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How to Capture Zakk Wylde's No Rest for the Wicked Guitar Tone

The next in a series of step-by-step guides to home recording

Jim Dalrymple

Zakk Wylde is one of the greatest guitar players of all time, but even though he’s been around for 20 years, his tone has remained fairly constant. There are however, some subtle differences as his sound has evolved. Keeping that in mind, this article is devoted to obtaining Zakk Wylde’s tone during the time when he was guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, specifically on 1988’s No Rest for the Wicked. I’m going to give you some tips on how to use your computer and digital guitar amp and effects modeling software to achieve this tone.

Not one of those guitarists who changes his gear with every album or tour, Zakk stayed true to the same setup for years. In his earlier days, Zakk used a Boss Super Overdrive, Boss Super Chorus, and a Jimi Hendrix Wah. Add to that his Marshall JCM800 amps and you’ve got a killer setup.

In his later years, Zakk switch out his Boss gear in favor of his signature Dunlop overdrive and an MXR Chorus. He also added a Dunlop Rotovibe at some point in his career as well.

The end result is a setup that punches out a fat tone worthy of some of Ozzy’s greatest songs. Not to mention what Zakk has put out with his own band, Black Label Society.

To recreate Zakk’s tone on No Rest for the Wicked, I’m using Native Instruments Guitar Rig to build my tone. It’s one of the premiere software packages on the market, allowing guitar players to create tones in many genres from blues and jazz to rock and metal. It just does it all.

At the end of this article, you’ll find my Guitar Rig preset, so if you own the application, you can just download it and get the same sound I have. If you have another application, like IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube, I’ll give you all the amp and effects settings I’m using, so you can build a preset of your own.

So, let’s get to it.

The first thing you have to get out of your mind is that you have to use the same digital gear as Zakk’s analog setup. In other words, just because Zakk uses a Marshall amp, don’t get stuck on using a Marshall in Guitar Rig. Use what works best and sounds the best for you.

I used an Ultrasonic amp with these settings: Master=10, Volume=6, Gain=10, Bass=4, Treble=7, and Presence=7. The Distortion settings are: Volume=4, Tone=2, and Distortion=5. Finally, I inserted a Chorus with Speed=1, Intensity=3, and Width=3.

That’s it. The one other thing to remember is your guitar. Like Zakk, I’m using a guitar with active pickups, which mean they push a lot more gain and feedback than passive pickups. This gives you the ability to do pinch harmonics (squeals) that Zakk has become known for.

That’s it for this week. Next time we are going to tackle 1991’s No More Tears.

Zakk Wylde Guitar Rig Preset

Click here to download the Guitar Rig preset.

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