The JTC roster is built on the talents of incredible players from all around the world. So when one of those talents, George Marios, suggests another player to us, we’re happy to listen.
And so started our relationship with George Karayiannis! His JTC debut, Unravel the Pentatonic has been a big hit, but of course not everyone can know who everyone is, so we wanted to give George an opportunity to share a bit more about himself.
So what’s he all about?
So who is George Karayiannis?
I’m already questioning my existence enough so please don’t do this to me! Well, I’m a human from Greece, in progress since 1991.
I’m also a musician, guitar tutor, session guitar player and composer, with an intrinsic obsession to constantly try to explore the never-ending depths of music.
Finally I absolutely love working out, reading psychology and philosophy books, being close to nature, singing and my dog, Perla.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a musician?
It was December 2005 when I got my first guitar. She had 5 out of 6 tuners but this didn’t really bother me at the time. I spent the whole night dancing around with the guitar and acting as if I knew how to play over some Bon Jovi, Santana and Scorpions songs. I literally slept with the guitar on me. Haven’t thought about doing anything else since.
Who have been your biggest influences as a musician?
Of course there are many and they are really different but if I had to choose let’s say 3 of my biggest influences then with no particular order would be:
Joe Satriani I remember watching him perform at G3 at Denver over and over again and thinking “That’s what I want to do!”. He was my idol during my first years of trying to figure out how to play.
Julian Lage He is the reason I love jazz. His playing is so direct and mesmerizing that I just can’t get enough! I’ve seen Lage at a seminar here in Greece and when he was asked about the freedom he has on the guitar and how to achieve it, he said “Freedom is not a milestone, but a choice.”.These words really got stuck in my head since then and I tend to recall them most of the times when I write or play music.
Mike Shinoda I know this might seem a little weird to some but this artist has always been an inspiration to me due to his creativity and involvement in so many different styles and aspects of music and art in general.
And any favourites on the JTC roster?
If I had to choose one I think I wouldn’t surprise anyone picking the Guitar God himself (a.k.a. Guthrie Govan).
That being said, the truth is I’ve learnt so much from studying the incredible releases of Luca Mantovanelli and Jake Willson, so let’s make it a top 3. Infinite respect to the whole team for creating such unique and helpful content for the ones who need it though.
How did the idea for the Masterclass come about?
I’ve always loved the sound of the pentatonic scale and I’ve always tried to figure out ways to use it in a more creative way. So I’ve gathered a lot of concepts, exercises and ideas on this journey that started to pop out in my playing. Then I realised that not many players use these concepts so it kinda was an obvious topic for my debut to me.
And what do you want people to get out of it?
As I say in the study guide, I really hope that it will truly unravel this beautiful polyfunctional scale and spark the creativity inside the ones who’ll study it.
Finally, since we’re talking about the most used scale, I hope it will plant the idea that there is no “box” in anything if you truly give your attention to it and look a little deeper, so that they can apply this idea to anything creatively.
Any plans for future releases?
Yes! I’m absolutely excited for the next one! I don’t want to share anything specific for now. I’ll just say it’s gonna be a Masterclass about a fundamental building block of music and it’s going to be structured in a way that everyone will understand how to study and how to actually use it in any musical environment.
Finally, if you could only listen to one artist/band etc for the rest of your life, who's it going to be?
This is an easy one! Myself!
That way I could still play my favourite songs of my favourite artists AND still be able to write new music!
Before you go...
Watch George in action as he delivers a solo from the Masterclass
The best ballads have a big hook, tell a story and in JTC terms at least, allow a guitarist to show off a bit. .
Enter Aryz Bulo. The Indonesian guitarists’s 5/4 ballad epic really does tick the ballad boxes and then some. .
So we caught up with him to find out more about “Beloved Child”, his latest Learn to Play release..
What was the main inspiration for this track?
This song is inspired by my son, his name is Gabrielle, this song tells about the birth of a child and describes the feelings of a father who really loves his child and struggles through all the difficulties and challenges his parents face before the child's birth and the feelings when the child is born.
The bulk of this track is in 5/4. How did that happen?
At first I was just chilling while making the guitar riff for the intro of the song. I didn't think to set the time signature first but after I’d written the intro riff, I realised it was in 5/4. It was a sweet accident!
So after that, I tried to make a melody theme with slide and legato playing on 5/4 and changed it again with chord modulation from E (root, start from A) to G.
