Rig Rundown: Theo Katzman
How the Vulfpeck picker travels the funk fantastic—with a compact pedalboard, a two-amp setup, and some classic-style axes.
Theo Katzman plays with a fluency and fire that makes this guitarist, producer, singer, and songwriter an MVP of modern, funk-fueled rock and pop. At a recent gig at Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl outpost, Katzman—who’s also a member of the formidable Vulfpeck collective—invited PG’s Rig Rundown team to soundcheck, to see the gear that makes his tone sing. And Katzman’s tech, Nick “Turk” Nagurka, provided assistance.
Brought to you by D’Addario XS Strings.
Theo Katzman’s No. 1 is a Fender 1962 reissue that he’s had since he was 16. He stripped the Strat’s finish down to the bare wood, and then added an Ilitch Back Plate Hum Canceling system, which takes the noise out of the stock single-coil pickups. The Strat stays strung with D’Addario NYXL .010 sets. When Katzman plays with a pick, he uses Strum-N-Comfort SNC-ST/EXH/6 Sharktooth 1.5 mm Heavy Pearl Celluloids.
Katzman’s Tele is an $800 parts guitar with TV Jones pickups that he purchased on Reverb. It lives in open Eb and also has D’Addario NYXL .010s.
Black Hat Strat
This Japan-built ’62 reissue Strat has an oddball headstock, with what looks like black epoxy or resin covering most of what’s at the top of its Mike Cornwall neck. It’s tuned in open D and is used primarily for slide. The stings? Yep, D’Addario NYXL .010s.
Katzman uses two amps, sending a dry signal to his Benson Nathan Junior and a wet signal to his 1968 Fender Princeton Reverb loaded with a Celestion Greenback 12. Both amps face 90 degrees offstage, to prevent hitting the front row with a laser beam of awesome. The Princeton gets a Beyerdynamic M88, which complements the punchy midrange of the amp with a healthy proximity effect and rounds the top end out a bit.
Benson, Benson, Benson
The Benson has a bit more grind and a more controlled tone. He uses a Sennheiser 906 for a dry, clear sound with minimal proximity effect. Both amps feed into the in-ear-monitor mix, hard panned left and right. Since there’s some degree of modulation from the pedalboard, that helps Katzman enjoy a sense of space in his sound. The front-of-house mix typically uses the Benson, too, since it has a more refined sound.
Theo Katzman's Pedalboard
Rig Rundown: Def Leppard 
Nearly 40 years after their breakthrough album, Pyromania, Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell are still setting the world afire with their hot-rod gear.
It’s been eight years since Def Leppard’s Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen met with PG while they were on the band’s arena-filling odyssey in 2014. Now they’re on the aptly titled Stadium Tour, playing packed mega-venues with openers Mötley Crüe, Poison, and Joan Jett, delivering songs from the 12 studio albums they’ve recorded over the past 45 years. It’s quite a legacy, with “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak,” “Photograph,” “Rock of Ages,” “Animal,” “Love Bites,” and plenty more classic hits. At their June 30 show at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium, John Bohlinger talked with Collen, Campbell, and their techs, Scott Appleton and John Zocco, about the guitarists’ muscular live-show arsenal.
Brought to you by D’Addario XPND Pedalboard.
For the 30th anniversary of Phil Collen’s Jackson PC-1 signature model, the guitarist painted a limited run of the instrument in this cool, Jackson Pollock-esque finish. He kept this one for himself. (Smart!) It features a mahogany body, quartersawn maple neck, reverse headstock, a Floyd Rose vibrato, a DiMarzio Super 3 humbucker in the bridge, and a Jackson Sustainer Driver in the neck spot. There’s also sustainer on/off and fundamental/harmonic/blend toggles in the control set. Collen uses D’Addario .013–.054 sets.
Paint Yer Noggin
Collen’s paint job also extends to this super-colorful headstock.
A Workhorse of a Different Color
This Jackson USA Signature Phil Collen PC-1 in satin natural features a quilted maple top and all the appointments of the splatter-finish model, but ups the tonal ante with a HS-2 DP116 single-coil DiMarzio in the middle. That setup requires a 5-way blade pickup switch, of course. The scale-length is 25.5", and the neck has a 12"–16" compound radius.
