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LAUNCH OFFER | Danny Dela Cruz's 20 Flamin' Rock Licks

Welcome to JTC, Danny!


Why you should try...thrash-metal

Tuesday 8th November 2022 Blogroll

why try thrash metal

It’s week two of the Metal Meltdown. Four weeks of free metal tracks, all produced with the help of Toontrack. Each week sees us tap into a different style of metal, and now it’s time for thrash.

It’s a genre that has seen some of the best songwriters and players call it their home and arguably paved the way for the majority of modern metal bands.

But while it may have a dedicated following, for some it may all be new, so let’s dig into the what’s what of thrash metal.

What is thrash?

Fast tempos, metal grooves and lead guitar where pretty much anything goes.

In the early underground days of thrash metal, bands such as Metallica, Exodus and Slayer looked to the UK and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) and combined it with their more American styles. Speed metal met Queen, punk met Sabbath and the rest is history.

As the ‘big four’ of Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth started selling out huge tours and releasing best-selling albums, thrash was out in the open and here to stay.

Why will I like it?

It's super fast, and fun to play, and when soloing, there are hardly any rules to follow, never mind ones to break. Chromatics are the name of the game and wah and whammy is pretty much mandatory.

Are there any JTC releases to help me with the style?

Speed is the name of the game so Igor Paspalj’s Speed Picking Masterclass is a must.

Though based in a world of prog and with a more melodic bent, Connor Kaminski’s Whammy Masterclass is a great starting point before you go big on the dive bombs.

The guitarist of Megadeth is a pretty good place to look too. Kiko Loureiro's Supersonic Sessions might not be all out thrash, but it’s unsurprisingly fast and that’s exactly what we're after.

Which guitarists should I check out?

James Hetfield
Papa Het! If you’ve written ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘One’, ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘Dyers Eve’ and [insert another Metallica banger from the endless list of bangers here] you probably know a thing or two about songwriting. His down-picking abilities are also revered and he can also play a solo or two from time to time as well. The old round thrash mega-package.

Dave Mustaine
Replaced by the equally mighty Kirk Hammet as lead guitarist in Metallica, way back in 1983. He then went on to form Megadeth and forged a name for himself as a player of incredible technical skill and flair.

Jeff Hanneman
The founding member of Slayer and the writer behind ‘Raining Blood’, a classic of any style of metal, let alone thrash. Going toe to toe with the menacing Kerry King, and with an ability to play at blistering tempos, he was just a pillar of thrash that all players should know about.

Can I get a playlist?

YES! Here’s some thrash, new and old. As always, make sure you do your own research.

Before you go…

Check out Igor Paspalj’s take on the Toontrack Metal Meltdown Thrash track

Why you should try...post-metal

Monday 31st October 2022 Blogroll

why you should try post metal

Every year, Toontrack celebrates metal with its annual Metal Month, and we’re joining in. This means any genre is on the cards and as we like things loud, we thought we’d give post-metal its JTC debut.

In the Metal Meltdown we’re giving away four free metal tracks. Each track has been written and produced by Damir Puh using Toontrack products, with a different metal genre covered each week. Our guest judges give it their spin, and then you’re invited to do the same.

And as we like things loud, we’re starting with post-metal…

What is post-metal?

As is often the case with metal genres, “post-metal” mainly has its roots in rock. And in this case “post-rock” with bands like Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor creating an ambience that metalheads then pushed to the limit.

Post-metal is dark, loud, and noisy. Where other metal genres build songs around riffs, solos and quite often insane levels of technicality, post-metal looks to create an atmosphere.

Long songs, that build to a crescendo, and take influences from shoegaze, doom and many other abstract places. Verse? Chorus? Pffft.

Why will I like it?

There are huge guitar riffs, massive drums to hook onto and with long songs the norm, plenty of space to explore ideas.

Are there any JTC releases to help me with the style?

This really is a first for us in terms of style! But in post-metal, rhythm is an essential element making Al Joseph’s School of Rhythm a great shout.

