Watch Billie Joe Armstrong talk about how he found his Dookie tone

(Image credit: YouTube: Jim Dunlop USA)

To coincide with the release of Billie Joe Armstrong's signature MXR overdrive pedal, Jim Dunlop USA has shot a video with the Green Day frontman in which he explains how he got his gnarly guitar tone on the pop-punk trio’s seminal 1994 album, Dookie.

Armstrong’s signature MXR Green Day Dookie Drive was announced at NAMM 2019 and packages all his fiery and bright mid-‘90s punk tones in one regular-sized enclosure, emblazoned with Richie Bucher’s then-controversial and always instantly recognisable album art.

In the video, Armstrong explains that he was always chasing “the ultimate rock sound” with a guitar tone inspired by the likes of the Ramones, Sex Pistols and and Bob Mould’s Hüsker Dü era. Once he found the rhythm tone for Dookie, though, he found he needed to crank it harder for the choruses.

“We turned up and you can really hear it on a song like She, where the verse goes and then right when it kicks into the chorus, that big heavy guitar with more distortion comes right out the middle,” he says. “It was just trying to go from loud to louder.”

Dookie saw Green Day decamp to Berkeley's Fantasy Studios in the company of super-producer Rob Cavallo. 

Hitherto, Armstrong had been using a much-abused Gallien-Krueger 250RL stereo amp head, but they now found themselves able to experiment with gear for the first time, and Armstrong soon settled on two modded 100-watt Marshall Super Lead heads. Armstrong recorded one with mids and the other scooped out and blended them for the final mix.

The MXR Green Day Dookie Drive used those original heads as a reference for the pedal's circuit, and lets you easily access all those classic tones, with a blend control that Armstrong says will help you find the more intense tones that typified Dookie's successor, Insomniac.

The pedal marks the 25th anniversary of Dookie's release and is strictly limited edition, with only 200 units available in the UK, priced £219. 

See Jim Dunlop for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.

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