Zakk Wylde: Guitar Boot Camp
In this classic lesson, Zakk Wylde leads you through his brewtal guitar boot camp!
2) BE DISCIPLINED
“You gotta have discipline, man,” says Zakk. “The reason I love people like Jack Lambert and [six-time Mr. Olympian] Dorian Yates to death is the discipline it took for them to get where they got. Same for John McLaughlin and Yngwie Malmsteen. I mean, those guys just keep getting better, and regardless of what you think of their music, you’ve gotta give them props for that. If you want to be as good as they are, you need to be disciplined about practicing. For example, every morning I grab a guitar, sit down and get to work. There are days when I don’t have as much time as I’d like, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t pick up a guitar and practice.
“One thing I like to do is start off with chromatic exercises, picking each note and using alternate picking,” says Zakk as he cranks out FIGURES 1 and 2 at a breakneck pace. “And, if I want a real good workout, I’ll start both these at the first fret and take them all the way up the neck and then back down again,” he says while playing FIGURE 3, a longer version of the pattern shown in FIGURE 1, to illustrate his point.
“Then I usually run through some pentatonic [five-note] and diatonic [seven-note] scale shit all over the neck. I think it’s important that you get to know the five pentatonic scale patterns [FIGURE 4] and the seven diatonic scale patterns [FIGURE 5] back to front and inside out, so that you can rip through them fast and with total confidence. Together, they form the basic framework you need to be able to slam out killer leads.
“Sometimes, instead of just running up and down the scale shapes, I’ll come up with fingering patterns that make these scales sound more musical and less like finger exercises,” Zakk says, playing FIGURE 6 and FIGURE 7 to illustrate. “There are lots of patterns and combinations of patterns you can come up with.”
In addition to practicing scales and modes, Zakk works religiously on technique he’s referred to in his popular monthly Brewtality column as “connecting the dots.” It requires that you become familiar with these patterns and how to link them together, so that you can move seamlessly up and down the neck as well as across it. “Doing this is important because it opens up the whole fretboard,” says Zakk, playing FIGURES 8–10 to prove his point. FIGURE 10 is an A minor pentatonic monster run that climbs the neck on the high E and B strings, then goes across it at the 17th fret before climbing back down on the low E and A strings.
“I find it’s very beneficial to play these kinds of finger exercises along to the radio or your favorite records,” says Zakk. “Doing that makes them sound more interesting and, more important, helps teach you how to apply these kinds of runs in real songs.”
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