heavy and thick high-gain punk-rock guitar tone is highly apparent and drives the songs forward.

Often Dexter Holland uses a tone with medium bass, boosted highs, and cut mids. His guitar tone has a scooped mid sound with not a lot of bass, which makes the power chords he uses to cut through amazingly. Sometimes he also adds a bit of reverb to his tone but not much that it muddies up the fast power chord changes.

His signature tone heavily relies on his Mesa Boogie and his DiMarzio Super Distortion pick-ups when he plays live. In the recording sessions among his Ibanez with Super Distortion pick-ups, he uses his vintage Gibson SG with a single Gibson P-90 pick-up at the bridge position connected to the Vox AC 30 and Marshall JCM 2000 combination to catch a similar high-gain tone.

How To Sound Like Dexter Holland (The Offspring)

Dexter Holland’s punk-rock guitar tone is not hard to achieve. Of course, he uses high-end products for perfection, but you can get closer even with some basic gear. If you like punk-rock guitar tones, Dexter Holland’s guitar tone is truly a great one to replicate and experiment with.

Guitar

The most critical aspect of Dexter Holland’s guitar is the pick-ups, as you may guess. He uses high-gain monster pick-ups for his valve-like distorted punk-rock guitar tone. DiMarzio Super Distortion humbucker pick-ups, especially the bridge pick-ups as he primarily uses that one, is super important to get to his tone.

You can actually use any guitar that has a humbucker in the bridge position to get The Offspring sound. But I would recommend a modern ST-style guitar such as the Ibanez RG series. As mentioned before, a high-gain monster pick-up like Gibson P-90 or DiMarzio Super Distortion is all you need from your guitar. 

You will play mainly on the bridge position, and you will be playing mostly power chords in a high tempo. So, a guitar with a comfortable neck that you can quickly change between power chords would be a huge benefit.

Amp / Amp Settings

When it comes to the amps, Dexter again uses gear that thrives with high gain tones. His Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier is very important in this sense. Even when he uses the Vox – Marshall combination, he tries to get closer to that tube amp sound. As he does not use pedals often, he needs excellent amps to get the best tone possible.

Of course, these are top-notch products that most of us can not afford. However, there is no need to be a perfectionist. A decent amp that performs well with high-gain tones can get the job done successfully. 

For the exact amp settings, you can cut the mids, leave the bass in the middle and boost the higher frequencies. This will get you closer to his edgy and thick sound. You can crank up the volume and gain to 8 or 9 if you are getting the distortion from your amp. 

With these settings, you will emphasize the highs while getting rid of the middle frequencies. The gain should easily sound pretty dry, and the scooped mids will fatten the bottom end nicely. 

Pedal Effects / Pedal Settings

Dexter does not use many pedals and relies on his amps to get his high-gain tone. But, occasionally, he gets different kinds of effects from his Fractal Axe-Fx II Guitar Effects Processor, like chorus or delay for some parts of the songs. He also sometimes gets the help of his Ibanez Tube Screamer to make his tone more aggressive and heavier.

As you probably won’t be able to afford the top-notch amps Dexter uses to get his distortion, you can replicate his tone with a good distortion pedal. For example, in The Offspring tune Gone Away, Dexter uses the Mesa Boogie amp with the TS. So if you crank up the gain to 8 or 9 on a pedal similar to TS along with the help of the distortion from the amp, if it is possible with the recommended amp settings, you will be greatly close to his tone.

As he uses mainly the same high-gain tone for most of his songs, with these settings, you can replicate his amazing tone in his great pieces such as Self Esteem, Kids Aren’t Alright, or the whole Smash album.

Techniques

Dexter Holland is responsible for the rhythm guitar sections of The Offspring tunes. So, he mainly plays power chords with a fast tempo and aggressive playing style. He also uses lots of mutes and slides, which are the essential techniques for the punk-rock playing style.

You will need a good strumming hand along with a fretting hand that is comfortable throughout the neck for quick power chord changes. Dexter likes to barre the chords, too, so you should learn how to relax your hand while barring, or it would be too hard for your fretting hand.

Mainly, Dexter is a classical punk-rock guitarist, and mastering the punk-rock rhythm techniques will get you going.

Dexter Holland Guitar Rig Examples

Budget 

Although you will need to spend much more to get the same tones, Dexter Holland’s tone is not very hard to get close to, even with lower-end gear. With an entry-level modern style guitar such as Ibanez Gio GRX70QA connected to a decent digital modeling amp like Positive Grid Spark 40, you can get a satisfying punk-rock tone relatively close to The Offspring sound.

