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Competition Advice from Jon Kabbash

December 2, 2007
What competitions have you been involved in?
I took first place in the North American Rock Guitar Competition 2004, first place in Dragon Guitars competition Hollywood 2005, second place in Guitarmageddon Regional Finals 2003 and was in the Top 10 Canadian fingerstyle players in 2005.

How long have you been playing?
Seven years.

Who are your five biggest influences?

Just five?! Steve Lukather, Guthrie Govan, Andy Timmons, Steve Morse, and Trey Anastasio.

What gear do you have in your favorite rig?

Paul Reed Smith guitars are consistently my favorites, Custom 22 with a wide-thin neck, although I love Tom Anderson and SUHR as well.

For amps, the Mesa/Boogie Mark IV is hands down the most versatile amp with the most great tones on tap, maybe ever built. The Stilettos are very nice also – Boogie mass produces boutique quaility. The Cornford Hellcat sounds amazing, so does the Fuchs triple overdrive, but I don''t have $3000 for either of those amps unfortunately. Deizels, Carr, Badcats, I could keep going...

For effects, Fulltone, Keeley, and other boutique tone freaks make really good pedals. Fuchs Amps has some great overdrive pedals coming out next year and anything with TAP-Tempo is a big plus – the best function you can put on a trem or delay.

What sets you apart from other players?
I believe in having your own voice as a guitarist and doing something original. I think the Edge is spectacular for creating the U2 soundscape; he doesn''t shred or rip, but he has his own approach. If you can hear a guitar passage and know who it is with just a note or two, that is something; “Let''s Dance” by David Bowie, for example – two notes into the guitar solo you know it''s SRV.

Tell us about some of your most interesting competition experiences.
I almost got thrown out of my hotel for cranking up my Boogie and rehearsing after 11 p.m. Four different people called security… oops! Winning the NARGC and having Tommy Tedesco''s wife hand me a trophy was very moving. Jamming with Rik Emmett and Regi Wooten was way hip and scary at the same time. Finally, being judged by Steve Lukather (my hero) was pretty Zen.

Give PG readers three tips for playing in guitar competitions
1) Be original – make your original voice as a guitarist heard.

2) Be interesting – give the judges something different to chew on.

3) Don''t rely entirely on speed and chops – the judges have heard enough shredding, trust me.

What’s a big no-no at a guitar competition that you would advise against?
Trying to sleep with the judges to get a favorable rating, they are mostly men. And most of you are guys (kidding!). Seriously, don''t be cocky or arrogant no matter how good you might be.

What’s next on your horizon?
World domination and rock hyper-stardom are what I''ve been working on at this point. My main mission in becoming successful is bringing lead guitar back to the forefront of popular rock music.

How can PG readers find out more about you?
www.myspace.com/jontheguitarist