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31/10/2015

Randy Rhoads: The Magical Techniques of the Wizard of Ozz | LESSON WITH TAB | GuitarPlayer

Randy Rhoads: The


Magical Techniques
of the Wizard of Ozz |
LESSON WITH TAB
BY GP EDITORS
October 30, 2015

626

In the world of heavy metal, hot guitarists are a dime a dozen. Yet only a precious few
stand the test of time and become enduring guitar gods.
Randy Rhoads was one such player. Joining forces with singer Ozzy Osbourne in
1979, Rhoads burst onto the metal scene like a bolt from the blue. He was blessed
with dazzling chops and an innate comprehension of music theory, and his style had
a perfect blend of flash and melodic structure. Flowing legato sections segued to
impossibly fast, palm-muted picking passages; incendiary trills and daring chromatic
maneuvers coexisted with classically influenced melodiesall of which were derived
from a seemingly inexhaustible supply of scales and arpeggios and laid out across an
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31/10/2015

Randy Rhoads: The Magical Techniques of the Wizard of Ozz | LESSON WITH TAB | GuitarPlayer

ever-shifting rhythmic landscape. Whats more, Rhoads was so precise that he could
seamlessly double-track anything played for maximum sonic density.
Sadly, only three recordingsBlizzard of Ozz, Diary of a Madman and Tribute
captured Rhoads genius. His life was cut short in an airplane crash in 1982, but the
musicianship that lies within those tracks is as stunning and inspiration today as it
was then.
In this lesson, well explore the main techniques behind his outstanding guitar
playing.

SEQUENCES AND SCALES


Rhoads would often sprinkle a solo with a furry of pentatonic pull-offs, such as
those FIGURE 1.
FIGURE 1

Built from the A minor pentatonic scale (A C D E G), this lick is inspired both by the
opening moments of the first solo in Mr. Crowley and by the fill just before the last
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Randy Rhoads: The Magical Techniques of the Wizard of Ozz | LESSON WITH TAB | GuitarPlayer

verse of I Dont Know. Its interesting to note that while Rhoads possessed the
facility to rip through lines such as these using alternate picking, he often chose a
legato approach for a smoother, more flowing outcome.
FIGURE 2 features a three-notes-per-string legato scale run inspired by the solos in

Crazy Train, Suicide Solution and Mr. Crowley. This line zips up the A natural
minor scale (A B C D E F G) in a blinding lash of hammer-ons. Make sure you
hammer firmly onto every second and third note, striving for equal volume of the
pick attacks.
FIGURE 2

BLUES LICKS AND MIXED SCALES


Rhoads was fond of the blues scale (1 b3 4 b5 5 b7) and often milked its flatted 5th for
all it was worth. For example, notice the emphasis on the Bb in FIGURE 3A, an E blues
(E G A Bb B D) lick inspired by the opening phrases of the I Dont Know solo.
FIGURE 3A

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Randy Rhoads: The Magical Techniques of the Wizard of Ozz | LESSON WITH TAB | GuitarPlayer

Rhoads often mixed blues-scale licks with diatonic scales, and modes such as Aeolian
(natural minor), Phrygian (1-b2-b3-4 -5-b6-b7) and harmonic minor (1-2-b3-4-5-b67). Reminiscent of the Crazy Train solo, FIGURE 3B offers a composite of F#
Aeolian (F# G# A B C# D E) and F# blues (F# A B C C# E).
FIGURE 3B

CHROMATICISM

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Randy Rhoads: The Magical Techniques of the Wizard of Ozz | LESSON WITH TAB | GuitarPlayer

Chromaticism is another hallmark of Rhoads soloing style. His chromatic


techniques ran the gamut from the simple use of tension tones (notes that lie outside
of pentatonic and diatonic scales) all the way to full-blown chromatically modulating
passages, such as the ones found in FIGURES 4AB.
FIGURES 4AB

FIGURE 4A is similar to a move Rhoads used in S.A.T.O, where a minor-3rd

hammer-on is moved down in half steps. Notice that the lick starts on two solid chord
tones (G and E, the b3rd and root), then chromatically targets two resolving tones (D
and B, the b7th and 5th).
FIGURE 4B features one of Rhoads pet motifs: a descending four-note slice of a scale

patternin this case, F E D C of the D minor scale (D E F G A Bb C). Ascending


chromatically, the palm-muted quadruplets hit sonic fruition with an Ab-G-F
sequence over the Fm chord.
FIGURE 5 features another of the guitarists favorite chromatic ploys, this one

involving major and minor triads, along with partial 7th-chord arpeggios, moving
along the top two strings. In this example, an A minor triad (A-C-E) moves up in half
steps, then segues to the upper portion of an Am7 arpeggio (A C E G), which also
ascends chromatically.

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Randy Rhoads: The Magical Techniques of the Wizard of Ozz | LESSON WITH TAB | GuitarPlayer

FIGURE 5

FIGURE 6 breaks the bounds of chromaticism with a pick-tapped trill that ascends in

pitch via a gradual bend executed with the fret hands 4th finger. Notice that, again,
the example begins and ends on solid chord tones (G# and B [3rd and 5th], and B
and D [5th and b7th]).
FIGURE 6

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Randy Rhoads: The Magical Techniques of the Wizard of Ozz | LESSON WITH TAB | GuitarPlayer

TAPPING AND TRILLS


Unlike many of his peers in the early Eighties, Rhoads avoided jumping on Eddie
Van Halens tapping bandwagon. When he did choose to tap, though, the results
were stunning, as the sequence in FIGURE 7 reveals.
FIGURE 7

In the style of the breathtaking climax of the Flying High Again solo, the example
follows a double-tap/pull-off/hammer-on sequence constructed from triads that
outline the changes.
Some of the most dazzling Randy Rhoads moments are often mistaken for tapped
excursions. One such passage is the open-string pull-off extravaganza that occurs
midway through his solo in the live version of Suicide Solution, where he
dispatches a sizzling array of triads and partials along with 1st (FIGURE 8) and 2nd
strings.
FIGURE 8

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Randy Rhoads: The Magical Techniques of the Wizard of Ozz | LESSON WITH TAB | GuitarPlayer

Rhoads also had a penchant for classically influenced trills (two notes played in rapid
alternation). He would use them to outline the chord tones of specific changes, as
seen in FIGURE 9, where the notes of an F7 arpeggio (F Ab Cb D) are alternated with
notes a half step below.
FIGURE 9

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