THOMAS LEEB Part 1
In the first of a two-part video masterclass special, Austrian acoustic wizard Thomas Leeb shares some of his playing secrets with Stuart Ryan.
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