We met with Tosin Abasi at the Ibanez Guitar Festival in Germany, where among other respected musicians like Paul Gilbert and Gary Willis, he gave live performances and workshops to the participants of the event. After leading an exclusive masterclass lesson limited to 15 people in the room, Tosin found the time to answer a few of our questions.
TopGuitar: When did you develop your own style like we know it today? You must have started like everyone else, learning licks of the great guitar heroes, but then there had to be a breakthrough moment in your musical career that you switched to your playing style…
Tosin Abasi: Yeah, it’s hard to know. I think when everyone begins playing, they’re interested in playing music that they like, so emulation is usually the first point. For me, I was very into alternative rock, so a lot of Green Day, Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. I just wanted to be able to play the songs that existed – it was like “I can play guitar now, do you know this song?”. Eventually I started to write music pretty early on, I’d say by year five or six of playing guitar I felt like I had a sound that was kind of my own. It’s gone even further with playing an extended range guitar, because not everyone plays it. I got my first seven-string when I was 17 or 18 years old, I’d been playing guitar for about six years at that point, then I got the eight-string when I was about 25. So it’s like 5-6 years on the six-string, 5-6 years on the seven-string, 5-6 years on the eight-string.
TopGuitar: Was it always Ibanez?
Tosin Abasi: Yeah. My first eight string wasn’t an Ibanez, but a year later I got an Ibanez. And I already had an Ibanez seven-string – it was a Universe seven-string, the first seven-string I ever played and it’s still one of my favorite guitars.