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Michael Johnson >> Guitarists of Ozzy >>
Lesson Subject: Guitarists of Ozzy
What you learn: Zakk Wylde Style
Teacher: Michael Johnson

Michael: This lesson is a continuation of our series on the styles of Ozzy Osbourne's guitarists. Ozzy changed rock history by introducing some of the top heavy metal axe slingers of the '80s. This lesson is by special request and covers the unique style of Zakk Wylde. Zakk has a very expressive guitar style, utilizing blues and pentatonic scales, harmonic picking, wide expressive vibratos, while slinging his Les Paul down around his knees, pretty much in the way Jimmy Page plays. Zakk has been recently touring with his band Black Label Society. Sample some of the licks you'll be learning:

Michael: Let's get's the first jam track.

Michael: We'll start in A, Zakk uses the minor pentatonic/blues scales quite a bit. Here's the pattern.

Michael: One key technique he uses is picking harmonics, but we'll cover that in a sec. Notice the scale pattern starts on G. This is used to extend the pattern which works great for extending the solos in the lower range of the guitar. Here's our first lick:

Michael: Notice how this lick descends the scale pattern and the use of harmonics, this is key to getting the Zakk sound in addition to his wide vibrato style. There are 2 ways you can achieve harmonic picking sound:

1. Pick using you fingernail first then immediately hitting the tip pick thus creating the harmonic sound:

Harmonic Pick 1 - Step 1 (fingernail)

Harmonic Pick 1 - Step 2 (pick)

Michael: Here's the video of this technique in action:

Michael: You can also create different harmonic sounds by changing the positions on the strings, some spots have stronger harmonic sweet spots than others. Here's a tab file with harmonic picking:

Michael: Try experimenting with this, you can even use harmonic picking on the acoustic, now try this exercise using a chromatic pattern using harmonics:

Marko: Do you need special pickups to get it to sound like that?

Michael: Not really, but humbuckers help, which brings up a good point. Zakk typically uses Les Pauls. They have strong pickups for harmonics. Now let's move to more licks using this technique:

Michael: Here's another run Zakk uses. This run uses the A minor blues pattern. If the lick is too fast for you use the Riff tools to slow it down. How are you all doing?

John: I do better picking with the thumb hitting the string for the harmonic.

Michael: We'll cover that in a bit to John, let's try another lick:

Michael: Here's another lick using the same pattern. It's starts in the lower position of the extended A Minor Pentatonic pattern and then climbs to the middle position of the scale using your 3rd finger for the slide helps you make the transition in the scale pattern.

Michael: This lick is basically the same as no 3, but this time extended in the lower range of the scale. These notes are all relative to the A Minor Pentatonic scale: A, C, D, E, G

Michael: Try to really accent the vibrato on the lower strings, now we'll shift the progression to F#. Here's the jam track:

Michael: Zakk uses key transitions quite a bit for his solos, here's the scale pattern:

Marko: Why F#?

Michael: Because the chord progression changes Marko, so does the scale you play over it. Here's the lick:

Michael: You hear chord changes like this often in Ozzy's songs. It's a great tool for guitarist to use more of the fretboard when playing a solo and make the solo sound more interesting. Here's the other technique for "harmonic picking," in this technique you hit the pick first then immediately your thumb.

Harmonic Pick 2 - Step 1 (hit pick tip)

Harmonic Pick 2 - Step 2 (hit thumb)

Michael: This technique works better when playing on the lower strings.

Michael: This works great for many players. I got a blister using this technique, because I haven't used it in quite awhile and it sounds awesome with a lot of distortion.

Marko: do people ever get harmonics on the upstroke?

Michael: Sure Marko, the secret is to make contact twice.... either with the pick then finger or finger then pick. It has something to do with striking the note then stopping the vibration.

Marko: The only way I can get the sound is to hit the string with the finger and pick at the same time.

Michael: Marko you do make contact with one or the other first, one starts the note, the second reduces the vibration to create the harmonic sound. In the video I demonstrate the sweet spots for picking harmonics.

mehl: I can see how you got the blister, fingers starting to hurt.

Michael: Yep, I need to use this technique more to build up my callous. Here's a lick using double stops:

Michael: This lick sound cool when played fast, the notes are related to the F#, try playing it over the jam track. Here's another lick using Zakk's more recent style:

Michael: Now here's the full jam track using the A and F# together.

Michael: Here's how the entire track showing how most of the licks work together, this will help you to compare.

Michael: Question: did you know George Lynch played with Ozzy for one European tour after Randy Rhoads died? I use to play in a band called Jesuit Firebeast (LOL) with George Lynch before he moved to L.A. George was working at the same music store as Randy and was offered the tour after Randy died.

Marko: Was that before Dokken?

Michael: Yes, George mentioned Ozzy was tripping to much at that time to stay with the gig.

Marko: Is that how he became famous?

Michael: Actually Dokken was George Lynch's claim to fame, but the Ozzy gig opened the doors for him as a premier guitarist in the L.A. scene during the '80s. Do you know who played with Ozzy after Randy and George?

Marko: no I don't

Michael: Brad Gillis of Night Ranger filled in for the live album "Speak of the Devil", Jake E Lee for "Bark at the Moon" & "Ultimate Sin" and then Zakk Wylde for "No Rest for the Wicked," "Just Say Ozzy," & "No More Tears" etc. This brings us to our lesson on Zakk Wylde's guitar secrets.
Time to go. See you at the next next lesson!

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