Andy Watt’s Gear; The Star Producer that Got Pearl Jam, The Rolling Stones, and Iggy Pop Back in the Studio

Author: Santiago Motto | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

A mysterious young man has been the driving force bringing back some of the greatest bands and soloists of all time into the studio and the Billboard charts. He’s just 33 years old but is producing people in their ‘70s and ‘80s as well as teenagers.

This man I’m talking about goes under the name of Andy Watt and is a proficient guitar player, multi-instrumentalist, guitar collector, and gear nerd.

I know, you’ve read it all about him, but did any other article on the internet tell you what he used to make his magic so far? Moreover, did anyone else invite you to a deep look into this guy’s arsenal of amazing musical toys that made his stellar career a reality?

Well, join me on this ride to the heart of the gear that’s making the legend and the legend that’s recording that gear into some of the most awaited records for this decade.

Let’s Talk Some Gear!

Before we get into the hero’s path that Andrew Wotman walked to become Andy Watt, we’re going to have some fun. Yes Sir! We’re going to talk gear! Allow me to introduce to you some of the guitars, amps, and pedals Andrew used to become Andy.

Electric Guitars

  • ’61 Gibson Les Paul Custom – This is one of the two factory-black Les Paul Customs ever made in 1961. Of course, it looks like an SG because that was the time Gibson thought it was a cool idea to give the Les Paul a new shape. It has 3 humbucking pickups and a Bigsby vibrato system. This unique instrument was used to record most of the guitars in the latest Ozzy Osborne album, Patient N°9.
  • ’67 Fender Telecaster (formerly Mick Ronson’s guitar) – This Ice Blue Metallic Telecaster used to belong to Bowie’s guitarist Mick Ronson. Mick also used it when playing with Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and while co-producing Transformer by Lou Reed. It has a rosewood fingerboard and a Seymour Duncan bridge pickup overwound to go from the standard 9.5K to 22K. It’s basically “A Telecaster that sounds like a Les Paul” according to Andy Watt.

  • ’58 Fender Stratocaster – This guitar dates back to the early days of the Stratocaster production, therefore, it sports a sunburst finish and a maple neck and fretboard. Although Andy Watt doesn’t like maple necks all that much, the guitar seemed so loud unplugged that he just bought it and it turned out that plugged, it sounds even more amazing.

  • ‘70s Les Paul Standard (formerly Mick Ronson’s guitar) – A guitar gifted to Andy Watt, this Les Paul, along with the ’61, were the backbone to the new Ozzy record. It used to be the backup for Ronson’s Les Paul Custom when playing with Ian Hunter and Bob Dylan.
  • ’64 SG Special – This dual-P-90 guitar is an obvious choice to record anything that’s Sabbath-related. According to Andy Watt, as he was playing with California Breed, his band with Glenn Hughes, he was having awful feedback issues. Tony Iommi happened to drop by the gig and told him to put some skateboard wax on the pickups and the issue was solved forever. It’s not an original Tony Iommi guitar, but it surely has some of his mojo.

  • ’65 Fender Telecaster – This guitar, in a characteristic blonde finish, was what he used for “All My Life” in the Ozzy record and other tracks that required some jangly sounds
  • ’59 Les Paul Jr. – This guitar, which can be heard in the “Under the Graveyard” and “Today Is the End” solos from the Ozzy record, was a gift from Ozzy to the guitar player. As the story goes, Ozzy gave a guitar to Zakk and another to Randy as presents too.
  • ’69 Danelectro – This low-output guitar is what Andy uses to add shimmer and high-end to guitar parts.
  • ‘80s Gretsch White Falcon – This guitar is what Andy uses when he needs to play slide guitar.

  • Duesenberg Double Cat – This is one of the very few non-vintage guitars that made it to Ozzy’s and other records and is mainly a slide instrument.
  • ’64 Hofner Bass – Although he is an accomplished and skilled guitarist, Andy Watt started out as a bass player. Moreover, to him, Paul McCartney is the best bass player in the world. He was working on sessions with Elton John in Toronto and this hollow bass arrived at the studio as a rental and he just couldn’t give it back.

