Edit: This has been so fun! I have to run to rehearsal soon, but will do my best to answer as many questions as I can when I return.

If you'd like to check out some of my music, here's my Youtube page: https://www.youtube.com/user/7guitarist

Talk to you all later:)


Hey Reddit!

Excited to be doing my first AMA. I'm Mak Grgic, classical guitarist and faculty member at Mount St. Mary’s University. I was born in Slovenia but currently live in LA, having lived in Croatia and Austria before moving to the States. I was also a competitive at math in Slovenia and a European world champion at Shotokan Karate. (A thumb injury at 19 was actually what led me to focus solely on music). I've been written about in the LA Times, New York Times and Washington Post and have toured through North America, Asia, and Europe. Feel free to ask me anything about music, what touring is like, what a Doctorate in music requires, or even how to play a concert with a broken thumb:)

If you want to stay in touch, here's how you can get in contact via social media:



Proof: https://imgur.com/VlutC1l

Comments: 488 • Responses: 90  • Date: 

RoseFromdadead152 karma

How do you phonetically pronounce your last name?

What is your Doctorate degree in?

MakGrgic175 karma

Lol, my last name is such a trouble maker.. Hope this helps: 'Gergitch' Or if you know your wines, it's the same as Grgich (Hills), the wine maker!

My doctorate was in the post tonal analysis with the emphasis on microtonal music from the east and middle east (gamelan, turkish) and how that applies to the western music and guitar. This in addition to instrumental conducting and arts leadership minors.

All in all, I did have to play guitar too, to pass my finals for the degree :D

COMMENT0R_3000222 karma



thaddeus_crane108 karma


Yodamanjaro46 karma


MakGrgic29 karma

Bob? :D

Yodamanjaro78 karma

We're referring to a show called Parks & Rec where a character's last name is Gergitch and people make fun of him throughout the whole series even though he's a nice guy. His first name changed throughout the series.

Welcome to Reddit - where the references are often obscure and plentiful.

MakGrgic27 karma


ZenInTheArtOfTofu15 karma

Wow if you’re ever in NYC I’d love to have a conversation about microtonal stuff and how it applies to western music! I studied guitar in college as well, but microtonal stuff has always alluded me... I wasn’t even exposed to it really until I got to Berklee :/

MakGrgic12 karma

Hey! Would love to! I'm planning on coming to NYC in the fall and then again in the winter time. Maybe get in touch on FB/IG and we can figure it out? IG is makguitar.

heethin20 karma

You asked, but in a nice way, "How expensive is it in your country to buy a vowel?" :))

MakGrgic14 karma

It's expensive. Better fewer. Saves $.

capncaviar2 karma

Thank you if you didnt ask I certainly would have, I wonder where that name comes from?

MakGrgic5 karma

It's a Croatian last name. Very popular over there!

lipiti93 karma

Wow. How intimidating or stressful was it playing at Disney Hall?

MakGrgic169 karma


Thanks for the question.

I would compare performing in a hall like this to jumping with a parachute out of an airplane. It is scary leading up to it, but once you are out there, it is a sublime feeling. The acoustics were great, and of course to see a mass of people sitting there lifts the spirits and fills up with energy. Ecstatic!


damn_yank66 karma

Thanks for the AMA.

  1. Do you feel improvisation is a lost art among classical musicians? Do you improvise during your concerts? If so, do you have any tips on improving this skill?

MakGrgic155 karma

Really great question. The answer is a flat out yes. It is a lost art. In classical music we have become so incredibly obsessed with perfecting the art itself, that we forgot that there is freedom to the expression coming from instant own creativity.

I have a few pieces that have sections that are improvised, yes, but most of improvising I've done was done through playing with other people in bands. I have a few friends, who are jazz players, and I enjoy playing with them on occasion.

Tips: know your frettboard incredibly well, by practicing transposing licks up and down in all possible keys. Learn all the possible chord progressions in all the keys you can imagine, and lastly try to listen to first simple then more complex music and try to repeat it by listening to it a few times. Ah, and knowing all the possible modes you can helps.

Once you start improvising, you can follow a tip from my friend: ' there is no wrong way, just your way :) '

damn_yank22 karma

Great answer. Thank you.

MakGrgic19 karma

My pleasure! Good luck!

