Matt Thomas has won several international fingerstyle guitar competitions (twice in “contemporary thumbpicking” and once in “open style”), is an avid harp-guitar player, and has played with some of the biggest names in the acoustic guitar world (Tommy Emmanuel, Stephen Bennet, and many more).  Aaron Sefchick and Joe McMurray talk to Matt about his personal journey, fingerstyle techniques, acoustic pickup systems, recording, and gigging.
In part 1 of 2, Matt tells the guys about meeting Tommy Emmanuel, Andy McKee, and Stephen Bennett at a harp guitar convention when he was a teenager.  He then goes on to explain and demonstrate percussive methods on the acoustic guitar: the use of thumb slaps on the 2 and 4, a palm kick on the 1 and 3, and a palm kick on the 2 and 4.
Matt gets deep into the details of amplifying acoustic guitars.  He tells Joe and Aaron about Tommy Emmanuel’s setup with a Maton guitar and AER amp.  He talks about sound hole pickups, magnetic pickups for running effects, and transducer pickups.
The conversation shifts to Matt’s experience recording with Kim Person (who has also recorded Tommy Emmanuel and Stephen Bennett), and her approach to recording acoustic instruments.
The guys talk about practicing their instruments and the need to practice properly to avoid injury.  Finally (for part 1 of 2), Matt talks about some modern guitar players who use effects and multiple pickup systems to create some very unique music.  Those players include Alexandr Misko, Adrian Belew, and Petteri Sariola.
Welcome to Fret Buzz The Podcast. My name is Joe McMurray and I am Aaron Sefchick.
And today we have with us, multi competition winning, acoustic fingerstyle
guitarist, Matt Thomas. Welcome Matt! Hey guys!
Matt’s calling in from about 15 minutes down the road from me and I’ve had the
opportunity to see Matt play at a show and in person. Just like in the in the
room at his house. And it takes about 5-10 seconds to realize that this guy is a
natural guitar player. Yeah, I love getting to see Matt play. It’s
inspiring and different from what I was brought up learning to play but it’s
the direction I want to go. Well, I come from a generation of going and sitting
in front of guitar players and just soaking it up and trying to bring that
experience to people. So I’m really honored that I’ve been able to, you know,
find someone like you nearby and I get to do something like this. I mean, in my
industry but you’re 15 minutes away from my house so this is cool
man. Yeah, so um, speaking of sitting and watching guitar players and soaking it
in, I got to see that picture when I was at your house he showed me a picture of
you with I think it was Tommy Emmanuel and andy mckee mm-hmm like a young
teenager it looked like yeah yeah well I actually had seen Tommy Emmanuel back in
2004 at Yoda barn and that was my first experience of seeing Tommy and I just
kind of obsessed over it and the next year he heard me play and dragged me up
on stage and that just kind of started this whole journey from that point so
it’s been a wild ride ups and downs but you know it back then
the opportunity to get and hang and sit with Tommy Emmanuel was a little
different than it is in today’s like same thing with a andy mckee i actually
I was at a harp guitar gathering in Williamsburg Virginia and before his
YouTube success he was there with his long rocker hair hanging out with a
heart guitar so you know we got to just hang out and play guitars as two humans
that are aiming for something so it was it’s a really cool experience yeah and
so you how old were you when you did the heart surgeon I was 18 okay and you you
told me that you had learned harp guitar to go to this convention right yeah yeah
it was the second one that they had ever done so it got a little more attention
and they started putting stuff out in the newspapers and basically trying to
get more people interested in the heart guitar because the first year that it
happened he was you know five or six dudes from around the world that just
got together in a hotel room so the next year it doubled in size so a family
friend of mine just saw it in the newspaper and the day before brought
over this heart guitar that he had made and it just so happened to be the number
two Stephen Bennett Merrill and it just happened to be fate the guy handed it to
me and said alright it’s tomorrow figure out how to play it and show up
and I did and I didn’t completely embarrass myself but I had a had some
fortunate timing that was happening and not not my plane but in in life I just
gotten the opportunity to play with Tommy Emmanuel and Stephen Bennett was
opening that show so a few months explaining who Stephen Bennett is know
all of our listeners who aren’t savvy to the harp guitar see Stephen is the one
that really kind of took my heart with the music you know Tommy’s the the flash
of everything but Stephen Bennett is this guitar player from Gloucester
Virginia that um how a little different approach to finger
style music a little more classical driven but also does a lot of bluegrass
stuff but he is kind of the The Godfather if you will or heart guitar
guru of the world even though there’s there’s players like Michael Hedges
that are much more well-known in the heart guitar you know well not not in
the heart guitar world but in the regular world where people go oh harp
guitar yeah Michael Hedges but in the heart guitar will be go yeah Michael
played some heart guitar it but Stephen has I mean days of music you could just
sit there and listen to him play our guitar until your heart’s content
whereas Michael Hedges has a few songs on heart guitar it was just a short
period whereas Stephen has just built his catalogue of okay
what can be done what should be done and that’s what he’s done so it’s been a
great it’s been a great path to follow and see someone do that mm-hmm so that’s
where I get my inspiration from so back to what you were saying about Tommy
