Fans of Asking Alexandria know the many songs and styles of guitarist Ben Bruce all too well. His guitar playing comes through his music in a slew of riffs and fast rhythm sections with aggressive playing and tone, which has instantly placed his band at the forefront of modern hard rock.
Ben has been playing with Asking Alexandria since 2006 as a founding member of the group. I was lucky enough to start working with them for their debut album, Stand Up And Scream, which was released on Sumerian Records in 2009. That album and the single “Final Episode (Let’s Change The Channel)” were staples of the metalcore genre in the late 2000’s.
Those early recordings were really just the start of what would become one of the most influential and innovative bands of the past decade.
Not surprisingly, Ben and the rest of the members of Asking Alexandria pull inspiration from a wide variety of genres, but one of the most apparent influences on their music comes from 80’s metal and rock. Bands like Guns N’ Roses and Metallica were who inspired Ben to start playing guitar and it’s not hard to hear how their style has left its mark on his own playing.
As a group who is always willing to give credit where credit is due – Asking Alexandria has released two EPs containing covers of some of their biggest influences ranging from Skid Row and Def Leppard to Whitesnake and Motley Crue.
The culmination of these inspirations came to a head with the 2013 album, From Death to Destiny. With this album, Asking Alexandria broke out of the metalcore mold they had started with and proved that mainstream hard rock still had a place on the charts. It released at #5 on the US Billboard 200 and went right to #1 on the UK Rock & Metal chart.
Straightforward Approach to Tone
When it comes to Ben Bruce’s rig, you won’t find any frivolous pedals. Everything is intentional and has a role to play in crafting his sound. It’s one of the most straightforward setups I’ve ever seen and he gets MASSIVE sounding guitars with it.
As you’ll notice in Toneforge Ben Bruce, as well as on his signature guitars, Ben’s style makes heavy use of the British flag to represent where he’s from. It’s no surprise that the bands that inspired him over the years also pushed him toward high-gain/high-watt amplifiers. When developing his signature Toneforge model, we knew we needed to maintain that same simplicity while providing enough options to make everything from classic blues tones to modern rock accessible.
Ben’s guitar tone is larger than life. It doesn’t take a lot to make it happen – just a great player with a great amp and a few pedals to get him the sound he’s after.
Ben Bruce’s Songwriting
Musically and lyrically, it’s clear that Ben’s style has grown and continues to evolve. His lyrics have always been largely personal and his passion for music is on display with each song he writes. This emotional connection he has to his lyrics makes them all the more relatable to fans. Themes of struggle and redemption are recurring themes that we can all understand.
Ben’s writing shows that honesty and vulnerability are essential no matter how many people you’re performing to. While production can go a long way to make a song sound good sonically, music needs to have an emotional connection at its core. Asking Alexandria makes that connection with every fan each time they take the stage or release new music.
Getting The Tones You Want To Hear
Ben’s ability to translate the guitar tones in his head to what makes it into the album is an essential skill for modern guitarists. It takes attention to detail, critical listening, and above all else – trusting your ability to get a great sound.
If you’re interested in learning the skills guitarists like Ben have to develop to learn tone shaping, check out our Toneforge Bootcamp course. The course is available to anyone looking to improve their ability to match tones and create their own unique sounds.