Acoustic Guitars

  • 1946 Martin D-28 – In case you didn’t know, pre-war Martins are the holy grail of acoustic guitars. You can compare them to a ’59 Les Paul or a ’62 Stratocaster.
  • 1969 Martin D-28 (a six-string and a twelve-string model) – Andy Watt owns this couple of late-sixties Martins that were made the same month of the same year. Therefore, the producer and guitarist thinks they were made by the same guy and that’s why they sound so great together.

  • 1962 Gibson Everly Brothers – I guess you could say that the only acoustic guitar that gives you a bigger tone than a dreadnought is a jumbo. Well, this beautiful guitar with the stars on the fretboard goes with that affirmation.

Amplifiers

  • 1958 Dumble-Modded Fender High-Power Tweed Twin – For many rock players this is the Holy Grail when it comes to Fender amps because they sport the original circuit Jim Marshall based his design on. According to Andy Watt, it took him years and the production of several albums to be able to afford one. Then, the great, late Alexander Dumble tweaked it for Andy specifically and he hasn’t played anything else in his arsenal ever since. Dumble was introduced to him by Bob Rock and tweaked four amps you can hear on Hackney Diamonds.
  • Orange OR-50 – Andy Watt gets his classic British rock tone from this amp.

  • Orange Dual Dark – The guitar player and producer is known for playing Orange amps live and in the studio, he has an assortment of them for different tones.
  • Vox AC30 – The Class-A circuit of the Vox AC30 is perfect to get some slightly overdriven clean sounds, Beatles style.
  • Fender Deluxe Reverb – This might just be Fender’s most recorded amp in history and it made its way into the clean tones of many albums recorded by Andy Watt.
  • 10-Watt Supro Combo – Following the teachings Jimmy Page left us, Andy Watt employed this small Supro amp with a 10” speaker to cut solos.
  • 1987 Marshall Silver Jubilee – Because he needed to record a session with Slash, he needed some Slash-worthy tone and Oranges don’t sound as “brown” as the guitar God needs. Therefore, he went out to get one for him and it ended up being the main amp for the Ozzy record and many more coming after it.

Effects Pedals

  • Dunlop Cry Baby Wah – Just the regular Wah pedal any serious rock guitarist needs.
  • Ibanez TS10 Tube Screamer – The Ibanez Tube Screamer has been THE overdrive pedal for guitar gods in different generations delivering that mid-infused tone that’s so characteristic. This weird version was the late Stevie Ray’s pedal of choice and is also in Andy Watt’s pedalboard.
  • Ibanez BS10 Bass Stack – Josh Klinghoffer (RHCP, Pearl Jam) suggested Andy should get this pedal and it turned out to be one of the best-sounding overdrive/fuzzes he had ever tried.
  • Boss Super Overdrive SD-1 – Andy Watt has Prince tattooed on his pinky and considers himself the “outward biggest Prince fan in the entire world”, so he had to have that classic on his board.

  • Black Arts ToneWorks Pharaoh Fuzz – Essentially, two fuzzes in one pedal that you can mix to get creamy lead tones (Hey David Gilmour, talking to you!)
  • TYM Big Mud Sustainar – Because Andy is a big fan of John Frusciante’s tone, he uses this pedal to get that all-out tone the RHCP guitar god plays his leads with.
  • Electro-Harmonix Nano POG – Whether to make organ-like sounds with the guitar or to play a quick bass line while jamming with the drummer, this pedal gives Andy many sounds to work with.
  • Roger Meyer Voodoo Vibe – In case you didn’t know, Roger Meyer built all of Jimi Hendrix’s effects pedals. Andy got this pedal from the man himself. As a fun fact, Roger tweaked the pedal for Andy after hearing him play but removed all knobs so he couldn’t change the perfect sound he got for him.
  • Electro-Harmonix Memory Toy – In Andy’s words, the Memory Man is the greatest analog delay of all time (this Carbon Copy fan disagrees, but he’s the Grammy-winning producer, right?). This tiny version embodies all the wonders of its predecessors in a pedalboard-friendly size.
  • Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail – This reverb pedal by EHX comes in a very small box making it pedalboard-friendly and perfect for Andy’s board.

