Phil Collen & Vivian Campbell Guitar Rig Rundown Gear Tour by Def Leppard

Almost 40 years later PyromaniaPhil Collen and Vivian Campbell still set the world alight with their hot-rod gear.

It’s been eight years since Def Leppard’s Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen met PG as they took part in the band’s odyssey into the arena in 2014. Now they’re on the aptly named Stadium Tour, playing crowded mega-halls 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 many more classic hits. During their June 30 concert at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, John Bohlinger chatted with Collen, Campbell and their technicians, Scott Appleton and John Zocco, about the guitarists’ muscular arsenal.

Presented by D’Addario XPND Pedalboard.

expressionist ax

For the 30th anniversary of Phil Collen’s signature Jackson PC-1 model, the guitarist has painted a limited run of the instrument in this cool Jackson Pollock finish. He kept this one to himself. (Smart!) It features a mahogany body, quarter-sawn maple neck, reverse headstock, Floyd Rose tremolo, DiMarzio Super 3 humbucker in the bridge and a Jackson Sustainer driver at neck. There are also on/off and fundamental/harmonic/mix toggles in the control set. Collen uses D’Addario sets .013–.054.

Painting Yer Noggin

Collen’s paint job also extends to this super colorful doll.

A workhorse of a different color

This Jackson USA Signature Phil Collen PC-1 in Natural Satin features a quilted maple top and all the amenities of the splash-finished model, but ups the ante with a DiMarzio HS-2 DP116 single-coil in the middle. This setup of course requires a 5-way pickup switch. The scale length is 25.5″ and the handle has a compound radius of 12″–16″.

Lugosi lives!

Jackson built his guitar in Collen named “Bela” in 1986, decorating it with phosphorescent paint and the face of Mr. Lugosi – in Dracula attire – on the front of the axe. Bela has DiMarzio Super 3 pickups, titanium saddles, a titanium block, a Floyd Rose tremolo and an unquenchable bloodlust. (“Listen to them. The children of the night! What music they make!”)

Phil and the Supreme

This Jackson Phil Collen PC Supreme in black finish has an incredibly 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 into a single-coil size) in the middle, and sustain circuitry.

Scary Kabuki

Another cool touch on Collen’s Supreme is the kubuki-like mask inlay right under the headstock.

The blue ax

This prototype Jackson Supreme signature model has a more conventionally sized neck as well as a Floyd Rose with chic blue titanium saddles, two hot DiMarzio pickups, Sugar Chakra and sustain circuitry. Discover the super ergonomic angled cutouts.

Mr. Big Neck, V. 2

This PC-1 also has a neck like John Cena, constructed from curly maple for a distinctive look. Other details: a full-face DiMarzio X2N, Sugar Chakra, sustainer, titanium saddles and block, and that ubiquitous Floyd Rose. Same PC-1 electronics too, with volume and tone controls, a 5-way switch, and dual toggles for sustain on/off and fundamental/harmonic/mix.

class actor

This maroon PC-1 – which features all of Collen’s 30th anniversary model appointments – looks more understated than its brightly colored pals, until you look closely. The quality of the word’s tiger stripe makes the guitar stand out and displays Collen’s pick stripes between the neck and middle pickups.

Speaking of Pick Wear

This road-weathered Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster shows all of its miles. The bridge has been updated with titanium pins. Collen not only uses the acoustic sounds of this guitar, but also a full rock tone.

Research and X-Stroy

Jackson built his X-Stroyer model specifically for Collen in 2014. It’s inspired by the Ibanez Destroyer he played in his twenties, seen on stage in videos for “Photograph,” “Foolin'” and other tubes. It has DiMarzio X2N pickups, sustainer and a Floyd Rose. Look at the front lower horn and you will also see a kill switch.


Collen’s signal is routed to a Shure Axient wireless system. Its four channels go into a Radial JX42 V2 mixer and out into a Fractal Axe-Fx III. (He also carries a spare Axe-Fx in the rack.) A digital output goes from Fractal to front-of-house speakers. Another pair of outputs run to two Atomic CLR full-range powered reference monitors behind the video wall, for some stage volume. Everything is controlled by an RJM Mastermind GT/22, operated by John Zocco technology.

Phil A Rig

Here’s a look at what Mastermind Zocco controls, with a bunch of uniquely named programmed patches, including STFU, Mocha, and Cold Brew.

Vivian and Les

Vivian Campbell plays exclusively at The Pauls. His Una is an all-stock Silverburst Custom, which will be auctioned off at the end of the tour, with proceeds going to Gibson Gives to support children’s music education. It is strung with Dunlop .011–.050s and tuned 1/2 pitch.

Tiger, Tiger

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, 2-piece figured maple top, and 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 semitone tuning.

Ricky’s Ride

Another limited-edition instrument from the Campbell range 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 everything is stock, meaning a one-piece mahogany body, pearl inlays, Indian rosewood fingerboard 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 with its stock humbucker.

More Gary Moore

Few players had a bigger influence on Britain’s rockers coming of age in the 70s and 80s than the late great Gary Moore. This Gary Moore Les Paul Standard has its neck pickup reversed, to opt for that out of phase Peter Green 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.

Hidden Humbuckers

Campbell replaced the standard P-90s in this Gibson Les Paul goldtop reissue with P-100s, which are stacked humbuckers, for a buzz-free playing experience.

big red

This colorful Gibson SJ-200 features a Fishman pickup, a soundhole block to prevent feedback, and a high action for a clear sound.

In the box

Tech Scott Appleton dictates the flow of Campbell’s guitar with an RJM MIDI-controlled input selector. First the signal hits a wireless Shure Axient, 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 4×12 cabs.

Look, mom, no son!

Chad Zaemisch, longtime technician for Metallica’s James Hetfield, designed the first two-channel wireless expression pedal system that Vivian used to handle wah-wah functions through her rack-mounted Dunlop Cry Baby Rack unit.

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