What You Can Learn From The Guitar Style Of Randy Roads

Randy Rhoads is a guitar player who’s short lived career still sends ripples throughout the guitar community almost 35 years later. He was the first guitarist for the newly found Ozzy Osbourne band and helped launch Ozzy’s career after the disintegration of Black Sabbath.  There are many things that are great about his guitar playing and any aspiring guitar player should study and dive into as much Randy as they can handle.  With only two albums, Blizzard of Ozz (1980) and Diary of a Madman (1981), he catapulted his rock infused classical guitar playing to heights that few guitarists ever reach in their lifetime.  He had many characteristics that all guitar players should aspire too.

1. Absolutely Killer Vibrato

Arguably the most expressive technique that a guitarist can master is their control and use of vibrato.  Vibrato is the expressive side of guitar playing that emulates the human voice.  Randy used vibrato deliberately, consistently, and at the perfect times in his guitar playing with that was in his guitar riffs or in his solos.  Look to songs like “Over the mountain” and “Mr. Crowley” to hear excellent uses of vibrato.

2. Impeccable Rhythm Timing And Variety

In the recording studio, Randy was often flawless in his execution.  All of the rhythm tracks are double tracked ( a common studio technique for guitar players.) The consistency of his recordings and takes shows that his sense of groove and rhythmic technique was at the forefront of his mind when he played and practiced.  Being a classical guitar player, his effective use of practicing with a metronome really helped him develop his ability to play in the pocket and play super tight, articulate rhythms.

3. Liquid Smooth Legato Playing

Another definable element of his guitar playing was his fluid left hand legato phrases.  Legato is when a guitar player produces multiple notes with the use of primarily the left hand doing hammer ons and pull offs while the right hand may only pick a small handful of notes.  “Over the Mountain” and “Crazy Train” have some unbelievably fluid legato runs that challenge even serious guitar players because they are so cleanly, and even executed.

4. Excellent Infusion Of Classical Music Theory Into Modern Rock Music

Upon analyzing the riffs, chords progressions, and chord voicings that Randy chose to use in his music, you will find that many of the concepts were taken directly from classical guitar etudes, and compositions. The opening for Diary of a Madman for example is a direct adaptation of a famous classical etude called “Study VI, by Leo Brouwer.”  The chord progression and riffs from “Crazy Train “ are evenly spaced between A major and it’s relative minor F# minor.  The chords and riffs balance delicately between the two key centers and are used very effectively to convey the emotion of the song.

5. Dedication, Consistent Practice, And Hunger For Growth And Knowledge

Randy was known to seek out guitar teachers while on tour with Ozzy.  His hunger and thirst for new material, new knowledge, new application is what helped define his sound and inspire the next generation of great guitar players.  He will forever be remembered and revered as a great guitar player because he was one of the first guitar players to launch the rock and roll sound to new heights while combining and fusing it with with traditional classical guitar, and tied the two together to create some of the best and catchiest rock riffs of all time.  

Josh Beetler , onward of http://www.tauntonguitarlessons.com was heavily influenced by guitar players like Randy Rhoads as a young practicing guitarist.  He would often spend hours and hours every day trying to train his hands to replicate the amazing, expressive guitar playing of the late great Randy Rhoads.  He strives to teach his students to practice and study with the same intensity and passion as Randy Rhoads did.