Guitar

Ibanez Gio GRX70QA
Ibanez 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar, Right, Transparent Red...
  • Fast, slim Maple neck
  • Beautiful quilted Maple art grain top
  • High output Infinity R pickups

Dexter Holland’s regular companion guitar is an Ibanez RG 570, which is a hard-to-find higher-end guitar. To replicate his tone and style, you can go for a more affordable Ibanez guitar, which is the Gio GRX70QA model. 

This is the entry-level guitar of Ibanez with HSH pick-up arrangement with coil-split HS/SH selection, a fast and comfortable neck made of maple with a rosewood fingerboard, and a sleek body shape with an attractive maple top.

DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion Pickup Black Regular
  • Hot output
  • Mid-boost
  • 4-conductor versatility
  • Coil-splitting capability

If you have a bit more space on your budget, you might think of upgrading the pick-ups with a DiMarzio Super Distortion to get really close to Dexter Holland’s tone.

Amp

Positive Grid Spark 40
Positive Grid Spark Guitar Amplifier and Traveler Bag Bundle
  • Spark learns your style and feel, then generates authentic bass and drums...
  • Access over 10000 killer guitar, bass, amp and effect presents, so you can...
  • Choose any songs and spark smart app will automatically display the guitar...
  • Connect spark and easily record your ideas on the computer

The most important aspect in a budget setup is always the amp, especially if you are replicating a guitarist’s tone who does not rely on pedals. Of course, Dexter Holland uses a tube amp which is an incredibly higher-end product. So, as you can’t go in that direction with a tight budget, the solution here is to go to an excellent digital modeling amp like Positive Grid Spark 40.

With some tweaks and adjustments, you can get a good punk-rock tone out of this amp. You can also search for similar tones in Positive Grid Cloud and download the patch to reach Holland’s crisp and bright punk sound.

Pedals

When you have a digital modeling amp like Positive Grid Spark 40, you do not need to buy any pedals to support your tone. Especially if you are after a punk-rock tone that is not that hard to replicate; instead, you can spend that money for the DiMarzio Super Distortion pick-up mentioned before.

Mid-Range

With a Mid-Range budget, it is really likely you can replicate The Offspring sound. You can even purchase some of the gear Dexter Holland uses on recordings and live performances, such as the weaker version of VOX AC amp, his pick-ups like DiMarzio Super Distortion or Gibson P90’s, or his overdrive pedal Ibanez Tube Screamer.

Guitar

Ibanez RG Standard RG450DX with DiMarzio Super Distortion
Ibanez RG450DX RG Series Electric Guitar Starlight Blue
  • Neck type: Wizard III Maple neck
  • Body: Mahogany body
  • Fretboard: Bound Rosewood fretboard w/Sharktooth inlay
  • Fret: Jumbo frets

Ibanez RG Standard RG450DX is one of the affordable models in the RG series, which Dexter Holland’s guitar also belongs to. This model is a greatly versatile super-strat style guitar with dual humbucker-single coil pick-up combo, Wizard III Neck designed for fast and comfortable playing, and pro-level features such as DL Tremolo bridge and locking tuners/nut at a budget-friendly price.

DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion Pickup Black Regular
  • Hot output
  • Mid-boost
  • 4-conductor versatility
  • Coil-splitting capability

With an upgrade on the bridge humbucker, changing it with DiMarzio Super Distortion, you get the same pick-up Dexter Holland uses on a very comfortable guitar which is more than enough to replicate his instrument.

Epiphone SG Classic Worn P-90s Electric Guitar

No products found.

Another option here is to go with an Epiphone SG Classic Worn P-90s Electric Guitar, which is the more affordable, China-made version of Dexter Holland’s actual guitar. He started using a vintage Gibson SG in his recent recordings and shows, so if you like his newer tones better, you can go with this one. It is already equipped with the P-90 pick-up at the bridge position, which is Dexter’s favorite.

Amp

Vox AC15
VOX, 2 Electric-Guitar-Amplifier-Combos, Vintage (AC15C1)
  • 10 Watt tube combo offering the classic VOX Top Boost tone
  • EL84 power tubes; 12AX7 preamp tubes
  • Custom 10" VX10 speaker made by Celestion
  • Simple but effective Gain, Bass, Treble, Reverb, and Master Volume controls

Vox AC15 is the smaller version of the one Dexter Holland uses for The Offspring live shows and recordings. He gets his tones with the combination of A Vox AC30 and Marshall JCM2000. However, the Vox will be enough here to get close enough to his punk-rock tone.

