Guitar Strength: 10 Commandments of Playing Guitar in the Style of Dimebag Darrell, Part 1
by Scott Marano
Commandment 1: Honor Thy Van Halen
… and ZZ Top, Kiss, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Ted Nugent, Pat Travers, early Metallica (Kill ‘em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets) and Randy Rhoads.
Van Halen’s impact on Dimebag’s playing is unmistakable. The “vibe” of early Van Halen is by far the most recognizable influence in Dimebag’s playing. From the grooving rhythms played like leads of their own, to the tone, to the phrasing in his lead playing, Dimebag took the inspiration of Edward Van Halen and forged his own identity.
Pieces such as “Eruption” and “Spanish Fly” were favorites of Dimebag, who would play them in his unaccompanied guitar solos back in Pantera’s early club days.
Dime has been noted as being Texas’ “Van Halen clone,” the local hotshot who could play all of the most impressive licks of his hero. Further, the brotherly bond of the Van Halen brothers (Eddie on guitar and Alex on drums) was mirrored in Pantera (Vinnie on drums and Dime on guitar).
Van Halen’s impact is further felt as the words “Van Halen” were actually Dimebag’s last words spoken before he was tragically murdered. “Van Halen” was something Dime would say to his brother Vinnie before a live performance to inspire them both to play a fun, lively, rocking show. Also, Dime was actually buried with the guitar that inspired him most — Eddie Van Halen’s yellow and black striped guitar featured on the back cover of Van Halen II.
To truly understand Dimebag’s playing, it is crucial to absorb the “Van Halen” feel, as well as the techniques and attention to tone that were such a part of the early Van Halen experience.