Semi-Lost Interview: Rhoads on His Gear

October 27, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More
He still looks cool!

He still looks cool!

I’ve been a Randy Rhoads fan ever since I heard the Blizzard of Ozz album. Many people can say the same thing.

I’ve read all the guitar magazine interviews (Guitar Player only?) with Randy, and while I can’t quote from them verbatim, I know the gist of his gear details. It also seems to me that he didn’t do many interviews before his untimely passing.

So it was with great interest that I “discovered” a 4-part Randy seminar (audio only) on the all-powerful YouTube. The whole interview also is transcribed here – which is of limited use because throughout parts 2-4 of the interview, Randy plays parts of his solos, which is very cool to hear: I don’t think I’ve ever heard him playing Ozzy songs outside of Ozzy albums.

In part 2 he plays parts of “Over the Mountain” and “Revelation Mother Earth” solos, some of them slowed down! Part 3 contains parts of “Flying High Again,” “Crazy Train” (at about 2:50 he teaches the inverted chords at the end of the verses, fills at 3:50 and 4:16 – cool!) and “Diary of a Madman.” Part 4 continues with the deconstruction of “Diary” and then ends quickly.

Anyhow, in part 1 he answers all of the gear questions. And while I’m aware that some people think Randy’s tone stunk, I really dug it – and it certainly was unique. So here goes (all quotes are Randy’s):


He’s asked about his live effects. “I have a pedalboard and in it there’s Distortion Plus, a 10-band equalizer – they’re all MXR, by the way – a chorus, stereo chorus, Cry Baby wah pedal and, umm, a Roland volume pedal. I used to use them all a lot more, but now our sound man is starting to add a lot more up front, so I don’t really use them all as much as I used to. Just sometimes. I use them more for quiet rhythm parts just to enhance the sound. I don’t really use any echoes or anything for leads, ever.”

[He apparently also used, at various times, a Korg Echo, Yamaha Analog Delay and Roland Tape Echo.]

Randy's pedalboard (click to see it bigger).

Randy's pedalboard (click to see it bigger).

He’s asked if he has a pre-amp built into his guitar. “No, I have Distortion Plus on the board and, uh, I just keep that on all the time, ah, just straight Marshalls.

He’s asked if he has feedback problems. “It’s not so much a squeal, I don’t have that problem. But I have a lot of problems with…if you let go for a second, it’ll feedback. You’ve gotta play so that you’re covering your pickup and if you want to do something quiet, I have to either use the volume pedal or I have to click off the fuzz because it will squeal. I got used to playing that way, you know?”


At this point everyone knows Randy nixed the Celestions in his Marshall cabs in favor of Altec Lansing speakers: Altec Lansing 417 8-Hs, rated at 100 watts apiece. But why? Here’s what he said:

“I had to change the speakers over to Altecs because they’re a very bright, clean speaker. The Celestions are really dirty anyway, and if you start adding a fuzzbox [the D+] to them, it’ll sound terrible. I like that added treble and dirt to it.”


Asked if he used a specially-made tremolo, Randy said: “I’m using his [Grover Jackson’s – he had to explain what a Jackson was!] tremolo units and I think they’re very good. Other than a Floyd Rose, there’s no perfect tremolo.

“[Jackson] is supposed to be releasing a brand new one he invented that’s equal to a Floyd Rose but it works with ball bearings….”

Notable: Live Tone

Like all great guitarists, Randy’s live tone was important, as you can tell from this quote about his live solo spots:

“It’s basically the same [every night]. I just improvise on it. It depends actually on the sound I have onstage. If it’s a bad sound, I do a very, sort of, basic form of it. If it sounds really good, I like to carry on with it….”

Notable: EVH As An Influence

A couple of fans asked if Randy was influenced by Edward Van Halen. Randy said, “Yeah I was, actually.” He added:

“We’re from the same town and we were both in local bands. As a matter of fact, there were a lot of [good] guitar players. L.A. was like, everybody was a lead guitar player and everybody played very similar. There’s a lot more players out there that are fantastic, that just haven’t been out yet.

“But everybody used to say we all sound very much the same. I mean, if you have a circuit and you know all the guitar players, you tend to….”

Notable: The Ozzy Audition

Here’s another one that isn’t news, but these details were new to me.

Fan: Is it true that when you went to audition with Ozzy Osbourne, that you didn’t have to really play anything, you just hooked up and tuned? Because I’ve heard a lot of rumors about that.

Randy: Yeah, it was really, it was more embarrassing than this [doing the seminar], getting up in front of a group of people. I thought I was going to play with a band…I met him at a recording studio and I just brought a little tune-up amp, which is a small Fender.  If you’ve been in a recording studio, they have the glass booth up there, but I was through the tune-up amp, no effects, nothing. I mean, just straight through that mike and they were all listening. They said, ‘Okay, play.’ It’s like, You’ve got to be joking. I mean, what could I play? No musicians. So I just started warming up and [Ozzy] said, ‘Yeah, you’re good.’ You know, I only played for a couple seconds and then I got kind of mad because I thought, Well, you haven’t even heard me yet.”


> Someone on a forum posted a photo of a pick he got from Randy at that seminar, and it was a clear Fender medium .71mm pick.

> Also found this: “Max Norman [Blizzard engineer] has indicated that Randy used a ‘step-down’ transformer to run the amps at 98 volts….” Sounds like a Variac to me.

Category: Altec Lansing, Boss/Roland, Dunlop/Cry Baby, Edward Van Halen, Marshall, MXR, Randy Rhoads

Comments (2)

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  1. Kyle says:

    Wow if only we could all be lucky enough to play guitar for a few moments and play with Ozzy. Very cool to learn how he crafted his unique tone

  2. Khriss Bliss says:

    Not only is there precious little on Rhoads ‘ sound but it takes some interpretation. Max Norman has provided awesome recording details but even he gets the name of the delay that gave him the “tubey” effect mistaken. For the longest time I thought the DoaM album was recorded with the Jackson, but apparently Randy took time to get used to his axes so it’s arguable that he had gotten used to it between receiving it and recording. Not to mention his white Jackson neck seems to have limited fret access. I really wish I knew. Tonewise, I was really drawn to his sound right away. The way he combined acoustic a elec. on You Cant kill RnR and w nylon on Dee is just absolutely beautiful. Lately I’ve been playing w two amps, one a tad delayed to emulate his magical doubletracked sound. But he is one of a kind.

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