Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Zack Uidl interview - The busy shredder tells us to get organized.

Zack Uidl is a professional guitarist, studio/session musician, instructor, and composer in the Chicago-land area. He is in high demand for performances, both live and in the studio, instructing, and for his compositions for film and other projects. Zack has taught several clinics, master classes, workshops, and seminars including the internationally acclaimed Camp Jam. He currently is an instructor both privately and at JC’s Guitars in Algonquin, Illinois. Zack also is a highly acclaimed author of online lessons and articles on numerous instructional websites.

Zack has studied with the best guitarists in the industry including Tom Hess, Zvonimir Tot, Mike Walsh, Jody Fisher to name a few. He has also studied advanced music theory, piano, and other instruments as well.

Zack has released:

The Ultimate Sweep Picker’s Guide along with Mike Philippov
Progressive 7-String Guitar Instructional DVD
Serious Improvement for the Developing Guitarist Instructional E-book

He will also be featured on the upcoming Chronicles: City of Sound compilation album.

Zack Uidl is currently endorsed by Conklin Guitars, Q-Tuner pick-ups, Fast Axe, and Turbo Trem. He is currently working on numerous albums and instructional products while maintaining a steady performing schedule both live and in the recording studio.

What steps have you taken to forge a career in the music industry?
There are many things involved in my creating my career in the music industry. However, there are a few main steps that I took in order to accomplish my goals.

To begin with, I found professional guitar and music instructors that I knew would be able to help me reach all of my goals. I mainly studied with Tom Hess, but also with Zvonimir Tot, Jody Fisher, Mike Walsh and a few other instructors on different instruments. Practicing efficiently was important for me to reach my goals.

I also became a part of the Music Careers Mentoring Program that Tom Hess offers. That really changed my perspective on a lot of things and has honestly taught me much of what I needed in order to create a successful career as a professional musician.

The main thing, however, is that I have never waited for things to happen. I have made them happen on my own. Many people do not consider this very important thing. Too many people are in bands and are waiting for someone to give them an opportunity. Well, why not create the opportunities for yourself. Everything that I have accomplished, and will accomplish, is directly related to the amount of work that I put into it. If you want to be a professional musician, you have to make it happen.

What advice do you have for people looking to get into the music industry?
To begin with, someone looking to get into the music industry needs to realize that it has nothing to do with “luck.” Everything that I have done, or others have done, are the direct result of what they have worked hard to achieve. The only kind of musicians that I know have either stuck with it and are successful or have quit and given up. Anyone interested in becoming part of the music industry should realize that it takes work, dedication, and perseverance.

Secondly, everyone who wants to create and maintain a career in the music industry should know exactly what he or she wants to do. Map out goals, just like should be done in a practice routine. How will you know what to do if you do not know what you are working towards achieving?

Thirdly, realize that absolutely nothing is impossible. Every single goal and dream that you have can be achieved. If you realize this, you are already ahead of the majority. Too many people get in the mindset that there are certain things that will be impossible for them to make happen.

Fourthly, everyone interested in creating a career in the music industry should take Tom Hess’ Music Careers Mentoring Program. It has helped me out an immeasurable amount, and has done the same for many other.

What are the pressures in the industry and how do you cope with them?
There are numerous kinds of pressures in the music industry. Some minor and some are more significant. For me, the main pressures that I have, being a studio musician especially, are related to deadlines. Many of the projects that I am involved with have predetermined deadlines.

To manage them, and to manage pressure in life in general, comes down to very detailed time management. If I were not a very organized person, I would not be anywhere near where I am. I plan out a detailed schedule for each day, week, month and year. I make sure I do not go to sleep without doing something that will advance my career. I am very specific in my scheduling to allow for maximum efficiency in what I will be working on.

Also, I am kind of thankful that I am an insomniac. I do not get a lot of sleep, which allows me to have more time to get things done. Thank God for coffee!

During your formative years, what sort of practice regime did you have?
During my formative years, I had a very organized practice schedule. I would try and group certain topics together in order to make sure that I was being most efficient. For example, I would group things like chord studies, arpeggios, sweep picking, and music theory related to chords and chord progressions together since they are all using the same fundamentals. Then do things like scales, modes, directional picking, and the rest of the theory on another day. I would also set time aside for practicing songwriting, phrasing, rhythm playing, site reading and improvisation depending on my schedule and how much time I had available that day.

I never really had the time to practice for a ridiculous amount of hours each day. So, in order to make sure I still would advance to the level of guitar playing and musicianship that I wanted; I would make sure I was particularly organized with everything. And, I can honestly say that this method really paid off.