Jackson built Collen his guitar named “Bela” in 1986, tricking it out with glow-in-the-dark paint and Mr. Lugosi’s face—in Dracula get-up—on the front of the axe. Bela has DiMarzio Super 3 pickups, titanium saddles, a titanium block, a Floyd Rose vibrato, and an unquenchable thirst for blood. (“Listen to them. The children of the night! What music they make!”)
Phil and the Supreme
This black-finish Jackson Phil Collen PC Supreme has an impossibly thick U-shaped neck that the guitarist loves for its stability, sustain, and tone. The guitar also features a Floyd Rose, two beefy DiMarzio humbuckers, a DiMarzio/Collen-developed Sugar Chakra pickup (which puts humbucker depth in a single-coil size) in the middle, and a sustainer circuit.
Another cool touch on Collen’s Supreme is the kubuki-like mask inlay just under the headstock.
The Blue Axe
This prototype Jackson signature-model Supreme has a more conventionally sized neck as well as a Floyd Rose with classy blue titanium saddles, two hot DiMarzio pickups, a Sugar Chakra, and a sustainer circuit. Check out the super-ergonomic angled cutaways.
Mr. Big Neck, V. 2
This PC-1 also has a neck like John Cena, built from curly maple for a distinctive look. Other details: an in-your-face DiMarzio X2N, a Sugar Chakra, a sustainer, titanium saddles and block, and that omnipresent Floyd Rose. Same PC-1 electronics, too, with volume and tone controls, a 5-way selector, and double toggles for sustainer on/off and fundamental/harmonic/blend.
This brown PC-1—which features all the appointments of Collen’s 30th Anniversary model—looks more muted than it’s bright-hued pals, until you look closely. The tiger-stripe quality of the word makes the guitar striking and displays Collen’s pick scratches between the neck and middle pickups.
Speaking of Pick Wear
This road-weathered Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster is showing all its miles. The bridge has been updated with titanium pins. Collen uses not only the acoustic sounds in this guitar but goes full-rock-tone as well.
Search and X-Stroy
Jackson built its X-Stroyer model especially for Collen in 2014. It is modeled after the Ibanez Destroyer that he played in his 20s—seen onstage in the videos for “Photograph,” “Foolin’,” and other hits. It has DiMarzio X2N pickups, a sustainer, and a Floyd Rose. Look at the lower-front horn and you’ll see a killswitch, too.
Collen’s signal runs to a Shure Axient wireless system. Its four channels go into a Radial JX42 V2 switcher and out to a Fractal Axe-Fx III. (He also carries a spare Axe-Fx in the rack.) A digital output goes from the Fractal to the front-of-house speakers. Another pair of outputs runs to two Atomic CLR full-range powered reference monitors behind the video wall for a bit of stage volume. It’s all controlled by an RJM Mastermind GT/22 operated by tech John Zocco.
Phil A Rig
Here’s a look at that Mastermind Zocco controls, with a bunch of uniquely named, programmed patches, including STFU, Mocha, and Cold Brew.
Vivian and Les
Vivian Campbell plays Les Pauls exclusively. His Una is an all-stock silverburst Custom, which will be auctioned off at the end to the tour with the proceeds going to Gibson Gives to support music education for kids. It’s strung with Dunlop .011–.050s and tuned down 1/2 step.
This Gibson Vivian Campbell Signature Les Paul Custom in antrim basalt burst was a limited-edition model. It has a 1970s-style C-shaped neck, a 2-piece figured maple top, and a solid mahogany body. The neck pickup is a DiMarzio Super 3 and the bridge is a DiMarzio Super Distortion. It has two 500k CTS volume pots, two 500k CTS tone pots, and orange drop caps. Same strings, same half-step-down tuning.
Another limited-edition instrument in Campbell’s line-up is this Gibson Custom Shop reissue of Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen’s 1959 Les Paul Standard. Campbell replaced the frets with jumbos, but otherwise it’s all stock, which means a 1-piece mahogany body, pearl inlays, an Indian rosewood fretboard, and Custom Bucker pickups.
The Friendly Ghost
“Casper” is a Gibson Les Paul Studio that Campbell has owned for years. It features a DiMarzio SD 3 in the bridge along with its original humbucker.