But the chorus and interlude is in 6/4. I wanted to keep the 5/4 feel but make it catchier and easier for the listener to follow along.
What is your tip for playing in other time signatures than 4/4?
I think this is just a matter of habit! At first it might be quite difficult to get used to time signatures other than 4/4. I really understand the difficulty because when we play guitar, we have to think about phrases, scales, grooves, techniques together in a time signature that we are not used to playing.
Of course I have some tips for us to make this easier…
Learn and understand the count of each time signature, how many beats in a measure, where the accent is located.
Simplify a time signature for example 7/8 you can change it to a count of 1/4 so you don't have to count as many as 7 beats in one measure.
Get used to listening to songs with time signatures other than 4/4 as we know, such as the Guthrie songs “Fives”, “Sevens”, and prog bands like Rush, Dream Theater, Animal as Leaders etc. We listen to all of these to add to our sensitivity to all time signatures.
Are there any licks in the track that you had to work on to get right?
Yes... throughout the track, I had to convey emotive playing and techniques, especially in the chorus section. In the interlude, I tried to include more outside sounding licks that are less familiar to the ears, creating a darker vibe. There’s a complete breakdown about that section in the full pack!
For someone who is learning this track, what is the biggest lesson?
The biggest lesson from this song is how you can express your emotions and your feelings in a melody, how to apply techniques such as bending, vibrato, tapping, legato, hybrid picking, alternate picking, etc. To create a harmony that describes the atmosphere and feelings. Besides that, the release will also provide an overview and additional references for you in making your original composition, and also you can learn the application of scales such as lydian, melodic minor modes in chord progressions.
What is the current scene like for guitarists in Indonesia?
Indonesia is a very large country and consists of more than 13 thousand islands and a very large population, so of course there are many talented guitarists who are also extraordinary.
JTC has very many fans in Indonesia. Being the only Indonesian in the JTC roster gives me pride and I hope to be an inspiration to thousands of guitarists in Indonesia.
JTC has become a benchmark and standard for national and even international recognition among guitarists and musicians.
Are there any plans for more tracks like this in the future?
Of course! I plan to publish more varied and fresh songs as well as my album and lesson packages at JTC. This year there will be many releases which I will discuss with the JTC team.
Before you go...
Check out Aryz’s intense and uplifting ballad below!
When Damir Puh first got in contact with JTC it was about backing tracks, and we were instantly wowed. So much so that we put out Just Jam Riffy Rock on our platform.
But when we saw him jamming on his backings on Instagram, we wanted to get him in front of the camera. A killer player, a fantastic backing writer and a dab hand at a mixing desk.
This is Damir Puh in his own words.
How much of your experience as a producer comes through in your playing?
It certainly adds another dimension for sure! Music production teaches you to focus on the things that matter the most, helps you understand the bigger picture and how to maximize the value of what you play in the context of a song. After working with artists in many different genres, I started recognizing patterns of what works and what excites people, especially outside of the guitar circles, so naturally, those conclusions started to creep in my playing in one form or another.
In practical terms, it means a lot more emphasis on sound, groove, timing and the general approach and vibe, while still harnessing the typical guitar fireworks and using them as a powerful tool.
What was the main inspiration behind this release?
I wanted to do a lesson pack aimed at intermediate rock/metal players that already have a good grasp of the most common techniques, phrasing, and theory and want to take all that to the next level. I also wanted to make sure the material is still rooted in the usual rock form so it makes sense to anyone trying to tackle it, without having to alter the way they play and approach the instrument too much. And finally, one of the main ideas was creating specific licks that would not only be cool enough to play “as-is”, but that also feature multiple concepts that could be further developed and pushed in any direction.
What is the biggest takeaway from it?
For me, the general idea, intent, the way something’s played is just as important as the notes that are being played. Hopefully, I represented that element in this pack enough, so even players outside of the rock genre will find some of the concepts in Rock to Prog useful and inspiring.
The term “Prog” in the pack title goes well beyond the genre description – it’s more of an idea about viewing things differently rather than merely describing djent happy licks you can copy-paste into your next solo (although you can do that as well – just make sure to film yourself and tag me :D ).
The backings on this are crazy good, will we see more like this?
