Some Guitarists Overlook This, but It’s Really Important, Matteo Mancuso Says

Young guitar virtuoso Matteo Mancuso shared one important piece of advice to all the guitar players out there, pointing out how important it is to listen to and explore different kinds of music.

When it comes to Mancuso, he’s easily one of the most diverse guitar players out there. Apart from his insanely good fingerpicking technique, which can sound as if he’s using a plectrum, the young Italian virtuoso has a very diverse vocabulary as a musician. Although we could refer to him as a jazz fusion musician, there are obvious rock and blues elements in his music.

And according to what he told Mike Nelson in a recent interview, it seems that there’s not much secret to this — just listen to music! When asked to share some advice to young aspiring guitar players, Mancuso responded (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“I think the listening process is really, really important. Some people underestimate the listening process, but it’s really important because you need to know what excites you the most about guitar.”

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And when it comes to listening, there’s always something new to explore. As Matteo adds, this is crucial if you want to define your style and find your voice.

“There’s so much music out there that maybe you still don’t know what is the thing that excites you the most,” the musician continued. “So exploring different sides in general is very important in order to know what music you want to do with your guitar.”

Once you find something new that you like, try to blend it with what you know. Discussing this further, Matteo explained that this is exactly how he managed to come up with his unique style. He added:

“Then, blending different styles will come with time. I was able to blend jazz, rock, and fusion because I listened to a lot of different music and I had the chance to listen to a lot of different music since when I was very young.”

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Most importantly, you should focus on what makes you happy. That’s the whole point of getting into music in the first place. This is what he’d say to any aspiring young guitar player:

“So I think a good suggestion would be: play what excites you the most about guitar. If you like shred rock, ’80s kind of stuff — it’s okay, if that thing makes you happy. If you play what makes you happy on the stage, people will realize it, and you will transmit this happiness to the people around you.”

“So it’s really important to play the things that you are happy with, and not just trying to learn a lot of things simply because someone told you to learn jazz, maybe.”

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“It’s a matter of finding your own balance,” he added. “I mean, there’s so much guitar music out there that it’s really, really tough to decide what you want to do.”

“How can you realize if you like Tommy Emmanuel or Yngwie Malmsteen more? They are two completely different instruments when you think about it — it’s guitar, but it’s not the same instrument.”

Saying that it’s “not the same instrument” might seem a little controversial to an extent. But listening to Yngwie and Emmanuel’s music, you could understand where he’s coming from.

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“And that’s because guitar has so many ways, and so many techniques, so many styles, that sometimes it’s really difficult to find your own self on this instrument,” he explained. This is, according to Mancuso, exactly what sets the guitar apart from all the other instruments out there, and it’s why guitar-oriented music is so incredibly diverse. He continued:

“For other instruments, it is more standardized. If you play piano or clarinet, for example, there is one way to play, there is one way to get into the technique, maybe there’s a different vocabulary and all of that.”

“But guitar is really a mess when it comes to technique,” Matteo adds. “Everybody has his own, basically. Nobody is holding the pick the same way. Nobody has the same hand, so everybody’s maybe rubbing the chords in a different way.”

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And, as he also explains, it’s what makes the guitar challenging:

“That’s why it’s so hard. The guitar is one of my favorite instruments because you project a lot of your personality in it. So it’s a very personal thing when you’re talking about guitar. That’s why it’s a special instrument.”

Photo: Idunnorick (Matteo Mancuso, Stefano India and Giuseppe Bruno)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.