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Richie Kotzen says guitar gear is “like Italian food – it doesn’t have to be complicated”

“There’s nothing like plugging into a great amp without anything in front.”

Richie Kotzen playing his Telecaster on stage.

Image: Scott Dudelson / Getty

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Collecting and growing your gear collection can be a great joy, but is it better to keep your rig simple and small? Richie Kotzen seems to think so.

We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to amplifiers, effects pedals, and other exciting gear goodies these days. And while some guitarists such as Joe Bonamassa are curating a whopping collection of guitars and equipment, Kotzen thinks that gear is “like Italian food – it doesn’t have to be complicated”.

Kotzen released new single Cheap Shots last month, and is due to release a new record this autumn. In the latest print issue of Total Guitar, he says his current set up consists of an amp, a cab, and just a few pedals. “I’m using a Marshall 59HW. It’s the original four-input plexiglass panel Marshall,” he says.

“There’s a certain percussiveness, snap, and thump that I love. I plugged that into a 4×12 cabinet and was turned onto these speakers called ‘Creambacks,’ which are 60W Celestions. And for pedals, I’ve got my Tech 21 fly rig, the RK5, which is my multi-effects pedal.”

And his straightforward setup is reflected in his best gear advice: “There’s nothing like plugging into a great amp without anything in front. It’s like Italian food – it doesn’t have to be complicated, and uses great ingredients. If you’re looking for a great rhythm sound, keep it simple.”

So there you have it – a great amp can be like the penne pasta to your spicy arrabbiata sauce. And if you fancy catching Kotzen’s simple yet effective guitar rig on the road, then you’ll be pleased to know he might just be noodling (spaghetti-ing?) in a town near you soon. You can view all of his upcoming tour dates now.

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