Emmanuel provided the the flash and yeah well you know Tommy had seen these same
very things in Stephen so they teamed up together when Tommy first came to the
States and did a bunch of concerts on the East Coast together
and not just the East Coast they they they went abroad as well and they were
kind of like the side man thing for a long time you can even find some really
cool schtick videos on YouTube of them doing goofy stuff together at one point
like Stephen was riding a tricycle on stage and funny stuff it’s a really fun
show but you know it gave the opportunity for both musicians to do
something a little different but I digress I just gotten dragged up by
Tommy and Steven and seen me seeing that that moment and then here I
come a few months later walking in to the convention with a heart guitar and
he just kind of looked at me because okay kid come here
well what’s going on so it just kind of just felt right in place if he will
seems like that everybody was really really open to bringing you know
bringing in new people and helpful well at that time there wasn’t a whole lot of
people doing it or they could really figure it out there wasn’t there wasn’t
YouTube duh you know if you wanted to learn it you either slowed it down on
the record or you saved up pennies and you bought one of those fancy tab books
and hoped that it was right but a lot of the times they weren’t right so and you
could figure that out as you’re playing it and go that doesn’t
quite sound or feel right so you just ditch that go back to putting on the
headphones and slowing it down again it’s a different world back then and
it’s changing every every couple months it seems like yeah you know the Internet
has been both a blessing and a curse for musicians but it has really changed the
ability for a person to pick up the guitar and be satisfied you know they
can they can do it quickly without having to sit through months of lessons
because they can go at their own pace yeah although the internet stuff tends
to leave you you know wanting more I mean it they’re the very few it seems
like there aren’t a whole lot of internet teaching things that have much
long-term that will get you to the next level you know it depends on the outlet
to be honest if you decide to pull up YouTube and go okay I want a simple
lesson on how to play a G chord yeah that’s gonna get you to a certain point
but they’re starting become these services like jamplay
and one of my favorite is the gypsy jazz school or maybe it’s the gypsy jazz
academy yo show Stefan yeah yeah I’ve seen that now yo show yet again before
the internet was really a thing I went to the Chet Atkins convention
pretty much the same year after I got the harp guitar and Tommy and Steven
invited me out there and I got to play with them there in met yo show and
that’s where I got a lot of my gypsy likes and influence so watching how he
was able to regurgitate Django information in such a simplified way was
so great because I was almost like a an early guinea pig for him we would sit
there until 5:00 in the morning you know every night and he just showed me legs
back and forth and it was kind of the early days of watching how he was gonna
dissect and now create this this whole Academy and program and it’s it’s so
tickling to see how well it’s done and not just that it’s one of the easiest
breakdowns of gypsy jazz music I’ve ever seen it’s it’s always been this
conundrum and so complex and people go oh well you have to do it this way and
you have to do this and yo show kind of he bends the rules and breaks them down
and goes okay here’s where you can break rules from can’t so in a sense there are
online tutorials that can be really satisfying it’s just a matter of what
are you gonna put into it are you gonna just go for the free ones or are you
gonna go for something that the artist has put time into it’s a little closer
to a private lesson feeling that’s very true I have I have bought into several
things and you know I’ve in the past I’ve bought into Troy Troy great he’s
cracking the code mm-hmm that’s a great one yeah for like
I think I spent $70 on the Eric Johnson pack in it like I probably spent a year
really digging into that and digesting it and like that’s not that expensive
and look at like considering how much time at hundreds of hours I know I you
know kinda left for an hour to cause like 50 60 bucks so yeah I so really
it’s worth it as long as you go the the proper route but you know unfortunately
the internet makes it so easy to want the cheaper option and you know a lot of
times people default to that but that’s okay too because there’s there’s got to
be plenty of other people that will want that experience of pain $5.99 for
probably the most incredible lesson you’ll ever get so it’s just it’s a
matter of the proper marketing and patience to get there and another one
that I’ve bought into recently is uh Adam Rafferty’s study with Adam and we
actually had Adam on last week so if you haven’t checked out that episode check
it out is really cool double episode conversation with Adam who was calling
in from Austria but uh yeah I really like Adam does a good job of playing you
know he’ll break down he did all his Michael Jackson tunes and Stevie Wonder
Tunes and I’ve seen you do Stevie Wonder too in a similar way but you know he’s
got some really in-depth videos and it’s a good start in order in order to learn
how to arrange those types of things yourself
was very helpful for me to to go through that Adam has always been a monster
player even before he started playing fingerstyle I I I was already kind of
you know established in the fingerstyle world when I saw him start into the
fingerstyle world and I I was I was heartbroken after I heard the first
video of him because he was so freaking awesome
his melody placement is so unique in the thing
style community that it changed the approach of how people play you know