What advice do you have for beginner and intermediate players who are trying to achieve a highly advanced level of playing?
To begin with, stay very organized. Create a practice schedule that will allow you to and assist you in reaching your goals. This is very important. Create detailed lists for your short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Do not limit yourself simply because you think that some things are impossible. This will help you realize what you need to do to reach all of your goals.

Secondly, get a professional instructor. A professional instructor will know exactly what you need to reach your goals and will be able to coach and mentor you in becoming very efficient with your practicing. You will reach your goals in a shorter period of time than if you tried to accomplish things on your own.

What gear do you use and, more importantly, why?
I use a rather simple set up, especially playing live. I am not someone who is into using a bunch of effects. For me, I have 2 rhythm distortions, two clean channels and 2 lead channels set up for live performing.

Currently, I use Carvin V3 and Mesa Boogie amplifiers. Occasionally, I do use another kind of amplifier, but not very often. I use Carvin and Mesa Boogie because they are so reliable for both live and studio environments and have great tones.

For my guitars, I use various acoustic guitars, D’Angelico archtop guitars, and Carvin and Ibanez 7-string electric guitars. However, I am very excited. I recently started talking to Conklin Guitars and I am now endorsing them. I am having a custom 8 string guitar made right now and it should be ready in 2008.

As for my guitar and what I look for in a guitar, the basic specs are:

Jumbo Frets
Locking Tuners
Thinner Neck Style
Neck Through Design
Ebony Fingerboard
Large Cutaway

I have found that the things that I mentioned are best for sustain and vibrato. Playing Progressive-Rock, Metal, and Instrumental music, the thinner neck works better for me. Having pretty large hands, I need a larger cutaway so I do not have any physical restrictions from the guitar.

What parts of your playing reflects your personality and self-expression most accurately?
I think my personality is best shown through my instrumental works. I think that the elements of my playing such as odd meters, shows my unique style of composition. I have been told that I have a unique voice when it comes to soloing also. I just express whatever is in my mind and emotions through my compositions. So, in a way, everything that I compose has some element of my personality in it.

I am currently working on my solo album, so all of what I have talked about will be evident on that album.

What are you trying to achieve compositionally?
Compositionally, I simply want to create music that expresses my emotions. That is, after all, the purpose of music. I have influences in every genre of music and each of them is portrayed in my works. I compose music that accurately expresses ideas and emotions that I am feeling at that moment. Pretty short and simple.

If the readers want to get in touch with you, what is your website and e-mail address?
Contact me at or visit my website
or MySpace page

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mike Philippov interview – One of the nicest guys in shred shares some secrets

Mike Philippov is a guitarist, instructor and music composer based in Indianapolis, playing in the neo-classical and progressive styles.

He began playing guitar when he was 14 and has had 2 years of formal classical training at the Jacob's School of Music at Indiana University. He also studied virtuoso guitar playing and music composition with world renowned virtuoso Tom Hess.

He has taught instructional guitar clinics as well as private guitar lessons.
Let’s see what keeps this shredder so insanely busy.

What steps have you taken to forge a career in the music industry?
Currently I am writing and recording music for two albums. The first one is my upcoming debut solo CD, "Reflections" and the second one is an album that I am writing together with a great metal player and songwriter, Dave Cardwell ( Both albums will be all instrumental and will feature music in the neo-classical and progressive styles. I am also going to be playing on a Compilation CD, “Chronicles-City of Sound” to be released later in 2007. I also co-manage and run an instructional website: as well as teach guitar privately and through clinics. I am also involved in several partnership projects with Tom Hess. (

As far as what I did to get started, one of the most important steps for me was to join Tom Hess' Music Careers Mentoring Program. The things that I've learned in that program redefined the way I approach my career in some huge ways and helped me get off the ground. Anyone interested in a music career must check this program out!

What advice do you have for people looking to get into the music industry?
Many musicians make the mistake of spending all of their time only polishing their musical skills, but completely neglect studying the music business. This is one reason why there are many musicians who are great musically but cannot make enough money with their skills. Of course, it is important to work on the musical skills, but studying music business is equally important for becoming a music pro. Nowadays it has become easier to search for resources and advice on music business. If you can find a successful musician to take lessons on music business from, that will be a very smart thing to do and will save you A LOT of time and frustration! Other than that, be determined, motivated and ready to work really hard for your success. But success will come if you work on it the right way.

What are the pressures in the industry and how do you cope with them?
One of the benefits of being an independent artist is that there are no pressures on me by anyone other than myself. This is good from a creative and artistic standpoint. However, the biggest obstacle for me right now is lack of time to do all that I want to accomplish. This is probably the one thing that all professional musicians have in common! It’s a great place to be though, being a professional musician sure beats any other kind of job!