  • Eventide H9 – It’s impossible to name here everything this amazing pedal does, but Andy uses it to split between amps and has a custom-made footswitch to activate several effects within the H9.
  • Boss FV50H – Just a regular Boss volume pedal.
  • 1968 Univox Super Fuzz – This pedal, according to the man himself, is his favorite pedal in the entire world. One side of the pedal sounds like Sabbath and the other side sounds like Gish, the Smashing Pumpkins record from 1991.
  • Boss Vibrato VB-2W – Belonging to the Waza Craft series, this pedal is, for Andy, the right pedal to do the Prince trick; adding vibrato to the signal momentarily.

  • Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble (original) – This is, perhaps, the first chorus pedal that ever existed and it’s a big mammoth steel enclosure that occupies half a pedalboard. Besides Andy, John Frusciante is well-known for playing it since the earliest RHCP days.
  • Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Phaser – Another pedal by EHX from their nano series that occupies very little pedalboard real estate and gets the job done.

On the Road to Stardom

Now that we’ve talked gear, it’s time to talk about what Andy used that gear on and also what was the road that took him to acquire that fascinating assortment of guitars, amps, and effects.

Yes, let’s walk Andy’s path to stardom together, little by little.

The Pop Era

Let me start by saying that, at his young age, Andy Watt already won 5 Grammy Awards.

The first one was for Best Rap Album because of his work with Cardi B in Invasion of Privacy in 2019. In 2021, he won two Grammy Awards. One was for Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia in the category Best Pop Vocal Performance. The second Award from that year was the one every producer wants: Producer of the Year.

But let me rewind a little to 2015, Andy Watt was Justin Bieber’s touring guitarist and they got to work together on the songs “Hit the Ground” and “Home to Mama”.

In 2016, Watt worked with Post Malone on the song “Feeling Whitney” among other artists.

By 2017, Watt was called in to produce huge pop acts like Selena Gomez, Camila Cabello, the late Avicii, and Rita Ora.

A couple of years of intense work later, by 2019, Lana Del Rey, Shawn Mendes, Charli XCX, Charlie Puth, The Chainsmokers, and Ellie Goulding among others joined the long list of pop acts produced by Andy Watt.

Later, in 2020, besides doing a full album with Ozzy, he made the entire Plastic Hearts album with Miley Cyrus and worked with Sam Smith, and Dua Lipa again.

Finally, in recent years, he was able to work with pop legends like Elton John, rappers like Young Thug, One Republic, pop icon Ed Sheeran, former BTS member Jungkook, and superstars like Maroon 5 among many others.

Andy Watt’s stellar career as a producer started with deep roots in the pop arena, therefore, there’s a sense of beat, pop melody, and hit-oriented production that’s undeniable. Plus, if you think about it, he was producing Justin Bieber at age 25!

Meeting Rick Rubin

Before you start thinking we’re talking about an alien that dropped to Earth, let me tell you that the producer wasn’t always alone and that he had some help from the finest in the industry.

An example is Rick Rubin. They met in 2016 while Rubin was working with Bieber and Watt was playing guitar in the project.

After learning that Watt wanted to be a producer, he invited him to preview some mixes and gave him a piece of advice Watt would never forget. Rubin had heard similar elements Watt had employed when working with different artists and so he told him to be careful. Moreover, he said, “You got to make sure that within each project, you are helping the artists find their sound.”

Andy Watt recalls “That’s always in my head.”

The Rock Era

Although Watt cut his teeth working with pop acts, he has always been a rock fanatic. As such, he was able to work with some of the biggest acts on the planet. By doing so, he also added two more Grammy Awards to his growing collection.

