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Interviews on Deck: Frank Gambale and Brendon Small

We're headed to LA for interviews with two awesome players

By February 21, 2018 News

If all goes well, we will be boarding a plane for Los Angeles tonight to meet with a duo of guitar awesomeness!

Frank Gambale

First up, a mechanics pioneer who many have requested: the amazing Frank Gambale! Frank was one of the original Cracking the Code interviews an eon ago with the original camera rig. As part of editing that material, we got back in touch Frank recently about filming an update with our more modern gear, and we’re excited to be sitting down with him again.

In the original meeting, we address core questions about sweeping and how Frank’s innovations took shape. We discussed a battery lick examples plucked from Frank’s instructionals and album recordings, and it’s amazing how many of them he was able to recall. The camcorder died during a particular favorite – a blazing lydian run from “Centrifugal Funk”, the Mark Varney record he did with Bret Garsed and Shawn Lane. Hopefully Frank remembers the lick since we’ll be requesting it again!

We’ll also try and get to the bottom of Frank’s arm setup and grip. And when it comes to applications of mechanics, we want to talk about his simply astounding vocabulary. It’s one thing to hatch a playing style based on a novel mechanical approach. But the reason we still listen to Frank is all the awesome playing. Sweeping aside, the guy is just one of the most original and immediately identifiable soloists out there. He has a seemingly endless supply of cool things to say on the guitar, and a mechanical foundation for doing so that is as reliable as anyone could want.

Brendon Small

Brendon Small is the creator of the absolutely hilarious, trippy, and profane animated series Metalocalypse, recounting the travails of the world-famous fictional metal band Dethklok. The show works as a kind of Spinal Tap for the digital age. And like Spinal Tap, the virtuosity of the musical parody is part of the joke.

Here’s a satirical guitar instructional video starring the band’s lead guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf, both voiced and played by Brendon:

Everything about this is so awesomely on point: the name checking of all the endorsements, the “instruction”, the blazing playing, the hand animations…

Brendon is the musical force behind Dethklok’s album releases, and also his own solo projects under the moniker “Galaktikon”. We’ll be talking about Galaktikon tunes and asking him to lay down some of his trademark blistering downstroke rhythms. This is a topic we’ve discussed on the forum and which he can hopefully help us continue to get our minds around.

Get your questions ready!

Have questions / topics you think we should cover in either interview? Let us know on the forum! Head here and send us your suggestions by the end of the day:

Suggest questions / topics for the Frank Gambale and Brendon Small interviews!

About Troy Grady

Top Comments

  1. Brendon plays some killer riffs! :star_struck: I think you should film him playing some “Fast Downstrokes for Thrash Rhythms” (yup, that’s the name of a thread you’ve made)

    Edit: here’s a taste of his downstrokes. I’m sure he plays some faster things in Dethklok.

  2. tommo says:

    Thanks Troy! Gambale is amazeballs.

    Do you take suggestions for questions (no prob if not)? I recall Gambale saying in various occasions that he does not understand why some people feel ascending or descending sweeping easier - for him they are the same. Even though I am primary UWPS, I do find descending sweeping harder (timing in particular), and I was wondering whether Frank might have some insigths on that.

    By the way, I also agree with your analysis that he is primary UWPS, and he does a lot of “reverse volcano stuff”. Interestingly, he can also do Volcano style DWPS licks perfectly, there are a few of them in his latest sweeping course!

    Finally, his old “Chop Builder” video also shows that he can do a lot of stuff beyond sweeping, including pure alternate stuff and 1nps string skipping at medium-fast tempos.

    Then there is the mystery of how does he always know where he is with his left hand… but I guess that’s another story.

    Apologies, I guess this post is all over the place, but FG is kind of a marvel!

  3. Lukhas says:

    I got the pleasure of being at a clinic Frank Gambale had in Paris last year for his Cort signature acoustic guitar. To the point, he said at one point that people didn’t think sweep/economy picking was possible because of “time”. No, he didn’t say timing or tempo, he said “time”. And obviously I completely forgot to ask him what he meant about it. :sweat_smile: He probably doesn’t remember much about it, but if you stumble upon this topic about the difficulties of sweep/economy picking, it would be much appreciated if you guys could ask him about it.


    Frank said that it makes the pick glide on the strings a bit more compared to the sharper teardrop/small teardrop shapes commonly used. Also, since all three sides are the same, you get thrice the mileage too as a bonus. :grin: Except I only remembered that after I got myself some Small Tri Primetone picks so I’ll pretend it’s not linked at all. :yum:

  4. I love it when Troy asks players to play certain “standard” licks that are often played with a different technique than the player being interviewed uses, and see how the player solves this.

    This happened in the Carl Miner 2007 interview, where you could clearly see that Carl prefered some patterns and others were completely foreign to him, although he rearranged them on the spot to make the patterns playable for his own style.

    For example, a descending scale in fours (16ths) is always interesting to see, how a player approaches this:

    Starting on the high E, continuing at Hi B:




    This pattern cannot be played with rigid dwps or sweep picking, so I’m always curious how players like Friedman or Gambale approach these licks.


  5. Troy says:

    So much yes.

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