During your formative years, what sort of practice regime did you have?
During high school I played and practiced 4-7 hours a day on most days. I was always highly organized in my practice, and would write out practice routines for myself every day and change things that were not bringing results. I also had the opportunity to study with some truly amazing teachers that helped me tremendously in getting my playing together. In 2003 I had a consultation on virtuoso guitar technique with Ney Mello, and in 2004 I started studying music composition, improvisation and virtuoso playing and music business with Tom Hess and he has been a tremendous sort of wisdom inspiration (musically and personally) on many levels. In 2005 I began attending Indiana University Jacobs School of Music to study music theory, ear training and music composition. I firmly believe in studying with the best teachers that you can find and practicing constantly. I was also always very motivated and passionate about everything to do with music and guitar. I believe that the above mentioned things (strong desire, great teachers and lots of practice) contributed the most to me developing my skills.

What advice do you have for beginner and intermediate players who are trying to achieve a highly advanced level of playing?
Find the best teacher(s) that you can and practice constantly! Surround yourself with the music that you love to keep your motivation and desire strong. Find out about proper practice methods and apply them every day to develop your technique. If you plan to write your own music and/or learn to improvise, then study music theory and develop your Aural Skills (ear training)! The more you practice the faster you will get to your goals, so make time for practicing something every day!

Who are your most significant musical influences?
I have many influences in various areas of music, so I can break them up in different areas of musicianship:

For composition: George Bellas, Tom Hess, Vitalij Kuprij, L.V. Beethoven, J.S. Bach, Ennio Morricone, Fryderyk Chopin, Dream Theater, Symphony X

For guitar technique: Rusty Cooley, Theodore Ziras, George Bellas, Paul Gilbert, Shawn Lane

For phrasing: Tom Hess, Andy Laroque, Mike Walsh, Vinnie Moore, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker.

There are many more, but this is my top list. All of the above players and musicians are incredible!

What gear do you use and (more importantly) why?
I love Ibanez guitars for their playability, tone and feel. I use an Ibanez RG 42. I like this model a lot because of the neck through body that allows great sustain. Sustain is a huge part of my sound and tone. I use Seymour Duncan Metal Live Wire Pick Ups for the same reason (they are the hottest pick ups around!). I like the tone and feel of D’addario strings (I use string gauge 0.10-0.46). The string action on my guitar is incredibly high, higher than that of any other guitarist I’ve ever met. I do this also for sustain. Also the string tension is pretty tight to fit my playing style and the strong pick attack that I like to use. As for amps, I like the sound of Peavey 6505, the rhythm tone on it is very heavy and tight! For my lead tone, I like the sound of the guitar recorded direct through a pre-amp and I do not use an amplifier or mic the guitar when recording lead.

Talk about the process of recording your album. Are there any tips and trick that you could pass on? How did you choose the other instrumentalists (if you did).
For recording, one of the most important things is to have your music ready to go! The other is to have some idea of the sound/tone you are going for before you start recording. Otherwise, you are going to spend a lot of money in studio costs (if you record at a studio) by changing things around to experiment with different sounds. The other option is to buy your own gear if you can afford it and learn to use it yourself (which can be frustrating at first but has its advantages over recording at someone else’s studio)About other instrumentalists, I worked with an awesome bass player from Milwaukee, Ben Kuzay to play bass on a tune that will be featured on the Chronicles-City of Sound compilation release. Ben is an awesome player technically and has a good sense of counterpoint and melody. Check out his myspace at:

What parts of your playing reflect your personality and self expression most accurately?
Interesting question… I would say that my phrasing and harmonic ideas are pretty strong in reflecting my personality. However, this is a never ending process, as any self-expressive artist knows… I am always working on bridging the gap between all my musical skills and complete self-expression. The art of self-expression is one of the most important things I have learned from my friend and mentor Tom Hess during my years of lessons with him.

What are you trying to achieve compositionally?
As I alluded to above, self-expression and personal fulfillment are my two biggest musical goals. I am not interested in writing music for the whole world to like. I would rather write the music that fulfills me personally and artistically. I believe that if the music is truly expressive and creative in the artist’s own unique way, then there will always be enough people to like it for that music to get noticed.

If the readers want to get in touch with you, what is your website and e-mail address? My e-mail is:
I always respond to e-mails, so don’t hesitate to write to me.

