PART II in English - About Zakk's gear and touring in general
How does it feel to be on tour?
“You are always
gonna have crazy shit going on you know, for us it is just another day
in our lives. The main problem when we fly overseas is that not all
these venues have enough power for our amps, which often makes
transformers blow. Well, this just gives us a break to go and drink some
more beer you know. “
What guitars do you use on stage on this tour?
usually play a poke dot V, a poke dot Randy and two of my Les Pauls
that I usually play. I have all these in case I get a broken string or
something. My guitars do not go out of tune easily. I didn’t have that
problem earlier with Ozzy either , I could use the same guitar all
What about the tuning?
is tuned one step down, that way it is easier for my vocals. Sometimes
we might tune the lower E to a B or D, but otherwise it is just standard
The wall of Marshalls you have up on your stage is pretty impressive...
have eight Marshall amps with me, which of four are on stage. My sound
goes through two, the other two are just for reserve. The other four are
just for backup. Yeah, it looks good, and people will think that I use
all of them. But everybody would be deaf by the time we used all of
What is the most helpful gadget while on tour?
“Beer. It gets you through the excitement.”
What amps & cabs are you currently using?
JCM-800 or 2203. I just put 6550 tubes in mine. Otherwise the amps are
the same ones I had as a kid. About cabs, I use 1960 Marshalls. I just
put two hundred watt EV-speakers on them, it gives you much more
headroom. And it doesn’t break up as easily as a celestial 25 – those
have a good sound too, but they break up more easily. I just love the
tone of the Marshalls. If you haven’t got it figured out yet, there is a
reason why all the great guitar players use them! There are many great
amp companies out there, but for me it is just the Marshall and LesPaul
Do you use any separate amp for your clean sound?
don’t use any separate amps for my clean sound, I just turn the the
distortion power and the volume down a bit. I got my pedals, like Jim
Dunlop chorus, Wylde Overdrive, Eddie Van Halen Phase-90, Jim Dunlop
rotovibe, and my own Wah-wah pedal I can use with clean sounds.”
Ok, there was a rumour that you don’t even use your own pedals on stage.
“I definitely use my own pedals.”
Why did you choose Gibson as the guitar you mainly use?
Page and Rhandy Rhoads played one, that was the reason. I have my Roads
V’s, and I got a Rhoads Jackson that was made by the same guy that did
Randy’s. I have a telecaster at home, I got a Stratocaster, Dan Electro
at my home. So I got all kinds of guitars, but live it is always mainly
You also have three signature Gibsons. Two of them are similar except for the paint job, but the camo-model is a bit different.
camo’s got a maple neck and a maple fret on it. It is gonna give it
more high end. Otherwise they all sound the same. Those are the ones I
play myself, I don’t have any special models like people sometimes
There are also these cheap Epiphone versions of your signature guitars. I heard you didn’t let them make such a copy at first.
is a lower end model for anyone who cannot afford the high end model,
it is nice for kids to jam with. I said that if it is a piece of shit,
you aren’t putting my name on it. But they did it alright. It has like a
classic neck, so it is thinner. Lighter to play for kids.”
What qualities make a good guitar?
“A guitar in
general has to resonate really well. That is always a sign of a good
guitar. I normally test a guitar by playing the g-string, if it sounds
good acoustically it is gonna kick ass electrically.”
You haven’t played that much with guitars that have a tremolo bar.
“I am using a tremolo bar now and it is cool. You can never duplicate the sound of a whammy bar.”
What about your pedals, can you tell something about those and the reason why you use those?
“I have two distortion pedals for two reasons. I have an old Ibanez Tubescreamer Soundtank-series pedal TS5 and and a MXR one. The
distortion pedal that MXR made me, it gives you more sustain, it
doesn’t change the sound of the amp, so can you use it with any amp. The Tubescreamer one I use simply to improve the warmth and width of the distortion. This old motherfucker is made of plastic and can break easily, but it has by far the best sound of any of the Tubescreamers. For
the chorus the reason is obvious. For the rotovibe I like to get that
Jim Hendrix sound. For the phase-90 it is a cool sound for some solos,
and the crybaby wah-wah I use to punch out the high end, like as a
treble boost, not as a classic wah-wah.”
