Billboard Premiere and article

Most guitarists find playing just one fretboard at a time to be plenty to keep their hands full. But then you have others like Michael Angelo Batio, Steve Vai and Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen who utilize multi-necked guitars to achieve the sound they're going for. Count artist Felix Martin among the latter.

Martin, who will self-release his second studio album, Mechanical Nations, on Feb. 24, started teaching himself guitar around the age of 11 because there were no music schools or internet access in the small Venezuelan town where he grew up. He began with a regular guitar, but found it difficult to play finger style (when the strings are plucked with the fingers or a pick), so he began employing a tapping method, like playing a piano. Eddie Van Halen is famed for using a similar technique when he performs his "Eruption" solo by tapping out notes on the fretboard with both hands, but Martin says his personal style is closer to that of jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan since Martin simultaneously plays melodies and chords.

"It was more natural for me to play tapping like a piano, so the way I grew up playing was like that, two guitars at a time," explains Martin. "I started playing with a regular guitar, and six months after, I started playing two guitars at a time: one [hanging on me] with straps and the other one on a table."

Although it was hard to do, Martin is grateful for the experience. "It was a painful process," he recalls, "but it was helpful for my creativity." He adds, "I'm still developing the whole idea. This is something really new, that's why I have many guitars and still try out some ideas on the guitar."

Martin now works with instrument makers to design the equipment he needs — the guitars have one body and two extra-wide fretboards — to play his blend of progressive metal and jazz fusion. For Mechanical Nations, one of his goals was that he tried "to put together a different sound for the guitar that's really digestible" and make it sound not like a guitar, "but more like a band."

Billboard has the exclusive premiere of the video for the album track "Flashback," where Martin's inspiration was to play with a percussive sound. "I also wanted to make a song for guitar that would be heavy but very different at the same time. If you listen to that track, that specific sound is really different than other guitar players."