Steve Mastroianni

Today’s Q and A is a very cool one. It features Steve Mastroianni who I have known in the music tuition world for a few years now. His emails are full of insightful advice, they’re entertaining, and something I love to read each day. Plus, as you will see in this post we share similar ideas about teaching the guitar and he’s also a big Muse fan! Enjoy!

Bands and Inspiration

Your favourite guitarist?

Tie between John Mayer and Matt Bellamy from MUSE.

Who’s the best band/artist you have seen live?

Probably Mute Math (original lineup) touring their debut album. Absolute chaos on stage, with theatrics and world-class playing.

What’s your favourite album? 

I’d say the most influential album is a tie between Nevermind by Nirvana and Continuum by John Mayer.

Favourite song to listen to on a depressing day?

“In Due Time” by Killswitch Engage.

Greatest guitar piece ever recorded?

Don’t have one at the moment. At one point, I would have said the Intro to “Layla” as I must have listened to that 25-second intro about 25000 times.


You as a Guitarist

Most difficult thing you’ve ever learned to play on guitar?

“Dance of Eternity” by Dream Theater.

Who’s your favourite guitarist and/or biggest influence ever?

Tie between John Mayer, Matt Bellamy, Edge, and Jonny Buckland.

What’s the first song/riff you ever learned on guitar?

“Basketcase” by Green Day.

Why did you choose to play the guitar?

Was a drummer and wanted to add guitar to the arsenal so I could write songs.

What’s the first guitar you owned? 

A used Quest electric guitar from Costco (paid a friend 50 bucks for it).

Self-taught or formal lessons?

Self-taught until the KISS tour in 2010 and then hired a coach to offer objective feedback and fill any gaps in my technique.


 Your Music and Gear

What’s your most embarrassing moment on stage?

El Mocambo 2012 – spotlight moment of the song where everything stops and I play a lick before the full band comes in for the first time. Unfortunately, there was no spotlight, and it was so dark I played the ENTIRE riff one fret too high.

The best moment of being a performer so far?

Getting hired to play guitar for my childhood favourite band Our Lady Peace. 60,000 people singing songs I used to love growing up.

Where do you find your inspiration for song ideas?

I usually hear a guitar effect, a synth patch, a unique chord, or a compelling vocal idea and the song almost writes itself.


Tips and Advice

What does a typical day of your practice routine look like?

At the moment, my practice is simply sitting down for two hours and writing songs as soon as I drop the kids off at school.

Tips you’d like to share with other guitarists?

You can get incredibly far as a guitar player if you make sure that everything you play follows these three rules:

1)   Does it sound good?

2)   Does it feel good?

3)   Is it fun?

If the songs/riffs/solos/equipment you play fit that criteria, then it doesn’t matter how differently you play a part from the record or how much your equipment costs. It’s a question only you can answer, and it creates a unique experience just for you.

Greatest ever chord?

I’m a huge fan of 10ths on guitar (plucking a root note and its major/minor third an octave up – great with a dotted 1/8th note delay).

Best advice for beginner guitarists?

Instead of trying to match your skill level to the level of the song/riff/solo, match the song/riff/solo to your skill level. That’s how you play from day 1. Then from there, you can upgrade until it sounds like the original or until you’re satisfied.

The best tip or one piece of advice you were ever given as a guitarist?

Timing isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.

General thoughts on learning guitar for our readers. 

Have a purpose to your playing – performing, jamming, recording, writing, etc. – find a method and a mentor that resonates with you. There’s no shortage of options.


Fun Stuff

Song to romance your other half with?

“Across the Universe” by The Beatles.

Which superhero would make the best guitarist?

Batman – so much internal darkness is bound to lead to great songs and great playing.

Festival you would most like to play?


Most underrated band ever?

Mute Math.

What’s next for you?

Finishing my next book about performing with confidence from day 1.


Leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of this Q and A. You can find out more about Steve and his powerful and unique take on teaching guitar below. I’ve read his book Practice Less, Play More and must say, it’s full of gold. Check it out here –

Also, if you are a guitarist who is interested in doing a Q and A, get in touch and let me know!

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