Zakk Wylde Names One Important Difference Between His and Dimebag Darrell’s Playing

The current Pantera guitar player Zakk Wylde shared one important difference between his playing and that of the late Dimebag Darrell, the band’s original guitar player. Speaking to Guitar World, Zakk reflected on one of the old interviews from 2003 when Dimebag said how “Zakk plays a pretty hardcore right-hand game” and how he tends “to slur a lot more than” Zakk. Reminded of this Dime’s quote, Wylde was asked whether he had to change his usual picking technique to perform Pantera’s music. He replied:

“As far as picking technique and stuff, I’m more staccato whereas Dime’s more legato. That’s just the way I play.”

“That said, there are certain parts where it has to be legato, so you just do it, otherwise you’re not going to get that sound.”

Zakk Wylde plays Dimebag's Guitar Live

To explain this further, Zakk shared fusion jazz legend Allan Holdsworth as an example:

“If Saint [Allan] Holdsworth wanted to pick every note, he could have, but it wouldn’t have given him the flavor of soup he was looking for. He wanted it to sound breathy, like a saxophone, not staccato.” 

When reminded of his unique playing style and how he’s always going to sound like himself, Zakk replied:

“Without a doubt, and that’s the beauty of the guitar. Stevie Ray Vaughan playing ‘Voodoo Child’ sounds like Stevie Ray Vaughan playing ‘Voodoo Child’ – he has such a unique touch, sound, and style, he just can’t help it!”

Zakk Wylde - "Voodoo Child" - 7-10-93 - Novi, MI

“It’s the same thing as hearing Randy playing Black Sabbath stuff – it sounds like him and it’s awesome.” 

Elsewhere in the interview, Zakk also looked back on Dimebag Darrell not only as a guitar player but as a person as well, offering:

“In my mind, Dime was, without question, the best metal guitarist in the world – you’ve got Jimi Hendrix, you’ve got Eddie Van Halen, you’ve got Jimmy Page, you’ve got Randy Rhoads, you’ve got Tony Iommi, and you’ve got Dimebag Darrell. He belongs in those hallowed ranks without any shadow of a doubt.”

Zakk Wylde Plays Dimebag Darrell's 'Walk' solo

“On top of his talent, though, Dime was also a beautiful guy. He was totally devoid of ego, as genuine as the day is long, and also the kindest person I’ve ever met. Every time he walked into a room; he’d light it up like the ray of sunshine he was.”

“Dime was an angel that the good Lord sent down to brighten our lives and make us happy, but now he needs him, so he’s taken him back.”

“I never had a brother, but Dime was as close to blood as possible, and my love for him was, is, and always will be, beyond unconditional and forever. The bottom line is this: Dime’s influence will be felt forever, and his memory will never, ever die.”

“He lives on in every guitarist’s veins ’cause that’s what guitar playing is: one big brotherhood.”  

🔥PANTERA🔥 FULL CONCERT, KNOTFEST, SĀO PAULO, BRASIL 18.12.2022

When asked about what inspired him the most when learning Dimebag’s parts for the current version of Pantera tour, he said that it was “every single note” and added:

“In addition to the hits like ‘Walk,‘ ‘I’m Broken,‘ ‘Cowboys [From Hell],’ and ‘This Love,‘ we also do some deeper tracks like ‘Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit‘ [from ‘Reinventing the Steel‘], ‘Strength Beyond Strength,’ and ‘Use My Third Arm‘ [both from ‘Far Beyond Driven‘].

“While I was learning them, I realized a lot of the chord changes and note choices Dime would make were pretty dissonant – just for the flavor of the soup if ya know what I mean.”

Pantera - Yesterday Don't Mean Shit - (Live at Berlin 2023) 4K

He also added:

“I kept thinking, ‘Wow, that was interesting. I would’ve never made that chord change or gone to that note; I wonder why he chose to go there for this section.’ And obviously, some of Dime’s chord voicings are really interesting, too.

“He used a lot of root/major 3rd, root/minor 3rd and inverted chords instead of just playing a normal root/5th power chord. It’s definitely been a very cool experience.”

Dimebag Darrell - Randall Clinic All MUSIC FullHD 60Fps Enhanced Audio

Back in October 2022, when Zakk was preparing to go out on the road with Phil Anselmo, Rex Brown, and Charlie Benante under the Pantera name, the guitarist was asked about this version of Pantera and how long it was in the works and whether he ever discussed it with drummer Vinnie Paul while he was still alive. Zakk replied:

“The fellas… There was always word about that going around. And I just always said, ‘That’s up to the guys.’ It’s almost kind of like, the way I always viewed it, if Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding called up Eric Clapton because Eric and Jimi, they’re all friends.

“And they’re just like, ‘Eric, we’re gonna get together, and we’re gonna go honor Jimi. Would you sing and play Jimi’s stuff?’ Of course Eric would do it. I mean, that’s his buddy. Of course I would do it.

🔥PANTERA🔥Full First Show (Multicam) - Hell & Heaven Fest 2022 👹 - 02.DEC.2022

“It’s like, ‘Zack, would you ever do it?’ It’s like, ‘Well, of course I’m going to do it. Why would I not?’ I’m going to do best job I can, obviously, but that’s not my decision, that’s the guys. Back in the day with Vinnie, there were discussions, and then, after Vinnie passed away, I didn’t think anything would ever happen.

“I remember Phill called me one night, and was like, ‘Zakk, me and Rex would really love it if you would honor Dime.’

“And I was like, ‘Of course, guys, I would always be here to honor Dime and all your achievements.’ The way I looked at it – It’s just a bunch of friends getting together, honoring their buddies, you know what I mean?”

Pantera - A New Level (Lisbon, Portugal) Evil Live Festival 2023

Discussing the matter, Zakk then cleared up the whole “reunion or not” discussion by saying:

“It was so funny, because somebody was like, ‘It’s not Pantera!’ Of course it’s not Pantera. [laughs] It’s Phill, Rex and two of their buddies getting together to honor Dime, Vinnie and all their achievements. It’s a celebration of Pantera and all the mountains they conquered. It’s the way I look at it.

Photos: Rik Goldman (Dimebag Darrell with Pantera), MorganaPhotolive (Black Label Society (26643606944))

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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