More Gary Moore
Few players have had a greater influence on British rockers who came of age during the ’70s and ’80s than the late, great Gary Moore. This Gary Moore Les Paul Standard has its neck pickup flipped, to go for that Peter Green out-of-phase tone. (Moore was the longtime owner of Green’s famed Holy Grail Les Paul.) The mahogany neck has a rounded ’50s profile, the pickups are BurstBucker Pros, and, of course, the 6-string has a mahogany body with a figured maple top.
Campbell has replaced the standard P-90s in this Gibson reissue Les Paul goldtop with P-100s, which are stacked humbuckers, for a buzz-free playing experience.
This colorful Gibson SJ-200 has a Fishman pickup, a soundhole block to avoid feedback, and high action for a clean-toned strum.
In the Box
Tech Scott Appleton dictates the flow of Campbell’s guitar with an RJM MIDI-controlled input switcher. First, the signal hits a Shure Axient wireless, and then there’s a Cry Baby Rock Module with a Lite-Time wah controller. The rest of the magic is courtesy of a Fractal Audio Axe-FX III. A Marshall 9200 Dual MonoBloc System provides the power for a pair of ENGL 4x12 cabs.
Look, Ma, No Wires!
Chad Zaemisch, longtime tech for Metallica’s James Hetfield, designed the first two-channel wireless expression pedal system that Vivian employed to handle wah-wah duties via his rackmount Dunlop Cry Baby Rack unit.
On Come Morning, the Canadian duo wrestled with a gut-wrenching session gone wrong, dealt with new inspirations, and finally learned to let go.
One of the core ingredients that is essential to any Bros. Landreth album is also the most dreaded: abject fear and panic. It doesn’t sprout up from any particular insecurity about the end result, but rather where to start. “We always say we’re going to write 30 tunes and pick our 10 favorites,” says Joey Landreth. “But we usually write 12 and pick 11.” At first, the fear was unsettling, but Joey and his bassist brother, David, have not only thrived under the self-imposed pressure but relished it. Factor in a world-changing pandemic, the experience of being new dads, and a soul-crushing session gone wrong, it’s amazing that Come Morning even saw the light of day.
Back in March of 2020 the band had finished two legs of touring behind ‘87, their tuneful return to form after a pair of solo albums from Joey and some time away from the band for David, who had just become a father for the first time. Joey had plans to tour behind his Lowell George tribute album. Naturally, all that went away. Tour dates were canceled, and bins of merch collected dust on the shelf. Once the duo came to terms with the uncertainty of their touring future, they immediately went to work on writing new tunes. But would it be for a solo record or another Bros. album?
The Bros. Landreth • Come Morning (Visualizer)
“I had this idea of making a solo record in my apartment,” remembers Joey. He lived in a 100-year-old building in Winnipeg where he converted the dining room into a home studio. After starting that project, mostly in isolation, with programmed drums, he played the songs for David and thought the material might better be suited from a Bros. album. “We asked ourselves what it would sound like if we merged my solo stuff with the Bros,” says Joey. “There weren’t any timelines, we weren’t career planning or writing with intent,” mentions David. “We were just making things because there was nothing else to do.”
The first two demos that they tracked were “Drive All Night” and “Corduroy.” On Come Morning, both songs feature sparse arrangements and touches of R&B influences, all mixed in with swirling sonics. “The demo for ‘Drive All Night’ was basically fully formed with programmed drums and weird stuff,” says Joey. “It was quite a departure for us.” Naturally, the next step was to start recording drums. The band found a window where travel was permitted and flew in a drummer from Edmonton to begin tracking the first half of the album. It soon became apparent that the result of the session wasn’t matching the Landreths’ vision. “When we didn’t get there, we were fucking gutted,” says David. “It was devastating. It almost killed us.” A few of the tunes were recorded at the wrong tempo, the bass lines didn’t sound like David, and it was the first Bros. album without drummer Ryan Voth. “You write these songs, you make a plan to record the best album you’ve ever made, you get through seven tracks, and you didn’t get it.” Heavy vibes.
“We’re always trying to put mics in stupid places.” — Joey Landreth
After making the tough decision to scrap the sessions, Joey and David sat down and made a dream list of drummers they would want on the record. The two names at the top of the list were Aaron Sterling and Matt Chamberlain, two studio veterans whose combined credits include David Bowie, John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, and countless others. “We sent an email to both of them, and they both said yes,” says Joey. “Fuck, how do we choose between them?” According to the brothers, it simply came down to Aaron’s enthusiastic response. Once Sterling was in place, the band sent him a demo for “Stay,” a grooving, mid-tempo tune that features some inventive open-tuned rhythm parts. “The demo had programmed drums and we outlined what we wanted him to play,” says David. “When we got the tracks back, they were wickedly inspiring and took the song in a completely different direction.”