FBMemes8 karma

What is the best way of learning the fretboard and for hearing exercises? Is there a website or something I can visit to help me improve?

MakGrgic6 karma

Funny you ask. I was just having a discussion about this the other day. Why is ear training mostly done on the piano, was the question at hand.

For instance, when you learn to hear pitch on the guitar, you can, in an ideal world, associate the pitch to the color of the string and the association to each fret, making it easier (if you are a guitarist), to associate this to an actual note. Have you ever tried testing yourself doing this, by having someone just playing random intervals and notes on the guitar?

Otherwise, how about checking out "Ear Trainer" app?

heyasfuck55 karma

Which tv show character you feel best captures what it's like to work in the classical music world?

MakGrgic199 karma

Dwight Shrute from the Office. Growing beets with passion but never truly making it large lol

BEHodge33 karma

This is both true and painful

MakGrgic17 karma


ArtIsDumb48 karma

What's your favorite "simple" music? Something any chump with a few barre chords could play.

MakGrgic106 karma

Oh. Easy. Hurt by Nine Inch Nails/Cash. :D 4 chords, simple melody. What more do you need?!

hopeb4439 karma

Hi Mak! I'm a big fan. What are the major differences that you've come across between touring through Europe compared to Asia or the United States?

MakGrgic102 karma

Hey! Oh thanks. Nice to have a fan out there!

There's a few: financial, cultural and that of the demographics of the audience.

Financial support I believe so far has been best in the US for me (btw even Chris Parkening speaks of the same experience in his book, from when he was touring a while back). However, Asia is picking up quickly with their support for the arts, and guitar is growing big these days over there! There is also that thing of being a foreigner in Asia playing an instrument, which goes a long way.

Cultural support of just the tradition is strongest still in Europe. I'll give you an example. Last year I played a concert in Vienna, and the concert (solo guitar) was 2 hours long. After 4 encores I ran out of things to play, so I offered to play some microtonal contemporary music, and they said: 'yes, please'. Lol

PaulClifford29 karma

Who's a composer for guitar we should listen to more?

What work/composers do you best like to play?

MakGrgic34 karma

Hey Paul:

Well, what's your favorite style/time period? There's so many!! I feel that musicians often revert to Bach as their favorite composer, however there are truly many greats.

I particularly enjoy playing Balkan and Cinema Music, two of which are my albums. One is called Cinema Verismo and the other one Balkanisms (this one is coming out on June 19 this year). I believe you can find this on the usual suspects (Spotify, YT...).

Good questions!

PaulClifford12 karma

Thanks! I've really come to enjoy Tarrega in the last few years. So clean and direct, but beautiful. On the other side of things, do you like "modern" players like Tim Reynolds or John Fahey?

MakGrgic27 karma

Oh, Tarrega is of course the classical guitarists' all time hero! He with his beautiful compositions along side with master guitar maker Antonio Torres created and popularized what is today the 'traditional' Spanish style guitar, that we all enjoy playing!

You know, I just put on John Fahey and it's super cool! Thanks for the recommendation.

When you say modern in the classical music terms something completely different comes to mind lol Say a guitarist playing the Luciano Berio Sequenza :DD

The benefit with guitar obviously is that there are soooo many greats for sooo many styles. Which other ones are your favorites?

PaulClifford9 karma

Thanks again for the response and suggestions! Can't wait to listen. Classical guitar had always been a weak spot for me in terms of knowing performers. There's Williams and Parkening and Segovia and I don't know much more. In terms of modern "guitarists", there's probably too many to mention, but among others I've enjoyed Anouar Brahem (esp. Le pas due chat noir), and Adrian Raso (great album with Fanfare Ciocārlia - Devil's Tale). Thanks for the AMA.

MakGrgic16 karma

Thanks Paul! I learned something today, which makes it a good start of the day! :)

There's so many classical guitarists out there, but hey, at least you know one more now ;)

PaulClifford5 karma

Break a leg!

MakGrgic15 karma

Not a finger :D

karlnite27 karma

How do you feel about heavy metal guitar?

