Daron Malakian is the lead guitarist in the Armenian-American metal band System of a Down. Malakian has written most of the band's music, and, more recently, has taken on a large share of the vocal work for the band as well. He placed 30th in Guitar World's List of "The 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists Of All Time." Daron also is the lead vocalist, lead guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter of Scars on Broadway.
Our research uncovered that Malakian's guitar rig has consisted of a variety of different guitar gear, especially amplifiers over the years. Daron Malakian however doesn't appear to be a big pedal users - he just uses a few powerful guitar effects that do the trick for his sound.
In this article we will try to answer what guitars, amps, cabinets, strings, picks, and effects are in Daron Malakian's guitar rig. Now, let's take a look at what gear and equipment has been seen in Daron Malakian's Guitar Rig.
Click the gear images for info & specs at Guitar Center and Amazon
Daron Malakian's Strings and Guitar Picks
- Ernie Ball Skinny Top Heavy Bottom .10-.52 gauge strings (on the Ernie Ball site as endorsers)
- Ernie Ball 2223 Super Slinky guitar strings (used prior)
- Ernie Ball .12-.60 Baritone strings
- Jim Dunlop Delrin Triangle .43mm & .96mm picks. In 2008 an article stated he began using the dunlop Tortex triangles instead of previous fender Triangles.
Daron Malakian's Guitars
-Ibanez Iceman guitars:
- Custom Ibanez IC 300's and IC 200 guitars
- Ibanez ICX 120's
- Ibanez DMM-1 Daron Malakian Signature Model
- Gibson SG Standard (red)
- Jackson Randy Rhoads RR5
- Gibson Les Paul Standard (black)
- Fender Standard Stratocaster (black)
- 1962 Gibson SG (Mezmerize/Hypnotize)
- early Eighties Gibson Korina Flying Vs (Mezmerize/Hypnotize) (regular V pic below)
- 1964 Gibson SG Special (with P90 pickups)
- Fender Jazzmaster (Greek like sounds on Mezmerize/Hypnotize)
- double-neck Gibson SG
Daron Malakian's Amps and Cabinets
- Marshall 100-watt Plexi Tube Guitar Amp Heads
- Marshall MODE FOUR amplifiers
- Mesa Boogie Dual and Triple Rectifier amps
- Variety of Marshall cabinets (including MF 400)
- Mesa Boogie Cabinets
- 100-watt Marshall JMP100 amp (Mezmerize/Hypnotize)
- Divided by 13 model FTR-37 amp (Greek like sounds on Mezmerize/Hypnotize)
- Soldano Amplification
Daron has also been known to use a variety of other guitar amps throughout his career including guitar amps from Orange, Matchless, Vox, Ibanez, and Carvin.
Ernie Ball Interview
In late 2018, Ernie Ball released a String Theory episode featuring Daron Malakian. The String Theory interviews are great and give a mix of background info along with guitar gear discussion. This video shows Daron playing one of his custom Ibanez Iceman guitars (red snakeskin pattern with gold hardware) through two Marshall tube amp heads (appear to be 1959 Super Lead 100 watt heads) and two angled Marshall checkered 4x12 guitar cabs – hard to tell what model, the logo looks gold colored so possibly the Marshall 1960AHW cabinet. On the floor, you’ll observe his Ground Control pedal board, and effects pedals. On top of the Marshall amps there’s a rack filled with guitar equipment.
Daron talks about playing guitar and how he uses the guitar as a tool to write and structure songs. He goes on to discuss his interest and background in playing music and guitar and how it defines him. Daron says that he originally wanted to play drums when he was a kid, but ended up getting an Arbor guitar and a Gorilla combo amp when he was 12 years old instead. Daron’s discusses his musical influences which included a variety of metal bands such as Black Sabbath, but he then branched out to other bands like Grateful Dead.
Daron reveals that he’s always used Ernie Ball electric guitar strings. It looks like he’s using the Ernie Ball 2215 Skiny Top Heavy Bottom electric guitar strings, gauges 10,13,17,30,42,52. Those strings are sitting on what appears to be a stack of other guitar strings, one looks to be a purple package – likely the 2223 Super Slinky guitar strings that he used to play prior. There’s another shot around 8:22 in the video, where you can observe white custom printed Dunlop triangle picks next to his guitar strings. When he’s playing the guitar in the video it looks like he’s using a green one, which is probably a stock, non-custom Dunlop Tortex 0.88mm triangle pick.
There’s a good shot of Malakian’s effects pedals on his pedal board. On the board there’s a Ground Control Pro, Strymon DIG dual digital delay effects pedal, Boss DD-6 Digital delay pedal, and an MXR Phase 90 pedal.
Daron gives a ton more info about his guitar playing and songwriter.
Daron Malakian's Effects and other Guitar Gear
- BOSS MT-2 Metal Zone (see comments - our readers think it was more likely an HM-2)
- Schaller Security Locks
- FullTone Clyde Wah Pedal
- Line 6 DL-4 Delay Modeler Looper pedal
- MXR Phase 90
- Vox wah and 2 white Boss pedals (seen in picture on System of a Down's official website)
- Boss PC-2 Percussion Synthesizer
- Voodoo Lab Pedal Power
- MSD Silvermachine Wah
- Boss DD-3 Digital Delay and DD-6 delay effects pedals
- Boss DD-20 GigaDelay
- Line 6 MM4 Modulation Modeler
- SIB Electronics Mr. Delay
- Boss Chromatic Tuner guitar pedal
- EHX Deluxe Memory Man
Great picture that Daron posted on his Instagram of him and one of his custom Iceman guitars: