Neal`s Terrifying Young Guns: 1st Edition

Hi folks, and welcome to my new column! My name is Neal Nagaoka and, of course, I'm a guitarist, like everyone else here. What I'm introducing is something a little different and a lot more interesting. I think we have seen enough guitar lessons on right? So I wanted to try a new approach: Basically here's what this is. Right now the big fad is Youtube and Facebook on the internet. And videos are what everyone is posting. And on TV the big fad is American Idol. What I want to try was fuse together the two, and create a new column on Guitar9. At first, I'll be the judge but once this starts rolling I'll probably ask a few friends to join or even have guest judges. I mean it's great and all to watch what you guys do and all but to me, it's not impressive when a 40 year old does it. You've had plenty of time to practice. But when your young student does what you do and he learns it in one week, it's shocking! And all you guitar teachers know what I'm talking about right? Exactly. That means you did a great job as the master to the student! So for me, I am a teacher at The National Guitar Workshop and one of the big fad there is our new NGW shred off competition that we have at the end of the week. And quite frankly, I can't believe some of these amazing kids. I've been really fortunate that my very own student has won the last three years in LA.

So, with that in mind, that is what this new column is about. I will post five of the very best guitar kids every month in a video format and show them off. I would also like several of you teachers to get involved as well and help find these amazing kids out there - and of course, the teacher will get full credit as their master! And man, some of the submissions I've seen so far are unreal! But there's got to be some guidelines here, I don't want 10 million submissions sent to me so if you do that, and send me bulk, you get disqualified immediately! Let the young kids compete, not the old folks!

The Official Site:

Submit your videos here:

So, here are the rules:

  1. Must be 17 or under for the student. Teachers can be any age of course.
  2. Must be of good quality video.
  3. Must be performed live. (No Overdubs!)
  4. Must be an original solo. (Can be a jazz or classical piece that's within the public domain, but it has to be a unique interpretation) I don't want to hear "Stairway To Heaven" or Metallica solos! (I will accept original backing tracks, soloed over of course).
  5. Only one submission for each student from the parents or teachers a month! If I get bulk, you are disqualified.
  6. Each video submission must have some information in it like name, name and background of the student, who the teacher is and please tell me why this video is so impressive, or what's the point? Right?
  7. No duplicate winners once they have won (but teachers can always submit new students.)
  8. Please no reversed videos! If you play right-handed, I don't want to see someone playing left-handed!

The Official Site:

Submit your videos here:

Anyway, let's see how it goes!

To kick start the idea, I picked five of the most shocking videos I've seen in recent times with a little help from my good friends (and in no particular order.

Anton Oparin: This 12 year old kid scares me every time I see him play on video, makes me wanna quit the guitar!

Thank you my good friend Dale Turner for this scary submission. If I recall on the original version, didn't Paul even have to cheat to pull this crazy piece off?

Michael Gilinsky: My student last year at NGW, and winner of the LA Shredoff - and still only 14! He learned all my licks in one week! Unbelievable. He's the one with the black guitar.

Keston Barker: Thanks to my good friend Dave Martone and Colin Andrew Ford at for this frightening one! The only thing I can say about this 17 year old kid... unreal! What in god's name are you teaching your students Dave?

Kang Eunju: I dont know much about her, but she's a Korean girl in kindergarten and plays like this?!

Alden Marchand: A student of mine, and winner of the NGW Shred Off two years in a row (2008-2009). In this video, his left hand competition was unreal too! I got to judge this one but it was tough!

And one bonus track to kick start it all for everyone: one of my personal favorite monsters of all time!

Jason Becker playing Paganini's 5th Caprice like nothing!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this, and I look forward to your amazing submissions.

Neal Nagaoka, a guitarist and composer from California, has 28 years of studying and performing experience along with 25 years of teaching guitar students. His most recent CD "Transition" features ten hard rock and metal instrumentals.

Neal Nagaoka