Viv Campbell’s Rig Simplification

May 19, 2011 | By | Reply More

Vivian Campbell cracks me up. In just about every interview about Def Leppard he says that being in the band has hurt his guitar playing but has helped his singing. A little cringe-inducing, eh? But honest, always honest. I like that.

[Remember the Guitar World interview where he slagged the heck out of Gibson? In 2008, involved several F-bombs. The quote and a response from his roadie are here.]

Enough about Viv’s Irish tendency to tell it like it is and damn the consequences – I say that as someone with an Irish mum who does the same thing. Back to guitarville….

The new edition of Vintage Guitar mag with Jeff Beck on the cover has interviews with “Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham and Vivian Campbell.” Whoa! I didn’t know Viv was in Lizzy, but did know he was a huge fan of the band. I’m sure a great fit. Turns out he’s now touring with Lep again, but may get back to Lizzy at some point….

Anyhow, the VG interview details his Lizzy rig, and it’s a great example of what you need for classic rock: not much! Let’s take a look at his rigs.

Def Leppard Rigs

Current rack, as described here by rack guru Dave Phillips:

Signal chain (all in the rack)
> Wireless
> Crybaby wah
> Boss AC-2 acoustic simulator
> Eventide Omnipressor
> Marshall JMP-1 preamp
> Engl preamp (he switches between the preamps)
> Rocktron Silencer
> Mix 1: Intellifex, TC Electronic G Major effects unit
> Mix 2: Yamaha D1500 delay, TC Electronic 2290 digital delay
> Palmer PDI 03 speaker simulator (so no cabs)
> Engl power amps with 6L6s

Older racks from this interview:

Amps (Bradshaw rack)

> A rig – Marshall JMP-1 preamps (midi-switchable), Marshall 9200 power amps.

> B rig – Same preamp, Mesa/Boogie power amps, “which tend to be a little crispier [crisper?], a little bit more rock,” Viv says.

> Not sure if the Palmer was used here too since no mention of cabs or speakers.

Effects (Bradshaw rack)

> TC Electronic 2290 stereo delays, an old Yamaha D1500 mono delay unit, Rocktron chorusing, Dunlop wah pedals.

Some Viv quotes from the VG interview:

> “With Leppard I’ve got to be on a wireless because we’re all over the stage. I don’t like what a wireless does to my tone so that was the first thing to take out of the equation.”

> “Things have to be very specific. I have to use digital delays because everything needs to be to the millisecond.”

Viv's current rack ( photo).

Viv's current rack ( photo).

Thin Lizzy Rig

> Amp – Mojave Scorpion 50w head (EL34s), Scorpion 4×12 cab with Celestion G12H30 though not sure if all G12H30s as Mojave says the cab is a mix of 75Hz and 55Hz speakers. Also, Viv might have been introduced to this head through jamming with Billy Gibbons: Billy used one for a tune on a Viv solo album.

> Pedals – Crybaby, Fulltone tube tape delay, Way Huge Angry Troll boost.

> Signal chain 1: Scorpion > Scorpion 4×12 cab

> Signal chain 2: Scorpion head line out > effects > Marshall 4×12 cab (no word on speakers)

That’s it!

More on Lizzy gear from the VG interview:

> He uses super-heavy 13-52 gauge strings, detuned a half step. He says, “When you detune them they feel like 11s.”

> His picks are .51mm stainless steel.


Count me in as someone who would love to hear Lep – or anyone, really – make a record like High ‘n’ Dry. Here’s what Viv said about Lep’s potential for that, from this interview:

Back then [High ‘n’ Dry era] Rick Allen had two arms – although we can represent ourselves very well live, it’s difficult for Rick to jam. If I were to come in the room and show the other guys a riff, Rick would have to sit there and think how he was going to join in.

It’s not like other bands where you can kick out the jams and see what happens. It does take a little more patience.

I’m not saying we’re not going to do it – Phil [Collen] and I are championing and trying to do something like that for the next record.

We realize that our core audience wants us to make a rock LP. So we will attempt to address that on future records. With that said, I don’t see us making an entire LP that’s like High ‘n’ Dry, with songs with 1 through 12 as old rock songs.

Listen to that tone! Wood!

Category: Boss/Roland, Celestion speakers, Dunlop/Cry Baby, Engl, Eventide, Fulltone, Marshall, Mesa/Boogie, Mojave Amp Works, Rocktron, TC Electronic, Thin Lizzy, Vivian Campbell, Way Huge, Yamaha

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