MARTY FRIEDMAN: How To Develop Your Own Identity As A Guitar Player

October 18, 2023

In a new interview with Sweetwater's Nick Bowcott, former MEGADETH guitarist Marty Friedman spoke about the importance of establishing your own creative voice when playing guitar. He said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "That's the way to have an identity, really. It's one thing to practice, and practice, obviously, is extremely important. But at the same time, thinking of your own, 'Why am I doing this? What am I making music for? What do I have to say? What do I wanna say? What is my expression gonna be?' And it doesn't have to be all figured out at once. You learn it as you go. It changes as you go. But I think a lot of young people would benefit to know that you don't have to be as technically accurate as the latest TikTok guy who's just unbelievable. What you have to be is exactly yourself, what you want to represent yourself as. And I think a lot of people see the guy who practiced with the metronome for months and years and plays these flawless 16th notes at 200 beats per minute, and they say, 'That's what I wanna do.' And if that's your goal, that's absolutely fine, but you're not gonna get really good advice from me from that because it's very simple to do that — very, very simple to do that: take anything and practice it. What you and I are talking about today is how to somewhat develop your own voice over the same chords everybody has. Everybody has A, everybody has F, everybody has E and all these chords. And how do you do that? You just try a lot of different things, and you have to decide for yourself, 'I like this.'"

He added: "There's only one of you. Every single person is an individual. Every single person has something inside of them that's different from the next person. You think a lot of these guitar players, they sound the same. Well, it's because they're learning the same way. They're just learning these theories, and they're learning from lazy guitar teachers, and they're learning these techniques and tricks and sweep picking and tapping and all this. It's the same shit everybody's learning. So, at some point, you have to decide in very small detail which of these things that you really wanna represent yourself with. And I think I probably said that a thousand times."

Friedman played his first U.S. show in four years on March 3 at The Plaza Live in Orlando, Florida as support act for QUEENSRŸCHE. Marty performed on more than two dozen dates with QUEENSRŸCHE, running through April 16, where the tour wrapped up in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Marty's "Tokyo Jukebox 3" album received a North American release in April 2021 via The Players Club/Mascot Label Group. The record, which was made available in Japan in October 2020, was the third in a series that began with "Tokyo Jukebox" in 2009, and then "Tokyo Jukebox 2" following in 2011. The trilogy presents Friedman's inspired performances to Japanese repertoire he's chosen to cover.

Marty's presence in the world of music, the world of guitar and Japanese pop culture is mystifying, bizarre, and nothing short of inspiring. His first major impact in music was in the game-changing guitar duo CACOPHONY, which he founded with equally enigmatic and now-legendary guitarist Jason Becker. He then spent 10 years as lead guitarist in the genre-defining thrash metal act MEGADETH before moving to Tokyo due to his love for Japanese music, language, and culture.

Following his move, he landed a starring role for a new TV comedy "Hebimeta-san" ("Mr. Heavy Metal") and its spinoff, "Rock Fujiyama", which ran for six seasons and propelled him into the living rooms of Japan's mainstream. He has since appeared in over 800 TV shows, movies and commercials, including a two-year campaign with Coca-Cola for Fanta, authored two best-selling novels and was the first-ever foreigner to be appointed as an ambassador of Japan heritage and perform at the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Marathon in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022. At the same time, Marty has continued his career in music with several solo albums in addition to writing and performing with the top artists in Japanese music, racking up countless chart hits, including a No. 1 with SMAP, two No. 2 songs with MOMOIRO CLOVER, a No. 2 with SOUND HORIZON — just to name a few.

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