Think of songwriting greats and the likes of Ray Davies, James Hetfield or Stevie Wonder might spring to mind. Artists with an inert gift, backed up by years of practice and an approach that allows them to squeeze every last drop out of the most basic idea.
We caught up with Al to find out the backstory behind this monster release.
Q: What was the inspiration behind this Masterclass?
I’d been getting a lot of questions over the years about writing music and melody seemed to be the foremost important aspect. There is a need in the guitar community to refine the way we play and write melodies, so I’m happy to finally offer a guide.
Q: It’s a very big release, how long did it take to put together?
Well I had to write the song first so we’re talking two weeks for that plus another two to then make a tutorial out of it. So give or take, around a month.
Q: What is your favourite part of it?
My favorite part was definitely breaking down the melodies in separate dynamics for the player to play. I’ve created different licks and phrases to help the player understand more deeply how I construct the lines for all my songs. This should be an eye-opening experience to say the least.
Q: What’s the best method for taking on this pack?
Patience. You definitely need to time to absorb this pack all the way through. My hope is that the player truly learns how to control their dynamics and their sound. I also hope that they learn the various mechanics of melodies so that they can replicate the true sound of a professional guitarist.
Q: Is there a type of player you’ve aimed this release at?
This Masterclass is for all players. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player. You’re never too good to improve on your time feel, dynamics, and analysis of music. It’s a constant journey.
Q: Did you write ‘Surgeon General’ with the Masterclass in mind, or was it a more organic process?
I’d say both. I plan to release this single soon in its original key (D major). However, I retracted it in the key of E minor so six-string players can get a clear chance to breakdown the song within the package.
Q: If there is one person YOU would like to learn from when it comes to songwriting, who would it be and why?
I’ve been listening to a lot of “Tears For Fears” these days. The production and songwriting is just so innovative. It would be nice to learn how to craft a classic tune that lasts a lifetime like they have!
Before you go…
A huge thanks to Al for giving us an insight into his amazing new release. We're always looking to hear from our community, so if you want to find out more or have feedback on this release, get in touch.
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
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.
From Jimmy Page to Alex Hutchings, Larry Carlton to Andy James music history has seen a lot of great guitarists. However, you don’t have to play the guitar on the world’s stage to enjoy or benefit from it.
There’s no shortage of benefits when it comes to learning to play the guitar. From bettered brain activity to bragging rights, starting the guitar will be the best thing you’ve done in a long time. Here are six reasons to put aside your apprehensions and kick off those lessons!
1. Stimulates the brain
Learning the guitar can seriously stimulate the brain. Not only can guitar-playing improve your memory and concentration, but it will also enhance your spatial reasoning and make you better at multitasking. What with reading music or tab, developing a musical ear, and remembering those new patterns and chord shapes, your mind will love the challenge you’ve set.
2. Improves health
For those of you that may have anxiety and other stress related illnesses, research has indicated that playing an instrument can actually lower blood pressure.
Many first-time guitar players compare playing music to a form of therapy and consider it a way to “reset” mentally. Playing the guitar allows you to forget about “real life” for a while. You’re able to focus fully on learning your chords and arranging them into music. Before you know it, you’ll be the most chilled out you’ve been in weeks, months, maybe even years.
3. Boosts creativity
Get out of robot-worker mode and exercise your creativity through playing the guitar. Even if you don’t consider yourself a typically creative person, music may be precisely the outlet that suits your kind of imagination. Whether you’re writing a new song, mastering an old classic or taking on a Masterclass, there’s space for innovation at every turn.
4. Another source of income
If you work hard and have a natural knack for the guitar, then you could reach a stage at which you’re able to actually sell your talent.
A great way to get started as a professional musician is to play at events such as weddings, school proms, and birthday celebrations. The first gig is always the trickiest to land, but getting booked once can have a domino effect. At the same time as you’re doing the event circuit, you might think about joining groups in your local neighbourhood. Often, these gigs don’t pay quite as well, but they’re great exposure and will give you a heap of great contacts.
5. Make yourself more interesting
Having the ability to just pick up and play a guitar when you’re socialising makes you look more interesting to the people around you. Picking up this hobby can give you a real edge when it comes to social events and interactions. Use your new talent to entertain family, friends, or work colleagues. You’ll radiate self-confidence and a passion for music. People love well-rounded, surprising people, and taking up the guitar will make you just that.
Harper is an avid freelance writer residing in Auckland, New Zealand. In between writing and editing articles for blogs and sites such as About Giving, you’ll find her singing along to her favourite songs or learning to play the guitar. To discover more of her work, visit her personal blog: Harper Reid.
4/4 time signatures and solid backbeats have laid the foundation for most of the music we love today. But with a group of high-calibre musicians like The Aristocrats, it seems only right to throw out the rule book and create inspiring music that entertains and defies logic
The avant-garde prog-rock supergroup, made up of guitarist Guthrie Govan, drummer Marco Minnemann, and bassist Bryan Beller are known for pushing boundaries. With their latest album, You Know What?, they do just that.
Full tab/notation, with backing tracks, will be available at JTC Guitar in August. While we take on the daunting task of transcribing You Know What?, let’s see what Guthrie has to offer with a track by track review.
D Grade Fuck Movie Jam
This peculiarly named track starts off in a Band of Gypsys era Hendrix, but then takes an interesting shift into Mahavishnu territory, thanks to a dark spiralling melody. The rhythm chops are mostly accessible to intermediate players, but as you’d expect, Guthrie’s solo cranks things up a notch or twelve.