leading up to that that there’s just Andy McKee or you know Tommy on the
internet sort of thing and you either played with a thumb pick in that way
where you didn’t play with the thumb pick and Adam had such a unique touch
with the thumb pick that it really helped people go oh I can back off oh I
can have a much more you know intimate sense of touching the strings it doesn’t
have to be so aggressive a little hotter gain and more sensitive playing and and
really that I think is because of his jazz background you know it’s just he
has more of an ensemble approach and sense whereas sometimes as fingerstyle
guitarist you just lead into it going this is the moment you know Adam Adam
has a sense of placement that is not typically found with most guitarists
yeah well yeah so I definitely one of my favorite online things the instructional
courses you can buy into it’s helped me a lot but uh so with your playing I want
to I want to go back to your you’re playing here are you one of the
interesting things that you’ve talked about with me you talked about you don’t
want to be a snit them slapper on the too and for like you don’t want to get
pushed into only being in that box so unless the song calls for it yeah yes
but as a player in general you’re talking about how like with the new with
all the things that are happening in the modern acoustic fingerstyle style world
you know you don’t want to get boxed into certain habits well you know a lot
of times people have signature sounds or
signature things that they do and I’ve never really wanted to be defined by one
particular technique or one particular thing that I’m always doing so I’ve
always tried to be very conscious of not being overly repetitious in the way that
I write music or in the way that I play and that’s good and bad because I find
myself constantly changing the way I even play my own songs but that’s okay
too you know a lot of times it’s it’s a it’s
a want to hear something slightly different as a composer I’m trying to
find different outlets and different melodies and how they can play with
other things so if I lock myself in this slapping to four box that’s essentially
what I’m gonna have to work around so you know before I even start playing the
song I don’t want it to end up being that feel of the slap on the two and the
four it just it provides a certain groove and
sense and as a if you’re listening to a band and they have the same gate and
rhythm every song all the time it becomes monotonous
oh really repetitious and that’s things that I I try to avoid I wanted to to
feel like a different group each different song like oh that was that was
a different idea and a different type of thing and some people will go okay well
that sounded like a different style well why did it sound like a different style
just because I put the emphasis on the one and the three rather than the two
and the four and a lot of times those little simple things can help define
what the mood was or is intended of a song how do you go about putting the
emphasis on the one and the three is that by switching your hand position
getting that that kick-drum it is one it is a lot of times with certain gated to
and for playing your you’re kind of doing this strung and then the slap will
be with your thumb on the strings or even what Stephen Bennett likes to do
and provides a really unique sound on the two and the four is he takes his
middle finger and he actually he grabs it in the meat of his thumb and will
flick forward so on those two and four beats instead of having a slap you
actually have this percussive click or tick it very close to the bridge of the
string so you would actually get that sort of sound versus a slotted and it it
drives the music slightly different but you know it doesn’t always have to be a
slap like for instance on certain Irish type rhythms or even long groove
sections of blues type things you can feel that there’s almost a pulse on the
two in the four not so much a slap or a percussive thing but there’s just this
oomph and drive behind it in which you can do is is slightly put your palm on
the top board as you’re playing on those two and fours that help drive this
double-time feel okay and that’s what that’s what ends up happening with the
action of two and four is it can end up having this dance to where it feels like
double time the moment that you switch that up and hit on one and three it
suddenly feels like half time especially if you do them back-to-back but if you
start the song off on hitting the rhythms on the one in the three it’s a
totally different group section so you can define those times and break those
up between those sections by swapping the two so can you maybe do a little
yeah so let’s see an open C tuning here so see
that’s kind of upbeat and now that’s the one for me and three see you ask how the
DEF CON feel yeah yeah versus integers just a difference of where you put the
emphasis on those little things and it’s it’s really nothing any different than
are you hitting the palm on the 2 and the 4 or are you gonna hit the palm on
the 1 and the 3 and add a tap in a different place so really this the idea
of this kind of playing didn’t come about until recent years you know back
in the early 2000s when there was this Tommy Emmanuel craze and andy mckee
thing they weren’t really doing those types of rhythms on the acoustic guitar
even when you listen to Michael Hedges there was slight you know hints of it
here and there but it was never in the forefront is it has been as it is today
you know and a lot of that comes down to
two things as an acoustic guitarist when you play something in your bedroom it
sounds and feels one way but then you go on the stage and you try to show someone
hey look how cool this is look look what I felt and then you listen to the PA and
you know that sounds like crap that’s not at all what I remember hearing in my
bedroom I’m not getting that nice oomph that I get from the the kick of my palm
