Zakk Wylde: Psycho Circus
GW What recording equipment do you have in your studio?
WYLDE It has all of the important shit you need to make stuff sound slammin’: ass-kickin’ microphones, all of the plug-ins, great EQs. We have Pro Tools, which can make stuff sound amazing. We were going to put a two-inch tape machine in there, but we didn’t because there are only like a couple places left that even make two-inch tape. People are selling the machines for cheap because they’re going to be extinct soon. I’ve A/B’d Pro Tools and two-inch tape, and there wasn’t a huge difference. To me, using two-inch tape is like carrying around one of those huge cell phones like they had in the Eighties when, instead, you can carry an entire computer in your hand.
GW What amps do you have in the studio?
WYLDE I have a bunch of different amps: an old reissue Bluesbreaker, and Marshall gave me number 26 of the limited-edition Jaguar Bluesbreaker amps. That thing sounds slamming. A buddy of mine bought me an Orange amp, and I have a Vox and a Roland Jazz Chorus for clean stuff. But I almost always use my Marshall JCM800 with 6550 tubes in it. We’re talking about doing another Zakk Wylde Marshall head now and maybe even a Zakk Wylde JCM800 100-watt combo. Those 800s sound perfect to me. EMG pickups and my 800 amps are a slamming combination. I have tons of JCM800s. I’m always buying them used. Just go on eBay and you’ll find them. Everybody is always telling me that they can’t find my amps, and I tell them to just go on eBay and buy a used JCM800. Try to get an early Eighties 2203, if you can find one.
GW A lot of engineers in L.A. love to record guitar tracks by layering four or five amps at once. Are you doing any of that?
WYLDE I just did something with My Darkest Days, which Chad Kroeger from Nickleback is producing, and Chad showed me his studio. He uses a splitter and goes through, like, five amps at one time. He told me the Mesa/Boogie has the high end he likes and the Marshall has the mids; the Bogner has this and the Vox has that, and the Dr. Z or whatever has something else. All I do is get one killer guitar sound and double it. I like what I have now. I hate when people tell me that they use an amp and power slave it into something else. Isn’t that what an amp is supposed to already sound like when you plug it in? I test all of my amps by playing “Highway to Hell” through them to see if they have that clarity and punch. If it still sounds golden by the time it reaches the little monitors in the studio, I’m happy. That’s all I need. If one guitar sounds good, it’s going to sound that much better when you double it and thicken it up with that natural chorusing you get.
GW Epiphone recently released your signature Graveyard Disciple model. Are there any other new guitars you’ve been playing lately?
WYLDE I got a replica of Randy Rhoads’ first Jackson guitar. Randy didn’t have a Floyd Rose on that thing because they were just coming out at the time. When you listened to Randy play live, he barely touched the whammy bar when he played that guitar. My wife noticed that the guitar wouldn’t stay in tune when I did a dive bomb. It will never stay in tune, even if you put the nut butter in there. It wasn’t made to do that. If you do a dive bomb on it, you’ll start out in New Jersey and end up in Cleveland by the time the bar comes back up. My wife said, “Don’t you think Randy would have a Floyd Rose on that guitar right now?” I think he would. Then he’d be able to play “Over the Mountain” without the thing going out of tune.
GW Some of your fans seemed pretty pissed off when they saw the guitarist in Justin Bieber’s band playing your signature Gibson Les Paul “Bull’s-Eye” guitar on Saturday Night Live.
WYLDE That’s Dan Kanter. I think it’s funny. When all of Justin Bieber’s fans see me, they’re going to go, “Look at that guy in Black Label Society. He plays a Dan Kanter guitar!” [laughs] You know that’s what’s going to happen. I keep up with Dan all of the time. He contacted me and said that he loved my guitar playing. He’s a cool kid. They just played Gillette Stadium in front of 80,000 people, and then they flew over to Wembley Stadium and knocked that out. Now they’re down in the Bahamas somewhere. Dan is only 16 years old and he’s playing in front of 80,000 people. God bless him. It makes me look like an old man for playing with Ozzy when I was 19. When I was 16, I was playing “Bark at the Moon” in Bobby Bush’s living room.
Artists:, Zakk Wylde
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