By Strings Direct – 29 August, 2023
"Never follow a trend just because it’s popular, unless it truly moves you. When a kid asks me for advice about what they should play, I always ask ’em what they like."
We are back at it relentlessly with an explosive player that truly emanates both the status of Guitar Hero and Rock & Roll Star all in one entity 🤘. A monster guitarist that shakes the brains of every audience he encounters 💥.
A highly respected and incredibly knowledgeable player, one of the hardest working guitar players out there in both the touring and recording world. Instantly recognisable and still consistently graces the covers of many Rock, Metal and Guitar publications. 📖
A bearded, blonde, ambitious, man mountain 💪 the sonic master Mr Zakk Wylde. 🎸
“I was into mastering the hardest songs, scales and techniques possible. Looking back, that was a big mistake because although I was fast, I wasn’t thinking about important stuff like phrasing, vibrato or string bending. It was a total speed thing, and nothing else mattered to me. It was pretty pathetic!”.
Z.Wylde - Guitarworld.com
Monster of Rock 🤘
As we transport ourselves back to 1960’s, New Jersey, the coastline state that is overflowing with seaside resort towns and rich in musical legacy, Mr Sinatra being on of the most memorable. 🎙 Tommy may have worked on the docks but a young Zakk definitely learned how to rock 🤘.
Born Jeffrey Phillip Wielandt on 14th January 1967, in Bayonne, New Jersey. Raised in a fairly normal household with a fairly standard childhood the first thing that really stuck out was when Jeffrey first picked up a guitar at the age of eight.
The initial interest came from being a fan of music circulating at the time and it is told he was a great fan of Toni Iommi and of course Mr Randy Rhodes. ⚡️ At such a young age initially the guitar became quite an obsession and he was momentarily besotted by it.
But as overly familiar and expected with children that age he soon left it behind and moved on, he picked up a guitar again in his teenage years.
“I think it was just like everybody else - it was 'Iron Man' and 'Smoke on the Water' because you could play it on one string. I remember playing 'Another One Bites the Dust' because you can play that on guitar. It was mostly those type of one-string riff type of things. But my first chord song was 'Hey Joe' by Hendrix and then it was 'Tangerine' by Zeppelin [off 1970's 'Led Zeppelin III’].”
At the age of 14–15 the guitar was rediscovered! As much discipline as you can have at a young, adolescent age Jeffery opted to take formal lessons with LeRoy Wright which he kept up for a few years and was essential to his development as a young guitar player. In the quote below he has some exceptional things and thanks conveyed regarding his former teacher.
“I took lessons for about two years from a guy named LeRoy Wright. LeRoy was great. When he showed me the lick to 'Back in Black' - it wasn't only about learning the lick but he would show me the pentatonic scales, Minor Pentatonic, and explain how it works. It's like looking at a car engine and there are parts everywhere and you're showing me how all the parts work together and it all starts making sense. But yeah he was great as far as teaching scales and how to understand them yet at the same time, teaching me Sabbath songs and Zeppelin songs, so he was amazing.”
“Via an Interview with - Ultimate-Guitar.com"
Developing on his guitar efficiently with great pace Jeffrey was putting in long hours on the guitar with talks of practising up to 12-hours a day!
Even to this day he still has a disciplined practice method and is always looking to continue to the next level or next discovery.
“Did your guitar ever leave your side during your teenage years?
“I would play all day, but I guess it’s the equivalent of kids playing video games nowadays. You just want to keep getting to the next level. Any musician will tell you, if you love playing your technique and skills improve. When I first learned the lick in AC/DC’s Back In Black, that was a major breakthrough. The addiction took hold.”
“Zakk's Practice Routine:
Usually, when Zakk picks up his guitar he just starts going through scales, everything that is diatonic. Zakk usually also goes through a batch of pentatonic patterns before he starts playing. When it comes to playing, Zakk points out that he might start playing anything he wants. If there’s something he wants to learn, he just learns it.”
Via - news.fretello.com
Graduating high school in 1985 Jeffrey took his first job at the age of 14 at Silverton Music, the following natural progression was to start playing out on the local seen his first band “Stone Henge” who would ironically play Black Sabbath and ZZ Top covers amongst many other bands of a similar timbre.
Moving on (or jumping ship) Jeffrey went on to play in another band called “Zyris”, it's here he began his transformation from mere mortal to Metal Lord. 😛
Jeffrey initially changed his name to “Zachary Wyland” as a cool and digestible stage name, it wasn't until he was in the presence of a living legend that he changed his name legally …🦇
Ozzy, Sabbath & Black Label Society ☠️
Heavily into the scene and empowered by music Zakk was heart and soul into devoting his life to playing guitar his practice regimes were intense and exhausting as he was determined to get where he needed to be in his own head.
“When did you decide to devote your life to heavy metal?
