The Instrumentation of Linkin Park (Please Excuse the Mess, In-Progress)

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Hybrid Theory:

  • Papercut: The melodic intro to Papercut, contrary to popular belief, does not have a guitar. The only guitar is rhythm. It is actually a sample that Joe ran through a distortion pedal, and that's why it sounds like a guitar. 
  • One Step Closer: There's a lot of strings-based synth in this song, obviously a manipulated strings sample or a replication of a strings sound through a synthesizer. There's also a camera shutter sample in the chorus and verses. The scratch sample sounds very much like an extremely-effected Chester scream (or it could possibly be the same sample from What I've Done pitch-shifted, both have that "Yeow" kind of vocal hint to them).
  • With You: This song is loaded with synth and samples. Apparently a screechy/chirp sample is scratched on the album, but I find that a sample from Wth>You sounds better, so it may be a combo of both. There's a raindrop kind of effect here and there with some echo, much like in Runaway, but more techno-sounding. The synth in the chorus is the scratch sample with different pitches.
  • Points of Authority: Basically just a synth line with a phaser. There's some samples of Mike scatting here and there. The scratch sample is reused in Breaking the Habit. 
  • Crawling: The prechorus synth definitely has some incarnation of a kalimba/electronically-reproduced kalimba or a very similar instrument. Joe also scratches a strings sample in the intro. The intro synth is just reversed and effected guitar harmonics, not actual synth.
  • Runaway: There's a sample in the bridge of Runaway that if you listen closely sounds somewhat like the siren of A Place for my Head (and very well may be), shifted a little. A drum sample is scratched at the beginning of both verses.
  • By Myself Joe scratches the "myself" vocals like in the By_Myslf remix, as well as Chester's vocals when he screams "know", "go", "try", and "why", but the scratches are buried in the mix. There's an electronic drum sample that plays in the verses alongside Rob's drumming, as well as a very liquid-sounding strings sample. There's a sample that's pretty hard to describe, but it's the one that plays in the choruses, sounds almost like the sample that's scratched in The Catalyst.
  • In the End: The intro little part before the piano comes is an electronic drum pattern. There's a lot of hard-to-miss strings throughout the song if you don't pay attention, as well as a different (and heavily effected) electronic drum pattern that plays in the verses. No scratches at all in this song, it's one of only two songs on Hybrid Theory that don't have scratches.
  • A Place for my Head: There's a scratch in the verses of A Place for my Head that sounds like the same sound in the verses of Qwerty, almost like a synthesized bass pop or one of those bad synth bass voices on keyboards. Joe plays a sample of Chester singing "la-la-la-la" (albeit very slurred) and does a brake effect on it during the second prechorus (underneath Chester singing the same thing). The outro siren sound is likely scratched in the beginning and middle of the song, as that's how it is live.
  • Forgotten:The first (I believe it's first, it's the one that's repeated several times) sample from Track 9 on Tasty Gas Station Breaks is the sample that Joe scratches in the intro chorus and bridge of Forgotten. There's a vocal sample saying "Woo-hah" that plays during the pseudo-chorus (the one that opens the song) if it repeats.
  • Cure for the Itch: 
  • Pushing Me Away:
  • My December:
  • High Voltage:


  • Don't Stay: The scratch sample in Don't Stay is manipulated from a vocal sample in a song called Rock Steady by Aretha Franklin.
  • Somewhere I Belong: In addition to having a reversed guitar part, the opening sample of Somewhere I Belong seems to have one or two synth pads, sounds like a metal pad to me, and possibly a warm pad. The scratch sample is a stock "siren" sample with a few effects. The chorus has a synth playing alongside the lead guitar, but it's really hard to hear, but sounds like an effected standard MIDI sample.
  • Lying From You: The intro sounds like it has a combination of some form of an organ with a strings instrument, maybe a viola or violin. You can hear an organ-like sound that enters whenever a note repeats several times. The intro also uses the Doppler effect somewhat, with some pitch-shifting as it pans a little. The song also features a sample of a car burnout, heard in the verses. A recording of an instrumental Lying From You live soundcheck features Joe uses that sample a lot, if you want to hear it more clearly.
  •  Hit the Floor: The opening sample that fades in and out sounds like it's an effected ocarina or flute sample. The percussive sound that's heard throughout and forms the backbone of the song is an agogo or a sample of one.
  • Easier to Run: The song opens with what is likely a warm pad. There is a wind sample that plays throughout the intro, and a synth sample that plays in the chorus and second verse sounds like it's based off a cowbell. There's some electronic drums throughout the intro and verse, as well as scratching.
  • Faint: The strings throughout the song are fully synthesized (but there were plans for live strings), and it sounds like two different synth strings voices are being played. The intro and end of the bridge have electronic drums. A square-ish sort of synth plays throughout. The quick sample in the bridge sounds like an effected piano.
  • Figure.09: The intro of Figure.09 sounds like congas, but it's actually Joe's turntables run through a distortion pedal, and Joe is dropping the needle on his vinyl and picking it up quickly to get that cool percussive sound. There's a metal-banging sample that's put alongside all the snare hits in the song, along with that same percussive needle drop sound.
  • Breaking the Habit: Breaking the Habit uses the same scratch sample from Points of Authority. The drum tracks also has a "chirp" glitch that wasn't noticed until the song was mixed (apparently, but I find that to be amazing considering we know Mike was working on that song with that drum track since at least 2002). The end features the soldiers marching sample you hear at the very beginning of the High Voltage reprise version, and live strings and piano play throughout.
  • From the Inside: The opening sample playing alongside the guitar feedback sounds like charang lead with effects or another distorted sample. Th verse has a strings line that's buried pretty low down.
  • Nobody's Listening: The intro and outro sample the a cappella version of H! Vltg3 from Reanimation, pitch and tempo-shifted. The song also features a live shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute. A very electro-strings-sounding synth can be heard alongside the shakuhachi.
  • Numb: The intro synth is most likely an effected piano. A sample found on Tasty Gas Station Breaks plays during the heavy part of the intro. The sample is very similar to the siren from the end of A Place for my Head, but they are definitely not the same. The song features uneffected piano.

