Zakk Wylde’s Guitars and Gear
Zakk Wylde is best known as the former guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, founder of the heavy metal band Black Label Society, and as a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and occasional actor. He was also the lead guitarist and vocalist in Pride & Glory, who released one self-titled album in 1994 before disbanding. As a solo artist he released one album called Book of Shadows in 1996.
As for the guitars, Zakk is mostly known for his Les Paul Customs with the bullseye finish. He mostly prefers playing on a shaved maple neck with ebony fretboard, using Dunlop 6000 wire. Almost all of this guitar are loaded with EMG 81/85 humbuckers, and feature some kind of a custom paintjob. Zakk even designed a couple of guitars himself, including the Gibson/Epiphone ZV and Graveyard Disciple model. More recently he started his own company called Wylde Audio, and plans on making and eventually using those instruments himself.
Zakk Wylde’s Electric Guitars:
1980s Gibson SG Firebrand Deluxe
This is the first Gibson guitar that Zakk ever bought, and the one he used for practicing and learning when he was around 15 years old. The guitar was finished in pelham blue, and featured smaller black pickguard, and most likely a pair of Velvet Brick humbuckers (Bill Lawrence designed).
Zakk ended up selling the guitar couple of years later, because he wanted to buy a Les Paul Custom.
1981 Gibson Les Paul Custom “The Grail”
Zakk bought this guitar upon joining Ozzy Osbourne band in 1987. He traded this guitar with Scott Quinn, who in exchange got a double neck Gibson SG.
When Zakk received the guitar, it was equipped with standard humbuckers, but Zakk very soon replaces them with EMG 81/85 set – after hearing them on one of his student’s guitar. Originally the guitar was finished in blonde/cream color (still visible on the sides and the back of the body). but Zakk felt this was Randy Rhoads’ signature thing, and he wanted something different – so he decided to send the guitar to a guitar luthier for a paintjob. The initial idea was to paint the Hitchcock Vertigo design on it, but the guitar came back with the bull’s-eye decals. Zakk ended up liking it, and he decided to just stuck with it.
Zakk lost his 81′ Les Paul at one point in the 90s, as it supposedly fell of a truck that was transporting band’s equipment. The guitar randomly appeared at a local pawnshop in Texas couple of years later, and guy named Jerry Weisinger ended up buying it for $250 – initially thinking it was a retail Gibson Zakk Wylde Les Paul Custom. He read somewhere that Zakk lost his original 81′ Custom, so he took out the pickups out of the guitar he just purchased, and saw “Z.W.” underneath them. After comparing the serial number against the “The Grail”s which was available on Zakk website, it became clear that he owns Zakk’s original guitar. Luckily for Zakk, he was contacted by Jerry and he received his guitar back.
As for specs, as already mentioned the guitar was equipped with EMG pickups, and it has a shaved maple neck with ebony fretboard.
1980s Gibson Les Paul Standard “Shattered Glass”
This is one of the guitars Zakk had prior to joining Ozzy Osbourne. It is supposedly the very same guitar he took with him on the audition for the spot in the band. It was originally finished in tobacco sunburst, but Zakk wanted something original so he had it custom-painted by a guitar luthier to feature shattered glass design.
The guitar is mostly known for it’s appearance on the early photo sessions of the Ozzy Osbourne band in 1987, done by Mark Weiss.
This guitar went through countless modifications. At one point it had pictures of all of Zakk’s musical heroes and bands glued to the body, and some time later it was completely stripped down to bare wood. Nowadays the guitar is known as the “Pope Page Dragon” – featuring finish identical to one on Jimmy Page’s original Telecaster.
1989 Gibson Les Paul Custom “The Rebel”
This guitar originally started as a black Les Paul Custom, but inspired by Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Zakk decided to decorate the body with the Rebel flag design. Some time later, sitting in his house drinking beer, Zakk came to the idea to nail bottle caps on the body – which eventually became it’s most known characteristic. It is important to note that this didn’t happen until the guitar was burned (explained below), and that Zakk number of bottle caps on the body increased over time.