One for old-school fusion fans. Guthrie weaves some bubbly clean legato lines over a very Chick Corea-esque progression. The whole track is awash with cool harmony and rhythmic ideas, and even the solo offers plenty of bluesy jazz inspiration for intermediate players. The final section features the flamenco-meets-early-Metallica mashup we've all been waiting for.
When We All Come Together
Guthrie is in peak twang mode here with some seriously grunty baritone low notes. We then move into completely different territory with a rather divine chordal middle section featuring some very challenging time signatures. Maybe brush up on those odd time signature licks before taking this one on.
All Said and Done
Amid the crazy rhythms and breakneck tempos of this track, a lovely little melodic major-key tune. There is lots for everyone to learn in here, especially the fine art of playing melodically through chord changes.
Guthrie at the forefront in this one. Gnarly power-chord riffs with rhythmic displacement to keep you on your toes. After that, we have a bit of wah to play with during the solo; always fun.
After some mysterious phrygian dominant riffs, Guthrie settles into a lovely atmospheric solo section that could grace an ECM album. Jazz fans rejoice.
The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde
Another dark-sounding one with lots of crunchy riffs. This has a clear power-trio arrangement, ideal for ambitious players who want to learn the whole thing for performance. If you do play it live, you’ll have a classic Guthrie solo to contend with which blends Latin-sounding phrygian dominant lines with full-on blues-rock.
Burial at Sea
Guthrie's solo has some great slippery lines with lots of cool chromatic ideas. The track also has some meaty riffs for rhythm players too. Add in the jangly arpeggios, a lot of fuzz and some pitch-shifting effects and you have an off-the-wall track that’s a lot of fun to play once you’ve risen to the challenge.
The aptly named album finisher is the most accessible of the lot. This wistful tune has lots of slow dreamy chords and melodic single-note lines. The relatively simple harmony allows for lots of experimentation, which is great for intermediate and advanced players.
Learn the album
You Know What? is an ambitious album, and that ambition has paid off. Between all the madness, you’ll find yourself tapping your feet to grooves, sub-grooves and sub-grooves within a sub-groove. In the battle of “who plays best?” it’s fair to say they’re all winners, but from a guitar perspective, Guthrie’s riffs, leads and funk-filled tones really stand out. Sign up below to be notified when we have full tab/notation available.
When a guitarist becomes a JTC artist, you know they’re going to be something special. That’s exactly the case with Eric Woolard. This one of a kind country player fuses multiple influences to create a modern style with some strong traditional foundations.
To give you some background on the man behind the guitar, we thought we’d give you a little introduction.
Q: When did you first start playing?
I started playing guitar when I was about 12, after starting off playing bass for a year simply since my dad plays bass.
Q: How did you get into country?
Funnily enough, throughout most of my teens I hated country. Couldn't stand it. I played practically nothing but metal. Eventually, sometime during my senior year of high school, a few songs started to become catchy when I'd hear friends playing them or hear them in stores or whatever. I didn't like that at first, but I got more and more into them until realizing that it wasn't so bad after all haha!
Q: What would be your biggest tip for country players?
My biggest tip would be to get as comfortable as possible with using both your middle and ring fingers on your picking hand to 'chicken pick' (or if using a thumb pick, your index and ring fingers). If that's already comfortable for you, you've figured out what's been the biggest hurdle for me, personally.
As someone coming from metal, getting my middle and mostly my ring finger to want to work right has been quite a challenge. Once you've learned one thing for nearly 10 years, it's tough to start playing with a totally different style. Getting this down is pretty fundamental to that percussive, plucky chicken pickin sound.
Q: How would you describe your style?
I'd like to consider my style like 70% typical chicken pickin and 30% metal. Or maybe 75/25. I'm not sure what the most accurate ratio would be haha. Maybe Johnny Hiland/Brad Paisley infused with...just metal really. Putting a specific metal guitarist in that blend would be really hard to do!
Few players can combine technical ability with emotion and catchiness in the way that Lari Basiliodoes. And not only is she gifted, but she’s also willing to share that gift, and that’s what she does with her “Creating Riffs and Melodies” Masterclass.
To give you a closer insight into the Masterclass, and also the artist herself, we asked Lari a few quick questions. Let’s go “Behind the Pack”.
Q: What was the inspiration behind this Masterclass?
The inspiration for my lessons always comes from wanting to teach something that I love to play. I just love writing, and find that following riffs and melodies comes naturally to me. I believe that the more sincere my lessons are, the more people will be able to take advantage of them. In the end, that's what matters most to me
Q: What’s your favourite part of it?
My favorite part might be that little sentence: CREATING THE HABIT OF CREATING. Once you realize the power of it in practice, beautiful music will happen!
Q: What do you think makes a good riff?
Definitely the attitude! ;)
Q: And what’s your favourite riff of all time?
I have so many favorite riffs of all time! Haha!
Some of them are: Beat It (Michael Jackson), Brompton Cocktail (Avenged Sevenfold), Electric Gypsy (Andy Timmons), among many others.
Q: What’s next for you at JTC?
JTC Guitar definitely has a very important role when it comes to getting the artists closer to the audience, and this is simply fantastic. I'm honored to be part and have the opportunity of sharing content with y'all. Certainly there is much more to come!