I don’t know about you but I’ve found the easiest way to learn anything properly is to have hands on, face to face tuition from experts. That way you can witness first hand how things are done and you’re able to ask questions on the spot as your queries come to mind. That’s what makes the MODERN GUITARISTS WORKSHOP at The LEWISHAM HOTEL in Sydney on OCTOBER 28th so appealing. Of course the fact that your tutors are three of the most talented working musicians around makes this all day masterclass a must-do for any guitarist hoping to take their playing to the next level. It’s not everyday that you get to see and hear Michael Dolce (The Voice house band) and Chris Kamzelas (The Voice house band first 3 years), along with prog rock guitar prodigy James Norbert Ivanyi all in one room at the same time, dissecting their playing, gear and career and offering invaluable advice that can only benefit your own guitar playing. If that’s not enough, you even get a quality meal from the Lewisham bistro thrown in for good measure.

Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips was so intrigued about the Modern Guitarists Workshop that he phoned up Michael Dolce to find out more. But first, a little about the three clinicians:

dolceMichael Dolce: Over the last 20 years, Michael Dolce has established himself with a solid career as a session guitarist by playing and recording for many Top 10 National and International artists. His playing / touring experience and recording credits include: House guitarist for the world wide hit TV show “The Voice” (Australia)  Delta Goodrem, Kelly Rowland,Madden Brothers, Jessie J, Ricky Martin, Keith Urban, Lionel Richie, Seal, Will-I-Am, Kylie Minogue, Ronan Keating , Roachford, Mica Paris, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Ricki-Lee, Jessica Mauboy, Brian Mac Fadden, Deni Hines, Paulini and many more. In August 2008 Michael was featured in Guitar Player USA magazine as the ‘Editors Top 8 MySpace Players’. For Michael it had been a life-long dream to write and record a guitar instrumental album, which he finally released in 2015. Known for his unique feel, smooth technique and melodic approach, ‘Everything Til Now’ his debut album infuses all the different influences and styles he grew up playing and listening to over the years – blues, country and jazz fusion.

kamzelasChris Kamzelas: is a uniquely talented singer/songwriter who’s powerful ‘hooky’ compositions are what you’d expect from a seasoned full blown rock band. Chris first made his mark as a ‘hired gun’ guitarist touring and recording with Australian and international big name acts. Now his killer guitar tones are accompanying his big rock vocal performances and bringing to light his songwriting,arrangement and production skills. He was also a guitarist in the house band of The Voice Australia for the first 3 years of the show.

ivanyiJames Norbert Ivanyi: is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and musician hailing from Sydney, Australia. He has performed and toured with a diverse range of musicians and bands for many years before finding his voice and going solo in 2013, and has since self-released three internationally acclaimed instrumental albums “Aphasia”, “The Matter Circumvention” and “The Usurper” – and has recently finished up a brand new EP titled ‘Denalavis’ set for release on June 1st, 2017. He is considered by his fans, peers and industry to be one of the most original, commanding and versatile young guitarists on the scene today. His unique style of technical modern metal fused with the classic sounds of 1960’s and 1970’s progressive rock music have seen his fan base transcend generations and genres.

Now back to that phone conversation …

The Modern Guitarists Workshop is a great opportunity for Sydney guitarists to gain some vital, extra knowledge and even more importantly, inspiration. I wondered if Michael had attended similar masterclasses when he was a young up and coming player?
There wasn’t much going around at that time apart from the REH videos and guitar clinics where guys were just demonstrating gear for an hour or so. That was big back in late 80s but I got really inspired by some of them. Dieter Kleemann was the first one I ever saw. He just blew my mind. He was doing the Satriani stuff when that just came out but as far as all day masterclasses, I can’t remember any happening back then.

MGW A3 PosterYou’ve called it the MODERN Guitarists Workshop. Do you think what you’ll be teaching and discussing is very different from what a masterclass or clinic might have been like say 20 years ago?
Yes. Well just the changes in technology and the gear to start with. All I use now on The Voice is the Fractal (Axe FX) stuff and I go direct and that wasn’t happening in the 80s. I have come from the 80s and using all that gear and doing sessions back then and coming into the modern era, most of the sessions I do now are done from home, direct recording … it’s a lot more controlled. Even the approach now with modern songs, there are a lot more textures. I mean Michael Landau was doing it way back but there is a lot more of that happening now, especially on pop songs. You’ll do something with big distorted guitars but it’s mixed down, obviously it brings something to the overall picture but it’s just a texture, it’s not there as a known part and a lot of players don’t get that. The playing has changed to from that neo-classical stuff crossing over to fusion and the technical side of how people are playing now, it’s changed a lot.

