When Zakk Wylde first joined Ozzy Osbourne's band in 1987, he fully understood the magnitude of the position and quickly began thinking ahead.

"I was like, 'Well, how am I gonna be me?'" Wylde tells Nikki Sixx's "My Favorite Riff." 

Wylde knew he was filling some big shoes, stepping in as Ozzy's side-man in the wake of Jake E. Lee and the late-Randy Rhoads. But Wylde wanted to make sure that as long as the spotlight was on him he would do something different from other popular guitarists at the time. 

The Black Label Society guitarist began going through his options, from the equipment he would employ to the scales he chose to use in his solos—everything but the basics must go. 

"No tapping, no whammy bar, no diatonic scales or harmonic minor—you know, three notes a [string]," Wylde tells Sixx while crossing things off an imaginary list.

Although he enjoyed and was influenced by guitarists like Eddie Van Halen, Al di Meola and Yngwie Malmsteen, Wylde says many of their techniques were in vogue among guitarists at the time. He wanted to tread on new—or at least different—ground. 

"You won't sound like that if you don't do it. GNR was the biggest thing at the time; if you don't want to be like Slash, get a Flying V or an SG, just do the opposite of him."

So after nixing certain equipment, as well as several techniques and harmonic approaches, Wylde set out to master what remained.

"I just crossed off all these things and the only thing I was really left with was pentatonic scales." 

It must have worked out because Wylde has one of the most instantly recognizable guitar sounds in the world. 

Check out the full 39-minute episode of "My Favorite Riff" above!

Photo: Getty Images