In the first of a two-part video mas­ter­class spe­cial, Aus­trian acous­tic wizard Thomas Leeb shares some of his play­ing se­crets with Stu­art Ryan.

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

Our awe­some guest tu­tor shares some of his coolest acous­tic gui­tar se­crets with you!

An ex­po­nent of var­i­ous al­tered tun­ings, Leeb also in­cor­po­rates all the mod­ern tech­niques seam­lessly into his gui­tar play­ing.

When my good friend Thomas Leeb came to stay with me dur­ing a re­cent UK tour, I couldn’t re­sist set­ting up the cam­eras so we could film an exclusive guest les­son for you! Thomas is right­fully re­garded as one of the world’s finest acous­tic fin­ger­style play­ers and a leading fig­ure in the per­cus­sive genre of play­ing. How­ever, un­like many other mod­ern play­ers, he is also a mas­ter of tra­di­tional ways of play­ing, as we’ll see in the next les­son.

Orig­i­nally from Aus­tria, LA res­i­dent Thomas tours the world play­ing solo con­certs, per­form­ing at gui­tar fes­ti­vals and host­ing mas­ter­classes, in­clud­ing his own two-week res­i­den­tial course in Aus­tria. A con­tem­po­rary and friend of my pre­de­ces­sor at GT the late, great Eric Roche, Thomas de­vel­oped his per­cus­sive and tap­ping tech­niques while still a teenager and re­leased his first CD, Rev­eller, aged just 17. He went on to record an­other six solo fin­ger­style al­bums (so far!) with the most re­cent be­ing 2011’s No Al­i­bis.

Much of Leeb’s dis­tinc­tive style was fu­elled by his stud­ies at the Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute Of The Arts, where he ex­plored per­cus­sion tech­niques with the leg­endary Al­fred Ladzekpo - he took what he learned there and ap­plied it to acous­tic gui­tar. This means that his per­cus­sive parts con­tain a great deal of depth rather than just fol­low­ing the ‘1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and’ trap that many nascent per­cus­sive stylists fall into. How­ever, per­cus­sion is only a facet of his style, act­ing as a sup­port­ive tool and not the cen­tral fea­ture. His orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions con­tain flow­ing melodies that weave around his per­cus­sive ac­com­pa­ni­ments, while his stun­ning ar­range­ments are all ren­dered in his unique, com­plex style. Check out his solo fin­ger­style ver­sions of Pink Floyd’s Com­fort­ably Numb and Bob Mar­ley’s No Woman No Cry on YouTube, to hear his unique take on ar­rang­ing for solo gui­tar. They are stun­ning!

An ex­po­nent of var­i­ous al­tered tun­ings, Leeb also in­cor­po­rates all the mod­ern tech­niques seam­lessly into his play­ing so you’ll en­counter pick­ing and fret­ting hand tap­ping, tapped har­mon­ics, harp har­mon­ics and var­i­ous other de­vices, of­ten within the same piece! It’s un­doubt­edly a chal­leng­ing style so I asked Thomas to break down what he does into sev­eral man­age­able ex­er­cises, show­cas­ing tap­ping, some ba­sic per­cus­sion tech­niques and how to add a groove el­e­ment to your play­ing.

Next month we’ll look at Thomas’s more tra­di­tional fin­ger­style ap­proach, but for now try this les­son to get some new sounds and tech­niques into your play­ing. Many thanks to Thomas for his time and enthusiasm.

Thomas Leeb: with his Low­den sig­na­ture model

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