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Al Joseph: Masterclass Q&A

Friday 26th July 2019 News

al joseph guitarist with ibanez for JTC Guitar

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.

It’s a hard task to write a track that lasts the ages, but Al Joseph’s Ultimate Songwriting Masterclass will give you the tools to get started.

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.

Here's the full track "Surgeon General", enjoy!

The Aristocrats: You Know What? (Album Review)

Tuesday 2nd July 2019 News

the aristocrats you know what album review

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. 

Spanish Eddie

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. 

Terrible Lizard

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. 

Spiritus Cactus

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. 

Last Orders

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. 


Get to Know: Eric Woolard

Wednesday 26th June 2019 News

eric woolard blog hero image

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! 

Q: Who are your biggest influences?

For country, I'd have to say either Johnny Hiland or Brent Mason 

Q: Favourite JTC artist?

Johnny Hiland! Outside of country music, I'm a big Guthrie Govan fan. Martin Miller as well.

Q: Any ideas for future JTC releases?

I'm definitely wanting to put out a 20 Licks pack in the near future. After that, there's no telling what we may come up with.

Lari Basilio: Masterclass Q&A

Thursday 13th June 2019 News

Few players can combine technical ability with emotion and catchiness in the way that Lari Basilio does. 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!

Michael Wagner: Expressive Hard Rock Q&A

Thursday 13th June 2019 News

Sometimes, all you want to do is rock. One man who is clearly a master of that, is JTC’s Michael Wagner. If you need a bit of help learning just how to rock, then we suggest you take a look at his brand new Expressive Hard Rock Masterclass.

And to give you a better insight into what the man behind the pack is about, here’s a behind the pack look, from Michael himself.

Q: What was the inspiration behind this Masterclass?

My biggest hero when I started out playing was AC/DC's Angus Young. He represented everything I think is so cool about the electric guitar; the loudness, the danger, the viciousness. I stole everything I could from him and soon after I started my own hard rock band. My solo stuff for JTC however was always more on the bluesy side of things. So doing a rock oriented package was kind of overdue, because it represents so much of my own history as a guitarist. A cranked up Marshall and an old Les Paul – that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? Having played this music for so long, I really felt I could teach other people a few tricks about it.

Q:  What’s your favourite part of it?

I’m pretty happy how “Finger in the Socket“ turned out composition-wise! It has that classic 70s rock ‘n’ roll vibe, but I think I managed to put in some of my signature licks and chord changes so it doesn’t sound too much like a rip-off of any of my favorite bands of that era.

But self-praise is no recommendation, so I just want people to experience the full package themselves and hopefully they can learn something for their own playing. That’s the most important thing for me with all of these JTC packs; to inspire people to get creative. Of course, it’s flattering when I see others on YouTube playing my tracks note for note, but what I really hope to achieve is that people do their own thing with it!

Q: How does the future of rock ‘n’ roll look to you?

Today, guitar-oriented rock music is a niche, but amazing things happen regardless. Despite me being more of a classic rock and blues player, I love the modern rock guitarists like Polyphia’s Tim Henson or Plini Roessler-Holgate. Their sense of melody and composition is so different from classic rock, but that’s exactly what makes it so interesting. It’s always hard to teach an old horse new tricks, but I’m definitely planning on stealing more of their stuff and let it find its way into my style. Having players like them, I think there’s no reason to worry about the future of rock’n’roll. Maybe it’s even gonna find its way back into the mainstream – you never know!

Q:  And apart from rock, what else do you really like to play?

In essence, I’m a blues player with a strong attack and a love of hi gain lead sounds – and the great thing about blues is, you can translate it into pretty much any style. I’m a total groove addict, so I love playing funk. I also love good pop songs, so I’m totally happy with just laying out some chords for a great singer as well. I really enjoy playing any style I’m capable of. The only thing that matters to me is good songs!

Q: What’s next for you at JTC?

In general, JTC for me is an artistic outlet first and foremost. It’s an awesome way to show my own instrumental music to a broader audience. So for me it all comes down to having the next good idea for an instrumental tune. I don’t want to put out new video packages just for the sake of it, but whenever I got some quality material you can be sure there’s gonna be a JTC release!


Jake Willson: Practice Toolkit Q&A

Thursday 6th June 2019 News

jake willson practice toolkit

Here at JTC we have a lot of amazing content and behind all that comes a lot of time and hard work. It can be easy to forget that your go-to Masterclass, 20 Licks pack or Jamtrack, is in fact a committed effort by a talented artist who wants to share their skills and knowledge. So it’s time to shed some more light on what goes on.

With our recent Practice Toolkit Masterclass, perhaps our biggest JTC pack yet, we thought we’d go behind the scenes and chat to its creator, Jake Willson.

Q: What was the inspiration behind this Masterclass?

It’s something I’m really interested in and passionate about (I actually really enjoy the quasi-meditative feeling that I get from a disciplined and structured practice session).  People have always asked me about ‘how to set up a practice schedule?’ or ‘how should I work on my x, y and z?’ etc. As I started thinking about doing it, I really dug deep about why some people seem to be able to find the energy to practice and others don’t; I’ve been reading a lot lately about the way our decision making is affected and what motivates us to action, and I felt that a lot of that stuff really resonated with the challenges we face as practicing musicians.

For example, it can be so hard to just sit down with your guitar some days: why? Don’t we all love playing guitar? My feeling is that we need more of a ‘plan’ about what that time is about, and the incorporation of that plan into our daily lives may have other further ramifications to how we approach life and productivity in general.

It’s powerful stuff, I think.

Beyond that, my dream was to have a ‘one stop shop’ for (almost) everything a lead guitarist would want to use for practice, and by having that resource available it would cut down on some of the time spent wasted thinking about ‘what should I practice?’

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player. it’s all there and ready to go. Honestly, I’ll be using this all the time!

Q: It’s a big one…so how long did it take?

Absolutely ages. ‘201' is a big number! It’s the biggest one of these I’ve ever done and it was quite a strain on my computer (time to upgrade, I think)!! Coming up with the first few exercises was relatively straightforward (I didn’t want people to spend too much time learning thenew material, so they shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to get to grips with) but after a while I needed to find ways to increase variety and make sure there was something for all levels in there. I started working on it when I got back from NAMM (early February, 2019) and then continued to work on filming each exercise over the next two months (it was annoying because my camera was ‘in place’ so I couldn’t use it for other things!). I could have done it quicker, but I was doing what I could between shows and other commitments etc.

Q: What’s your favourite part of it?

I have a bit of a soft spot for the booklet. I enjoy writing and I think that there’s some stuff in there that some people might really need to read. It’s a fairly bold piece of writing because it’s about what I think rather than it being a generic textbook for everyone, and that was quite freeing. I think a certain something (a ‘directness’, perhaps?) is lost when people attempt to write ‘definitively’ about subjects, and I’d prefer to be able to collate the experiences of others (almost as though I were reading the various parts of a giant conversation).

Q: What’s the main thing you want people to take away from it?

That structure is important, and that you can still be creative in your practice sessions. I also think just having the exercises in TAB form, on the page is valuable resource. Just open at any page if you don’t know what you should be doing on any given practice session (and that’s the next 20 minutes taken care of)!

Q: Any plans for a future JTC release?

Well, I think this is my [counts on fingers] 14th product with JTC Guitar! And the last two have been enormous (they’re such huge subjects and I’d been putting them off!). At the moment, I’m thinking of doing something based on harmonic devices, or maybe something about ‘outside’ playing, but I’ll happily listen to what the community is up for!

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