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Bob Zabek - an interview
Visit www.bobzabek.com for more details.
Adam Fulara: How and when did you start playing using two-handed tapping? Who was your
first inspiration in that style???
Bob Zabek: I started tapping the way I use it now 3 years ago, when I was studying in
Rotterdam. I didnīt know players like Stanley Jordan, mr. Webster or other
tapping masters so my approach towards tapping happened totally naturally I
guess because I wanted to reach new horizons on guitar.
I just started experimenting with the guitar and looked at it from a totally
different, for me, new point of view.
but you guys should check out Victor Wooten ;-)
- What do you think is the most important thing in that style?
- That it tells a good story!!! Catchy nice melodies combined with groovy chord
stuff or totally weird things... I always say: everything is good as long is it is real!
- What do you think about other tapping recordings? Do You like some?
- I know mr. Wooten of who I actually love almost everything and I recently
discovered Adam Fulara who inspired me a lot so I practise now every day
with 2 guitars writing new stuff to reach total control and independence of
both hands, which he can do greatly.
I know some people who are also musicians and who sometimes come and say:
hey man check this out etc... So then I of course do that. Sometimes I even
search the internet for examples myself and see what I find. But although I
try to see as much as possible on the same hand I donīt want to know
anything or too much, so I can grow a musical castle on a totally pure,
clean, real base... Sounds maybe a little bit strange but as an anology, I
rather try to be and live like a child than be stuck in something like
adults, and that is reaaaly difficult I know.
- Did you ever try to play the stick or other tapping instruments?
- I met a guy in Vienna (I live in Linz now) who plays chapman stick for a couple
of years now, he invited a friend and me and I gave it a try. Chapman with a
loop station, midi pickup and synthy stuff. I think the day will come I have
to buy a stick but not yet, first a doubleneck guitar!
but I like it a lot...
- What do you think about your music - and where is it going ?!
- I think that the stuff I do is original because it happened naturally, so I
think that is good. Usually when I write a piece it comes from out of
nowhere, at least it looks like that... I start playing, the thing grows and
then the next part comes along I arrange it so it sounds good, I donīt know
really, I just try to go for it. I donīt really know where it is going but i
hope it progresses towards the way I imagine it to be ;-)
- Do you prefer playing solo or with the band?
- I prefer playing with a good band. I started doing this tapping stuff out of
the misery that I didnīt have a band I think. and the thing is if you fix that
style on letīs say a double neck guitar and combine it with some equipment
like guitar synth, boss loop station and maybe call a guy who plays
percussion you can make amazing music. Although I actually come from the
blues-rock-genre I still love the feeling of jamming with a bass player and
drummer, playing lead with high gain sound, creating dynamics with the whole
band, up and down... I love this. My musical vision though is a mixture of both!
- What music do you want to play in 5 or 10 years?
- I want to be able to perform alone in any genre I like to,
blues, jazz, whatever it might be, just a double neck guitar and me,totally
free, then maybe create loops live, pickup another instrument with a
different tuning maybe and play solo, melodies, comping,... But in the same
time I wanna have a band who after having built up tension with playing
alone they start playing and we rock the hell together ;-)
but if you want to know which style, mh, I donīt know and I also donīt care,
i think there is just good music and bad music, and even that is a matter of
- What do you think about jazz? About classical music? About shred? Which
style is most important to you? which ones are inspiring you? who are your
- Well, the older I get (Iīm 23 now) the more I seem to like and dive into
jazz. it really depends, smooth, cool jazz I like as much as avantgarde
crazy stuff, it depends. I love Chopin, Mozart and Bach and whatever else
touches my heart... Steve Vai, Jimi Hendrix, Guns and Roses, Johnny Lang,
B.B. King and I also love electronic music like drum and bass, lounge and
even hip hop. I think when it comes to musical styles and genres there
shouldnīt be any boundaries, go with what you love! I am inspired by almost
everything that touches me, no matter if shred, Mozart or John
Scofield... Most important to me is the soul or spirit inside the music.
- Is improvisation important to you? Or do you prefer to learn each note from
All tapped compositions I have so far are transcribed. so, I wrote them
down, but before as they are born in an improvised process I play them over
and over again until they reach their size, if that is possible ;-)
but yes, I love to improvise, not knowing where it might go, especially with
a band... and the best moments are those when you donīt know where you are taking
yourself with your impsovisation until you feel it while you play.
- How do You practice? And how long (per day)?
It depends also. If I have an idea before I actually start playing, I try to
grap it and if itīs a good day I might spend the next few hours with
composing a piece out of it. other times I plug in a drum machine, set the
tempo to 100 b.p.m and work my way up to 220 playing 16th notes, also for
but I think the best practise one can do is play as much as possible either
live or with other musicians, that is the only real thing I guess.... Also
for hours of course. ;-)
- What would you say to a young guitar player, who just started learning two
handed tapping style? What is your advice to him?
I heard that there are older guitar tappers who think that there is one
correct way of using this technique. First of all I would say, forget
that!!! Everything should be possible and allowed, so donīt restrict yourself
to something that your imagination could overcome if you just
let it happen. Play around, tap here, tap there, figure out what works best
for you, which voicings for the chordal part, which hand position for the
melodies etc. And then start making your own little songs out of these
exercises or take a song that already exists and transfer it on the
fretboard using that 2 handed tapping technique.
And try to visualize the stuff you play in your mind... Kinda difficult in the
beginning to think bi-polar, is that the right word?! lol
- Have You ever been in Poland? What You think about this country?
I havenīt been to Poland now for 2 years, since my grandparents died back
then. But before I came there with my parents and my brother every summer,
sometimes even winter. We have a nice house in Pulawy and my aunt and uncle
live in Warszawa. I love Poland and I am glad that I am not 100% pure
Austrian, as I think it gives me a much broader perception on things and
Tell us about Berklee College of Music - how did you receive a scholarship?
I visited the homepage www.berklee.edu and read that they have a jury who
travells the world every year visiting all continents with different
stations usually in music schools where they award musicians scholarships
for Berklee. there was no station in austria so I had to travel to
Germany/Freiburg which is not too far away by train. There, 5 or ten minutes
before it was my turn I was given some lead sheets with chords, melodies,
etc. in classical notation. I played that when I came in then they checked
my ears. one of them had a saxophone on his desk so he said:"boy, hereīs an
"a"..play the rest"..so he played an a and then another note.... then 3 notes
, etc... I messed up at a melody of 10 notes but they said I was alright.
then I had to play a composition of choice which was "For the love of god"
by Steve Vai. Afterwards I played a little piece of mine and that was it... 3
weeks later I received a letter that I got a scholarship but god knows I
still would have been forced to work my ass off so I could have gone there.