Monday, October 22, 2007

News Of The World ;)

Liquid Tension Experiment back in the game! The legendary Dream Theater based supergroup re-unites to blow people's minds up once again in Philadelphia during the upcoming NEARfest (North East Art Rock Festival)! Before seeing the group in action, we can listen to "Spontaneous Combustion" - the brand new release by Liquid Trio Experiment. Under this name you can find almost the whole original LTE line-up lacking only for John Petrucci. That means we should expect more keyboard-driven music, however, Jordan Rudess's name is a guarantee of amazing sonic sensations. The CD hits the market right today (Oct 22nd).

Gear News: New PRS model!
This month the world met Paul Reed Smith's youngest child - The Mira. This beautiful guitar with mahogany body and Brazilian Rosewood fretboard combines traditional, classic-rock design with modern components. The new pickups help with creating trusted rock tone - sweet, spacious clean and warm, crunchy overdriven lead. For more information, go to or look for the Mira clip on the company's YouTube channel.

Studio News: Rusty Cooley back in studio! The shred demon came to studio with his band Outworld to make a new demo. Does it mean we should expect a full-length successor of their amazing eponymous debut? We'll see, now all the shred fans must wait for the demo songs.

Tour News: Dream Theater along with Symphony X still on tour! All the prog metal fanatics, who missed their chance to see two of the genre's greatest bands on stage during one evening can still make up for this. The shred giants common tour lasts for two more weeks, moving across the Europe. For accurate dates see

More news coming soon!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New Randy Rhoads Documentary Features MAB

Michael Angelo Batio (ex - Nitro) was interviewed and filmed back on September 22nd for a new documentary about Randy Rhoads which is set for a 2008 release.

The film will also feature a performance of Angelo's masterpiece Tribute To Randy from his album Hand Without Shadows.

Here is what film director Peter Margolis said about his time with Michael. (Taken from

''Last Saturday I was honored to be able to spend 10 hours filming two performance pieces and an interview with Michael Angelo Batio.We arrived at the studio at noon. Michael arrived on time and with his guitar tech ready to work. He was extremely accommodating and kind and polite and happy to be a part of this film. We shot 14 takes of his performance as I manipulated the camera in every conceivable position to properly photograph this event. He never once complained and replicated his tribute to Randy with 100% perfect accuracy every time. My respect level for him rose exponentially as the day progressed. Not only is he probably the most technically gifted hard rock/ heavy metal guitarist I have ever witnessed up close, he is equally adept at many other styles of guitar as he played anything and everything for the crew between takes.Then to top it off, after a grueling day of filming he sat down for a candid interview.He was articulate and passionate about how Randy affected the path he chose with the guitar. This interview was a highlight for me and I am certain will be for the viewers of the film.''

In 1982 Randywas killed when his small plane struck Ozzy Osbournes touring bus before and the film hopes to capture the importance and significance of the 25th anniversary of Randy's passing.

The film is directed by Pater Margolis and will be released courtesy of Dakota Pictures.

For more information on the project -
For more information about Michael Angelo Batio -

New George Bellas Album - Planetary Alignment

George Bellas has set an official date for the release of his next album Planetary Alignment.
The album is set to be released on February 15th 2008.

More information and the concept behind this album can be found at

Friday, October 19, 2007

German Shauss interview - The Lightspeeder speaks

German born guitar virtuoso German Schauss has pushed the boundaries of rock guitar music through his architecturally epic music structure and lush soundscapes. He combines ideas of modern instrumental rock guitar music with influences of old masters Bach, Beethoven and Chopin.

After graduating magna cum laude from the world renowned Berklee College of Music, German immersed himself in the Boston music scene. This led him to play guitar for several big music productions and he subsequently played concerts all around the world with his solo band and other projects. He quickly gained a reputation for his remarkable solo guitar and compositional skills for which he was asked to teach at Berklee College of Music, write articles for MelBay and develop an advanced Rock Guitar course on “Shredding Techniques” for the National Guitar Workshop’s online school “”

German is an endorser of Parker Guitars, Randall Amplifiers, DiMarzio, DR Strings Maxon, Rocktron and Morley, for whom he plays clinics and concerts at international music fair and trade shows such as Musikmesse Frankfurt, the NAMM Show, and other shows around the world. He has also been awarded in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007, the ASCAP Plu$ Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

German lives now in Los Angeles where he is busy teaching, performing, and promoting his new CD release “The Lightspeeder.”

Let’s find out how he does the things he does, and why.

What steps have you taken to forge a career in the music industry?
The music industry can be a very tricky thing. It is important to have the right education but also to have an identity as a musician or artist. I studied music from an early age, went to music school and all that, but the most important thing in my opinion is your artistic qualities and also your character. I have worked on many projects to build up my career. I am an actively performing guitarist, composer, guitar instructor and author. I am also an Endorsee and Clinician for Parker Guitars, Laney Amplifiers, Dimarzio Pickups, Maxon Pedals, Rocktron, and DR Strings. The American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), has awarded me the Plu$ Award for writers and composers in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. I have written instructional articles and online interactive video lessons for MelBay Publications and NGW’s “WorkshopLive” on Modern Rock Guitar Soloing, taught guitar at Berklee College of Music and other national and international music schools, wrote and recorded music with my original band, and toured with many bands nationally and internationally.