The key concepts from Olly Steele’s RIFFS Masterclass can also be slowed down and morphed for the style.

And with post-metal being more about the song than technical showmanship, Connor Kaminski’s Prog Composition Masterclass is a great way to learn how to get writing.

Which guitarists should I check out?

Mike Sullivan
The Russian Circles founder is the king of the loop pedal. The band is known for huge soundscapes and to hear them live is to be deafened. When you realise that this wall of noise comes from a three-piece, with Sullivan at the helm, then you really do have to take your hat off to him and them.

Kurt Ballou
Founding member and guitarist of Converge. A hardcore/mathcore/post-hardcore band. So a bit left field, but when you discover songs such as 'Wretched World' and 'The Dusk In Us', you realise how his big-tone talents are just as at home with the sludgy goodness of post-metal as they are with the ultra-intense punk-inspired riffs. He’s also produced for post-metal bands such as Russian Circles, ISIS, Sumac, Cave In and many more.

Aaron Turner
A discography as long as a baritone guitar’s neck. A founder of post-metal giants ISIS, and a member of Sumac, Old Man Gloom and many more. If you like riffs, Aaron Turner is a solid bet.

Can I get a playlist?

You can! This is a good starting point for the genre but not the end. As with any style, there is plenty of different takes, so get digging!

Before you go…

Check out Claudio Pietronik with his take on the Toontrack Metal Meltdown Post-Metal track

Micky Crystal's Rock Fusion Influences

Tuesday 7th September 2021 Blogroll

micky crystal

Micky Crystal’s InFusioned Rock Soloing was a chance for him to spread his wings and dig into a genre he loves.

Influences come in all shapes and sizes, and for every guitarist they’re different. So to discover the players who helped shape Micky, we spoke to Micky.

So in no particular order...

Robben Ford

When did you first discover them and how?

I first heard Robben through buying the “Tiger Walk” album on a total whim. I must have been about 17 or 18 and from there I sought out more of his albums and became a huge fan of the “Talk To Your Daughter” album in particular.

Why have you picked them?

Robben was really the gateway for me to get into fusion. I was hearing chords that I’d not heard in the blues prior to hearing him and was amazed how he would throw jazz lines into blues progressions. It set me on the path to working on how to use the altered scale, diminished etc and how to incorporate them into my blues and rock playing.

What’s their best track?

Anything from “Talk To Your Daughter” but if I had to pick one track “Ain’t Got Nothin” But The Blues” is a jazz blues masterclass.

Frank Gambale

When did you first discover them and how?

I first heard Frank on the Chick Corea live at Montreux 2004 DVD.

Why have you picked them?

Studying Frank’s playing has had a huge impact on me, not only his economy picking but his note choice and his phrasing. I’ve learnt so much from listening to him.

What’s their best track?

I’ve always liked the “Passages” album in particular. “6.8 Shaker” really shows off Frank’s blues rock side. The trade off with the keys in the outro solo section is stunning, insane chops paired up with super cool bluesy phrasing.

Scott Henderson

When did you first discover them and how?

I think it was probably a YouTube search that sent me down the rabbit hole looking for more and more of Scott’s playing. Vital Tech Tones, the first few Tribal Tech albums and the HBC album were on heavy rotation.

Why have you picked them?

Scott is such a unique player in his melodic and rhythmic approach. His note choice and how he can take a simple idea, develop it and continue running with it had a big impact on me. The way he can incorporate outside playing and resolve on a blues lick was so impressive to me as I’d come from a blues background but had not heard anyone incorporate outside ideas like this before.

What’s their best track?

I’m a big fan of the first few Tribal Tech albums so it’s tough to pick one but let’s go for “The Necessary Blonde” from Tribal Tech’s self titled album. Super melodic with stunning changes.

Richie Kotzen

When did you first discover them and how?

I think I was 16 or 17 when I first heard Richie through listening to Mr. Big. I started to do some homework on him and his playing and was amazed he could go from playing with bands like Poison and Mr. Big through to Stanley Clarke with Vertu. Not only is he an incredible player but what an amazing voice too.