Yes, you just have to listen to Triple J now and you’d be struggling to find a guitar solo, the music is mostly textured and layered …
That’s right and I enjoy that. A lot of my playing on The Voice, unless it is a rocky song, I find myself doing a lot of swells and a lot of ambient stuff. We might add big dirty guitars but when I tweak that sound, there’s a lot of depth to it as opposed to poke, so it sits around the mix as opposed to down the middle and I will pan myself hard left and right and use reverbs and delays etc.

You’re doing this masterclass with Chris and James. Obviously you’ve worked with Chris on The Voice but how did James come into the picture?
James was working at Australis Music for a while and I knew him from there and I’d bump into him. James has a really big following now both here and overseas in the prog metal scene. He has been doing that for 5 or 6 years and I’ve watched him get to a level where he has a great following and he’s bringing in that younger generation that are into Plini and Animals As Leaders, all those guys. I don’t play that stuff and wouldn’t know the first thing about it, so it’s great having him there to cover that side of things.

What hope people get out of the day?
Mainly an insight into what we do, Chris and I with The Voice but also looking at what we do with our own music careers. There is a difference between backing someone and playing your own material. Also things like pulling your own sound … Everyone has their own tastes, so looking at how to shape their own sound … the whole technical side and hopefully opening up some doors in the improv side of things as well. We’re going to be covering a lot of different styles throughout the day with the three guitarists … three totally different players. Even if you take one important thing away, it’s worth it.

A lot of guitarist are self taught. How important is it to get some theory and the technical side of things into your playing?
I’m self taught as well, so coming from that angle I feel that I can really connect with a lot of players out there. I went through that too. There’s a fine line between being too technical and still using your ear and feel and approach to your playing. The technical thing you can build over the years. If you want to be the technical player you can spend 8 hours a day doing it, if that’s what you want.

You’ve worked with Charles Cilia Guitars for a while now. The Cilia is your main guitar isn’t it?
Yeah, I’ve been playing those for the last 20 years. I have been with Charles since he first started and I have pretty much got his first Strat style guitar he ever made. I borrowed it from him about ten years ago and it has been sitting in my studio ever since because I love it. I’ve always wanted to do my own thing. I have never wanted to follow a trend, being self taught and not really knowing what I was doing, I just kept going with it. I’m the same with guitars, I wanted to be a little bit different. The guitar I have now, which Charles calls the Harlequin, we’ve come up with this dog leg control plate which suits me. You cannot beat a custom guitar made for your own hands.

You’re also doing some Axe FX sessions. There’s one in Sydney on Wed 27th of September and October 4 in Brisbane …
Axe FX is the gear that everyone is buying at the moment. The majority of session guys that are touring the world are using them on stage and in sessions. Most of the studios are using them. Doing six years on a show like The Voice where you are playing constantly using in-ear monitors … I used an amp for the first year, my Plexi but the problem was that the speaker box was sitting 20 metres back in the studio and in a road case, not knowing where they have placed the mics or someone might have accidentally knocked the mics. You hear it back on TV and it might not sound like what I was hearing. The Axe FX eliminates that whole thing. Over the six years we’ve recorded something like 1500 singles, if not more. I’ll go into the studio and bring my usb stick and the Axe FX will be there, plug it in and I load the sounds, and away we go. It was a no-brainer. I was pulling the tones, they weren’t changing anything at their end. I was using effects on my end and everything was straight to tape. You can’t compete with that so I am looking forward to those clinics too. So we’re doing Sydney Wednesday 27 and October 4 in Brisbane then Melbourne, Adelaide, pretty much everywhere.

Featuring Michael Dolce, Chris Kamzelas and James Norbert Ivanyi
Lewisham Hotel Sydney on Saturday October 28
$130 includes a bistro meal for lunch, afternoon refreshments, hand-outs and 8 hours of all the information and inspiration you’ll need to take your playing to the next level
Tickets available from
Be quick, this rare opportunity to spend invaluable up close and personal time with three great local players is filling up fast

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