it sounds nice and wood Ian and Wolfie at times
but you know you can hit down with the strings at the same time and you
suddenly get this bright splash of color and and actual coral on top of that kick
but then you go and you do in PA and you hit the guitar and it’s just this big
fart and you know it it comes down to the evolution of of pickups you know one
thing that really made Tommy Emmanuel seen now now let me change that wording
nice because he is by all means the most awesome guitar player of our lifetimes
but there was an illusion that was happening because of what Mayton guitars
had done they had come up with this pickup system they just sounded balls to
the wall it was so in-your-face and so loud that it almost sounded like you
were in a guitar so I decided right then and that’s what I wanted and that’s what
I relied on for over a decade was his exact combo of the the maton guitar and
the AER amp and for a while I was even using the same MIDI verb to rackmount
that he uses for every show he’s pretty much sourced and bought all the
remaining ones off of ebay at this point and has them in boxes everywhere he goes
it’s just his favorite verb so much so that he teamed up with AER on their
newest amp and they patched that verb into his new amps so that he has to you
know he doesn’t have to carry the rackmount anymore but but anyways the
combo that AER and the matin guitar has this this oh and Adam found it too and
that’s that’s kind of what he does you know he can really push that gain and
just back off on how you play the instrument um and it just sounds so big
um but then you get in that moment where Tommy he goes into Mombasa or
or initiation not something he does so much anymore but he get into the the
percussion and that’s where it it become on the verge of okay what’s about to
happen in the room and early days he’d either piss off the
sound guy or get pissed off at the sound guy because they try to throw a
compressor on because it was limiting a signal it’s pushing it in there they’re
getting worried about their speakers and you know Tommy was was aware of this and
would be careful but he likes to push the throttle and that became a problem
for him for a while and he’d always you know he’s have
problems with sound guys everywhere he went so he started having designated
sound guides that knew those moments and we braised for those moments and and
know what to do with the signal as it’s coming in that hot so inherently if you
think about it there’s a problem you know not so much with the way he’s
playing or the guitar itself but in what we’re trying to ask of the guitar and
the pickup at the same time the pickup itself is trying to provide this great
big you know um fee under-saddle sound in a nice click clear mic sound but when
you put enough bass behind the mic it it just owns too much to the PA so I
decided well what if we were to separate those things to where we could get what
we want out of each different pickup and then you know it’s not something that I
am senator I came up with I just I saw that other people are doing this and
using them in certain ways so it was a matter of going back to the drawing
board and going what do I really want out of these pickups and out of the
guitar to get the end result so that that’s where we’re at today is
suddenly there is only a few options you had a magnetic pickup for your you know
your sound hole and most of them were junk you could get a really good one
like the sunrise pickup but that’s an investment those were those were very
expensive they had a separate preamp box and a lot of times you had to be put on
a waiting list because they were just so in demand you couldn’t even get it so a
lot of people just use the LR back stuff or you know DiMarzio had a few good ones
out but the inversion of them never played
well with other pickups so you couldn’t really use them together so DiMarzio
just went ahead and put an inversion switch directly on the the mag itself
and decided well we’ll make it real easy and so I started off with that idea and
put one of those in the sound hole and it it suddenly opened up the idea that
you can put different pickups in different places of the guitar as long
as you phase them properly that’s what the inversion switches for yes yes now
it only flips it 180 degrees right there’s there’s there’s this thing
called a radial phaser that once I have lots of money I’ll get one and all those
things but you can actually phase align things in 360 so to where you can
absolutely get a pinpoint where you want it that’s cool it is it is really cool
and essential for bigger instruments like like the hard guitar where you know
you might be putting pickups in different spots of the top board that
are really far away from other ones you want to make sure that they they are
phase aligned properly or else they have these spots where they cancel each other
out it’ll just it’ll feel like nothing’s quite there yet you just kind of lost
lost your own so to speak yeah so you know the mag pickup
is what is best for running effects and and things like that for an acoustic
guitar because it provides you a clear signal um a lot of times there’s not
body tones or taps it’s not microphonic so it is pretty much just like an
electric guitar pickup it is it’s just a magnetic pickup and it will send you
said frequency noise so if you’re using octave dividers or delays or even really
shimmery reverbs that require require some sort of note foundation to put an
octave or some sort of interval somewhere your best option is gonna be
using a mag for that so that it’s not sending overtones so what I found was
transducing pickups and things like that they sent a more complex sound which is
what you want to hear if you’re relying on it as a standalone but if you’re
trying to put effects and things behind it to color the sound a lot of times you
end up with this odd color or this weird frequency and the PA that you can’t