Why have you picked them?

Once I heard the “Return of the Mother Head’s Family Reunion” album I began to really study his playing. I was heavily into country guitar playing around the same time so pairing up hybrid picking with legato seemed like a natural progression. The way he would approach arpeggios and tapping along with how he would use pentatonics have had a big impact on me as a player.

What’s their best track?

It has to be “Fooled Again.” The outro solo is incredible and still amazes me every time I hear it.

Larry Carlton

When did you first discover them and how?

My Dad has a bunch of vinyl records of various guitar players from Hendrix through to Al Di Meola that he’d show me when I first took an interest in the guitar. There were some Larry Carlton and Steely Dan records in there too.

Why have you picked them?

His melodic and rhythmic sensibility and he has this ability to play the simplest lick or idea that makes you go “why didn’t I think of that? That’s so cool.”

What’s their best track?

Anything from the “Last Nite” album and of course “Room 335.”

Before you go...

Find out more about Micky's release here.

Marco Sfogli's Melodic Guitar Idols

Thursday 24th June 2021 Blogroll

marc sfogli

Marco Sfogli knows a thing or two about melody. His first ever Masterclass proves that in spades!

But even the greats have heroes, and we wanted to see who made Marco the melodic monster he is today.

So in no particular order...

Kee Marcello

When did you first discover them and how?

Around 1988 when Europe’s Out of This Worldcame out, it was one of those records on heavy rotation on my cassette walkman!

Why have you picked them?

Love his melodic approach, his rhythmic sensibility and everything in between. He’s really one of those few players that can turn a solo into a song within a song. I picked up so much by just listening to him on records.

What’s their best track?

Anything from Out of This World, if I had to pick one it would be the solo from “More Than Meets The Eye”. Brilliant choice of notes!

Steve Lukather

When did you first discover them and how?

I actually discovered Toto quite late. A friend of mine lent me a cassette, it was their Greatest Hits record. I instantly became a fan, then I got my head around pretty much all the work Steve has done as a session player and the quantity and quality of stuff is just unreachable for anyone.

Why have you picked them?

It’s one of those bands that you gotta love. Dedication, musicianship, great arrangements, great guitar solos. Plus they probably are found on most records as session players than anyone else on the earth.

What’s their best track?

My favourite record is “Kingdom of Desire”, the last one with the great Jeff Porcaro on drums. I just happen to love the vibe of this one, there are solid rock songs as well as great instrumental sections and beautiful ballads. And Steve is a hell of a singer too!

Eddie Van Halen

When did you first discover them and how?

I got into Van Halen when Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” came out on the radio. But it was 5150, the record, that turned me on how great this band was. Eddie could make sounds out of his guitars like aliens screaming, plus they had great mellow moments. You can’t be a modern player if you didn’t like Van Halen!

Why have you picked them?

Because Eddie was the man back then, he was the pioneer, the ultimate axeman, the guy with a smile on his face. He could make everything he played look effortless and sound super smooth. Definitely the best rock guy of our era!

What’s their best track?

Personally, “5150” the track is one of my favourites. It’s probably the very first riff I ever learned on a guitar so there’s a bit of nostalgia involved here

John Petrucci

When did you first discover them and how?

Dream Theater was the turning point band for me (and I’m sure for a lot of players of my age). The shred era was going downhill and all of a sudden you hear this band doing impossible things, playing long odd rhythm sections and flashy and tasty solos. It was during the grunge explosion so it was as weird as highly welcomed.

Why have you picked them?

It was the band and specifically the player that shaped who I am today, playing wise and tone wise, no questions. They just happen to have all the ingredients I was looking for in a band. I’m glad they existed because I probably won’t be playing guitar today if it wasn’t for them.

What’s their best track?

“Learning to Live” is one of my favourite ever. Quite a long track, over 11 minutes, it has a lot of different moments. Definitely the pinnacle of their production and has one of the most lyrical solos ever.