Thanks! I’m currently working on a whole new set of backing tracks in a similar style to those included in the Rock to Prog pack, and beyond. Lots of down-tuned, odd time & polyrhythm-based grooves along with other prog amenities will be included! Good backings are always inspiring to play over and I enjoy making them, so you can definitely expect more of those in the future.
And could you go back to your Riffy Rock debut and play some stuff over that too?
Riffy Rock backings cover a lot of ground as they were written with the idea of leaving a lot of space for a different interpretation. So yeah, I could see myself using them to create some cool new content.
Who is your favourite JTC player?
With all the talent on the JTC roster, it would be impossible to narrow it down to a single artist. Guthrie Govan is the obvious choice, but I’ll have to include Josh Smith and Daniele Gottardo in my personal top 3 - all very different players that I enjoy listening to, and that make me want to pick up my guitar and practice!
What topics would you like to cover next?
Slower, melody-focused playing is one of the topics that I’ll try to cover in the future. There’s a lot of lesson material on the topic, but usually in a traditional context, so I think it would be interesting to approach it from a different viewpoint.
Riff, writing, guitar lines/parts arrangement, general rhythm guitar concepts – all interesting topics that would make a great lesson pack in one form or another.
I’m way overdue to release new material as a solo artist, so track demonstrations could also be an option.
Before you go...
Watch Damir in action as he shows off a number of lines from his 20 Licks pack.
JTC’s reach is worldwide. We have customers from every corner of the globe, our Jam of the Month sees people from all walks of life getting involved, and our roster is an ever growing place of killer talent.
And with Nazim Kri’s JTC debut, we now cover every continent on earth bar Antarctica.
So let’s see what he’s all about.
How much pride is there in being JTC’s first African player?
So happy and proud! I remember like yesterday, in 2009/2010 when I started playing guitar, watching Blues Jam Tracks/Jam Track Central on YouTube. it was new, and crazy; showcasing people like Alex Hutchings or Guthrie.
I was telling myself that I’ll never reach half of this level. So when I received the email from JTC saying that I was picked, it was like a dream come true.
What is the guitar scene in Algeria like?
Algeria is a country with a lot of guitar players, with a deep passion for instruments, gear, and “guitar music”. Obviously a lot are big fans of guitar heroes from the late 80’s and 90’s, people like Satriani, Steve Vai etc. But they are also following the new wave with Martin Miller, Marco Sfogli or Mark Lettieri.
But the main thing is that the guitar is having an important place in the Algerian music with styles like Rai, alaoui, African or Algerian pop.
So a session guitarist will be able to play on many configurations also rhythmically and technically. Like 9 out of 10 bands have got guitar in their line up.
The main goal here for a guitarist is to get out of the box from that “rhythmic static” playing, so instead of playing simple “boring” chords, you try new things. New sounds, like clean delays (U2 style), lead solos with some Algerian traditional licks. Riffs inspired from prog rock...Algerian music is very open and challenging!
It started between 2005 and 2010, there were a lot of great players who gained maturity and started to show off in pop bands (myself included). And in summer 2012 the first national Guitar Day event was organised to invite the players and bands on stage and showcase their passion for guitar.
So since that time, a lot of players came alive and gained maturity. People like Nazim Mohammedi, Wassim Rahmani, Nazim Bakour, or recently Soumia Ghechami. They are always posting good content and improving.
The sad thing is that our country is not supportive of the music industry. So it’s hard to get a working visa for musicians and be able to tour easily; hard and expensive to get gear; and super rare to organise workshops, Masterclasses or showrooms about guitar. Even if you’re endorsed by a premium gear brand, it would be hard for their instruments to be sold here because of the poor currency.
But we are hopeful to see something like a NAMM Show here in Algeria! I’m sure a lot of people will come!
Out of all the backings we sent over, what clicked the most with these?
Being a big blues rock fan I think the backing track that inspired me the most is “Put it All Out There”. I'm a big west coast shuffle fan, a huge fan of Bernard Purdie, Jeff Porcaro who played rhythm so perfectly, and guitar players like Larry Carlton or Robben Ford. So that track was pretty amazing to play on. I can also say the Reloader track was as good too.
What is the biggest takeaway for you with this release?
I think the versatility of the licks is the main thing. These 20 licks are usable in many styles and it will sound “natural”. I was thinking about creating a pack based on “universal” playing” and I got inspired by players who don't shred systematically but they have that one thing that’s going to make you feel an emotion. I can talk about Mark Lettieri who is for me one of the greatests players nowadays. His approach is always to play that note to surprise you, with that bend accuracy, choosing always the right timing or groove, and in any style.