quite figure out what it is and it’s just a it’s a dominant frequency that’s
happening from a transducer pickup and it just doesn’t display well so you know
a lot of times on stages and stuff soundmen will keep reverb out of the
monitors so that the vocal mics don’t pick them up because reverbs and delays
have weird unnatural feedbacks so one of the thing one of the ways that I you
know try to avoid any weird feedback is like putting things where they’re
supposed to be and that’s one of the simple ways of doing that
putting your your good delays and stuff like that on a mag type signal out of
the output of the guitar so you know um the matin pickup is so great at what it
does I didn’t want to lose that but I didn’t
want to have Tommy sound anymore and no matter what if you play Mayton guitar
through a er it has this Tommy flavor you know even Adam Rafferty it’s unique
of a player as he is if you were to just put on headphones in here a small
snippet of him just grooving you know you probably wouldn’t be able to tell
who it is if unless there was actual note or melody foundation you go oh yeah
that’s that’s one of Adam’s melodies but the tone of the instrument alone just
sounds and so unique to what Tommy has presented it’s hard to move away from
that how soon did how long ago did you make the switch from the matin well you
know I I played on that for over a decade and it wasn’t until I recorded my
album and started working with this lady Kim person
now Kim person has recorded all of Stephen Bennett’s albums and the moment
Tommy Emmanuel heard Stephens albums he pulled pulled him aside and said I need
that sound I want that sound and that’s when Tommy
Emmanuel sought out Kim person and they recorded inless wrote and that was a
very unique start to his success his sound in the studio drastically changed
for the better obviously but I kind of got that experience as well and went
okay I I now know what I want the acoustic guitar to sound like but then
you know Kim would come to my shows and go you know it sounds nothing like you
if the guitar is just not working for you anymore so luckily I want a really
nice layer of a at the Winfield International fingerstyle competition
and Kansas and it was just it was a great foundation to start building this
idea so we just had a great canvas to start from and went okay how can we make
a maiden killer you know I love and respect by all means the main guitars
and and what they’ve done for the industry and for players you know the
ability to pick it up and play live and sound good yeah that was something I
relied on for a long time and was very proud of that it is it’s a plug and play
monster and you know I kicked myself all the time for going why did I solid why
but you know it does it puts you in a box it puts you in a certain box and I
wanted to move in a direction of uniqueness and sound that I had in my
head sort of thing so Kim said you know there’s there’s great pickups out there
that do these things we just got to figure out what it is you want so and
that’s that’s when I went ok let’s let’s dive down the rabbit hole I’ll drink the
kool-aid and that’s that’s what I didn’t have happen and Kim has been the
ultimate source for the best acoustic knowledge or musical knowledge in
general that I could have ever asked for she’s been my guardian angel and all of
this so um thank her for all of it but um in in the studio like what are
some of the things that she does that like that I was recording myself
somewhat recently and you know I was experimenting with different places to
put multiple different microphones like what are some of the things that you
wouldn’t get in trouble knowing that she does she’s attentive okay that’s that’s
something that was really unique is you know when I went and sat in the room and
started playing she didn’t walk in sent microphones down the microphones were
already there obviously but she wasn’t sound in front of me and listened to
what it was I was doing in trying to achieve out of the instrument
and she decided the best way to record it the best room of hers because she has
several different rooms of different sizes that provide different room verbs
just in general there’s room size matters in the mood of the song so you
know you just need to know how much space is out there sort of thing so her
her intuition is very great because she herself is a guitarist and a great one
what started her old journey in this was her frustrations in the way everybody
was recording it in the way that the acoustic guitar sounded so she wanted to
change that she and she has she found a way to really just make the acoustic
guitar sound like an acoustic guitar on a record just like you’re right in front
of it um and there’s a lot of unique things that she does to make that happen
again a lot of it is the gear she’s worked at
getting some of the best gear that there is and because of who she is
people want her to have the best out there here as well so a lot of the stuff
that she has or hand-built items that you can’t yet like I I love the pendulum
products they have some of the best two compressors in the world and in rack
mounts and preamps but you know unfortunately Gregg is no longer making
products so if you want a pendulum product you gotta get a used one or a
refurbed one from somewhere but even at that the one that he built for her her
compressor search is so unique they have a presence of their own and she knows
how to make them speak you know she finds a way and at least she kind of she
has this way of making it seem like everything she does is with intent and
on purpose so she every piece of she has a relationship with and knows
that piece of gear and what it does why it does it and watching that process of
seeing someone just I don’t get something and then use it why do I do
that what’s the purpose of doing that and
that’s that’s what most humans do I get a guitar I play it why why did I get