“I was 14. I was playing as a linebacker and I went to my coach’s house to talk about continuing to play football when I went to high school. There was a Les Paul in the room, and I was like, ‘Mr. Wright, do you play guitar?’ He said he played country music, but his son Leroy was the one who was serious about it. Leroy came out and played some Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Ozzy had just released Crazy Train, so he played some of that. I was mesmerised, like he was doing a magic trick. Right there, I decided that was what I wanted to do with my life. I took lessons from Leroy for about a year and a half. He was great, teaching me theory and the songs I wanted to learn by the likes of AC/DC, Sabbath, [Jimi] Hendrix and Zeppelin.”
Exhausting the local scene with his band Zyris he chanced a big audition when it became available; and with a combination of his incredible playing ability, along his charisma and overall persona he secured the gig... instantly!
He was now proudly the co-writer and lead guitarist with Ozzy Osborne 🦇🔥.
The fact that Randy Rhodes was one of his key inspirations and idols was magically ironic and beautifully fitting, but this almost didn't happen due to the fact that he was in contract with his current band and the "below displays just how far it went to almost falling apart.
“When Ozzy wanted Zakk to join his band, Zakk was under contract with Zyris. Peter J, the manager of Zyris at the time wanted Sharon and Ozzy to buy Zakk out of his contract for like $60,000. Sharon and Ozzy offered like $10,000. Peter decided to play hardball like a f****ing *$£* and take the legal route. It almost caused Zakk to loose the Ozzy gig. In the end it was settled for $5,000 – $10,000.
–Scott (Zyris drummer) Metal-Sludge.com
At the tender age of 20-years-old he became the youngest guitarist to go out on tour and play some of the biggest stadiums and arenas around the world, and under the wing of the great Ozzy his name was officially changed to Zakk Wylde! 🎯 the Prince of darkness created a Metal-Lord. 🤘
Zakk spent many successful years alongside the Prince of Darkness and it was an incredibly creative period that produced some really iconic recordings and hard-hitting riffs. 🎸
A solid presence in the band from 1987-1995 Zakk eventually parted ways with Ozzy and began to formulate his own project, to this day he still drops in and out of the Prince of Darkness’s band and appears extensively on his latest album release. The on-off relationship here proves that there is truly something special linking these two together that they just can't get away from pure hard rock magnetism 🧲
A creative break in the mist of a quietly received solo project Wylde began to formulate his next plan of action and started to put together an outfit that would really suit his playing style and complement his overall musical calibre.
Returning to the forefront in 1999 Zakk unveiled his latest project - Black Label Society.
The band was incredible, hard-hitting, and packed a serious punch. To some it conveys a combination of whiskey-soaked '70s rock decadence alongside the thrashing chaos of the '80s dirty rock 'n' roll and hair metal. ⚡️
Strings To Shake The Earth 🌍
“Zakk Wylde is like the Thor of Metal”
“Cowboy Jesus vias YouTube”
Zakk is a monster shredder and pure aggressive player with refined and exquisite technique. His full-on, bone shaking tone is the benchmark for many hard rock and metal guitar players; he is predictably evolutionary and unpredictably organised & disciplined🤘
This is a guitar player who is so passionate and appreciative of his craft, his outrageous rock 'n' roll machine presence sometimes defers from the reality that he is a pure guitar and gear enthusiast!
A long-term association with Jim Dunlop USA has seen Zakk develop many pedals and accessories with the brand along with a signature string set (sadly that is no longer available).
He's also heavily associated with Gibson, of course, due to his iconic signature model with the bull's-eye paint job, and where would any real heavy rocker be without a Marshall standing behind them… . In the present day we find Zakk has developed his own brand “Wylde Audio” which he proudly produces his own guitars, amplifiers, and some FX along with his own strings.
GHS also offer two sets of strings hailing from Zakk’s arsenal, his association with brands and product development really displays his long-term enthusiasm for the right gear for the right job ongoing. 👍
Zakk Wylde is notorious for his tone-to-the-bone rock 'n' roll playing style, crushing riffs, and heavy leads swamped with aggressive and rapid picking techniques utilising a down-tuned style along with standard tuning depending on what's required, so his string choice is going to be one of great interest to many.
Zakk is a hard hitter and likes to bend relentlessly so he needs strings that are durable in both the bass and the trebles.
Consistently his gauge of choice has been 10-60 running 10, 13, 17 on the plains, this is of course a fairly standard 10 gauge set, which allows flexibility and speed upon lead lines and intricate techniques. However, it's with the wound strings that things start to get insane. 🌪
The wounds run 36w ,52w, 60w! This wrestler gauge thickness of strings guarantees to shake your brain and rattle your jaw when Zakk is hammering down the power chords and riff carnage, the heavy gauge also allows for optimal down tuning with zero string rattle or fret buzz. The exaggerated gauge also helps produce greater clarity and sustain through heavily distorted amps and affects even the biggest fuzz pedal in the world isn't going to break this gauge apart. 🤘
So now you've learned if you wanna get “Wylde” and project a beast of a tone with an unstoppable sonic boom 💥 you’ve gotta attack it like Zakk 🎯
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