In 2023, he won the Best Rock Album award for Ozzy Osborne’s Patient Number 9 and also the Best Metal Performance award for the song “Degradation Rules” from that same album featuring Tony Iommi on guitars.

But that’s not all, because he worked with one of his lifetime heroes, Eddie Vedder on his amazing Earthling record. If you haven’t heard it, I urge you to do it. He also did the new Iggy Pop record called Every Loser, Post Malone’s latest album, Austin, the mentioned Ozzy Osborne album Patient Number 9, and the icing on the cake goes to Hackney Diamonds, the latest (and 31st!) studio album by The Rolling Stones.

According to Spin Magazine, he’s currently working on a new Pearl Jam album that’s going to be one of the most awaited of the year. According to Mike McCready, Andy Watt “pushed us to play as best as we could.” Let me tell you, if it sounds anywhere near as amazing as Earthling does, it’s going to be a huge success that fans, like this guitar player and writer, have been waiting for a long time.

Why is Andy Watt THE Rock Producer of the Moment?

Before we wrap this story up, let me try and break the code for you to understand why, out of all the famed and amazing producers in the world, Andy Watt is the weapon of choice by superstars of all ages and musical styles.

To me, it all boils down to two main aspects of his work.

A Revolutionary Approach “Making Albums from The First Row”

Before being a star producer and accomplished guitarist, Andy Watt was a music fan. Moreover, being born in 1990, he grew up with unlimited records to listen to. Indeed, the ability to go into the internet and listen to anything from Pantera to Santana allowed him to form a broad musical taste and a deep understanding of how different styles work.

His generation didn’t suffer from not having enough money to buy their favorite album and only being able to hear what was physically available.

When he joined forces with punk icon Iggy Pop, the producer recalls thinking “‘OK, Iggy Pop, godfather of punk, one of Bowie’s muses, inventor of genres, inventor of punk rock, inventor of garage rock…what do I want to hear this guy sing? If I’m in the front row with this kick-ass band and the punk rock James Brown singing, what do I want to hear?’

So, his approach after being called by people the size of Sir Mick Jagger to jump on board, and after overcoming the obvious “can I pull this off?” thought, was making the kind of music himself as a fan would like to hear. In his own words, “Any fan wants to hear the greatest live rock’n’roll band of all time,” and he adds “so to do anything else with them in the studio is just letting everyone down.”

In summary, making music from a fan’s point of view, trying to make his idols make the music they became his idols for, has been the approach that granted amazing results in the past decade.

Stepping Up to The Demand “They Want to Be Produced”

Although the whole thing about making music from the front row is great, there’s something about working with these legends that’s, at least, intimidating. I mean, these are the people he must have seen every day in the shape of wall posters growing up.

So, what was Andy Watt’s approach to this challenge? How can he make legends obey his production ideas?

Well, as he said to Esquire Magazine, “If an artist is choosing to work with a producer, that means, to me, that they want to be produced. You can’t be scared. They’re there for an opinion,” He adds “Take Iggy for an example. He knows how to make a record. He could produce it himself! He’s choosing to work with a producer.”

This idea that they don’t need you but want you has taken this 33-year-old producer from an unknown and willing guitar player to the most sought-after rock producer of this decade.

In my opinion, there’s a dose of fandom but also humility in his approach since he’s not there because he’s in any way better than them but because he can bring a fresh set of ears to the mix and a healthy, young opinion to bands that have been making music for decades.

The Bottom End

Andy Watt’s meteoric career has been well documented in bombastic songs and records, but I think there’s a lot more to come and that he’s the one that will bring all my favorite rock acts (and maybe yours too) back to the genre with a healthy dose of adrenaline and musicianship.

Does the world need more rock albums? The answer is definitely yes regardless of when or where you read this.

Happy playing!

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About Santiago Motto

Santiago is a guitar player with over 25 years of experience. A self-confessed guitar nerd, he currently tours with his band 'San Juan'. Called 'Sandel' by his friends, he has a pop palate for melodies, ballads, and world music. San especially has an immense love for telecasters and all-mahogany Martins.

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