What advice do you have for people looking to get into the music industry?
To get started in the industry, you need exposure, exposure, exposure. Find an outlet, like the internet and try to promote yourself. You can use networking platforms such as Friendster, Myspace, Facebook, Sonicbids.... the list goes on. I started in the late 90’s with I made a lot of connections and sold my music to a great, attentive audience.

What are the pressures in the industry and how do you cope with them?
In my opinion, the music industry is very similar to other industries. It’s about image and marketability. Of course people will judge you on your artistic and musical qualities, but this can be very personal and sometimes even hurtful. You have to develop a thick skin to cope with all the trash talking and bad mouthing. But remember, people that do that usually don’t really have anything to contribute. They are mostly jealous or have some other personal issue or vendetta. Don’t be discouraged, keep working on yourself and your artistry. On the other hand if you are working as a studio musician or side man, you need to have the right image, clothing, haircut.... in order to get the job playing guitar for Jessica Simpson or other high profile, mainstream recording artists. So you always have to keep up with fashion :)

During your formative years, what sort of practice regime did you have?
I love practising and working on new ideas. I am very disciplined when it comes to practising. I usually practised 1 hour before I left for school when I was 15 to 19 and when I came back another couple of hours, learning scales, arps, theory.... and of course learning songs of my favourite guitar players. I was and am very organised when it comes to practising.

What advice do you have for beginner and intermediate players who are trying to achieve a highly advanced level of playing?
Be patient and try to learn as much as you can from all types of teachers, styles and music. There is so much music to learn that you will always find something that can spark your imagination and creativity.

What gear do you use and (more importantly) why?
I use Parker Guitars with DiMarzio Pickups. These are the best guitars ever made, high quality and wonderful tones and playability. For amps I use the Laney TT Series and I am also using the Lionheart series by Laney. Awesome tone and amps!! As for effects I am using the Rocktron Xpression unit, a Maxon OD 808, Morley Power Wah/ Volume, Digitech Whammy pedal and DR Strings “Hi Beam LTR 9”.

What parts of your playing reflects your personality and self expression most accurately?
That is a hard question. I strive for a balance between chops, melody and composition. Sometimes, I play too much, but I always try to keep everything balanced.

What are you trying to achieve compositionally?
Composing music is not an easy thing to do. I get my inspirations from everywhere, but translating them into sound is a different problem. It takes time when I work on a piece, sometimes I work on 2 or 3 simultaneously. I write different parts like strings, drums, or keys and tie those parts with my guitar, sometimes I start from the guitar part or I write out some lines that I will superimpose or integrate into new ideas. I like to “paint a picture” with my music, some times it’s kinda cheesy but I like it. I also use constant structure and serial techniques to add more dissonance to my music.

Talk about the process of recording your album. Are there any tips and trick that you could pass on? How did you choose the other instrumentalists (if you did)?
Recording my album was not an easy thing to do. Thankfully, I had great musicians and other artist help me. I was very fortunate to have such a support. I basically recorded and wrote all the music in between teaching and playing gigs. I teach about 40 students per week and work on a lot of other projects, so sometimes it is really hard to find the time or energy to start working on my music. I used Dp 4.12 and Logic 7 to record my stuff. I used a live drummer for “The Awakening” but during the tracking session my drummer and keyboard player moved home to NY and I had to send files and have them play separately, which worked for the keyboard but not for the drums, so I programmed most of the drums with Drumkit form Hell. When the tacking was finished, I did some overdubs and started mixing. It was then mixed further and mastered by 2 friends of mine in Germany, who run a professional Recording studio and they wanted to mix it for me. I also had a friend of mine design my album artwork which helped a lot and saved a lot of money. Once I had all the material together I sent it to Diskmakers to have it replicated. After that I sent a copy and the necessary paperwork to the Copyright office and registered all the titles with ASCAP and other Performing Rights Organisations. This took some time but, it is very important that all the legal stuff is taken care of, so that you can earn money and your art is protected.

If the readers want to get in touch with you, what is your website and e-mail address?
Please feel free to visit my website at or for more inforation or for questions email me at

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Welcome all, to the new Shred Academy blog which will keep you updated on all the latest happenings in the guitar world. Expect lots of content added on a very regular basis, starting very soon!