Andy Timmons

When did you first discover them and how?

I actually discovered Andy by accident. A friend of mine lent me a cassette of his band Danger Danger and I got into this beautiful playing, and later on got his first Ear X-Tacy CD and became a huge fan. What’s fun is that back then nobody knew him in my area, so it was my personal hidden nugget!

Why have you picked them?

Andy is so different from the rest, he had something going that was just unique. A rock player with a jazz attitude, his note choice and use of outside playing on simple rock tunes was what impressed me by the first spin. On a personal level he’s also a super cool guy, love him to death!

What’s their best track?

One of my favourites ever is a track called “Happening ‘68” from his The Spoken and the Unspoken record. It just puts me in the right mood, it shows his huge Beatles influence and has an outro solo that just puts me on the floor every time.

Before you go...

Find out more about Marco's first ever Masterclass here!

Kenny Serane's 5 Nineties Guitar Icons

Thursday 13th May 2021 Blogroll

kenny serane 90s guitarist

Every era of guitar can rightly put its hand up to being the best era, but for the here and now, this is all about the 90s.

Kenny Serane’s Classic Rock Soloing is a three track look at that monumental era of guitar, so it’s only right we gave him the chance to shed more light on the players that influenced him.

So in no particular order . . .

Joe Satriani

Satch is maybe the first one who led instrumental guitar to the top in the 90s. Catchy tunes, rock feeling. He succeeded in blending classic playing with a modern approach. Two handed tapping, legato, distinctive tone, there are too many things to talk about with his style!

He also helped me a lot to understand modes. The first time I heard lydian was certainly in Flying in a Blue Dream.

What’s their best track??

Too many, but I guess all Surfing with the Alien album songs are absolutely genius.

How have they influenced your playing?

Technically first, his legato lines helped me to shred when I started playing guitar. Second is tone. I always loved his way of playing with distortion, feedback and more. I learned a lot tweaking my guitar presets along with a Satch album in my CD player!

Tom Morello

I’m pretty sure he found all the best possible drop-D riffs! When I first listened to Rage Against the Machine's debut album, I was blown away; power, creativity, anger. every guitar part was a pure joy to play and still sound so cool today. I also can’t tell how many hours I spent with my whammy pedal and toggle switch to try to sound like him on the “Know Your Enemy intro.

What’s their best track??

The opening song “Bombtrack”, “Know Your Enemy” and “Take The Power Back”. Also, “Killing in the Name” is so fun to play live!

How have they influenced your playing?

Tom has proven that a powerful riff can be made with a light crunch and neck pickup! He made me spend a lot on pedals too :)

Jason Becker

One of the most gifted players of this era. His work alongside Marty Friedman on Cacophony and his solo album Perpetual Burn are absolutely phenomenal and still playing on my Mac today. If I’m asked for shred over the top and melodic playing, I definitively say his name. I was obviously in love with his sweeping parts blended with classical progressions. So young and gifted, and sadly cut short by A.L.S.

What’s their best track??

“Concerto” from the first Cacophony album is a real masterpiece. I also love the track “Go Off! Track” and “Mabel’s Fatal Fable” from his solo album.

How have they influenced your playing?

Certainly on sweeping. Thanks to him I can play the sweep part of Fast Forward!

I also discovered japanese scales with him (or Marty Friedman, his mentor). It was a complete new path to explore for me.

Jan Cyrka

I discovered Jan’s album Spirit after my teacher told me about him. I was impressed by his feedback control, killer tone and lyrical playing. His tremolo technique is very unique too.

What’s their best track??

“Road to Glory” gives me goosebumps each time I listen to it.

“Back in the Saddle” with its reggae feel.

“Angel” as my alarm clock during my teenage years!

How have they influenced your playing?

In writing, he helped me to try new things, new instruments on my songs which were initially guitar oriented. For example, the “Migrant” (from Spirit) has a very video game mood with this intricate and beautiful key change along the song. I understood the importance of arrangement and to not focus on guitar only. That’s what we call music I guess.