Ozzy Osbourne himself was not a fan of southern rock, so one day as he was poking Zakk about his musical preferences, Zakk realized that his guitar was nowhere to be seen. He went outside and saw one of the guys with the guitar wrapped in some paper, trying to set it on fire. Seconds later, the huge flame caught the guitar as Zakk was trying to put the fire out. Luckily for him, the fire mostly caught just the paper, and the guitar itself wasn’t damaged too much.
The guitar was damaged once again in an accident caused by Zakk’s little daughter, who bumped into one of Zakk guitars as they were standing next to each other, causing them to fall like dominos. The Rebel ended up with a broken headstock, but it was quickly repaired by Gibson luthiers.
1957 Gibson Les Paul Junior
Zakk received this guitar from Ozzy in the early 80s, as a present for his birthday (most likely his 21st). It’s his main go-to guitar for clean stuff in the studio, but he never uses it live.
Zakk’s Les Paul Junior was made in 1957, and it features a single-cutout body shape with sunburst finish, and a single P-90 pickups in the bridge position.
1980s Gibson Les Paul Standard “Red Bullseye”
Zakk started using this guitar as early as 1989/1990. By the looks of the guitar on the cover of the June 1990 issue of Guitar World magazine, it is a Les Paul Standard with natural finish, featuring red bulls-eye design painted over the original finish, and of course two EMG pickups.
Since then, the guitar was modified to look more like a Custom – mainly by changing the white pickup rings with black ones, and replacing the control knobs.
This guitar was custom made by guitar luther Andy Beech, who at the time worked as his guitar tech (same person made that weird shaped guitar that Zakk used in the ‘Rock Star’ movie). It features flame maple top on one piece mahogany chambered body, mahogany neck with ebony fretboard, and EMG 85/81 humbucker set. Supposedly, the cutout was added by Zakk himself, since the original design didn’t allow him to reach the higher frets.
Zakk played this guitar during the 1992 “Live and Loud” tour.
Gibson Les Paul Custom “Mirror”
This guitar started appearing towards the late 90s. The guitar is obviously a black Les Paul Custom wrapped in some mylar film to make the mirror effect on the circles, with two EMG humbuckers instead of the stock pickups.
1978 Gibson Les Paul Custom “Camo”
Another in the line of Custom Les Pauls with the bullseye design – this one with camo pattern. The guitar is a rather rare model with maple neck and white inlays.
Later on, both Gibson and Epiphone produced a ZW signature model based on this guitar.
Gibson Les Paul Custom Pelham Blue
This is one of Zakk’s more recent guitars. It was custom built for him, and features pelham blue finish – identical to one on his first SG guitar – and of course styling the bullseye design.
In reality, there are two identical Les Paul pelham blue guitars – one of which was stolen in 2014 but luckily recovered just a couple of days later.
Gibson Les Paul Custom “Buzzsaw”
Again one of the more recent guitars. This one features a slightly different design when compared to the usual bullseye. Beside that, the guitar shares the specs with the other guitars – maple neck with ebony fretboard and two EMG pickups.
Zakk mostly plays the orange/black Gibson models, although there are couple of different color combos available, as well as a cheaper Epiphone version which Zakk endorsed a while ago.
Gibson Flying V
|This is just basically a black Gibson Flying V with bullseye design, loaded with two EMG pickups and Floyd Rose tremolo. His first Flying V was probably a vintage guitar, but nowadays he mostly uses the signature model from Gibson.|
Zakk has at least two of these, one white with the stock pickups, and other originally blank now with a mirror front plate and EMG pickups.
More recently, he also acquired a black and white bullseye EDF-1275.
