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Why 14 and 16-string guitar?

I just wanted to perform with two guitars that would have the exact same sound on one single guitar with a regular body. There’s a new, hidden world of possibilities for the guitar when playing two of them as one. Not too much of playing chords and melody at the same time, but new chord shapes, arpeggios, soloing ideas, percussive techniques, etc.

I want one of your guitars!

please email felixmartinpress@gmail.com

 

What were your early influences?

Venezuelan Folk music (Ensable Gurrufio), Progressive Rock (Dream Theater, Flower King, Spastic Ink) and Rock Guitar Players (Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman)

 

What tuning do you use?

Standard guitar tuning. Same on both fretboards.

14-string guitar: 7+7 setup: BEADGBE + BEADGBE

14-string guitar: 8+6 setup: F#BEADGBE + EADGBE

16-string guitar: 8+8 setup: F#BEADGBE F#BEADGBE

16-string guitar: 9+7 setup: C#F#BEADGBE + BEADGBE

 

What inspired to play like this?

From the very beginning of my career as a guitar player (about 13 years old) I was fascinated about the idea of creating new ideas from scratch. The creative process is a huge passion I have. That’s what of the main reason why I’m pushing myself to create a completely new way of playing the electric guitar, by performing two of them as one.

 

What string gauge do you use?

I use Ernie Ball 08 string packages. I change the 08 string for a 010. For the 7th string, 068. For the 8th string, I use 074.  For the 9th, I use a 135.

Any details on how do you achieve your sound?

It's all in your hands. Most of the time I only use a little reverb and delay, that's it. I use the pickups on the middle position most of the time, sometimes the neck position. I almost never use the bridge position alone. Pickups are just regular guitar pickups. I never use midi or piezo.

 

What’s that thing you put under the strings of your 2nd and/or 1st fret?

It’s a velcro to mute the strings, you can get it at any hardware store (Home Depot) Sometimes I put it on the 1st fret, depends on the guitar. I don’t use pony tails to mute the strings, velcro it’s more effective.  I recently got a custom made FretWrap by Gruv Gear, that works great as well! 

Can I play your techniques on a regular guitar?

Yes! it's just gonna have to arranged differently and will sound different. 

Do you play regular guitar?

My guitars are two regular guitars together, so yes! I also use a regular 8-string by Kiesel and a bunch of old 6 strings I have.

Any other tips for the technique?

I use very low action. It depends on the string, but they can go as low as 2 or 3mm. Light string gages are important as well.

 

Private lessons? 

Yes! I'm not touring mostly. Should us an email to see availably.

Session work? Guest solos?

Yes! shoot us an email. Mostly when I'm not touring.

 

Where are you from and where do you live?

I live in Los Angeles, California. I was born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela and grew up between Acarigua and Barquisimeto, Venezuela. I also lived in Boston from 2007 until 2012.

 

What guitar cable do you use?

I use a stereo male to dual mono male because my guitars are in stereo. I also use stereo (TRS) cables. Sometimes I use a regular guitar cable, with an adapter from mono to stereo for my guitar jack. I use Kirlin cables, great brand and people.

What’s difference of your guitars and regular guitars?

Nothing, only that I have another one on the upper side to use more techniques. The first guitar can be played as a regular guitar, same sound.

 

What rig do you use?

Line 6 Helix, and then several single pedals and plug-ins.

 

What guitar pickups do you use?

Right now I use Kiesel Pickups, but I used to use regular Seymour Duncan pickups for 7 and 8 string. They are not custom made, and that’s the idea, to not customize stuff. I also use EMGx for one of my guitars.

 

Do you use a pick?

Very little. When I need the picking sound, I prefer to use the nail of my index finger (it’s something that takes time to develop)

 

Do you have any influences on your techniques from any player when growing up?

I do have influences on my “standard” guitar technique. Guys like Ron Jarzombek, Paul Gilbert, Allan Holdsworth inspired me a lot. I don’t have any influences on my tapping techniques, since I grew up on a place where I didn’t have any access to the underground material, and that made me create my own techniques. It was harder, but cooler. Btw, I do recommend to take private lessons, I just didn’t have the opportunity. 

 

Do you design your instruments?

Yes and I collaborate with luthiers.

Who is your main luthier?

Right now is Jeff Kiesel, but I worked with many in the past. JP Laplante from Canada was the one who helped me the most with all of this. I consider him the master of my guitars.

 

Can the techniques be applied to a regular 6-string guitar?

Yes, but it would sound different or it would be more difficult. Quick example. When I play an 8 finger chord, I have 8 strings sounding together (and 4 of those strings are repeated on both fretboards.) On a regular guitar, you can’t repeat strings, and you can’t play more that 6 strings together, so it’s very limited. That’s just one example, it really depends on the technique. The intro on the song called Triangle Tune can be played on a regular guitar, it would just sound different and be a lot more difficult because of the string jumps. When I say different, I don’t mean better or worst, just different.

 

Chapman Stick and Warr Guitar?

My guitars are just another type of guitar. Chapman Stick, Warr guitars, etc, are TouchStyle instruments and these are not guitars or basses. They are usually longer (scale length) no guitar pickups, they are supposed to be played with tapping only (no picks or finger style), they have a different sound, strings, concept, tuning, material, shape, case, straps, tuners, upright playing position, etc. Again, mine it’s just a regular guitar with another one on top, and the amount of strings on the single neck and body makes it a 14 or 16 string guitar. I can't play these instruments since they are too different.

 

Music education?

I studied music theory and production at Berklee. I started when I was 17.

 

When did you started developing your techniques?

When I was in high school, about 13 years old when I started playing with two guitars simultaneously. 

 

Is this technique really hard?

Nah, classical guitar is harder!

 

How many of these guitars do you have?

I use 7 most of the time, but there are more prototypes that are not public or were not completed.

 

Stanley Jordan?

He’s awesome. The difference in our technique (in my opinion) is that he treats one guitar as two instruments, on the other hand, and I treat two guitars as one instrument.

 

Adam Fulara?

I’m a huge fan of him. The differences in our concepts is that he treats two guitars as two, I treat two guitars as one most of the time. His instrument could be considered a double neck guitars, because it’s got two necks and a big body for two guitars. Please check out his classical work.

 

If you have to describe your instrument concept in a few words, what would those be?

To see two guitars as one guitar. Not as two.

 

Is your guitar technique similar to a piano? Yes and no.

Yes

-In the playability concept, where each is free to do anything.

No

-Obviously they are different instruments (sound, feel, capabilities, techniques, etc) both instrument are not related and they are two different worlds.

-The range capability of each hand it’s greater on a guitar than a piano. On the piano, if we stretch one hand, we could only play about an octave, but on a guitar, we could play about 4 octaves with one hand using an 8 string guitar. This changes everything, specially the chord structures.

-We can’t play unisons on a piano. There’s a whole bunch of techniques when using unisons, specially when soloing and playing “Double power chords”

-Stereo: sometimes I use my guitar in stereo, meaning that I’ll use one guitar with certain effects and another guitar with some other effects. There’s a whole new world there.

Favorite food?

Arepas, Indian food and Mexican.

Favorite Drink?

Energy Drinks, coffee and mango juice.

 

Do you play piano? 

No.

 

Do you play bass?

Yes. 1

What’s The Human Transcription?

This is a side-project I made back in 2014-15. I transcribed about 8 speeches from different politicians and turned them into musical pieces. 

 

What’s TEOT? 

It’s a side-project I did back in 2015. Basically several videos of songs I wrote based on guitar techniques specialized for tapping and playing two guitars as one. I never made an album out of this, but maybe I will do something cool with them in the future.