MakGrgic56 karma

Love it! It's what my friends and I pre-game to.

pdwHu8 karma

Do you have a metal side project? ;)

MakGrgic21 karma

In the works!

sousss24 karma

Hey Mak! Great to see a fellow USC Thornton student on the front page haha. I'm currently pursuing an undergrad degree in violin performance, and actually took a class with Kanengiser last year. I was wondering, at what age did you seriously start focusing more on your career and less on school? A lot of the time, it's a balance, since we take gigs, or teach, etc, but at what point did you feel like you were devoting most of your time to building up your professional life rather than being a student? Good luck on your upcoming projects and performances!

MakGrgic23 karma

Hey! Go Trojans! :)

Honestly, I was always excited about exploring what it meant to build a career, but never put school on the side burner. I think learning about what others with great careers do well, and trying to emulate that in your own way is your best bet in getting something solid of ground! Who did you study violin with?

abadnit22 karma

Why can I never get the B string properly in tune?

MakGrgic27 karma

Guitar strings are finicky. Have you tried replacing the string itself? Because it might be a bad string in within itself.

What can also be is that the bridge or the nut on your guitar have slight misalignment just at the B string.

I assume you tried tuning with a tuner, as well?

abadnit9 karma

It’s more like I can get it in tune with the G string but then it sounds slightly out against other strings ... or vice versa.

subcinco29 karma

Book called fundamentals of guitar explains that g and b are opposite ends of the cycle of 5ths,. Basically if we tuned by harmonics they have the most amount of error induced. And guitar puts them right next to each other. Further exasperating the problem

MakGrgic24 karma

A very good answer! The third is also a tricky interval to have 'in tune' because it is already quite a bit out of tune in nature. G-B is the one third between the open strings on the guitar, all others 4ths.

MakGrgic13 karma

Ah. That is a common occurrence with guitars. Often times the instruments themselves are out of tune.

Is it an old guitar? If so, that can mean that the neck is slightly bent and needs adjusting.

clevariant2 karma

You don't want to tune those two strings together, since major thirds are slightly out of tune in the even-tempered (modern) scale. Tune in octaves, unisons and fifths.

MakGrgic2 karma

Great answer. I tune the Es and As most often on the guitar. Sometimes Bs, while comparing strings at different places on the fretboard.

the_sauce_baws19 karma

Hey abadnit - that actually has to do with the way equal-tempered tuning system "compromises" on certain intervals in order to make every key sound the same! A bit of an obsession of mine :)

Basically the equal-tempered system prioritizes perfect octaves (e.g., all Cs sound exactly in tune with each other) and equality of keys (G Major sounds just as good as C# Major). One of the biggest casualties of this is the size of the major third interval - every equal tempered major third is actually ~14 cents, or ~1/7th of a semitone higher than the perfect major third you'd hear in the overtone series.

So, on a guitar, the B string always sounds out of tune compared to the G string because the two make an equal tempered major third, and is therefore 14 cents wider than perfect! Hope this helps.

abadnit5 karma

Aha! Thanks for the explanation, it was driving me bonkers. By overtone series do you mean like the way other strings resonate? So if there is a B overtone coming off another string, it’s slightly out compared to the open B (for example) resulting in slight discord - cos that sounds like what I’m hearing.

the_sauce_baws8 karma

Exactly! The "perfect" Major 3rd is the fourth overtone. So over a G you have G -> D -> G again -> B. The B that comes out there is what you're probably instinctively trying to tune the B string to, and also what creates dissonance with the equal tempered B string.

MakGrgic5 karma

Fantastic! Well said.

Icedildo5 karma

You should try a guitar with a compensated nut. It changes the scale length of the strings and it sounds more in tune all the way up the neck. It’s pretty incredible.

MakGrgic5 karma

Great advice!

Scoops120 karma

Other than David Russell (because obviously), who are your classical guitarist inspirations that are alive today?

MakGrgic25 karma

Lol, I loved the 'because obviously' part :D

David is awesome. I am continuously inspired by people who pursue playing the instrument in a way they think is artful and are true to that cause. For instance, Paul Galbraith, Pablo Marquez, Zoran Dukic, and perhaps my heroes the Assads. Then Pavel Steidl, Ricardo Gallen to give a few more names.

From the younger generation I respect a lot what Rovshan and Pablo Villegas do. Of course, it is impossible to name all of the names, but just to give a few!

