Of course I’m a Randy Rhoads fan

Randy Rhoads died at the young age of 25 in a freak plane crash accident in 1982. I specifically remember it.

At the time, I was only 11 years old. I wasn’t a guitarist yet, so I didn’t appreciate just how important his death was.

I had both Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman. Those two albums were my two favorite albums. Period.

I liked Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard, and Journey. Those were my favorite three bands when Randy Rhoads died.

Randy Rhoads 1980

Randy Rhoads

I didn’t start playing guitar until February 1988. Yngwie Malmsteen became my favorite guitarist in 1985. But after playing guitar, it went back to Randy Rhoads and remains Rhoads to this day.

Not at all a knock on Malmsteen. Still a fan. I just happen to appreciate Rhoads significantly more.

What makes Randy Rhoads special?

It’s easy to idolize someone who died. It’s way overdone in music. But it’s different with Rhoads.

He was ahead of his time. Big time. He was doing the neo-Classical stuff when almost nobody else was doing it. Yes, Ritchie Blackmore was doing it as was Uli John Roth. But Rhoads would have been the one to really bring it to Metal music had he not died.

Instead, the credit goes to Yngwie Malmsteen. It was Yngwie in the mid-80s who really popularized neo-Classical Metal and Shred Metal. After Yngwie, everyone started doing it.

Rhoads played with passion. He had a unique style, a unique sound. You knew right away that he was the one playing a lead.

Even his rhythms were unique. He’d throw in licks and sound effects right in the middle of a riff. Nobody did it like him at the time. Now it’s commonplace, but at the time, he was about the only one doing it.

Brought Ozzy back from the grave

When he died, he had already won several guitar awards. More importantly though, he resurrected Ozzy Osbourne’s career. Ozzy was known as a washed up musician and Sharon Arden (who became Sharon Osbourne) took a chance on a guy nobody else wanted.

They were fortunate to land Randy Rhoads, the guitarist from a struggling Quiet Riot. Ironically, Quiet Riot would go on to have the first ever #1 Billboard album from Heavy Metal music. But then they quickly faded away.

Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman remain to this day great Metal albums. They continue to influence Metalheads around the world.

Randy Rhoads licks and patterns

I made a quick video showing showing how to do some of his licks and patterns. If you’re a guitarist, you might want to check this out:

Randy Rhoads’ tone

I actually don’t try to emulate Rhoads’ guitar tone. I’m under the impression that every guitarist should find their own sound. However, if that’s your thing, more power to you! Plus, knowledge is power. It’s a good thing to know for the sake of knowledge.

So if you’re wondering how Randy got his unique tone, you should know what equipment he used. First the guitars.


His main guitars were a Gibson ’74 Les Paul Custom, two Jackson guitars (the Concorde eventually became the Rhoads’ model after his death), and a customized Karl Sandoval V with polka dots. If you’re a hardcore Rhoads fan, you’ve seen pictures of all these guitars.

Effects, Amps, and Strings

For his dirty channel, he used an MXR Distortion+ and an MXR 10 Band EQ through two different Marshall heads – the Marshall JMP MKII Super Lead 100 Watt Head and the 1979 Marshall 100-Wall Super Lead. For his cabinets, he used Marshall 4x12s with Altec 417-8H speakers. I’ve heard he used GHS Boomer 9s for Blizzard of Ozz and GHS Boomer 10s for Diary of a Madman.

For his clean channel, he used MXR Flanger and MXR Chorus. Note that he also used Dunlop Crybaby Wah in some of his leads and occasionally both the Roland RE-201 ‘Space Echo’ and the Korg echo for delay. He also used a Roland Volume Foot Pedal.

I’m not going to go into what he used with Quiet Riot as to be honest, I don’t even like those albums. Randy improved ten fold between the Quiet Riot years and the Ozzy years as both a guitarist and a composer.


The funny thing, the Seymour Duncan’s Rhoads used on his Jackson guitar still remain to this day Seymour Duncan’s best selling pickups. So they’re really easy to find – Distortion for the bridge pickup and Jazz for the neck. That’s something I ripped off and proudly use on my Schecter. I love his pickup sounds.

On the Karl Sandoval, he used DiMarzio Super Distortion and PAF pickups. I don’t know these pickups very well but I’ve fooled around with various DiMarzio’s and I’ve never been disappointed.

Music theory

Note that Rhoads could read notes and studied piano for his knowledge of music theory. This is important as you could tell by studying his scores that he knew what he was doing.

If you know me, you’ll know I have a strong hatred for Rolling Stone magazine. They don’t know shit about music and they’re just about the most pretentious douchebags on the planet. They’ve listed some pretty mediocre guitarists ahead of Rhoads, which is downright retarded.

Anyways, Rhoads was on his way out of Ozzy’s band when he died. He was going to finish the tour and go back to school for a Master’s in Music. It’s hard to say what he would have done next. Would he have started his own band after getting out of college? Or would he have gone an entirely Classical route?

Either way, I could imagine he would have taken guitar to an entirely whole new level.


Roman is an artist, composer, writer, and travel junkie, and he can still throw a football

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