I saw on the guitar lesson on your live DVD, that you always use the crybaby when you hit the high artificial harmonics.
then when I don’t want to use it, I go for the neck pickup and turn it
off, and when I hit the high notes, I press it down again. For me the A,
on the 2nd fret on the G-string, is the coolest note there is. When you
hit the wah and pick it, it sounds extreme. A lot of gain is necessary
to make it sound like that. If you hit some stuff on the lower strings,
we usually double it in the studio. That is what gives it that extreme
sound. Live it sounds more powerful because of the high volume and I of
course have Nick playing with me.”
Do you have a lot of pedals at home?
“I have a box full of pedals at home, but most of the time I just stick to the basic stuff.”
You probably record everything through a microphone at the studio?
and I use the same stuff in the studio as live, that way we can produce
the same sound live. Some bands use tapes and computer shit but not
Do you use any solid state amps?
“I got some Marshall valve amps, which I use to practice. Those have a great sound too.”
What about line6? Don’t you think the sound is a bit artificial?
“That line6 stuff is great if you play in a small bar band,
because then you can get whatever sound you want with a low volume. But I
won’t use them.”
What kind of acoustic guitars do you use?
got a Chad Atkins classical and I got a ac-20 jazz chorus, which pretty
much rounds up my sound. I actually have got an acoustic deal with
Alvarez. For the classical stuff on the Hangover Music -album, I used an
Yamaha nylon string, which I have had since I was fourteen.”
Why did you stop playing classical music?
Randy Rhoads came out, my classical stuff stopped there. Classical
stuff is the hardest stuff to play, so I wanted to try it out. I still
finger pick, but it is more this country stuff.”
You told me earlier, that you don’t compose any songs at home?
is done in the studio, that is the only way for me. At home I just
practice scales and go through techniques. But usually I am so worn out
from gigs that the last thing I wanna hear is music. I still practice my
chops and stuff. I can write some riffs here and there, but when we get
to the studio and start jamming, I don’t want to play that old stuff
anymore, I’ll just write a bunch of new shit. It happens every time.
Once you get to the studio, you feel so inspired that you can just start
playing. Riffs come out all over the place. I usually start out by
jamming with my bass connected to a distortion pedal and my Marshall,
and the sound is fat as hell. And when you only have 4 strings, you are
forced to write riffs. I am not gonna sit there playing chords, you
know. With Ozzy I normally end up composing at the rehearsal room. That
is always Ozzy’s call to invite me to write music.”
What strings do you use?
“I have always used
GHS-string, since I started with Ozzy. They have these TNT-strings,
thick on top, thin on the bottom, like 52-10. I am using a 60-10, or a
62 to 11 now. If you dune down to B, you gotta have the 70-11 set, so
the lowest string won’t start flapping around. You can get a way with it
with a six string guitar.”
You also lately got a signature motorcycle. Do you still lack something?
just gotta get a signature beer. That is gonna save me a hell of a lot
of money, I’ll tell you that. The reason why I gotta tour, is to pay for
the goddamn beer bill!”
What kind of music will you do in the future?
“I definitely will return to the Hangover Music type of stuff. I
am 38 now, I cannot see myself doing the heavy stuff when I’m sixty you
Do you use any reverb on your Marshall? What kind of settings do you use on your Marshall?
don’t have any reverb, as the mixer can put as much out as he wants.
The pre-amp is all the way on ten, the master is anyway from 3 to 6
depending on what the hall is like, the bass I have all the way up,
treble is all the way up, middle is a bit past halfway, presence is six
or seven. I basically have no secrets like Dime for example had. Dime
would scoop out all the mids, which gave him this huge treble/bass
sound. We’ve got more mids on our sound than he has.”
What type of picks do you use?
“Jim Dunlop picks, heavy or extra heavy. When you pick real fast, you cannot do it with a thin pick.”
When you practise techniques, what kind of drills do you do?
go over scales, diatonic, pentatonic, diminished scales, a lot of
picking exercises, I don’t get bored with those ever. I might sit there
and watch the tv, and I set up a metronome.”
Do you learn any stuff by ear?
“If I hear something I really dig, I learn it by ear. There is always something new to learn, you can never know everything.”
It is cool that you made that DVD where you teach some techniques.
schedule is so full booked, that I rarely get a day off, and when I do,
I don’t want to spend it teaching someone how to play the guitar.
That’s why you make DVD’s.”
Do you have any concluding tips you would like to give to our readers?
listen to great players, that is what keeps you interested when you can
play your favourite stuff. I used to play Sabbath and that kept me
interested, but playing through scales doesn’t hurt either. Hang out
with guys that can do it better than you, so they can show you how to do
stuff. For me the guitar lessons helped tremendously. You take lessons
to get on your feet and continue from there.”