blues

John Wheatcroft ex­am­ines the un­mis­tak­ably fiery style of Ma­hogany Rush’s Frank Marino.

Guitar Techniques - - Guitar Techniques -

If you can count Paul Gil­bert, Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde and count­less other fa­mous gui­tar stars as huge fans then there is a chance that you’re do­ing some­thing right. Such is the case with Mon­treal born leg­end Frank Marino, whose play­ing is a show­case of blis­ter­ing at­tack, dy­namic de­liv­ery and fret­board mas­tery. If you can imag­ine com­bin­ing the feel and vibe of Hen­drix with the mo­dal mas­tery of Duane All­man, then add to this a fast and pre­cise tech­nique that would give pick­ing vir­tu­osos like Al Di Me­ola and John McLaugh­lin a run for their money, you’re some­where close. Marino’s play­ing is a per­fect dis­play of just what a loud elec­tric gui­tar is ca­pa­ble of in the right hands.

Af­ter start­ing off on drums, Marino’s first ex­po­sure to gui­tar play­ing was less than per­fect. Frank was hos­pi­talised aged 13 (!) af­ter a coma-in­duc­ing LSD over­dose. The myth that grew from this, fol­lowed Frank through­out his en­tire ca­reer. Some­how he be­came the spirit of Jimi Hen­drix, wak­ing from his coma to find he had mirac­u­lously at­tained the abil­ity to play like his idol, with no prior ex­pe­ri­ence of the gui­tar. Marino al­ways de­nied this story and, like most myths, truth is more down to earth. To oc­cupy his mind from fear of re­lapse into in­san­ity, Frank turned to the gui­tar, find­ing so­lace in the mu­sic of Jimi Hen­drix. He prac­ticed in­ces­santly and soon be­came highly pro­fi­cient on the in­stru­ment.

Soon af­ter leav­ing hospi­tal, Frank and his new band, Ma­hogany Rush (a ref­er­ence to a sen­sa­tion he felt dur­ing his life chang­ing acid

If it doesn’t have good tone, it doesn’t mat­ter how fast you can play. Frank Marino

trip), be­gan a mu­si­cal jour­ney that is now into its fifth decade. Marino has been suf­fer­ing from acute ad­he­sive cap­suli­tis or ‘frozen’ (in gui­tar cir­cles ‘strap’) shoul­der. For­tu­nately this is treat­able and I’m sure you’ll join me in wish­ing Frank a speedy re­cov­ery.

There are five licks this to learn month, each dis­play­ing a dif­fer­ent side to Frank’s var­ied solo­ing vo­cab­u­lary. For a man that claims to never prac­tice he’s cer­tainly on top of his chops - usu­ally an in­di­ca­tion of some­one that plays a lot. And, by his own ad­mis­sion, his for­ma­tive years Frank would jam un­til the cows came home.

Ac­tu­ally we do need to con­sider the dif­fer­ence be­tween prac­tice and per­for­mance. But with the avail­abil­ity of su­per-real­is­tic back­ing tracks (with this very mag­a­zine), loop­ing ped­als and easy ac­cess­abil­ity to record­ing de­vices and soft­ware, you should make some at­tempt ev­ery time you play the gui­tar to bridge this gap be­tween what you play in the bed­room and what you might play on stage. Do this by ap­ply­ing what you know in as close to a real life sce­nario as pos­si­ble.

From a tech­ni­cal stand­point here the big­gest chal­lenge when look­ing at achiev­ing Marino’s speed and agility, is usu­ally not the ac­tual notes but in repli­cat­ing his ar­tic­u­late but still re­laxed time feel. Par­tic­u­larly when you’re at­tempt­ing to em­u­late Frank’s bold at­tack, there is of­ten a ten­dency in gui­tarists to rush ahead of the beat, as if there is an in­trin­sic con­nec­tion be­tween ve­loc­ity and speed, re­mind­ing me of the old gui­tarist joke, ‘Can we try that 10db slower please?’.

Your task is to stay in con­trol of all as­pects of your play­ing on de­mand, in­clud­ing speed, ac­cu­racy, dy­namic de­liv­ery and time-feel. Need­less to say, Marino is a mas­ter as com­bin­ing all these el­e­ments.

Frank Marino: blis­ter­ing blues from Canada

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