Zakk Wylde Admits Refusing To Sound Like Eddie Van Halen And Randy Rhoads

Most guitarists hope to be remembered for their unique sound. Zakk Wylde was among those who refused to sound like anyone, even the big names in the scene. In a recent interview with Ultimate Guitar, Zakk Wylde recalled how he found his own voice on the guitar and admitted he didn’t want to sound like Eddie or Randy Rhoads.

“What I did was — I made a grocery list, eliminating everything related to Yngwie’s playing,” Zakk Wylde revealed while speaking about how he found his own sound despite the increasing appreciation of Malmsteen’s style. “This is ’87, ’88 when the record came out. They were opening up classical guitar studies at Berkeley just because of Yngwie.”

He continued, “If you don’t want to get compared to Yngwie, you should get rid of sweep picking, harmonic minor, and all the classical ones that Yngwie’s doing; otherwise, you’re going to hear people comparing you to him. If you’re going to have stripes on your guitar or polka dots on your guitar, don’t get mad when people go, ‘Oh, wow, what are you? An Eddie Van Halen? Are you into Randy Rhoads?’ Don’t do that, either.”

“I just made a grocery list, and I was crossing things off,” said Wylde before detailing the techniques that he forbade himself from doing to ensure the originality of his sound. “I won’t do harmonic minor. I won’t do sweep-picking. I’m not going to do any tapping. You don’t want to be compared to Eddie or Randy. You don’t do any tapping. I’m going to get rid of the whammy bar, so there’s no way for all the harmonics that Ed would always do, and Randy was doing them in like ‘Crazy Train,’ don’t do any of that.”

Revealing what was left for him to improve while establishing his own sound, Zakk Wylde explained, “You don’t want to get compared to them. I was making a grocery list of things not to do. You don’t want to be compared to these guys. All that was left at the end of it was pentatonic scales and chicken pickin’.

Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, and Yngwie Malmsteen… They all have something in common: their unique guitar-playing style. Apparently, Zakk Wylde decided to stay away from Yngwie’s sweep-picking and harmonic minor, Eddie’s tapping, and Randy’s harmonics because he didn’t want to be compared to those legendary names. Instead, he went on with pentatonic scales and chicken pickin’ technique.