that guitar what is it about that guitar that process of over analyzing things I
got from her and I loved it it it provides a little bit of purpose
at times where you go why am i doing these things why do I have all these
pedals I know why I bought all these pedals each one has her own freaking
purpose not because it goes do to do it or it has a blue light you know so Kim
has just a way of not only making you play better making you want to play
better and that’s something that in working with other people in the past
like my first album that I tried to record was it Full Sail University years
ago after first run of competitions I had an offer to go down and I traded
some kind of like clinics there for a free album and it turned out really bad
it turned out really bad and it had nothing to do with the playing the plane
I thought it was great but it just sounded like it was recording somebody’s
bathroom down the hall you know it was just the quality of it was everything
that I didn’t want and it was it was a lesson in life and it it scared me um
you know Stephen Bennett had sat me down early on and went you know you got to be
careful about what you do in which you put out to the world because you know if
you make a record if you record a video and you put that down that’s a
historical document that’s a moment in time from here forth that is
that’s what you were and I’m upset because I at that time in place it
sounded like that’s what I was and that’s not it’s not at all what I wanted
to be but you know it was a lesson and I learned in a bad way
but for the better you were you ever able to rerecord any of that uh yeah
some of the songs I intentionally recorded on on the new well my true
album man on the moon I’m the one with Kim person the only one that will be
available the last when I read acted from any availability so burned them all
to the ground you can get that album on it’s on I games and everywhere else it’s
got a guy as long as iTunes is still here tonight I yeah they just made that
announcement this past week yes bye-bye yep so what’s on happened to all
my music that’s what I like they has there hasn’t way to play my musics
there’s no I’d still and it’s still in the interweb don’t worry your musics
never going anywhere it so always be it’s just rebranding they’re getting rid
of the name iTunes and going to Apple Apple music yeah it’s it’s there it’s
their streaming platform that has generated the most success for them as
of reason iTunes is a thing of the past you open up iTunes to update your apps
you don’t open up iTunes to actually get music anymore most people are just
downloading it from Spotify or it’s for apps idiot thing or is that is did it go
back to Napster now I don’t see there’s so many different forms of these now and
unfortunately it’s like how do how do you get to them oh you can do tune core
you could do CD Baby and you can jump on those kind of things that as as an
independent artist or you know a small fish for a long time
the world the music world sucked for you in chilled CD Baby suddenly this was
like this was your big brother coming to bat for you you know you know the little
guy can make it for once and for a short window in history that was possible but
that’s changing now CD Baby was bought out it is it’s going to change a lot of
a lot of things are gonna change and also I want to I want to urge everybody
to to do some research I’m not entirely certain honest but I just her word that
you might have signed away I might have signed away my publishing rights by even
being with CD Baby that’s it’s one of those little things that are in the fine
print that as these distributors they’re doing to take small percentages from
from your your stuff which is okay because you know a record company they
do that anyways that’s that’s kind of what they did they take your stuff and
they pay you a percentage out but they would take on the load of promoting it
and doing the back end of everything which in a sense that’s what CD Baby did
they they put your music out to people they put it on these platforms for you
and they they did it so in return they get a they get a cut of what you have
but unfortunately there’s just so much saturation there now because it the
availability was so easy that now things are just getting lumped and filed
together unfortunately I waited a little too long
to jump on it and when I did get on CD Baby there was plenty of other Matt
Thomas’s that were on there so they just went okay not Thomas you’re already here
we’ll just put you over there with all your other stuff and that’s what
happened was I was filed under somebody else and all my stuff was being sent
there so I I had to go through months of battling with CD Baby and
the other partners whoever they put it to Spotify or whatever streaming service
and going hey I need you to undo me and redo me as me and not as the same
person I’m actually I’m not that Matt Thomas on this Matt Thomas and they went
all well what’s the difference it’s both a blessing and a curse with this this
internet thing has been so it’s gonna change again and that’s okay just
keeping an eye on the way it bee industry changes and being on the
forefront of the change and being willing to change it’s a key thing for a
long time I wasn’t willing to change I was real stubborn and this is who I am
this is what I’ve done for so long I’m gonna continue doing it but you know the
world changes and so does your music sometimes you get changed with it very
true yeah so you know there’s songs that I I wrote 10 years ago that I wouldn’t
dare try to play now just because I know that my playing style or my abilities my
muscle memory has changed and you can do damage don’t don’t hurt yourself trying
to be what you once were Emily yeah physically that’s starting it starts to
have at all of us – I mean like wrong it really does certain playing styles
and types of things can be really really wearing on on your muscles so making