Minutes to Midnight:
  • Wake: Wake opens with a synth similar to a stock "Prologue" synth found on a lot of keyboards (especially Yamaha). The crackly sound at the beginning is the sound of a needle being placed on an old vinyl record.
  • Given Up: The only sample featured in Given Up is clapping with a sample of keys (this was recorded by Brad jingling his car keys)
  • Leave Out All the Rest: The intro features reversed piano alongside the synth, as well as a synthesized cello.
  • Bleed it Out: Bleed it Out is extremely stripped down, and the only samples in the song are that of a piano that play with the bass
  • Shadow of the Day: The intro drums and bass are synthesized, and there is a reversed keyboard loop that plays with this part as well. Starting at the second verse, there are live strings.
  • What I've Done: What I've Done opens with a reversed guitar chord. Piano plays throughout the entire song, only stopping for the buildup to the final chorus. The song also features a sample of Rob hitting his cymbal stands on the off-beat, coupled with the piano in most places.
  • Hand Held High: Hand Held High features strings and an organ most notably. It's a very straightforward track instrumentally.
  • No More Sorrow: This song is much like Given Up, in that it has few samples in favor of a more straight-rock vibe. The three samples in this song are a sample of broken air conditioner (which sounds like a guitar, and doubles the guitar it to make the palm-muting sound heavier and more percussive), and a small sample right before the chorus riff in the intro.
  • Valentine's Day: Joe scratches a windy-sounding sample. Mike also plays piano throughout the the song.
  • In Between: Cello, electronic drums
  • In Pieces: Marimba, weird scratch sample
  • The Little Things Give You Away: Electronic drums, strings, electronic piano

A Thousand Suns:
  • The Requiem: Resamples a ton of other songs on the album*
  • The Radiance: The electronic sound when the beat ends in The Requiem was actually on my first keyboard, a Yamaha YPT-300, titled "Xplosion". I'm assuming this means it's either a reproduction of an explosion or an electronically-effected one.
  • Burning in the Skies: Piano, heartbeat sample, 
  • Empty Spaces: This song has a a looped cricket sound, along with war sounds, accompanied by Brad Delson yelling in Spanish through a megaphone.
  • When They Come for Me: The pseudo-ending features Brad's megaphone Spanish speech again.
  • Robot Boy: Uneffected piano, and a ton of synths. The synths are extremely layered on this song.
  • Jornada del Muerto: A lot of synths, like Robot Boy.
  • Waiting for the End: The opening is likely a synth, because some of the notes sound uncharacteristically "bubbly" (for want of a better word) for a guitar. An effected piano sample plays throughout, as well as synth bass (which sounds like an E5 power chord on guitar, I can assure you it's not). Chester's "Oh" vocals are resampled during the bridge and outro.
  • Blackout: Possibly the most electronic-based (full) song on A Thousand Suns. Nothing in this song sounds like a real instrument. There's what sounds like timpani samples throughout, and a lot of layered synths, to where at one point there are (at the very least) six synths going off at once. Chester's chorus vocals are scratched/resampled during the bridge.
  • Wretches and Kings: Most guitar on this song is sampled, cut up from the original audio. There's a heavy electronic kick with a ton of bass boosting on it (the kind you hear in a lot of rap these days), a speech by Mario Savio is sampled in the intro and bridge
  • Wisdom, Justice, and Love: This song is very simple, featuring two parts of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence speech (the very first sentence "I come to this magnificent house of worship...", is taken from early in the speech, while the rest is from much later). Along with MLK's speech, there's a piano, strings, choir samples, and a sample of heavy wind. The MLK vocals are slowly distorted into a robotic voice.
  • Iridescent: 
  • Fallout: This song features one synth and nothing else
  • The Catalyst: The Catalyst is a chaotic array of synthesizers and samples, and it's absolutely amazing how much goes on throughout this nearly six-minute song. Most notably, the synth solo in the bridge was achieved by needle drops like on Figure.09, only the synth sample was allowed to play instead of quickly picking up the needle.
  • The Messenger: The Messenger is the simplest Linkin Park studio track to date, featuring only a piano and harmonium backing up the acoustic guitar and Chester's vocals.

Living Things:
  • Lost in the Echo: The opening crystalline synth is recorded from a B. Toys Meowsic Keyboard. It's a child's keyboard that Mike bought for his children, and he recorded the sample with his phone. Most of what sounds like guitar is a distorted square synth, with the actual guitar being buried further in the mix (it can be heard relatively isolated at the beginning of the final chorus). Chester screaming "Go" is scratched in the bridge.
  • In My Remains: There's a very high-pitched synth buried under the guitars throughout, as the result of bad mixing. There's both uneffected and effected electronic piano in the song.
  • Burn It Down: Most of this song is synth, and any heavy parts are provided by heavy synths rather than guitar.
  • Lies Greed Misery: Has a phaser effect on the opening synth (which is probably some organish sample)
  • I'll Be Gone
  • Castle of Glass
  • Victimized: The strange sample of a man speaking in the beginning is a phone recording by Mike, once again. This time, it's a vendor at a Linkin Park event.
  • Roads Untraveled
  • Until It Breaks:
  • Tinfoil
  • Powerless


A tutorial on the Crawling synth through Massive (note that the "synth" in the song is actually not synth)