Zakk Wylde used a Guitar World buyer’s guide to help him assemble his Pantera rig

Zakk Wylde
(Image credit: Carlos Santiago/ Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Last year, Pantera announced they’d be returning to the stage for an extensive tour with the help of Zakk Wylde, who would be responsible for supplying his electric guitar services in place of the late Dimebag Darrell.

Though he would be helped along the way by Dimebag’s guitar tech, Grady Champion – who revealed Wylde would be using some of the Pantera co-founder’s old gear – the Ozzy Osbourne guitarist was forced to dip into the market to buy a pedal he’d never owned before.

That pedal was a noise gate – a utility unfamiliar to Wylde, who admitted he had to obtain one for the first time in order to tame Dimebag’s penchant for high gain sounds.

Speaking in the latest issue of Guitar World, Wylde recounted how he came about finding and selecting the perfect noise gate for the job – and how it was actually one of’s buyer’s guides that pointed him in the right direction.

“When we got down to rehearsals, I used my rig and it worked out just fine,” Wylde said. “Obviously, I had to get a [DigiTech] Whammy pedal for Becoming, so I’m now the proud owner of one of those.

“And I had to get noise gates too because I don’t use them,” he went on. “I just Googled ‘best noise gates’ and the Dunlop one came up so I bought a couple.”

The “Dunlop one” Wylde refers to is – as his guitar tech Stephen Murillo and Champion both confirm later on in the issue – the Dunlop MXR Smart Gate.

A quick search for that same term on Google and you will see that Guitar World’s very own best noise gates guide occupies top spot. The number one pick from our specialist team? None other than the MXR Smart Gate – the same pedal that helped Wylde channel Dimebag on Pantera’s tour.

The Smart Gate wasn’t just a quick fix for the guitarist, though. In a testament to the Guitar World Deals team’s expert advice, the Wylde Audio warrior then went on to wax lyrical about the selection, and said he “wouldn’t be able to get through the Pantera show” without it.

“Those pedals are amazing,” Wylde gushed. “I can stand right in front of my rig with it screaming pure lightning and it doesn’t feed back when I’m playing stuff like 5 Minutes Alone, Walk or the verse riff in Cowboys. There’s nothing, just silence.”

MXR Smart Gate

(Image credit: MXR)

In his interview with Guitar World, Wylde stressed the importance of his new noise gate in harnessing the “Dimebag soup."

“Those gates definitely do their job, and that ‘silence’ is such a huge part of the Dimebag soup,” he observed. “I mean, with Dime there was never enough distortion. He just wanted his tone as massively distorted as possible without having to turn down – that was a big part of Dime’s sound.

“Thank the good Lord and John Paul II for those noise gates, though. Without those bad boys I wouldn’t be able to get through the Pantera show; I’d be tap dancing on my pedalboard like I was in Riverdance, switching my OD pedal on and off all the time.”

As far as seals of approval go, they don’t get much better than Zakk Wylde, but we won’t pretend to be too surprised – our full list of buyer’s guides is filled with stellar gear picks, from electric guitars and acoustic guitars all the way to pedalboards, overdrive pedals and many, many more.

Head over to Magazines Direct to pick up the latest issue of Guitar World, which features the full conversation with Wylde.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.

With contributions from