This guitar was introduced in the mid 2000s as the first Zakk Wylde designed guitar. The top portion of the body was inspired by the Gibson SG model, while the bottom is shaped like a Flying V. The body was made of mahogany, while the neck is maple with rosewood fretboard. The rest of the specs are identical to Zakk’s Les Paul Customs.
Gibson produced only a limited number of this guitar, while Epiphone still makes and sells a somewhat cheaper version of the ZV.
Epiphone Graveyard Disciple
|Zakk designed this guitar with the help of Epiphone. It was inspired by some older models, like the Bo Diddley Gretsch. The body was designed to look like a coffin, and it’s made of one-piece mahogany, with the neck being maple with ebony fretboard. The guitar is also equipped with two EMG pickups, and the Floyd Rose tremolo system.|
Karl Sandoval V
This is one of Zakk’s favorite on-stage guitars. It is fitted with EMG instead of the stock DiMarzio pickups, and it has a polka dot paint-job. He mostly plays it as a homage to late Randy Roads, Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist who used to play the same model.
Zakk has few of these, perhaps the best known one has black paint-job with white dots, which he used in the music video for “Suicide Messiah”.
|Guitar given to him by Dimebag Darrel, shortly before his death. Zakk only used it once on stage to play “In This River,” to pay a personal tribute to Dimebag.|
Zakk Wylde’s Acoustic Guitars:
Gibson Chet Atkins SST
Used in the early days with Ozzy, most notably on “Mama I’m Coming Home”.
Based on some of photos on Zakk’s social pages, he still has the guitar, and takes very special care of it.
|Only instance of Zakk playing this guitar is a video recorded in 1994, during Pride & Glory UK tour (Zakk Wylde Lovin Woman – acoustic).|
Alvarez 12 string
|Seen mostly around the time Zakk worked on his solo album in 1996, which was mostly acoustic. It is safe to believe that he used the guitar on some of the songs on the album, like “As Dead as Yesterday” and “Way Beyond Empty”.|
Loucin Guitars Zakk Wylde “Fiddle of Doom”
|This is one of the more recent acoustic guitars. It was custom-built for him the feature a natural bullseye and buzzsaw designs, and a EMG AT125U Piezo pickup.|
Zakk Wylde’s Guitar Amps:
- Marshall JCM 800 4210 Combo Amp
Used on the first Ozzy Osbourne album.
- Metaltronix M1000
Although some articles that we’ve read during our research indicate otherwise, Zakk said that he never used this amp in the studio (source). He supposedly only used the Metaltronix preamps on the tour that followed the release of the first album (1988/89).
- Marshall JCM 800 2293
Nowadays Zakk pretty much uses only Marshall amps. Gibson even made hi his own signature model which is basically pumped up version JCM800 2203 with 6550 tubes, connected to the cabinets stacked up with 200W EV speakers.
- Wylde Audio Amp
In 2015 Zakk announced that his working on his own brand of audio equipment, including a brand new amp.
Zakk Wylde’s Effects:
- Boss CE-1 Chorus
- Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive
- Dunlop Rotovibe Expression Pedal
- Dunlop JH1D Jimi Hendrix Wah
Stage pedalboard (nowadays):
- MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay
- MXR ZW-44 Zakk Wylde Overdrive (old version; check the new one here)
- MXR Eddie Van Halen Phase 90 Pedal
- Dunlop Rotovibe Expression Pedal
- Dunlop ZW-45 Zakk Wylde Signature Wah
- Dunlop DC Brick Power Supply
- Jim Dunlop ZW38 MXR Black Label Chorus
- MXR Eddie Van Halen Phase 90 Pedal
- Jim Dunlop EVH117 MXR Evh Flanger (Used on Crazy Horse.)
Zakk Wylde’s Guitar Strings:
Zakk is using signature Jim Dunlop strings. .011 to .070 on down-tuned guitars and .010 to .060 on standard tuned guitars.
Zakk Wylde’s Guitar Picks:
Dunlop Tortex Pitch Black 1.14Mm picks