Randy Rhodes had a very short career in the spotlight but in that time he became a certified guitar hero. Most notably for his work with Ozzy Osbourne on 1980s Blizzard of Ozz and 1982’s Diary of a Madman. Rhodes was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1982 while touring the Diary of a Madman album. He was 25 years old.
In this article we will take a look at some of the gear he used on the 1982 album and tour that forever left his mark on the guitar world.
Rhodes was using a custom floorboard supposedly made by Peter “Pedalboard” Holmes. The work is similar to that of renowned UK pedal guru Pete Cornish, though Cornish denies any involvement in the project. All the pedals were disassembled, the insides removed and all housed inside one giant unit with individual foot switches for each effect, except for any effects that need to be manipulated in play. such as wah and volume.
- Roland FV-100 Volume Pedal
- Vox V846 Wah Pedal
- MXR Distortion Plus
- MXR 10 Band Graphic EQ
- MXR Stereo Chorus
- MXR Stereo Flanger
- Roland Space Echo
Roland FV-100 Volume Pedal
Randy would use this for volume swells and for silencing his signal between songs on stage.
Vox V846 Wah Pedal
There is not much information about why Randy preferred this particular wah. This was the one he used on stage in 1982 and there is no record of any mods being made so it is assumed that the pedal is totally stock.
MXR Distortion Plus
Randy would leave this set to a mild setting and run it all the time paired with his Marshall amps for his signature overdrive sound.
MXR 10 Band Graphic EQ
The 10 band EQ was used as a midrange boost for lead guitar sections to allow the guitar to cut through the mix better.
MXR Stereo Chorus
When playing with a cleaner tone, MXR Stereo Chorus was used to add some movement to the guitar sound. This can be heard on tracks like “I Don’t Know”.
MXR Stereo Flanger
For the most part, the Flanger was used as a live effect to thicken Randy’s guitar tone and give it more depth. He would run it at a low setting just to thicken up parts. It was never used live as a typical flanger effect. However, in the studio it was. It can be heard on the track Flying High Again.
Roland Space Echo
The Roland Space echo was used to create the impression of two guitar players playing on stage. This was only ever used live. In the studio Randy would meticulously double, triple and even quadruple track his guitar parts. He wanted to recreate this live so he would split the two outputs of the Space Echo into a pair of Marshall stacks with a slight delay going to one stack. This would simulate two guitar players playing together at the same time where you would hear natural, but small, variances in timing.
1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom
Randy was often seen with his white 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom. He was inspired to buy this guitar after seeing David Bowie guitar player Mick Ronson playing one in 1972. It is assumed Randy came into possession of this guitar in 1974 or 1975 and it became his main guitar for his tenure with Quiet Riot.
1979 Karl Sandoval Flying V
One of the most recognisable guitars in Randy’s collection is the black and white polka dot flying V build by Karl Sandoval in 1979. Randy had this guitar built for him in 1979 as a custom job for a price of $740 (That’s $2,613 in 2020 after inflation!). It was fitted with DiMarzio pickups and black hardware.
Strangely, the guitar was not fitted with a truss rod so Randy struggled to keep it in tune, but it was a mainstay in his live rig. Supposedly, the neck came from a cheap 1960s Danelectro guitar.
1980 Charvel/Jackson Concorde
In 1980 Randy spoke with Charvel about a custom guitar idea he had. A flying V style guitar with one elongated horn and one shortened horn. The guitar was designed by Rhodes with Grover Jackson and Tim Wilson and was originally named “The Original Sin”. Randy decided it looked like a Concorde jet so he renamed it the Concorde. Grover Jackson had taken over the Charvel Guitar Company from owner Wayne Charvel, but because this guitar was so different to the typical Charvel line, Grover decided it should be re-branded as a Jackson guitar.
It was fitted with a Charvel made, Fender style non-locking tremolo and Seymour Duncan pickups.
Amplifiers and Cabinets
Marshall 1959 Head and 1960A/1960B Cabinets
During his spell with Ozzy Osbourne, Randy used Marshall amps exclusively. He would use a pair of 1959 Plexi heads, each paired with a 1960B and 1960A cabinet. He had painted the amps and cabinets white to give them a very distinctive look.