Pedals

Ibanez TS
Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer - Classic
  • Classic tone Tone, drive, and level controls
  • Tone, drive, and level controls give you access to warm, amp-like overdrive...
  • The Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer is a reissue that's just like the original in...
  • Same factory, same components, same housing, same famous seasick-green...

Although Dexter Holland relies solely on his amps to get his overdrive tone, he occasionally gets the help of his Ibanez Tube Screamer to support and make the tone more aggressive. It is an iconic pedal with a great role in rock and metal history which can also help you play some of The Offspring tunes with heavier and more aggressive tones.

High-End

With a big budget, you can easily get Dexter Holland’s tone as it is not very complicated to replicate. Even though his guitar is not produced anymore, you can go with its successor Ibanez RG8570 combined with the high-gain monster Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier. 

To add more versatility for different parts of various songs, you can also create his pedal setup with an Ibanez TS for overdrive and Fractal Axe-Fx II Guitar Effects Processor for different effects they use such as reverb, chorus, etc.

Guitar

Ibanez RG8570

As Dexter Holland’s signature guitar Ibanez RG 570 is extremely hard to find, you can go with the new model Ibanez offers, Ibanez RG8570, which is the modern version of RG 570. It has a solid body made of mahogany with a maple top and a maple-wenge neck, along with an ebony fingerboard, and is equipped with 2 humbucking, 1 single-coil pick-up as well as an Edge-Zero tremolo bridge.

DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion Pickup Black Regular
  • Hot output
  • Mid-boost
  • 4-conductor versatility
  • Coil-splitting capability

This guitar is an absolute work of art with extremely high looks, tone, and playability. It would not only help you catch Dexter’s tone but can get you to play any genre you like. You might also consider changing the bridge pick-up with DiMarzio Super Distortion as Dexter did, but it is not ultimately necessary.

Gibson Custom 1963 SG Special Reissue
Gibson SG Standard Reissue VOS Electric Guitar, Faded Cherry
  • The SG features a solid mahogany body with its distinctive twin...
  • Figured acrylic trapezoid inlays, single-ply creme fingerboard binding,

You can also go with a Gibson Custom 1963 SG Special Reissue if you like the tones of the later The Offspring. It is the reissue of the iconic vintage 1963 Gibson SG, which Dexter has used recently.

It comes with a solid body made of mahogany along with mahogany neck Indian Rosewood fingerboard and 2 P-90 Pick-ups. It is almost the same instrument Dexter Holland uses.

Amp

Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier

Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier is a high-gain monster tube amp that is preferred by many guitarists who like to have an aggressive overdrive and distortion sound. Dexter Holland trusts it so much and solely relies on this amp for his tone. 

It is a 100-watt, 3-channel tube amplifier head with selectable dual rectifier switch along with 50-100-watt switches per channel and comes with a 6-way footswitch. Just having this monster is almost enough to create the punk-rock tone of The Offspring.

Pedals

Ibanez TS
Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer - Classic
  • Classic tone Tone, drive, and level controls
  • Tone, drive, and level controls give you access to warm, amp-like overdrive...
  • The Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer is a reissue that's just like the original in...
  • Same factory, same components, same housing, same famous seasick-green...

Although it is unnecessary when you have the Dual Rectifier monster, Dexter Holland also has Ibanez TS on his setup, which he mostly uses when he does not use the Dual Rectifier or when he needs a more vintage overdrive tone. So for recordings or practices at home, you can use it to have more versatility on your The Offspring tone palette.

Fractal Axe-Fx II Guitar Effects Processor

Occasionally, The Offspring uses different effects such as chorus, reverb, and compression in parts of their songs that are provided by Fractal Axe-Fx II Guitar Effects Processor. It is a complete rack mount system for guitar amplification modeling and effects. 

All of the Offspring members use this gear to add effects to their sound, digitally model amps, and save their presets.

Conclusion

Dexter Holland is an iconic name for punk-rock lovers as he is one of the most famous faces of the modern punk-rock scene with his band The Offspring, who released some of the greatest punk tunes such as Come Out and Play, Self Esteem, Pretty Fly For A White Guy and Kids Aren’t Alright.

He has a great punk-rock guitar tone, simple yet effective, which many punk guitarists dream of. He uses relatively simple gear and relies mostly on his amp for his tone, making it expensive but easy to replicate.

You can go with any of the recommended gear in the article to follow his steps for you The Offspring covers or your own punk-rock compositions.

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Last update on 2022-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Jacob

I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

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