So in my release I tried to reach that kind of energy. How to say a lot of things in a simple way; to attract the ear and at the same time to create something meaningful on the track.
Who is your favourite JTC artist?
I think like 99.99% of people say Guthrie. For sure he’s the most popular JTC artist and also my favourite.. His playing is just crazy and perfect! I remember watching the “Orange Jam” and literally showing it to every guitarist I knew, and I would say, “No way this guy is human.”
Who has been your biggest influence?
Hard question because I can't really choose one player only, so I always answer by 3 essential guys! The first was Mark Knopfler, because Sultans of Swing was the song that made me start playing guitar. I’ve been listening to Dire Straits since I was young but at the age of 16 I really wanted to learn that tune. So I chose Mark Knopfler for the lyrical and smooth touch in his music.
The second is for sure Steve Lukather. I took his philosophy in session playing, like all the rhythmic stuff, how he plays the riffs, even the solos. I tried that way of thinking in Algerian music and it worked so well. Steve has the best guitar sound I’ve ever heard.
The Last is Bireli Lagrene. Absolutely unique! He took the manouche style to another level. And he played with some of the greatest jazz composers and musicians, like Jaco Pastorius, Dennis Chambers and more. Bireli is unpredictable, you can watch 100 videos of him and you’ll always be surprised. His albums are a “must have” for a guitarist or jazz music fan.
Are there any topics you’d like to explore?
I really want to make people understand the Inside of session playing. I have done it for 10 years here in Algeria, in various styles and various band configurations. So I would like to show how you can think as a guitarist in the studio or live. How you can play on a ballad, on an electro dance song, a pop song or on a rock song, and also on a RAI song too.
So a complete method to master session playing; I was mainly inspired by people like Michael Landau, Paul Jackson Jr or recently Pete Thorn. I really think that playing on a backing track is not sufficient, guitar is an instrument that can do many things, so for me as a guitarist I have to be able to solo over chord changes, and at the same time to play any simple pop song and still sound great on it.
Before you go...
Watch Nazim in action as he takes on "Reloaded" as part of the pack.
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”The technique, masses of expression on his legato cool Opeth-style chunky riffs.” Straight from the mouth of one of directors and all about Mr James Norbert Ivanyi, one of the latest breed of new artists adding their own flavour to JTC.
James’ debut has proven to be a huge hit with tons of players digging into his signature phrases.
So what’s he all about?
You have such a strong “prog” sound, where did this come from?
I think it came from having a lot of classic rock, progressive music and instrumental jazz playing in my home for as long as I can remember. My father was an artist and musician, and was really into obscure music, so I think that had a lasting impression and normalized the soundscape for me which I naturally wanted to explore myself.
What was the inspiration behind this release?
I wanted to give people the chance to see and learn something directly from me, that is exactly like the kind of music I make - which is something I get asked about all the time. Not just the heavier stuff, but also the slower and fusion side to my playing, which I think is a little less known. There’s a wide variety of phrases in the release that hopefully showcase what I’m all about, and people can get right into it, in the context I do with the original backing tracks.
Biggest takeaway from your JTC debut?
I learned so much about the overall presentation and of how my course would be viewed from the students perspective, and made a lot of calculated choices and revisions to ensure it was versatile, but also accessible to intermediate players. From the get-go I knew I’d have to be careful not to make it too difficult, at least not for the debut.
This release is unique as it has so many different backings, how long did it take to put them together?
I actually started the JTC recording sessions immediately after completing my new record, so I was still very much in the headspace and inspired to keep creating. I think I spent about a week on the bones of each one, then another few weeks on each getting the details and instrumentation right.
Who would you say is your favourite artist from the JTC roster?
I would have to say Guthrie Govan, as I actually mostly discovered him through JTC. He’s had a profound impact on me as a player and I admire his playing and philosophy on subject matter greatly. Of course there are too many great players on the roster to mention.
What other topics would you like to explore?
Of course if the interest is there, I’d like to explore more in the songwriting domain, and demonstrate my linear approach to production and guitar playing, which is something I get asked about often. I’d also like to demonstrate a more advanced phrases collection, and do something similar to ‘signature progressive phrases’ but focused on riffs, instead of phrases.