How to Sound Like War on Drugs Guitar (on a Budget)

Great Retro sounds

The War on Drugs, a Philly based band fronted by long-hair Adam Granduciel never ceases to amaze with their mystifying blend of pounding 80s drumbeat rhythms and Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan type of sounds. They use many guitars and effects to achieve the sounds that they have but how can you sound like them? It’s not hard with the right gear. The gear that they use is well-documented so you could buy it all, but it will cost an arm and a leg…so how can you sound like the War on Drugs on a budget without breaking your bank? Read on to find out.


The first step to sounding like Adam from the War on Drugs band is to get a guitar to match the sounds that he does. But how can you achieve his guitar  tones? He uses some very expensive guitars such as vintage Fender Stratocasters and vintage Gibson Les Paul guitars, which costs over $500 each…alot of money for the aspiring guitarist. Luckily, you don’t have to spend that much. The fact is that all guitars sound the same, the difference between different ones being purely cosmetic. So we recommend getting a Davison guitar from Amazon. Costing just under $70, these guitars can’t be beat. Because Adam from War on Drugs has a white Strat guitar we recommend the white Davison guitar. With this guitar, you will be playing War on Drugs style arpeggiated chords and notes in no time.


In the Premier Guitar Rig Rundown of War on Drugs Adam showed the big and little amps that he use in his arsenal of amplifiers to make the guitar sound. But these very cool and sweet amplifiers would cost you an arm or a leg if you were to buy them yourself.

Why not try the Sawtooth ST-Amp?

This is a 10 Watt Beast that can make any guitar sound like rock guitar at the touch of a button. From quiet sounds to louder ones, this amp excels at making the War on Drugs style of music come out from it. And at under $35 why not just get this one?


Adam from War on Drugs is known to use a big fat pedalboard filled to the brim with many many pedals of different shapes and size that do different things in the box. Unfortunately buying all them would cost at least $500, which is quite a lot to pay for pedals to make the War on Drugs sound. So we recommend a multi-effect pedal to save on the budget but get multiple sounds. Why not use this Electro Harmonix Soul POG. It combines several pedals, the Soul Food pedal and the POG pedal, so it can be used to do the different things that those pedals do that probably make the War on Drugs style of sound. Adam has so many pedals on his board that he probably has pedals that do the effects that this one does. SO why not? It costs $280, so that’s less than $500, which is what all his pedals probably costed.

In Conclusion

Sounding like the War on Drugs isn’t easy, but it just got easier with these tools. For just under $400 you can have all the tools to sound like them, which will be easy once you get the tools.

2 thoughts on “How to Sound Like War on Drugs Guitar (on a Budget)”

  1. wow man, not a single true statement here.This is so far from being even close to getting that sound. Obviously the author hasn’t even touched a guitar in his life. worst article I’ve read in years.

    “The fact is that all guitars sound the same, the difference between different ones being purely cosmetic”
    – that’s bullshit, a gibson les paul has a completely different sound and vibe due to construction, wood and especially pickups.

    “So we recommend getting a Davison guitar from Amazon”
    – This guitar only has a bridge humbucker. Adam is known for using the neck pickup a lot to get that warm tone. Also if you get a guitar, at least get it from a proper music shop and not from amazon. This thing will play terrible as it’ll be not set up professionally and no beginner has the knowledge of how to change action, intonation etc. to make it somewhat playable. This thing won’t get you even close. Try a Squier Strat or Jazzmaster instead.

    “Why not use this Electro Harmonix Soul POG.”
    – this is an octave pedal combined with a drive. You won’t find any ocatve pedals on Adams board. Plus this thing is quite expensive at 280$. The war on drugs is all about reverb, delay, flanger, phaser and especially chorus, plus some drive and fuzz. For this price you can get a Boss ME-80 that has drive, fuzz, modulation, reverbs, delays etc.

    At least do some research next time.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: