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George Marios: Masterclass Q&A

Monday 16th September 2019 Blogroll

george marios creative diatonic triads interview

When deciding what content to release next, we give our guitarists a lot of creative freedom. This means we get different approaches and ideas that are of real value to the community.

And in George’s ‘Creative Diatonic Triads Masterclass’ we get that value in spades. The core idea is simple, but it’s mightily effective.

Let’s find out more from George himself.

Q: In basic terms, what are diatonic triads?

Diatonic Triads are the groupings of root, 3rd and 5th for every chord of a major and minor scale.

Q: Why are they so important?

They are immensely important as in the context of soloing they help us incorporate melodic lines that outline the chord sequence we are playing over.

Q: How did you go about creating the content for this release?

Much of the material is taken from concepts I already use with my students.

In a nutshell, I thought, "Okay....if I was early into my guitar journey and I didn't know anything about triads, how could I go about it in a straightforward and simple way so that I can begin to incorporate them into my playing in a musical and creative way."

The best thing about this release is that concepts are elastic, so the more you grow the further you can push yourself with the material.

Q: Has it helped you come up with new ideas?

This approach has definitely helped me become a more substantial and, melody-wise, interesting soloist.

Q: What’s the biggest takeaway from this pack?

Simple concepts are able to generate practice for life!

Q: Out of your JTC releases, have you got a favourite?

Hmmmm, this one is certainly more substantial, given that anyone can get those concepts and adapt them to their style! So, this one it is!

The Making of 'Primal Feels'

Friday 6th September 2019 Blogroll

Nili Brosh Primal Feels

As music videos go, Primal Feels is one of the most daring and unique you’ll see.

Not only does the video feature the skills of a troupe of incredibly talented artists, but it’s also got a huge hook and more than one example of incredible guitar playing.

So how did it all come together? We spoke with its creator, Nili Brosh.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for this video?

Growing up in the 90s, I watched a LOT of European MTV, and that's where my love for hooks and epic music videos came from. I wanted to make my own version of an MTV music video. I wanted to wait for the right song to mimic the spirit of those older videos, and when I wrote this I knew it would be the one for choreography and big production.

Q: And how long did it take long to shoot?

One day of shooting! What took a long time was attempting to schedule 7 people who do 10 Cirque du Soleil shows a week under one roof for a few hours. The lesser-known story is that I was massively, massively injured with neck issues during that day - probably the worst I had been in my entire two years at Cirque. But the show had to go on, and nothing felt more worthwhile!

Q: How did you write the track Primal Feels?

I heard both the melodies for the chorus and verse in my head, at two different occasions maybe a week or two apart. I came up with the chorus first, and once the verse was there, I could tell the chord changes were leading it smoothly to the chorus and knew it was meant for the same song.

Q: And what does Primal Feels actually mean?

To me "Primal Feels" is self-explanatory. When you feel passionate about someone in a way that comes from a deep, primal place in yourself that your mind has no control over it.

Q: Is this a good flavour of the album or are there lots of surprises?

Yes and no! The album concept is a spectrum that fades from genre to genre, so there are a few tracks in a similar vein but several that are in quite a different direction as well.

Q: Will we get any more dancing videos?

Could be! I definitely love working with these guys, they are some of the most incredible dancers in the world who I'm blessed to call friends. I certainly miss doing shows with them every night, so we'll see what the future holds!

Q: And if you could give one guitar-based track the ‘Primal Feels video treatment’ what would it be?

I thought about this for a long time and it's such a hard one, so I'll pick a few players instead of tracks - I think Mateus Asato or Lari Basilio's music might be a great and interesting match for something like this!

New Nili Brosh JTC lessons

Nili Brosh’s new album is going to be released soon, and that means more tracks to learn! Sign up to be the first to hear about her next JTC release.

Roy Ziv: Masterclass Q&A

Wednesday 28th August 2019 Blogroll

roy ziv interview hexatonic masterclass

Some guitarists exhibit a more unique style than others, guitarists such as Roy Ziv.

Hear him play, and you’ll never forget his signature style. See him play and you get the proof. Luckily, not only does his Masterclass series allow you to treat both your visual and auditory senses, but it also gives you some of the secrets to unlock Mr Ziv’s war chest of tricks.

We spoke to Roy himself, to give you the lowdown on this unique Masterclass.

Q: What is the hexatonic scale?

The hexatonic scale is just a fancy name for a 6 note scale. By definition, any scale made up of six notes per octave is a hexatonic scale, because hexa equals six. A few examples you may be familiar with are the whole tone scale and the blues scale.

But in this Masterclass, we’ll be working with the A minor hexatonic scale, which consists of the root, 2nd, minor 3rd, 4th, 5th, and minor 7th.

You can think of it as just a minor scale without the 6th note, or the way I visualize it, is just a pentatonic scale, with the added 2nd. If you’re familiar with any of the five pentatonic shapes, all you need to do is add that one extra note in each shape.

Adding that second interval, or as I like to call it - the 9th (which is just an octave plus the 2nd) will give your solos more of a jazzy fusion sound, but can also work in a blues setting for more unique licks. Eric Johnson, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan are a few of the players that use this extra note in their blues licks.

Q: Why do you think it is important to learn it?

It provides the player with a simple way to spice up their playing and achieve a fresh, unique, modern sound, in the simplest possible way. Just add one note to a scale every guitar player is already familiar with!

A lot of players want to break out of that overplayed pentatonic sound, but when they read up online or watch YouTube videos, they immediately get overwhelmed with all the scales out there and end up giving up too early. This scale takes a scale everyone already knows (the pentatonic), and by adding just one note, gives them endless possibilities for cool licks and phrases.

Q: You can certainly hear the hexatonic scale in your playing, is that something you stumbled on naturally or did it come from some kind of influence?

Growing up, I was always chasing that jazzy fusion sound but was either too overwhelmed with jazz theory or just couldn’t make these crazy scales sound musical. So I tried to fake that sound I kept hearing in my head and noticed that whenever I add the 9th tension, it gave my solos a jazzier flavour. I loved the way it sounded and tried to implement that extra note whenever I could. Eventually, it became a staple part of my playing, as my fingers got used to adding that note all over the fretboard.

As my playing matured I began using that note in more interesting ways by adding jazzy enclosure techniques, chromaticism, and arpeggios, and when I had a closer look at these licks and phrases, I realized that all I'm doing is playing over the pentatonic scale shapes, and sticking in that one extra note!

I started showing my students this idea and their solos and improv instantly improved. That's when I realized I was on to something here, and this could seriously help so many guitarists who are stuck playing the same exact thing over and over.

Q: Apart from learning the scale and all it offers, what else can this Masterclass give a player?

This Masterclass shows you how to take this scale and make it sound musical. Learning the scale is simple. But if you don’t know how to make it sound musical and just run the scale up and down the neck, you'll be missing out on all that it has to offer. That's why the exercises I've presented in this Masterclass are designed to fully maximize the musical potential of this scale, not to mention the 20 licks and final solo that reveal my personal approach of how I use this scale in a modern and fusion style of playing.

But aside from all of that, this Masterclass will give you the confidence to play with more advanced players, drastically improve your technique, take your playing to another level, and finally get you out of that up and down pentatonic box mentality and playing in a more linear and fluid style.

Q: How do you go about creating content like this?

It starts by deconstructing my favourite licks to fully understand what's happening under my fingers and building an exercise to develop a specific technique or flow of motion that will allow you to play those specific licks. It’s all about reverse engineering.

For these three Masterclasses (beginner, intermediate and advanced) I developed over 100 exercises that provide the player with immediate results, and help familiarize and adapt the scale concepts to their playing.

I then used these exercises with my private students and refined each one over and over until they were as beneficial as they could possibly be.

Then it was just a matter of putting it all together in the proper order, writing 3 solos in varying levels of difficulty, styles, and tempos, and writing out the theory booklet that thoroughly explains each concept.

It was a long process, but it was fun. The best part is getting all the emails and Instagram DM’s from players telling me how much this Masterclass helped change and improve their playing.

Q: Any plans for future JTC releases? The heptatonic scale? Octatonic?

Maybe a tetratonic scale! Haha. Just kidding, my next JTC release will most likely be on my phrasing. I get asked about my phrasing all the time, and I've been teaching these phrasing ideas to my students for quite some time. So once I have a good outline, I'll start recording and writing this next Masterclass. 

Luca Mantovanelli: Masterclass Q&A

Thursday 18th July 2019 Blogroll

luca mantovanelli jtc guitar behind the pack

A prolific teacher, a dedicated guitarist, and a family man. The guitarist that JTC guitarists learn from, Luca Mantovanelli.

Fusion Essentials: Advanced, is the culminating part of yet another amazing Masterclass series by Luca, and oh what a series it is.

To give you more of an insight into how he frequently creates these superb releases, and what to expect from this one, here’s the man himself.

Q: What was the inspiration behind this Masterclass?

Well, I love to play fusion and I noticed lots of people like my quick videos about it. I get a lot of questions about scales, how to play over fusion chords etc. So I decided to create a fusion Masterclass. Starting from very beginner stuff to ‘’crazy’’ advanced level. This Masterclass is built to cover step by step all the stuff I know and play over fusion chord progressions.

Q: What’s your favourite part of the series?

In all my Masterclasses I have used my own method to teach. That is my favourite part. Giving you the knowledge to create your phrasing. Not just copy and paste but a complete guide to create your own stuff. I’ve done it with all of my JTC content, starting from the Pentatonic Masterclass through to my 2-5-1 releases, and now this.

Q: What is the most important lesson from it?

In the Fusion Essentials Masterclass, I choose chord progressions from a few famous fusion standards like Summertime, Sunny’’, Cantaloupe Island’’ and Spain. These are usually the first tunes I use to teach fusion playing, and it’s funny because it's not just a backing but a real song where you can play all the things you learnt from the Masterclass.

Q: With so many great JTC products out in the world, what's your process for creating them?

Well the first step is, find out what players need. I like to watch videos from my followers to see what they like and what they need. I then choose a topic and write down all the stuff I can use and create.

Everytime I create something new I see how I can use it for myself as well! It’s not just telling you what I know, but how I use it. This lets us create brand new guitar stuff. Lets see how that works. Everytime I create a Masterclass I create a lot of things but only the most useful ideas make it into the end product.

When I finish writing down the exercises, I write the backing tracks and the licks using the exercise concepts. At the end I create the solo using a few licks to show how you can mix together all the licks. The last part is recording the videos and create video using audio and video tracks. As you can see it’s not a fast process haha!

Q: Bootcamp is in the Beta phase and you have lots of students already. How much do you enjoy that closer relationship?

Bootcamp is an amazing thing. When we started working on it (2 years ago?!) we didn’t expect this huge feedback. I like it because you can chat with your student, you can give them tips about everything; timing, sound, technique. My actual students love it is well.  Totally different from a Masterclass because we have interactions and this is great. The full launch will be very soon

Can’t wait!

Q: What’s next for you at JTC?

I have already written four different Masterclasses. But before I release them,  I will release my 1st solo album this year. I am very excited about it and I hope people will dig it!

Q: We know you’re a family man. Are your daughters picking up the guitar yet?

Yeah, I am. Full of girls! Haha.

Well my 1st daughter, Eleonora, likes all the instruments I have in my house. Guitars, drums, bass. Everytime I go into the studio she comes and says, “Dad, gimme the pick (she wants only the JTC Pick) and then I pick up my guitar. She plays the rhythm and I play the chords every day! Sometimes when I record a JTC video she comes and starts dancing, it’s funny haha. 


Five of the best Guthrie Govan covers

Thursday 6th June 2019 Blogroll

Who is the best guitarist in the world? It’s the kind of question that bedroom guitarists, music fans and even professional players ask on a regular basis. You can argue there is no right answer, but many would argue that it’s Guthrie Govan.

It would seem that no time signature, style or technique is a challenge to Guthrie, and that’s in part why he is held in such high regard. Spend any time looking for guitar videos online and you’ll find a whole heap of Guthrie solos, interviews and live performances; you’ll also find a huge selection of covers.

Some are messy, some are great and some have made our list of the best Guthrie Govan covers. Enjoy!

Nili Brosh - Larry Carlton Style Track

Dial back over ten years, and you’ll find a video of Nili Brosh playing some Guthrie at the tender age of 18. The title of the video - plus as usual with the internet, something - caused much debate.

A lot has happened since that first video went up: Obama, Trump, Brexit. More importantly, Nili has gone on to become one of the most accomplished guitarists around, landing a long term gig with Cirque du Soleil, and of course, becoming a JTC artist. We love this cover not only because of the story, but just because it’s very, very good.  

Li-sa-X - Fives

“No matter how good you get, there’s always a kid somewhere that’s better.” Said by JTC’s very own Steve Martin, and of course he’s right. When filmed, Li-sa-X was a mere 8 years old. You may find better, more accurate versions of the track out there, but for sheer jaw dropping, “oh my god”, you can’t find much more astounding than this.

JTC’s Josh Smith is one of many players that started young, and there are no doubt countless more, but to tackle such a difficult track at such an age shows not only a natural talent, but also that a hell of a lot of practice must have taken place; and for that, we clap our hands.

Matteo Mancuso - Fives

JTC Guitar co-founder, Jan Cyrka, sent this video in a round robin email to the team, and every single one of us was blown away. Matteo’s unique finger-style playing creates something that is equally astounding both sonically and visually. It would even be fair to say that Matteo probably trumps Guthrie in terms of “uniqueness”.

And that takes some doing. 

Jess Lewis - Wonderful Slippery Thing

If you’ve followed JTC Guitar since the early days, you’ll know Jess Lewis. If you haven’t, then watch this video. What you get with this cover is a finesse and feel all of its own.

The meandering track is played to perfection, so much so that the video has racked up well over a million views and counting. A classic cover for the digital age.

Jack Thammarat Band - Fives (Yes again!)

We thought it best to end where we began, with another JTC artist having fun. While there may be tighter more faithful covers out there, what we like about this take is that it sums up the “spirit of Guthrie”.

Tangential, shifting and heavily improvised, this cover from the Jack Thammarat Band clocks in at over 8 minutes, and is a joy to watch. You do have to put up with the 2009, mobile phone recording, but when the playing is this good we can live with that. 

And as a bonus, here's the original

Way back in 2007, Guthrie Govan sat down at JTC HQ, and got jamming. So, here’s one of the original videos, that not only helped to inspire these covers, but no doubt doubt inspired thousands of people to pick up the guitar.



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