sure that you if you do decide to make it a living or a lifetime career type
thing practicing properly it’s a key thing it is to work out and it is
there’s never a positive direction you can go when you sit down to practice and
play there’s always going to be some sort of negative breakdown of
muscle tissue yeah and you can be a positive energy in your brain but it’s
every time you sit down you’re exhausting energy so you need to be
aware of the energy output that you have and what you can take back in our
sometimes over for playing and playing too much is really bad for you you can
do damage on your hands and your nerves and things like that so that is that
always scares me I you know I try to take a break every like hour and a half
while I’m practicing because I like I do get there are times where I’m like man
like I can the other day I had like a twitch in my forearm after a pretty long
day mostly acoustic guitar and I was like man I probably need to lie off for
a you know a few hours here I’ve been playing obsessively for so long um that
I didn’t realize these things until too late sort of thing I when I first saw
Tommy I actually I broke my wrist and ended up getting put in a cast on my
left hand but I was hooked I was obsessed so i sat there I cut out a
portion of the cast and I played in proper position but I obsessed in my
plate and it started a habit of obsession and playing and then about 10
years in I noticed in the mornings especially I just can’t feel anything in
my left hand period from from the wrist stop it’s just numb so and on it’s
unfortunate but it just made me aware that I need to be more cautious about
how I’m going about practicing so in the mornings I do proper stretches and you
know try to wake my body up before I just sit right down and jam out because
it’s damaged you wouldn’t you wouldn’t dare go to the hit football field just
run into a dead sprint I know I would fall down in a complete
crippled manner and cry like a baby and all sorts of crabs at this point my life
so I try to try to treat the guitar the same way if I’m gonna sit down and and
play like I know I want to I’m gonna stretch every digit I’m gonna make sure
that I’m good and ready to go before I I go to battle on the instruments or on
average about how many hours a day do you practice that is a really confusing
question that has always been a thing I there’s no set time right um you know it
really depends on the internal combustion engine what’s happening in
here yeah there will be times where you sit down you you know you need to
practice you just don’t want to sometimes you just don’t need to and
that’s those are the moments that I decide okay I put it down I’ve gone
weeks without playing and been okay with it
because now I try to seek the moments if it’s it’s a moment where I’m trying to
write a song you can just feel those moments where something Goods gonna come
out and you’ll run to the instrument and those are the moments to get it out but
if it’s just a daily practice thing I will just pick up the guitar
once I’m good and warmed up throughout the day I’ve run through a few scales
just to calibrate if you will because depending on the instrument you pick up
no guitar has the same string spacing not with proportions unless you bought
them all by the same maker and order them that way so adjusting to where
you’re playing if you’re on the left leg the right leg just getting acquainted
each day is something that I try to do go OK get the dust out that’s good and
if there’s nothing to be had that then put down dough
don’t do damage but not every what is that way sometimes they want to try to
seek and find a song but to me I feel like you you gotta live the song or live
an experience and that’s usually what will help drive a song so very very
little do I ever just come up with something new out of the blue just
because I’ve been sitting here that’s not kind of how it works
it usually takes an emotion it takes an event it takes something that’s happened
to you or just to somebody else or you know maybe it’s something that’s not
happened at all something that should have happened these kind of things
they’re not things that you can plan or that you can sit down and make happen
um so being intuitive something that Kim taught me but you don’t like have like
sit down and you know arrange or learn new songs and work on technical skills
and I mean not honestly not on schedule yeah but you know that comes down to a
matter of of one and necessity when you first start playing and you first start
getting into the arranging or fingerstyle thing you go crazy I can’t I
at one point I I probably had 50 or 60 Beatles arrangements um just because I
needed to I needed to dissect great songwriting and go what what made this
so great and you know Beatles music is one of the best foundations for finger
style guitar in my opinion you know Steven has done like I’ve like three
whole Beatles albums now and tell me that’s his go-to thing a lot of people
it’s just it’s great it’s great individual parts that lead into what is
songwriting there you go there you go that’s exactly what I mean you know
bigger finger picking Beatle by hell hell Leonard yes that’s what I’m
talking about and you know Chet had one of Ted’s biggest Chet Atkins biggest
albums with his Beatles one so that kind of obsession is great and will get you
started and off the ground but those are tools right those are tools or you know
for different reasons you can you can use it to make money go to gigs play
play bars do stuff like that play stuff that people know and that’s that’s one
side of what it does for you but the other side is it puts you in the head of
the composer when you dissect something in that manner you go okay I know the
foundation I know the middle parts I know it’s the melodies I know what now
makes this song so that action in itself of dissection as a musician turns you in
