5 Licks to Make You Go Wylde

This is a Zakk Wylde mini style file. It focuses mostly on alternate picking and Zakk's scale choices. Enjoy!

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Zakk Wylde is definitely one of the best and most recognizable guitar players in the world of metal music. For years he's been Ozzy Osbourne's no.1 guitarist as well as the leader of Black Label Society. His inimitable guitar style has had a huge impact on metal guitar worshipers all over the world. When looking up-close at his playing style there are a couple of things you can easily notice - his musical influences are clearly rooted in blues and southern rock, hence his frequent use of pentatonics and the blues scale, and he has a killer picking technique. The licks that I'm about to show you are not for the inexperienced - they sound best when played at high speed and they require pretty good synchronisation of both hands. Therefore, in order to be able burn through the examples below, it would be best to already have at least some experience in speed guitar training. 1. A true Zakk classic - this lick is derived straight from the A minor pentatonic scale box:
e 8_5_____________________________________________
b ____8_5_____8_5_________________________________
g ________7_5_____7_5_____7_5_____________________
d ____________________7_5_____7_5_____7_5_________
a ________________________________7_5_____7_5_____
e ____________________________________________8_5_
It's really difficult to get it up to speed but it also sounds good played at a moderate tempo. Try playing it ascending as well. 2. Another minor pentatonic lick, this time incorporating the first two scale boxes:
e __________________________________________________________________8_10_8_10_8_10_ 
b ___________________________________________________8_10_8_10_8_10________________ 
g _______________________________________7_9_7_9_7_9_______________________________ 
d ________________________7_10_7_10_7_10___________________________________________
a ____________5_7_5_7_5_7__________________________________________________________ 
e 5_8_5_8_5_8______________________________________________________________________
The picking pattern looks deceptively simple, but it's actually quite difficult to play clean. Apply vibrato to the last note to get closer to the Wylde sound. 3. Zakk likes combining the Dorian mode with the blues scale. The lick is an example of this approach:
e 8_7_5_8_7_5___________________________
b ____________8_7_5_8_7_5_______________
g ________________________8_7_5_8_7_5___
d ____________________________________7_
a ______________________________________
e ______________________________________
Notice the picking pattern - a sequence of three notes is repeated on every string. Mr.Wylde uses this approach in the first few bars of BLS's "Bleed For Me" solo. 4. A short repeated run, as Zakk could play it:
e ________________________5_7_8_5_7_8_________________________5_7_8_5_7_8_
b ____________5_7_8_5_7_8_________________________5_7_8_5_7_8_____________
g 5_7_8_5_7_8_________________________5_7_8_5_7_8_________________________
d ________________________________________________________________________
a ________________________________________________________________________
e ________________________________________________________________________
The string-skipping technique used in this example makes it even more challenging when played at a Wylde tempo. Repeat the lick as many times as you want. 5. The last one is a classic rock cliche. However, played up to speed it sounds great!
e ____________________________________________________
b ____________________________________________________
g 5_8_9_5_8_10_5_8_9_5_8_10_5_8_9_5_8_10_5_8_9_5_8_10_
d ____________________________________________________
a ____________________________________________________
e ____________________________________________________
The scale used here could be described as natural minor with an added blue note. Watch out for the large stretch! You can move it up the neck to make it a bit easier. All licks are straight 16th notes. Feel free to move them all around the fretboard. To get closer to Zakk's sound use a mahogany body guitar equipped with active humbucking pickups and an all tube Marshall amp (JCM 800 preferably) with an overdrive stomp-box in front. Rock on! StanB is a rock guitar player, composer and guitar instructor. For more lessons & guitar related info check out his Free Guitar Lessons blog.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    -Jake95-
    omgiplayguitar wrote: Zakk Wylde, a notable godly guitarist. these licks are incredibly diificult to master and should not be attempted by anyone under the age of 21. ps: there will be a zakk wylde guitar duel in guitar hero world tour =)
    Hey Man. These Are Quite Easy. Im 14. Thats You Owned. I've Been Playing 10 Months. And Yea, The GH4 battle song owns!
    Mr.Tea
    cool I was just thinking today how I'd like to learn some Zakk licks, thx.
    jtbull
    good stuff. songs them are from are nice just in case you forget like i did
    omgiplayguitar
    Zakk Wylde, a notable godly guitarist. these licks are incredibly diificult to master and should not be attempted by anyone under the age of 21. ps: there will be a zakk wylde guitar duel in guitar hero world tour =)
    StB
    Thanks for your comments & suggestions! I had written the article some time before the GW DVD came out, but I'm glad my short analysis is similar to the one in GW :
    srvkicks@$$
    If you ask me randy rhoads would be someone i would rather learn about seriously rhoads was zakks idle and inspiration and he turned out ok
    DimeZakk9304
    I think you forgot his E minor pentatonic drop down You know like the one he uses live all the time other wise good lesson
    hildesaw
    These are quite simple, but I guess that coincides w/ Zakk's style. I would call him a virtuoso in any sense of the word.
    zorbozate
    just show,s you,you don,t have to complacate music to make it sound good!!
    fastlanestoner
    This is a pretty good lesson. Very basic approach to Zakk's style but informative nonetheless. Awesome!
    celticflames
    Pretty sweet lesson. Could have mentioned legato and hybrid picking which wyle uses alot as well. Keep up the good work