Are you ready to get Wylde!? We certainly are. And that’s why we headed to the Starland ballroom in New Jersey to meet with the one and only Zakk Wylde and bassist extraordinaire John “JD” DeServio before a show.

AMS’s Russ and Ryan were lucky enough to have a chat with the Black Label Society, Ozzy Osborne, Zakk Sabbath, Generation Axe, Pantera — oh, there are too many to count! — guitarist about his latest tour, where he comes up with his amazing Wylde Audio guitar designs, and of course, anything and everything gear. This is one Wylde interview!

The origins of Zakk Sabbath

Zakk Sabbath (opens in new tab). It’s so obvious! And such a good idea. Why did it take so long for Zakk Wylde to start his Black Sabbath cover band? Well, it just kinda happened.

Wylde collaborates with a lot of other musicians. And with so many competing tour schedules, there’s not always a lot of time for rehearsals. To speed things up, setlists were formed based around songs all the players knew. And since Zakk typically collaborates with metal players, they all knew Black Sabbath songs.

According to Wylde, “Black Sabbath songs are just like Mozart or Beethoven to a classical player.” It’s the common ground that all the metal musicians know, so that’s what they played.

It got to the point that Zakk’s manager would sometimes ask if they were going to play the “Zakk Sabbath” setlist at shows. And eventually, the name just stuck. It was a joke that turned into the real deal!

Of course, there are some keen business moves in the name, too. Following their final tour, Black Sabbath signed an agreement that they can no longer tour using the name Black Sabbath, for promotional reasons. However, now that Zakk Wylde has Zakk Sabbath, he can bring in all the original artists and just call it Zakk Sabbath featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, or any other guest he wants. And boom; Black Sabbath is back under a similar name with original members and playing the same songs without any legal issues.

And you thought Zakk Wylde was just a guitar player… Pretty slick!

What kind of gear do JD and Zakk Wylde use?

At AMS, we’re a bunch of gear nerds. And we can’t help but ask every musician we come across what kind of gear they like to use. Since Zakk Wylde has his own gear company, Wylde Audio, the answer was pretty obvious…

When it comes to guitars, Zakk Wylde loves the good ol’ Wylde Audio Barbarian. It has those sweet, sweet 81/85 EMG pickups, a wicked shape, and Wylde’s iconic bullseye finish. What’s not to love!? He also likes to throw in a Warhammer for Pantera shows.

The best part about Wylde Audio guitars is that they all come perfectly set up and ready to play. When people ask Zakk for one of his personal guitars, he has no problem handing them out. His personal guitars are the exact same ones you can buy at your favorite music retailer — like AMS! Just plug them into a Marshall head (or two), crank it up, and let it rip.

Look down, and you’ll find Zakk’s pedalboard that’s packed with Dunlop and Wylde Audio effects. His pedalboard — and really his rig in general — hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s simple, and it sounds good. Why change it!?

On the low-end, JD keeps it simple, straightforward, and powerful. Take a Schecter Bass, plug it into a Hartke amp, and you’re ready to rock!

For pedals, JD likes to use a stereo setup with one wet side and one clean side. The wet side gets a little fuzz and wah to give him that lovely distorted metal sound. However, he feels like the distortion removes some of that bassy fatness, which is why he likes to keep one clean channel to “keep the tone fat.”

When he’s playing Zakk Sabbath shows, JD likes to use flatwound strings to sound a bit more like Geezer (that’s what he used).

Both Zakk and JD like to keep their rigs simple. Once they find what they like, they stick with it. Why mess with perfection!?

Two new crazy Wylde Audio guitars

Every guitarist has thought about what kind of guitar shapes they’d want to make. And Zakk Wylde is no different. His musical equipment manufacturing company Wylde Audio is all about pushing the boundaries of shape, style, and tone to make some of the baddest axes you can find.

How does he come up with these crazy shapes? Well, he likes to find inspiration in “fugly” guitars. He keeps an eye on the internet for some of the wackiest, wildest, and weirdest guitars. He takes bits and pieces of the ugly guitars, mixes in aspects of some more well-known guitar shapes, and you get the Wylde Audio guitars.

Zakk says he really has a blast coming up with new guitar shapes to try out. He currently has two new guitar models in the works: the Berserker and the Gorgon. And we can’t wait to see them!

He even hinted at perhaps a few new Iron Label models…

What’s next for Zakk Wylde and crew?

Zakk Wylde and JD are currently finishing up the final leg for the Zakk Sabbath tour, but that doesn’t mean they can rest any time soon. Zakk is always super busy and has tons of gigs on the horizon.

Immediately following this tour, Zakk is going to learn some new tunes for the Pantera “sock hop” (which means tour in musician speak) coming in February 2024. In March he and Pantera are headed to Australia for “something…” And in April he’ll be doing some dates for Wylde Goose, his collaboration with JD.

And I thought I was busy writing articles all day…

A huge thanks to Zakk Wylde and JD DeServio for giving us a few minutes to talk before they brought down the house at the Starland Ballroom! You can never have a bad time hanging out with the Wylde gang.

And if you’re interested in more content like this, don’t forget to subscribe to the AMS YouTube channel (opens in new tab) for more exclusive artist content, the latest gear releases, and plenty of other shenanigans that are sure to make any musician smile.