January 8, 2014

Lesson and interview with Gianluca Ferro

Hi! The last couple months were amazing - I've organized the latest edition of my annual Jonas Tamas Guitar Contest in Hungary. This year, judges included Steve Lukather and Guitar World Editor-in-Chief Brad Tolinski, plus some of Hungary's finest players and other internationally acclaimed guitarists, including Gianluca Ferro from Italy, Rick Graham from the U.K. and Mathias Holm from Sweden.

Guitar World has written an article about the contest, featuring the 3 most exciting guitar video entries. You can check it out here: http://www.guitarworld.com/videos-three-outstanding-entries-annual-hungarian-guitar-competition

Gianluca Ferro has been one of the judge panel members, and he has written and recorded an amazing solo over the contest backing track. Here is his video:

 This is the TAB of the chorus (0:48), with great intervallic lines and well-rounded 3-note stucture:

This is the hybrid picked part at  0:37:

And finally, this is the first 8 bars of Gianluca's solo. In the last two bars there are multi-finger tapping sequences in septuplets. You can use your 1st and 3rd finger, or your 2nd and 3rd finger, respectively. Make sure to practice it slowly, and take care that all the notes sound clean and even. You can also use a hairband on the neck of the guitar.

This week I did an interview with Gianluca for my Hungarian guitar column at GitarShop.hu. With the permission of GitarShop, here is the English version of the interview:

Hey Gian, thanks a lot for taking part in this interview! You’ve got a great year in 2013, with new Jam Track Central packages, ESP endorsement, new videos and exciting gigs. What are your music plans for 2014? (New solo album, side projects, guest solos, clinics, etc.)

Hi Jonas! It’s such a great pleasure to be here with you guys!

Yeah 2013 has been a really intense year I had the chance to perform with Guthrie Govan, Andy Timmons, Kiko Loureiro, Michael Angelo Batio and the amazing Prashant Aswani. I also have been working a lot for Jamtrack Central, as you said!

2014 starts with a blast, anyway... I’m gonna perform at NAMM in California for Dragoon Speakers, an italian company.

As for the new projects, I’m working with Nick Pierce, drummer of Unheart at a new band called Breath Of Nibiru, we are now mixing our debut album with Aaron Smith (Jeff Loomis, Into The Flood, 7 Horns 7 Eyes). In the meanwhile I’m working on a new jamtrack package. I’m also scheduling some clinics in Europe for next Spring!

Nowadays, what is your practice routine? How do you maintain and develop your technique, your chops, your fluid runs?

Well, I spend the most of my time writing songs and putting new ideas together! I teach a lot so I only have my mornings and weekends free.Anyway I try to save as much time as I can refining my chops and inventing new lines. Right now I’m more focused on phrasing, trying to combine more chromatic fragments and arpeggios with a hint of hybrid picking as well as some 4 note-per-string fingerings.
It’s not a super-organized routine as it was in the past; Yep, I still practice with my metronome, but I’m not that obsessed by technique nowadays. It’s more about finding new ideas then getting hyper-fast!

Luckily summer is free so I usually play almost the whole day !

What is your typical creative process when you write new material? Do you come up with riffs first, do you start a drum track and play melodies over it, or is it a different method?

Well it might change a lot! Sometimes I listen to a song at the radio and I think:” that sounds pretty cool!” so I try to get the same vibe for my stuff trying to figure out how the chords are moving around and how the whole arrangent is built. That works fine for the more melodic material. Sometimes it’s just noodling around a drums groove or sometimes it’s an actual project in my mind with different sections and elements. I always try to be balanced and organic with my songrwriting. I need to feel every element compensating the others. So, if I have a very melodic chorus I might be searching for a more harmonically complex verse etc... When I need to get freak I often experiment with synthetic scales,symmetrical chord progressions or weird harmonic process. I take a piece of paper and start drawing weird diagrams! It’s a good way to bring your thoughts outside your box but,of course our ears have to judge the result!!!

How you motivate yourself and please tell some main factors that contributed to your success as a musician! I’m especially curious to know your inner self-talk and positive beliefs that help you to go forward and be persistent.

I think that every step you take brings yourself a little bit higher. Doesn’t matter if you just came down from a stage where you performed in front of 25.000 people or you just learned a new position for a scale in your bedroom.

You just have to know that you’re going somewhere and that’s a cool place to go. I think you’re truly alive as long as you try to do your best every single, day. As a musician and as a human. 

You might make mistakes; all right. Then you’ll learn from them. You might be tired and lost sometimes but you still will have your path to follow; sooner or later your efforts will be rewarded in some way. Just enjoy your stroll, enjoy the view, be alive, humble and positive and don’t care very much about the destination!

Thanks for your time and in the name of the GitarShop.hu staff I wish you lots of success and fun for 2014!

Thank you so much guys for taking me on board! Hope to cacth you all soon ! All the best for 2014 to all the GitarShop friends !

September 3, 2013

8 Octopus Licks: Fresh Guitar Scale Ideas With Wide Scales

Hi again! After my last lesson on the methods of writing an instrumental guitar song, now I’ll show you some interesting wide scale ideas. This lesson is called “8 Octopus Licks”, because the left hand’s movements will resemble an octopus. I’ve created 8 licks in the following video, and today we’ll discuss the first 4 licks.

