Abigail Zachko super talented guitarist who puts musicians twice her age to shame

A young impressive guitarist who puts musicians twice her age to shame. At the tender age of just 14 she was runner up in Music Radar’s 2018 Young Guitarist Of The Year.


Lars: So, let's have a think. Where are we going, now? I think we're going to go over to the East coast  of the USA. New Jersey, in fact, to welcome Abby 
Zachko.

 

Abigail: Hi!

Lars: Welcome, Abby. Always full of spirits when I speak to you, you're always bouncy and happy.

Abigail: It's your voice, it brings me happiness.  

You're a jazz fusion guitar player who has achieved more in your young years, than most of us old school  players could ever wish for.

Nominated several times in a row as one of the world's fastest, youngest, up-and-coming  players, and I think it was 2018, you got the runner-up in the Music Radar awards?

Abigail: Yeah, that was a crazy experience that kind of came way out of left field. I didn't even like really prepare all that well, like I didn't - the video that I submitted was not meant for that, originally. Yeah, it was, it was really crazy.

[Music]

Lars: So do you think they picked that because you were natural in the video?

Abigail: I'm not entirely sure why they picked it, actually. The video itself was for an audition piece, for a summer camp. I didn't really know about the whole, 
competition. I knew Music Radar and I kind of knew the guitar magazines but I didn't really know  about the competition. And then I was, I remember I was at the summer camp,  and my dad came up to me, and he was like, 
"you know that thing I sent like a while ago",  and I was like, "no, what thing did you send?" and he's like "oh, I submitted your video for this,  competition" and I was like, "oh, cool". ... Like it would have been nice to know.  

And then, he was like, "yeah, no, you won, like we're going to London, or not won, but you were nominated. You're going to London." And that was 
like, I was just blown away, I was like, "wait,  what..., what is this competition, like, what, we're going to London, "where's London?"

[Music]

Lars: So was that your first time to London. What did you think what about the food?  

Abigail: Yeah, that was my first time in London. It was great, everybody was saying the weather was gonna  be terrible, but the weather was really nice. 
So I don't know what they were talking about.  
The food - oh, I loved, I had a scotch egg for the first time. And that was  like one of the, that was a life-changing experience for me. Having a scotch egg.  
I thought the food was fine. Everybody, you know, it's pretty good.

[Music]

Lars: To come back to your playing a second, like I said, you're very, very fast on the fingerboard, but  you're not, sort of, following so many patterns, 
that other people, you know, I won't say  copy, but try to emulate, all the time. You've got your own focused way of playing, and writing.  There's a lot of focus in there, within the chord structures. Some chords I haven't recognized.

[Music]

Abigail: I just try to, kind of play, what I hear. In terms of building chords, and stuff,  like I have a loose music theory knowledge but like the majority of the  chords that I use are just kind of like ways that I interpret harmonizing a melody.

[Music]

Sometimes you can get some really funky chords if you're going based of the melody note. You can kind of produce sounds that maybe are  less common, if you just use your ear, instead of trying to base your playing off of theory,  or other people's playing. So I just try to kind of play what I hear.

[Music]

Lars: I met you in California, a couple of years ago, we had a little chat in the corner there. And you had 
your Fusion bag, I took some photographs as well but also we were talking about the influences of  old, very old school players, on young people. You just came out with Jimi Hendrix. Why did he, you  know, what was the inspiration for you, that Jimi 
did?

 

Abigail: I think Jimi influenced like a whole wave of you know, new age guitar players. The way he harmonized melodies and the way he turned chord solos basically, like in old jazz kind of terms, a chord solo is something very common, that  your old, classic jazz player would do over standard. He turned chord solos into these solo, guitar solo, shreddy masterpieces. And I think a lot of his harmony was actually really interesting and ahead of his time, as 
well, because he wasn't just playing the box chord shapes, and the stock chord shapes. He was trying to make music surrounding harmony,  as well as melody. So I think, I try to do the same thing when I play guitar.

[Music]

Lars: I can relate that back to the video that you're saying that you sent in, you just did it and in a way, that's what Hendrix did. Because he just had a Fuzz Face on the  floor a lot of the time, and a wire on it, leading to a big angry amplifier.  
But where did you grow up? I think it- was it in New Jersey?

Abigail: I was born in Hoboken, New Jersey. So like right on the Hudson. And we used to go to the city all the time. I grew up in Hoboken and then I moved to Tenafly which is more of a suburban kind of Jersey area.


Lars: Just let's go back to your school days, when you come out of school, did you go to any colleges?

Abigail: Oh, I've just graduated high school, actually. So I just graduated when I was on tour and I had to finish high school online. I graduated online a 
month ago and I'm on my way to Berklee next year, hopefully. I'm deferred 
for the spring semester.

Lars: We've talked overdriven, fusion, fast, you know, complicated licks. But 
you've also some intricate chords, played very, very clean. Do you have certain guitars for clean and certain guitars for overdrive? What guitars have you got?

Abigail: On tour, I had two different guitars. I had like a Humbucker. Humbucker D'Angelico, a 335 shape. That, I think those guitars sound really nice,  clean or driven, but I was using that as more of the driven guitar, just because, I think,  like when you think humbucker, you kind of think, like, "oh this is for overdrive, this is for distortion". My clean guitar, I was using a Chubster, an AC Guitars Chubster which had an ss, um, sss configuration. So three single coils. So that was like, my clean guitar and it had a really kind of spanky tone, and it was very sparkly.

Lars: So, you're just back from touring in Europe. How did the Fusion gig bags hold up? They held up really well. They were really easy to carry on plane rides, they're really easy on the bus. They're very light, so I would always have them on me, and have them backstage. I could take my guitars backstage. Yeah, I use them a lot.

Lars: Abby, it's so nice to talk to you. You are an inspiration for  young people to pick up the guitar, and get out there, and play. Thank you so much.
Abigail: Thank you.


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Lars Mullen
About Lars Mullen

With over 30 years in the music business, Lars Mullen does indeed wear many hats, as a writer, journalist, photographer, press person for his own company Music Media Announcements. As an extensive traveller, he's a familiar figure reporting from music trade shows around the world. Spending many years touring as a professional guitarist, Lars has also interviewed a host of top bands and artists, continues to write articles for magazines globally and still finds time to track down Fusion artists for our Artist Spotlight column and Fusion Virtual World Tour Interview Series.
Abigail Zachko Electric Guitar Fusion World Tour Guitar Women in Music

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