to a fingerstyle guitarist all of a sudden no I I never wanted to be a
fingerstyle guitarist that’s not what I consider myself I want to want to be a
composer that’s what I seek when I write music I don’t go hey listen to this
guitar thing I listen to this idea or this song that I have and it’s I try to
transcend the idea of it it’s a guitar I’ve never wanted it to just be a guitar
you know I try to approach it a little more like a piano
in that sense but that you know that’s it’s not just me that’s the fingerstyle
world that’s what we do that’s cool you know guys that’s so good well I want to
kind of shift into what the New Age thing has done you know there’s a lot of
players that have taken the guitar into this more percussive finger style and
EDM type direction like Alexander Misco you know he’s got this song that he
calls dubstep guitar we’re you know uses all kinds of cool
effects and nasty sounds the guitar could make where you turn a string rail
loan you it’s slightly muted with the corner of one finger and it buzzes but
it sounds like a synth bass thing um so in finding little tricks and things to
compose with your instrument is what we are seeking but the the the idea of
making music that transcends guitar is what we’re aiming for so nice go has got
this really cool EDM type vibe so it’s almost like dance
music that happens and there’s another guy that’s like that maybe not as
effective driven but in his plane and that’s Adrian Belew no Adrian is a pure
monster yeah on the instrument and you know his his sense of rhythm is very
different than I’ve heard out of most players and then let’s go over to the
middle of the world well I guess perspective this is just Europe listen I
called the middle we’re in a circle I guess you know Petri cereal yeah we were
talking about him with with Adam Rafferty he he’s the man he’s he’s been
he’s been a very big inspiration to me in the past probably three or four years
I mean before that I remember seeing videos of him when he’s playing like
Prime when he still had hair and what’s in a suit and playing a lair they but
you know you hear the frustrations he was trying to do
percussive guitar and the pickup system it just wasn’t working for him and then
he disappeared for many years and suddenly came back into the light and he
was doing this multi-sourcing pickup thing and a bunch of different pedals
and I was just kind of getting the idea of the multi-sourcing thing and I was
looking at his pedal ray going oh I like that idea so I kind of
go down that route and the way instead of taking all these pickups and putting
them into the same source separating each individual one and then putting
them to a mixer so I kind of copied that idea for a while and use the same mixer
that he did but I ended up adding too much stuff and ran out of channels so I
found a way to simplify using a digital mixer and in relying on things like a
TRS input that new word mixers they have so if you’re running a true stereo out
of your pedals that sucks for cable work man that becomes heavy and lots of
cables but the touch makes QSC made it so that you can just take all your
stereo routing and just go in TRS and it caught it made it so much easier so I
started chatting with Petri and I said hey man check this out and he loved the
idea so much that he he actually borrowed that idea for me and has been
doing that and also alexander misko liked it it’s so much he’s doing it too
so it’s like it’s not a new thing or or you know a unique one person’s doing it
we’re all kind of looking at what each other’s doing and going okay the
directions head where were won in it so how can we do this together and and you
know there’s been a lot of oohs and we all find similar things and issues with
certain types of pickups you know the K in case are great but
they they have this mid-range to them that as a standalone pickup it sounds
wonderful but when you try to incorporate it with other ones there’s
an interesting mid-range there that you got a dial out it you know
not everybody knows about but just talking on these farms and saying hey
every time I plug in I got this issue Wow dial out such-and-such so really the
Internet has really helped in bringing together
ideas with each other to make a better direction for a sound.
…And that is what where we’re gonna leave it for today. I know. Join us next Thursday for part
two with Matt Thomas. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe. The
best thing that you could do for us would be to share, get the word out about
Fret Buzz The Podcast. Other than that, we’ve got some really good guests on the
way. Things are gonna be changing a little bit for Fret Buzz The Podcast in
terms of the video. Unfortunately, Google is about to terminate Hangouts, oh Google.
But I think I’ve found a workaround and we’ll see what we can do. Things might be
getting a little bit more interesting and of course once we have toys in our
hands it always becomes a little more fun. But nonetheless, yeah, let’s see what
else do we have here… Joe is getting ready for his big move to
Hawaii. If you have any questions, send them my way at
Let me know how we’re doing. Let me know if you have any potential
guests or guests that you think would be interesting for the show. Really ladies
and gentlemen, we’re shooting in the dark here. Let us know what you like, what you
don’t like, guests that you’ve enjoyed, maybe guests that you would like to have
on again, or maybe you have some ideas of guests that you think would be great for
the show or ideas or concepts for the show. We’re open to pretty much anything
when it comes to music as you can see by our track record. I know you are
listening, so yeah, drop me a line. Let me know. It’s time to shut it down. You have
yourself a wonderful week and Joe and I will see you next Thursday for part two
with Matt Thomas on Fret Buzz The Podcast.

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