The video with all the 8 licks:


These licks are based upon the idea that if we create wider scale boxes, then we’ll get more interesting intervals and sounds.

The backing track in the video is in the key of F sharp major. The first few licks are played between frets 9 and 14, so the width of the scales is 5 frets, or a perfect fourth. Make sure to warm up properly before practicing these scales, because it can be quite a stretch!

The scale pattern is really simple: on all 6 strings, the notes of fret 9 and fret 14 are within the key, so if you play these notes string by string (so playing 2 notes per string), you’ll get a pretty interesting sound, as opposed to the all-too-familiar minor pentatonic sound.

You can read the full lesson at Guitar-Muse.com. Click here: 


July 20, 2013

Tips for Writing an Instrumental Guitar Song

In this lesson I’ll show you some of my methods for creating riffs and then combining them to make a full instrumental guitar song. The example for this purpose will be one of my songs, “Tight Squeeze”, from my first album Sharp Guitars From a Flat Planet. You can see me playing the full song below.


The opening riff starts at 0:10. The root note is obviously the note B, and you can also see the minor 3rd in bar 2. There are a few chromatic passages too, and the riff ends with a C power chord at the end of bar 4. So you may see it as a B phrygian riff, but if you look at it closely you’ll see that the C note, which would represent the minor 2nd of the phrygian mode, does not play a significant role. So this riff is not about the phrygian mode. The “pseudo-phrygian” vibe at the end of a riff is a common trick in prog metal. So I’d rather call this riff a B minor pentatonic rock/blues with chromatic notes.

You can read the full lesson at Guitar-Muse.com. Click here: 


November 20, 2012

An amazing Andy Timmons-solo

The last months have been an awesome and exciting period in my life, because I have organized the first Jonas Tamas Guitar Competition in Hungary. The guitar competition has turned out to be a great success, with 191 entries, which makes it by far the most popular guitar competition ever held in Hungary! We've had lots of press, including radio interviews, and the  competition homepage has got tens of thousands of hits. The most popular Hungarian morning show with 1 million daily listeners has announced the competition as well.

The competition has had a world-class judge panel, including Brett Garsed, Mattias IA Eklundh, Troy Stetina and Andrew Farnham.

You can watch Brett Garsed, Mattias IA Eklundh, Troy Stetina and Andrew Farnham talking about the Jonas Tamas Guitar Competition and about their favorite entries:

You can see a photo of the Award Ceremony here, with yours truly standing before the mic at the left hand side. It's been a great fun being the host of the show!

Now, back to business:) I have tabbed out an amazing Andy Timmons-solo from Kip Winger's song 'A Kiss of Life', and I want to share the TAB with you:

The guitar solo starts at 2:42 in the video below:


The full TAB of the solo is here:

The TAB notes are in Hungarian, because I have created this lesson for a Hungarian guitar column. However, the TAB can be perfectly understood without these notes, so I wish you good luck for this amazing solo of Andy Timmons!

August 11, 2012

Melodic guitar improvisation over a backing track in A-minor

I have found this backing track, and I really liked the vibe of it... so I have recorded a guitar improvisation, I hope you will like it!

Question: what kind of scales did I use over the V (E7) chord? 

If you are the first to give a correct answer, then you will get a TAB+backing track package of my latest album 'Timeless Hour'.

July 7, 2012

Cracking the Code of Clever & Catchy Chromatic Chops 02

In one of my posts from last week,  I have written about creating interesting chromatic lines in a riff. I have included an example with TAB and mp3 from a song called Golden Sun, and provided a detailed analysis on the different applications of chromatic passing tones. If you haven't read that post, you may want to read it now, before continuing with this post: http://instrumentalrockguitar.blogspot.com/2012/06/cracking-code-of-clever-catchy.htmlk

Now, let’s take a look at the main solo theme over this riff. As you will see in the TAB, the theme is played by two guitars, harmonized in thirds. I have tabbed out both guitar tracks for you. In the first 2 bars, there aren’t any chromatic notes in the solo theme, so you can concentrate on the technical aspects. This theme is pretty fast, and it has some tricky spots in there: the picking pattern changes from sweep to alternate picking, and there are several position shifts for the left hand to, so you may want to start practicing really slowly and you should only increase the tempo, when you were able to play it perfectly on the slower tempo.

Bar 3 of the theme contains the same chromatic C note as the accompanying riff mentioned above. It serves the same purpose: by using a chromatic passing tone you create a bit of a tension, and it is resolved by the following note, which is in our case a C#. In the second half of this bar, the C#-C-C# line occurs again, this time an octave higher. The second harmony guitar plays an A#-A-A# line here, being a third lower than C#-C-C#.

In the last bar I have tabbed only the long closing notes of the two solo guitars. In the mp3 you can hear some monster combined tapping-sliding-arpeggio-legato licks every four bar, which are always different throughout the song. You can listen to the main theme and you can hear two versions of those licks by clicking here: 

And here is the TAB:

Enjoy, and keep experimenting with chromatic notes. See ya next time, keep on rockin’!

July 3, 2012

David Gilmour

David Gilmour. His playing has so much beauty, depth and philosophy. No words can describe it. 

This is a 10-minute segment from his concert. Watch it and let yourself taken to the world of wonders.