Frank Gambale

I learned a diminished scale, thanks to him! Gambale was the first to bring me into jazz and fusion music. Stellar playing and ability to play over changes is out of this world. Even if orchestration is maybe out of date, it is a real gold mine for every guitar player, whatever the genre.

What’s their best track?

“Leave Ozone Alone” from Thunder From Down Under: complex tune with a rock touch.

“Lazy Passion” from A Present for the Future: there is a very melodic guitar solo across the modal progression.

All of the Coming to Your Senses album is a perfect starting point for rock players who don't know him yet.

How have they influenced your playing?

A lot for improvisation and especially phrasing. He helped me to focus on my phrasing coherence, how to rest, how to play and more! I’d often spend 8 hours non stop on just one of his solos to “try” to understand his strategy.

Before you go...

Find out more about Kenny's monstrous three track pack here!

Get to know: Lucas Moscardini

Monday 3rd February 2020 Blogroll

lucas moscardini interview

Fusing Latin vibes with his own brand of djent inspired prog riffs and lead lines, Lucas Moscardini truly is a player to watch.

His JTC debut sees him tackle and teach the solo from the Vitalism track, “Favela”. And we couldn’t be happier to help him spread his musical message.

Let’s find out more about the man of the moment.

Q: When did you first start playing?

I started messing around with my father's acoustic when I was 9. But when I was 11, my uncle lent me his guitar so I got addicted to music and things started to get a little more serious after that!

Q: You mix up lead and rhythm in your playing, but which do you prefer?

Hard one! Hahaha. That's why we do what some people call "shriffs" which are shred/riff sections. But if I had to choose one I would choose rhythm. Just because it feels SO good to play groovy riffs on stage!

Q: How do you guys approach writing music for Vitalism?

We love to add elements from other genres. On our last EP called "SY" we've used many South American elements and influences to shape the sound! We tend to start with a rough vision of the vibe of the song. Then we usually choose one or two keys for the song we're working so each one of us writes at home some riffs, grooves and chord progressions that fit on the same key. After that, we meet and start combining all our ideas in a way that makes sense for us

Q: What guitars and gear are you using at the moment?

I've been using my Legator Ninja X series and my Legator OD series that I've recently added a pair of EMGs 57-7 and 66-7. I was recording for my new project last week and we've used the OD series with EMGs and I was blown away with the tones we got from it! Live I'm using the Joyo GEM BOX III and in the studio I use Neural DSP plugins.

Q: Who are your biggest influences?

On the guitar front, I have to mention Synyster Gates, Marty Friedman, Steve Vai, Slash, Jimmy Page and Guthrie Govan.

Q: If someone is going to try and discover latin guitarists, where should they start?

If you're coming from a metal background I would definitely have to recommend Kiko Loureiro. He's a true master of the guitar! If you want something more jazzy with a brazillian spice you should check out Pedro Martins and Pipoquinha. (Pipoquinha is a bass player but you will thank me later if you don't know him yet). I also have to mention my dudes Charlie Parra, Luís Kalil and Felix Martin! They're all absolutely killer musicians!

Q: For playing djent, prog metal etc, what would be your number one tip?

Of course the number one tip is to subscribe to my YouTube channel because I've been posting some cool lessons there! Hahaha.

Now seriously: focus on playing as clean as possible, on tempo and make sure to have fun with these riffs!

Q: Who is your favourite JTC artist?

Oh that's a really hard one! It's not possible for me to choose only one because you have the best players out there on your roaster! Hahaha.

So I'll have to mention Mateus Asato, Charlie Parra, Manuel Gardner Fernandes, Guthrie Govan, Charlie Robbins, Kiko Loureiro and Lari Basilio.

Q: Your debut release is here! Why should people get it?

Because I think you'll learn many new approaches on writing solos, applying techniques and on implementing influences from other genres to your playing. I believe that it will inspire people to expand their creativity and to get even more passionate about guitar and music!

Before you go

A huge thanks to Lucas for talking to us. Check out his JTC debut below!


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