Shred Academy Interview — "The busy shredder tells us to get organized"

Zack Uidl is a professional guitarist, studio/session musician, instructor, and composer in the Chicago-land area. He is in high demand for performances, both live and in the studio, instructing, and for his compositions for film and other projects. Zack has taught several clinics, master classes, workshops, and seminars including the internationally acclaimed Camp Jam. He currently is an instructor both privately and at JC's Guitars in Algonquin, Illinois. Zack also is a highly acclaimed author of online lessons and articles on numerous instructional websites. Zack has studied with the best guitarists in the industry including Tom Hess, Zvonimir Tot, Mike Walsh, Jody Fisher to name a few. He has also studied advanced music theory, piano, and other instruments as well. Zack has released The Ultimate Sweep Picker's Guide along with Mike Philippov, Progressive 7-String Guitar Instructional DVD, and Serious Improvement for the Developing Guitarist Instructional E-book. He will also be featured on the upcoming Chronicles: City of Sound compilation album. Zack Uidl is currently endorsed by Conklin Guitars, Q-Tuner pick-ups, Fast Axe, and Turbo Trem. He is currently working on numerous albums and instructional products while maintaining a steady performing schedule both live and in the recording studio.

What steps have you taken to forge a career in the music industry?

ght me much of what I needed in order to create a successful career as a professional musician.The main thing, however, is that I have never waited for things to happen. I have made them happen on my own. Many people do not consider this very important thing. Too many people are in bands and are waiting for someone to give them an opportunity. Well, why not create the opportunities for yourself. Everything that I have accomplished, and will accomplish, is directly related to the amount of work that I put into it. If you want to be a professional musician, you have to make it happen.

What advice do you have for people looking to get into the music industry?

To begin with, someone looking to get into the music industry needs to realize that it has nothing to do with "luck." Everything that I have done, or others have done, are the direct result of what they have worked hard to achieve. The only kind of musicians that I know have either stuck with it and are successful or have quit and given up. Anyone interested in becoming part of the music industry should realize that it takes work, dedication, and perseverance. Secondly, everyone who wants to create and maintain a career in the music industry should know exactly what he or she wants to do. Map out goals, just like should be done in a practice routine. How will you know what to do if you do not know what you are working towards achieving? Thirdly, realize that absolutely nothing is impossible. Every single goal and dream that you have can be achieved. If you realize this, you are already ahead of the majority. Too many people get in the mindset that there are certain things that will be impossible for them to make happen. Fourthly, everyone interested in creating a career in the music industry should take Tom Hess' Music Careers Mentoring Program. It has helped me out an immeasurable amount, and has done the same for many other.

What are the pressures in the industry and how do you cope with them?

There are numerous kinds of pressures in the music industry. Some minor and some are more significant. For me, the main pressures that I have, being a studio musician especially, are related to deadlines. Many of the projects that I am involved with have predetermined deadlines. To manage them, and to manage pressure in life in general, comes down to very detailed time management. If I were not a very organized person, I would not be anywhere near where I am. I plan out a detailed schedule for each day, week, month and year. I make sure I do not go to sleep without doing something that will advance my career. I am very specific in my scheduling to allow for maximum efficiency in what I will be working on. Also, I am kind of thankful that I am an insomniac. I do not get a lot of sleep, which allows me to have more time to get things done. Thank God for coffee!

During your formative years, what sort of practice regime did you have?

During my formative years, I had a very organized practice schedule. I would try and group certain topics together in order to make sure that I was being most efficient. For example, I would group things like chord studies, arpeggios, sweep picking, and music theory related to chords and chord progressions together since they are all using the same fundamentals. Then do things like scales, modes, directional picking, and the rest of the theory on another day. I would also set time aside for practicing songwriting, phrasing, rhythm playing, site reading and improvisation depending on my schedule and how much time I had available that day. I never really had the time to practice for a ridiculous amount of hours each day. So, in order to make sure I still would advance to the level of guitar playing and musicianship that I wanted; I would make sure I was particularly organized with everything. And, I can honestly say that this method really paid off.

What advice do you have for beginner and intermediate players who are trying to achieve a highly advanced level of playing?

To begin with, stay very organized. Create a practice schedule that will allow you to and assist you in reaching your goals. This is very important. Create detailed lists for your short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Do not limit yourself simply because you think that some things are impossible. This will help you realize what you need to do to reach all of your goals. Secondly, get a professional instructor. A professional instructor will know exactly what you need to reach your goals and will be able to coach and mentor you in becoming very efficient with your practicing. You will reach your goals in a shorter period of time than if you tried to accomplish things on your own.

What gear do you use and, more importantly, why?

I use a rather simple set up, especially playing live. I am not someone who is into using a bunch of effects. For me, I have 2 rhythm distortions, two clean channels and 2 lead channels set up for live performing. Currently, I use Carvin V3 and Mesa Boogie amplifiers. Occasionally, I do use another kind of amplifier, but not very often. I use Carvin and Mesa Boogie because they are so reliable for both live and studio environments and have great tones. For my guitars, I use various acoustic guitars, D'Angelico archtop guitars, and Carvin and Ibanez 7-string electric guitars. However, I am very excited. I recently started talking to Conklin Guitars and I am now endorsing them. I am having a custom 8 string guitar made right now and it should be ready in 2008. As for my guitar and what I look for in a guitar, the basic specs are: Jumbo Frets, Locking Tuners, Thinner Neck Style, Neck Through Design, Ebony Fingerboard, Large Cutaway. I have found that the things that I mentioned are best for sustain and vibrato. Playing Progressive-Rock, Metal, and Instrumental music, the thinner neck works better for me. Having pretty large hands, I need a larger cutaway so I do not have any physical restrictions from the guitar.

What parts of your playing reflects your personality and self-expression most accurately?

I think my personality is best shown through my instrumental works. I think that the elements of my playing such as odd meters, shows my unique style of composition. I have been told that I have a unique voice when it comes to soloing also. I just express whatever is in my mind and emotions through my compositions. So, in a way, everything that I compose has some element of my personality in it. I am currently working on my solo album, so all of what I have talked about will be evident on that album.

What are you trying to achieve compositionally?

Compositionally, I simply want to create music that expresses my emotions. That is, after all, the purpose of music. I have influences in every genre of music and each of them is portrayed in my works. I compose music that accurately expresses ideas and emotions that I am feeling at that moment. Pretty short and simple.

If the readers want to get in touch with you, what is your website and e-mail address?

Contact me at zack (at) zackuidl (dot) com or visit my website or MySpace page