Learn Randy Rhoads Techniques to Use in Your Songs

Learn Randy Rhoads Techniques to Use in Your Songs

In today’s lesson, we’re going to learn to play Randy Rhoads techniques to use in your songs.  These concepts will help you to not only come up with some interesting ideas you might not have thought of before but also give you a better understanding of your guitar fretboard and the notes that reside on it.


Randy Rhoads in the ’70s

Randy Rhoads with Quiet Riot

Randy Rhoads first came on to the scene in the ’70s playing with Quiet Riot.  They played around California and became part of the local music scene.  A healthy rival to Eddie Van Halen.

They recorded a couple of albums that were released in Japan, and it is here in Quiet Riot in the ’70s that Randy Rhoads honed his guitar skills.  Along with teaching at his mother’s music school.


Randy joining Ozzy

In 1980, Ozzy Osbourne was out of his current band Black Sabbath and was in pursuit of bandmates for his new solo project.  Being from England, he kept finding guitar players that played like Tony Iommi.  The guitarist in Black Sabbath.  He didn’t want that.

He was told, to try America as there was a hot set of guitarists in California.  So he headed over there and found Randy.  Ozzy liked Randy because he didn’t play like Tony.  He knew this would give him a fresh new sound.

Randy Rhoads and Ozzy Osbourne

Randy joined Ozzy Osbourne and they proceeded to record their first album Blizzard of Oz.  This album was a great vehicle for Randy to showcase his talents.  The album and the follow-up album that was recorded the following year Diary Of A Madman would set Randy as a guitar hero.


Randy’s influence

For me personally, Randy has been a major influence.  His guitar style and techniques have taught me how to play guitar.  And this is what we are going to learn about here in this lesson.  Some of the techniques he brings to the table that is now common to rock guitar, and also the classical style he injected into the style of heavy metal music.


Hammer-ons & pull-offs

One of the most common techniques in playing guitar solos is the use of hammer-ons ad pull-offs.  This is where you play a note and the hammer-on to another one.  Or, you have two notes, play one and pull-off to the other.

Randy used this technique massively in his guitar solos.  I highly recommend that you master your hammer-ons and pull-offs. These will help bring your solos to life.

pentatonic hammer-ons

pentatonic pul-offs

These are examples of hammer-ons and pull-offs.  A hammer-on is when you strike a note and hammer-on to the next note.  A pull=off is when you strike a note and pull-off to another.

Hammer-ons are adding a note, and pull-offs are when you subtract a note.  If you can relate this to basic math it will be easy to learn and understand.


Natural harmonic chords

Natural harmonic chords are a nice touch that Randy also brought to his playing that spiced it up.  This is where you play chords in a more harmonic position to give the chord a different sound.

For instance.  If you plat the G major chord in the natural position (at the third fret) then you play it harmonically in the open position at the 12th fret on the open G, D, & E strings.

This works because the notes are the same in both chords.  One fretted, and one open.  You can do this with other chords as well, you just need to find the notes.  This why it is important to learn the notes on your fretboard.


Finger and pick tapping

These are very cool techniques to add to your bag of guitar tricks.  It is where you use your finger or the pick to tap on the strings.  Randy used these techniques quite often in his solos.

Once you learn to do this with proficiency, you’ll recognize it in songs by other guitar players that he has influenced as well.  This technique takes practice and will add some nice flavor to your solos when you learn to do it properly.


Melodic shapes

Melodic shapes are three to four-note runs that ascend and descend up and down the fretboard.  Notes that are in a particular pattern or shape and are repeated as they move.

This can be heard in “Crazy Train” and a few of his other songs.  This is a great thing to try to fit into your solos as they add some nice familiarity to the ear.

melodic shapes

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Here is another very cool thing that Randy does (along with guitar players like Angus Young and Tony Iommi) and is a must to add to your guitar solos.  Trills are where you rapidly repeat a hammer-on, pull-off.


This can be found all over his playing.  In many many songs.  And like the pick tapping, once you get familiar with it, you’ll begin to hear it in your favorite guitar solos and can add it to your own.


Natural chords

One of the things that makes Randy Rhoads guitar playing style different from that of Tony Iommi is the use of different chord types.  Although he does use some power chords (like Tony) he uses more natural and inverted chords.  These are sometimes called harmony chords, or upside-down power chords.

Randy Rhoads guitar chords


Tremolo picking

This is where you do really fast alternate picking on one string.  This is a very common lead guitar technique and should be learned and mastered.  Once you do, you’ll recognize this technique in many of your favorite rock guitar solos.

You first want to master alternate picking.  WHere you pick one note down and the next note up.  You do this repeatedly.  Once you have that down, you work on speeding it up.  Once you master that, you then have tremolo picking.


Bass note string skipping

One thing that Randy does in his rhythms is to use bass note string skipping.  Where he plays an open string before he plays a guitar chord.  This comes from his classical guitar training.  Where this method is very popular.

Bass note string skipping

You play an open string (like the E or A) as a bass note and the strike the chord.  This gives you more of a low end to the guitar chord as well as more of a staccato feel.  This is produced because of the string skipping.


Whammy bar tricks

Much like Eddie Van Halen, Randy was known for his whammy bar tricks.  He used this to add effect to certain notes and musical passages.  If you don’t have a whammy bar, or have one but don’t use it much, I recommend you check it out.  You can do some really cool stuff with a whammy bar.


The selector switch on & off

Another thing that Randy does that is very cool is he uses the pickup selector switch to add effect to his playing.  This is a very cool effect that can grab your listener’s attention.

With a Gibson style guitar, you have two volume knobs.  One for each pickup.  This gives you an opportunity to add diversity to your guitar tone.  You simply have one volume on and one volume off.  You then switch between them.  A very cool effect.


Lesson conclusion

There are many, many, more cool guitar tricks that Randy incorporates into his guitar playing.  In both his rhythm playing and guitar solos.  These concepts that I have presented here should give you a good starting point.

If you’d like to hear these in action, I recommend you check out any of his albums.  But especially, the Randy Rhoads Tribute album.  This recording is full of all the techniques taught in this lesson.

Randy Rhoads Tribute album

This album and tab book that goes with it, is packed with everything you need to become a Lead Guitar Wizard!  You start with the basics and progress from there.  If you want to be a great guitar player, no better place to start than Randy Rhoads.

Not to mention the fact that he was also a teacher.  So this makes him a great player to learn from.  If you have any further questions about guitar techniques used by Randy Rhoads or any other guitar wizard, be sure to check out my Video Lesson Library on Youtube,

Keep learning and getting better always!

Dwayne Jenkins

Dwayne Jenkins