Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde discussed rejecting the idea of ripping off Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen in a new Guitar World interview.
“I was sat with Steve Vai one night and we were talking about when I got the gig with The Boss [Ozzy]. And I was telling him that I needed to find my own sound to separate me from anybody else.
“I didn’t want to get compared to other players… so how could I sound more like Zakk Wylde? I just wrote a list of things you can’t do.
“If you don’t want to sound like Eddie Van Halen, don’t do any tapping or use the whammy bar or harmonics.
“I didn’t want people saying I sounded like Yngwie, so that meant no harmonic minor, no sweep-picking or arpeggios.
“If you don’t want to sound like Jimi Hendrix, stay off the Uni-Vibe and don’t play a Strat with a wah-wah.
“Classical stuff was more Randy’s thing so I stayed away from that. If you don’t want to get compared, don’t play it!”
“The only things left were pentatonics and some bluegrass stuff I’d picked up from Albert Lee.
“I wanted to see how creative I could get by taking all these crayons out of the box. I started with 64 and now I only had four left. So the big test was seeing what I could do with less.
“It was kinda cool because it forced me to do things I might not have done otherwise. That’s when I started to really focus on my own sound, mainly picked pentatonic ideas.
“When I speak to younger musicians, I always tell them once they’ve learned all the scales, the rest is up to their imagination.
“If you want to get better, try and write a record using only pentatonic scales. Come up with 10 riffs that are only using those five notes.
“And you might end up writing your own ‘Smoke on the Water,’ ‘Whole Lotta Love,’ or ‘Into the Void.’ They are all from pentatonic scales, pretty much.”