As the long-distance sessions progressed, Sterling meshed well into the creative process and even pushed the limits of what would typically be acceptable on a Bros. Landreth record. “I remember getting the Dropbox folder and seeing the files for bongos and was like, ‘Well, that’s a hard no on the bongos,’” laughs Joey. “Then I realized the song was nothing without the bongos.” The demo for “Drive All Night” was sent off with the idea that they would strip back some of the more modern production elements and replace them with organic instruments. “We learned over the course of this project to send Aaron just the core of the song and then have us play off that, rather than the other way around,” says David.
TIDBIT: Recorded over several months in isolation, Come Morning nearly went off the rails after a less-than-successful session. “It gutted us,” says David. Once the band brought in drummer Aaron Sterling, the project took shape and pushed the brothers into a new creative space.
One thing that fans of the Bros. might be missing on Come Morning is an abundance of Joey’s down-tuned slide riffs. “Guitar playing wasn’t really a priority for me on this album,” says Joey. There are incredibly melodic moments with big, roomy sounds on Come Morning, but Joey’s focus was more on vibe and sound then trying to get his licks in. “I would go for my usual super-fuzzy solo and it just wasn’t as inspiring,” he remembers. “I found myself wanting different things and needing to change the approach.”
On his solo album Hindsight, a majority of the guitar tones were inspired by a very particular room reverb that Joey added pre-delay to in order to create a slapback effect. An early influence on this technique was Jimmie Vaughan’s 1998 album, Out There. “Jimmie’s tone is incredible, and that sound has an identity that’s congruent with the record. I’ve always tried to emulate that,” says Joey. That thirst for experimentation revealed itself when Joey looked to emulate the sound of his recording booth at Sandbox Recording, a studio that serves as the brothers’ musical headquarters. Their particular recording booth at the studio sounded so good, they wanted to use it on far more than just guitar and bass tones. “What wound up kind of being more of an identity on the record is that you can hear the booth on more instruments. You can hear it on the B-3, you can hear it on the vocal,” says Joey. He points to the acoustic guitar intro on “Back to Thee” as the best example of the sound. “It’s kinda like the Jimmie Vaughan thing. It’s not super in your face, but it’s a big part of the guitar sound,” says Joey. For the washed-out baritone guitar on “Corduroy,” they placed a mic in the airlock and left the door open just a crack. The resulting tone gave the illusion that it was recorded in a much bigger space. “We’re always trying to put mics in stupid places,” laughs Joey.
Joey Landreth’s Gear
Joey isn’t afraid to employ unusual textures with his parts. For example, here he’s using a Duesenberg 12-string Double Cat for some ethereal slide parts.
Photo by Mike Highfield
- Sorokin Gold Top
- Josh Williams Mockingbird
- Duesenberg D6 Baritone
- Suhr Classic S
- Mule Resonators Mulecaster
- Collings OM1
- Waterloo WL-14 X
- Yamaha LS16M
- Yamaha Revstar
Amps & Cabinets
- Two-Rock Bloomfield Drive
- Two-Rock Joey Landreth Signature
- Greer Mini Chief
- 1960 Fender Super
- 1966 Fender Deluxe
- Two-Rock 212 Cab
- Benson Studio Tall Bird Spring Reverb
- Jackson Audio Golden Boy
- Isle of Tone Haze Fuzz ’66
- DanDrive Secret Weapon
- Mythos Pedals Olympus
- Ceriatone Centura
- Chase Bliss Thermae
- Chase Bliss Mood
- Chase Bliss CXM 1978
Strings, Picks, Mics & Accessories
- Stringjoy Custom Strings
- Rock Slide Joey Landreth Signature Slide
- The GigRig G3 Switcher and Power Supply•
- Moody Leather Straps
- Royer R-121
- Shure SM57
- Stager SR-2N
- Warm Audio WA-47
Typically, no matter where the journey takes Joey, he does have a few tried-and-true starting points. Most notably, his Sorokin goldtop and Two-Rock Bloomfield Drive is where he begins. But Joey isn’t afraid to swap out a trusted piece of gear if the vibe isn’t right. “The Two-Rock is a big sounding amp. If I start to play something and it takes up a ton of space and the part doesn’t need that, then I’ll start to reach for smaller amps,” mentions Joey. Those smaller amps include a Benson Nathan Junior, or a mid-’60s Fender Deluxe, which saw plenty of action on Come Morning. As a foil to the Two-Rock, Joey also employed a brown-panel Fender Super. “It’s kind of the opposite of a black-panel circuit. It has a lot more midrange and creamy breakup,” describes Joey.
