Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the Lari Basilio guitar clinic at Bentley Music, and it was an experience to remember. Although I had gone there earlier to check out the guitars and gear at Bentley Music, I did not realize that they were closed due to the Labor Day holiday! I saw no announcement about it on their social media channels. Another family was also there but were disappointed as well since the father said he wanted to buy something for his son.
Nevertheless, I arrived early and ended up hanging out with guitarist Melvyn Gnai, discussing all things guitar until we went in to catch the clinic. The clinic was hosted by my friend Grace (of the band FAZZ), and it was interesting in many ways, as Lari Basilio is an experienced performer who has released albums, worked with famous guitarists, taught many clinics, and played as a session musician. It was exciting to be at the clinic since I had not been to one in a very long time.
Lari started off by playing some music and talking a bit about her fingerstyle playing and how she plays fingerstyle. She encouraged everyone to find their own way to play guitar, whether using a pick or fingers, making sure it is comfortable for them.
Lari also demonstrated her approach to easily change from pick-style playing to fingerstyle. She basically tucks her guitar pick under her ring finger and then moves it back into her regular picking position (thumb and index) when she needs to pick. She primarily uses her thumb, index, and middle fingers for her fingerstyle playing, which she finds easier for more ghost and muted notes.
During the clinic, Lari took questions from the audience. When I asked about when she uses fingerstyle playing and when she uses pick-style playing, she responded that it depends on the phrases and the sound one wants to achieve.
She discussed technique, emphasizing clarity, feel, and tone, and her personal choice for guitar strings, which is gauge 10-46. She also talked about writing solos, explaining that she improvises and records, listens back, and works like a producer to figure out what to use and what to retain in the song. Her aim is to tell a story through the whole song itself.
Next up, Lari talked about gear, including the Laney Lionheart amp, which gives her the mid-range she is always looking for, and the Ironheart pedal, a new 60-watt amplifier in a pedal. She demonstrated clean, low gain sounds, and high gain sounds. Although she does not play metal, she demonstrated a riff to showcase what the pedal was capable of, and it sounded amazing!
She also demonstrated the LA-Studio, a low-wattage tube amp with virtual cabinets. She used the Torpedo software to work on virtual cabinets when she is recording or working at her home studio.
Talking about the Ironheart comparing it to the LA-Studio, she said that with the Ironheart pedal you don’t need a head – you just take the pedal and connect it to a cabinet. With the LA-Studio, you don’t need a cabinet, you have a tube head and you have plenty of beautiful (virtual) cabinets at your disposal.
Lari then talked about her own guitar, the Ibanez LB1 guitar, which is based on the AZS Ibanez series. It has a Compound Radius Fretboard (10” to 12”), her signature Seymour Duncan pickups (arranged in an HSS Humbucker-Single Coil-Single Coil configuration and fitted with gold covers), nine different tone possibilities, and she uses 10-46 D’Addario XL strings and a 1.14 Dunlop Standard Tortex pick. She discussed her sound and how she uses overdrive (JHS Morning Glory), distortion, reverb, delay, and compressor pedals.
She talked about an upcoming pedal that she is working on with JHS, which is a drive/distortion pedal. Lari also demonstrated her reverb pedal, which had a beautiful shimmer sound when held on. When asked about the earliest songs she learned when starting to play guitar, she mentioned she learned many Christian songs growing up.
When asked about practice, Lari said there was a time that she would be able to spend hours and hours just practicing scales. But nowadays, she would pick up the guitar and some days she would try to create something. She would learn something new or take a little time to perfect some technique or something that she feels that she needs to get better at. With whatever free time that she has, she tries to make the most out of it regardless whether it was 15 minutes or 30 minutes.
Lari was also asked about how it was meeting Joe Satriani for the first time, and she talked about her G4 experience and how Joe played on her 2019 album. She also talked about how it was a learning experience to meet John Petrucci and see what he is like in person. She said she learns so much just to be in the presence of great musicians, especially those who she has admired over the years as a guitarist.
Towards the end of the clinic, I got the chance to ask Lari a question about the different sounds she uses. She explained that she uses a clean sound, an overdrive sound, and a distortion sound. I asked her to demonstrate these sounds, and she obliged. It was great to hear her sound separately without the backing tracks as it gave me an idea of the kinds of sound to explore for my own playing.
I also asked Lari how she prepares for sessions and touring with artists. She said that she overprepares and brings more equipment than needed to be ready for any requests from the musical director. I appreciated her professionalism and generosity in sharing her insights.
The event also included a giveaway, and although I didn’t win, I received two sets of guitar strings for asking questions. (And it was great because they were two sets of D’Addario NYXL 09|42 which is the right gauge for my electric guitar that I’m using for my orchestra concert this weekend!)
The autograph and photo session after the clinic was a great opportunity to meet other guitar players and music enthusiasts. It ran for an hour and a half… and it was inspiring to see Lari being so kind and generous with everyone who wanted autographs and photos with her.
After getting photos & autographs, I also got to catch up with my former & current students (Sheila Julis, Jack Wai, CJ), readers of my daily newsletter Surat Muzik, as well as friends in the music scene.
I am grateful to Bentley Music and Laney Amplification for organizing this event, and I highly recommend attending one of their guitar clinics to anyone who has the opportunity. Thank you to Lari Basilio and everyone involved in making this clinic possible. I look forward to attending more clinics in the future!
I will be attending the Ichika Nito guitar clinic at Bentley Music Auditorium this May 15, 2023. Do say hi to me if you are there & maybe we can chat and take a wefie too! You can get your tickets for that here – not a sponsored post btw! – I just want to meet more fellow like-minded cool guitarists & music fans like you! 🙂
You might also enjoy reading:
7 Things I Learned From Mateus Asato
and this series:
[WORKSHOPS: LEARNING FROM THE MASTERS]
10 Things I Learned From The Mateus Asato Singapore Guitar Clinic
10 Things I Learned From The Julian Lage TIJC 2017 Workshop
10 Things I Learned From The Jack Thammarat Kuala Lumpur Workshop
10 Things I Learned From The Guthrie Govan Kuala Lumpur Workshop
And for jazzers… interested to check out what I learned from the Thailand International Jazz Camp 2017 (12 hours of workshops & 2 hours of jam sessions), check out the 3,100+ word blog post here: Thailand International Jazz Camp 2017 with Shai Maestro/Desmond White Group
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