An Interview with Guitarist Jimmy Burkard

All images courtesy of Jimmy Burkard

By Andrew Daly

Wielding a classic single-cut Les Paul, guitarist Jimmy Burkhard does his part to pay homage to the monsters of late-60s, ’70s, and ’80s classic and blues rock.

You might know him from the short clips he regularly posts on social media, which depict him shredding his way through the classics. Or maybe you’ve caught him onstage recently with the Led Zeppelin tribute act, the Moby Dicks. And, of course, it’s entirely possible that you’ve seen the Detroit native swaggering across the stage with transcendent glam rockers Sweet.

No matter where you first came upon him, one thing is certain – Burkard is steadfastly committed to preaching the good word of rock ‘n’ roll via his solidbody slab. In an age where more and more young minds are shaped by sounds anew, it does this writer’s heart good to see that there are still six-stringers committed to perpetuating the foundation on which rock was built.

As he prepares for what’s to come in 2023, Jimmy Burkard beamed in with VWMusic to recount his origins with the guitar, love for Gibson Les Paul guitars, taking the stage with Sweet, and much more.

What led you to first pick up the guitar? Can you recall your earliest gigs?

My Uncle had a little acoustic in his room, sitting by his album collection. I used to go in there, look through the albums, and stare at the guitar. He gave me the guitar, and mom got me into a group lesson thing for six weeks when I was 10. The sound and look of electric guitars were very intriguing to me. I’d hear the older guys drive down the street with Zeppelin cranking from their cars; I loved that sound. The earliest gigs were basement parties and backyard parties. I played my first club gig when I was 17. The Falcon Lounge, Harpo’s, The Ritz, and Detroit bars. 

Being from Detroit, how did that scene shape you as a musician?

I heard a lot of Motown, R&B, and pop songs of the time; that’s what mom and pops would have on in the car. On the rides home from grandma’s, I’d listen intently and pick out different parts of the songs to focus on; guitar, bass, and drums especially. I’d hear the vocals as melodies, not so much as words. Later on, raw Detroit rock was an influence, MC5, The Stooges, early Bob Seger, and Ted Nugent. 

You’ve shared the stage with the likes of Rudy Sarzo, Billy Idol, and Simon Wright. What did those experiences teach you? 

They taught me that you need to work hard at your craft and always be respectful. It’s humbling to play with guys like that. It also gives you validation that you can do it, and you never stop learning and trying to better yourself. Be it writing, phrasing, vibrato, picking, legato, or whatever. It never stops. 

What notable auditions have you taken part in? On the sessions side of things, which stands out most?

Early on was the Red Chili Peppers’ cattle call audition when John Frusciante first left the band. You could hear the players in the room before you… talk about anxiety. I auditioned for Love Hate around that time, too. Most of my sessions are at home and recording guitar tracks for songwriters. 

All images courtesy of Jimmy Burkard

How about the ones that have been most surprising or interesting?

I played on a cover version of Aerosmith’s “Chip Away at the Stone” with John Corabi, Brian Tichy, Robbie Crane, and Christian Brady. That was lots of fun, as I love Aerosmith. That led to me playing on a metal-type track for the same label. That one was a challenge because it’s a bit out of my wheelhouse. But it was rewarding to just go for it. 

What led to you joining the Moby Dicks?

That came about with me playing in a cover band with Chas West. He suggested me to Brian Tichy, and I played a couple of songs at a one-off Zeppelin gig Brian put on. He knew me by then, and the timing was right; the other guitarists were busy, so I got the call. They use other guitar players, too; it’s kind of a rotating guitar slot. 

How do you approach Jimmy Page’s legendary licks?

With the Moby Dicks I play Jimmy’s parts as close as I can get but get even closer in feel; I try, at least. You want to play the song parts correctly, but I’m talking about the solos. I try to think like Jimmy, like his note choices, phrases, and such. 

You’re also working with Sweet, right?

Yeah, man! I am. The Sweet gig came out of nowhere and was a pleasant surprise. We play anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the show. The hits plus some deeper cuts. It’s lots of jamming, which I love. So far, the gigs have been great, including festivals and fairs. We just played Fargo and playing some shows in Canada in the next couple of weeks. I remember miming along on guitar with some friends to “Fox on the Run” in my sixth-grade talent show. So, this is cool to play the songs now. 

All images courtesy of Jimmy Burkard

How would you best describe your style?

I’m a classic rock guy; blues rock, hard rock, that’s my thing—anything with good guitar, I like, though. I’m still evolving, trying to play more melodically and working on the other things I mentioned earlier. 

Do you prefer vintage guitars or new ones? What gear are you deploying? 

I like Gibson Les Pauls, and Marshalls. I was into vintage stuff for a bit, but new stuff is great if it’s built right. My Marshall’s are 100 watts with the Friedman BE mod and fx loops. I also use MGL Amp Works heads; they’re very similar to my Marshalls. I like Marshall 4x12s with 25-watt Greenbacks. I’m using Pariah Pickups; I like the PAF variants. I also have a Gibson Flying V that I love, and I have a Fender Super Strat for when I want to get my Eddie Van Halen on. 

What’s for you next in all lanes?

I have two new instrumentals coming out very soon; I just need to finalize mixes. There are two out now on all streaming platforms, so check me out. I’ll be playing more shows with Sweet and possibly recording with them. Lastly, Westbound has some more shows coming up, too. See you all on stage.

All images courtesy of Jimmy Burkard

Andrew Daly (@ajdwriter88) is the Editor-in-Chief of and may be reached at

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