“I would go for my usual super-fuzzy solo, and it just wasn’t as inspiring.” — Joey Landreth
Joey has also become well-known for his very particular setup on his guitars. He counts Derek Trucks and Sonny Landreth (no relation) as prime influences for moving to an open tuning. Trucks hangs out in open E (E–B–E–G#–B–E), while Sonny plays in several tunings including open A (E–A–C#–A–C#–E). However, it was an incredible Toronto guitarist named “Champagne” James Robertson who inspired Joey to not only eschew standard tuning, but to tune down to C. Robertson had such a unique style that Joey even texted him after a jam session to “get permission” to move to open C (C–G–C–E–G–C) exclusively. “I had a friend call this setup the autoharp of the guitar once,” remembers Joey.
David Landreth’s Gear
For Come Morning, both Joey and David didn’t stray too far away from their main setups. Here you see Joey with his Sorokin goldtop and David with his P-bass-style Moollon.
Photo by Jen Doerksen (BNB Studios)
- Moollon P-bass style
- Duesenberg Starplayer
- Noble DI
Strings & Accessories
- D’Addario Chrome XLs (.050—.105)
- Moody Leather Straps
Setting up a guitar for slide goes far past simply deciding on a tuning—finding the right string gauges is just as important. After moving up to a set of .014s for a while, Joey still felt something just wasn’t feeling right. He ended up with a custom set of Stringjoys that clock in at a whopping .019–.068. That sentence alone might make a guitarist’s hand quake with fear, but with the tuning’s lowered tension, the strings aren’t as rigid as you might think. All the guitars on Come Morning were in open C with the exception of a few acoustic parts in open D (D–A–D–F#–A–D), because Joey felt his Collings OM1 just really loves to live in that tuning. Every now and then when he’s working something out, Joey will hear a part that calls for standard-tuned voicings, “Sometimes I just need a few ‘cowboy chords,’ but then I tune it back to an open chord as soon as possible.”
Joey also favored a Josh Williams Mockingbird, which is a handmade 335-style guitar that’s loaded with Firebird pickups and is the “antithesis” of the Sorokin. “It has a bit of a mid-scoop, so it tucks in around a lot of the other guitar parts in a really beautiful way,” says Joey. “If I want something that’s not as mid-forward as the Sorokin and Two-Rock, but I don’t want it to be super scoopy, then I go with the Josh Williams into the brown-panel Super.”
One of Joey’s go-to combos is his P-90-loaded Sorokin with a Two-Rock Bloomfield Drive. “The Sorokin can be really aggressive, and forward, and present, and ... I would use the word triumphant. It’s like, ‘Here I am,’” says Joey.
Photo by Jen Doerksen (BNB Studios)
As much as Joey micro-manages his guitar tone—he even went so far to subdivide the slide vibrato on his Lowell George tribute record, All That You Dream—he couldn’t really do that as much on this project since there were so many collaborators and nearly all the bed tracks were done remotely. “I learned an incredibly valuable lesson on this record,” says Joey. “Which is to get the fuck out of the way.” The duo brought on Greg Koller to mix the album and he nailed more than half the mixes on the first try. “This album really feels different,” says David. “Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of the fact we made it in isolation and it being such a communal effort. There’s something about that I need to figure out.”
“Balance makes this whole thing feel a lot more sustainable and a lot less manic.” — David Landreth
So, is it a Bros. Landreth record if there isn’t a sense of fear and panic? “I think that’s the ultimate question,” says Joey. The brothers wear many hats including running their own record label, publishing company, and management company. “That balance makes this whole thing feel a lot more sustainable and a lot less manic,” mentions David. “Our creativity has many different outlets, so if I ever find myself with enough time to write more songs than I need, that probably means something bad has happened with the other things we do,” laughs Joey.