Nick’s sound is dominated by his use of Stratocaster-style guitars. He grew up using them and as a result, he has built his style and tone around the idiosyncrasies of the instrument.

Johnston’s current main guitar is his new Schecter signature model – the Nick Johnston USA Traditional. A beautifully hand-crafted Instrument, this model is the culmination of Nick’s years of experience with the Stratocaster design.

The guitar features an Alder body and Eastern Hard Rock Maple neck topped off with a dark Rosewood fretboard. Maintaining the traditional style but with a modern flare, it also includes a 2-point Schecter Vintage Tremolo, 22 frets (roughly Dunlop 6100 Jumbo sized), 14’’ radius, GraphTech nut, Schecter/Hipshot locking tuners, and Seymour Duncan Antiquity Texas Hot Pickups.


A modified version of this model is also available, featuring a Wenge neck, Ebony fretboard, beautiful Atomic Green finish and Schecter NJ Atomic USA Custom Shop Pickups.


For those who aren’t looking to spend that much on a guitar, don’t worry, Schecter also provides a budget model of this signature instrument called the Nick Johnston TRAD (TRAD, Traditional, confusing, I know!) A detailed review of this guitar can be found right here.

Both of these fantastic instruments are available for purchase from our online guitar store. Never bought from us before? Let us give you a few reasons why you should!

Amps and Effects

Nick’s rig throughout the years has been constantly changing as he likes to experiment with different amps and pedals, although some features of his rig have remained consistent.

Taking over the tube duties are the Friedman Brown Eye and the Friedman Dirty Shirley, two of Johnston’s personal favorites that contribute heavily to the clear and articulate sound he is known for.

The Friedman sound seems to be a consistent staple in his work, with his second album In A Locked Room on the Moon exclusively featuring the Brown Eye/Harry Brown Eye for all of the lead work and Friedman The Dirty Shirley for all rhythm tracks.

He uses matching Friedman cabs for most of his work.

On his last tour he was seen using a Fractal Audio AX8 Amp Modeler/Multi-FX Processor, and in recent videos, he has been spotted using a Fractal Audio AxeFX II and even a Kemper Amp Profiler.

On several occasions, Nick has stated his love of the pure sound that a guitar and an amp give him. While he occasionally employs the use of an overdrive, the previously mentioned album was done entirely with the pure amp sound.

When something calls for a little more “oomph”, Nick’s overdrive of choice is the Wampler Euphoria overdrive. During NAMM 2017, he also added a Horizon Devices Precision Drive as one of his main gain pedals.

For his clinic/masterclass work, he brings a selection of MXR pedals with him. The setup includes an MXR Dyna Comp Mini, MXR Super Badass Variac Fuzz, MXR EVH 5150 Overdrive, MXR Il Diavolo Overdrive, MXR Phase 95 Mini, MXR Carbon Copy Bright, and an MXR Six Band EQ.

In addition to these, Nick has also experimented with numerous other pedals, from MXR, Seymour Duncan, Strymon, Diamond Pedals, Empress Effects, and JRAD among others.

String and Picks

Johnston’s string of choice are D’Addarrio Nickel Wound XL 10-46, but on occasion, he has used 9’s. On a recent tour, he used the new D’Addarrio NYXL series 10’s instead of the standard XL’s. His pick of choice is the Dunlop Tortex Standard .88mm picks.

This article was written by Connor Gilkinson, our editor located in Canada.

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