Besides David Russel (obviously :), what's your favorite?

Scoops113 karma

I recently got into flamenco guitarist, Paco Pena. I don't understand how that guy's fingers can be so fast. But I've been listening to Ana Vidovic from the younger generation. I'm glad you did this AMA and put you on my radar because you're killing it out there, man. All the best in your career, brother.

MakGrgic8 karma

Oh thanks! Keep on loving the guitar! :D

narbgarb17 karma

Does it bother you how many artists are more successful than you’ll ever be by play C G Amin F in varying keys?

MakGrgic38 karma

Hehe, excellent question. Not really. I am happy that simple chord progressions make the masses want to hear more music.

Success is measured I guess via a few factors, and while fame can be one, the other can be that someone actually does music for a living. I live in LA, and I must say that seeing daily how many artists work second and third jobs here to try to 'make it', puts things in perspective.

narbgarb8 karma

Good point. Success is whatever you decide it is. I’ve been in bands and lived off playing music for a few years and found that my ultimate goal is really to just enjoy music. I did not enjoy playing popular music anymore and decided to pursue a different career. Now I just have my studio where I play to myself and I love it again. Congrats on your accomplishments so far. I hope for your continued success... whatever that may look like for you.

MakGrgic5 karma

That's really the best you can do. Play/make music to your satisfaction and hope that it makes a living.

Lucky breaks happen, but not that often and are a big part also of networking, that musicians sometimes forget about. :S

Having a studio is a dream for many, so enjoy your time with it!!

vlassicpark14 karma

What’s it like studying with the faculty at USC?

MakGrgic20 karma

Honestly, it was great. All the faculty is incredibly supportive and they all bring different dishes to the dinner table. Ultimately, the longest I've studied with was with Brian Head, and I think people don't give him enough credit as a teacher. He is an incredible pedagogue, great guitarist, a composer and a theoretician, making him quite a complete teacher.

I first started with Bill Kanengiser, then was with Scott Tennant and lastly with Brian. Just a wonderful combination of talent and useful input!

centech14 karma

What does getting a doctorate in music entail? I went to my brother in law's graduation 2 weeks ago (got his BMA in Jazz guitar), and there were other folks graduation with like.. a PhD in Flute. I'm sure it's not that they are WAY better than someone with only a bachelors in flute. Is it just tons more of music theory?

MakGrgic14 karma

It is exactly that. Of course, on top of many more years of studying the instrument with a teacher in school. Many people advocate against staying in school for music for so long, rather focusing on getting a functional performing career, but getting a doctorate in music facilitates an easier hunt for a teaching job afterwards and of course gives a student the option to 'try out new things'.

For instance: during my doctorate, I also studied instrumental conducting and art leadership in addition to focusing on my post tonal theory academic field.

MiddleOfMind14 karma

Dober dan Mak!

Thanks for doing this ama today. I've seen a couple of your videos on YouTube after a recommendation from a Croatian friend (studying classic violine at the University of Zagreb) and immediately wondered why you haven't done anything with 2 Cellos yet? Is there anything planned or would you be even interested in this?

Thanks for your answer and zelim vam lep dan!

MakGrgic11 karma

Dober dan Mak!

Thanks for doing this ama today. I've seen a couple of your videos on YouTube after a recommendation from a Croatian friend (studying classic violine at the University of Zagreb) and immediately wondered why you haven't done anything with 2 Cellos yet? Is there anything planned or would you be even interested in this?

Hey! Good question! Sure why not :) I've known Luka for a while back, however projects haven't aligned for us in a way that would facilitate collaboration up till now. You never know :D

I see you speak Slovenian?

MiddleOfMind6 karma

Well, then I'm gonna countinue crossing fingers for the future, it would be a great collab for sure!

And I speak only an ashaming bit of Slovenian and Croatian, have a couple of close friends there and lived in Zadar for a while. Thanks again for your answer and all the best, Mak!

MakGrgic11 karma

Thanks for reaching out! Do try to continue learning Slovenian and Croatian! There's only 2 or so million of Slovenians in Slovenia so we need all the support we can get :D

polarinc12 karma

I’m gonna ask it. How do you play a concert with a broken thumb?

MakGrgic15 karma

It's a total pain. It was my left hand thumb and I had it bound with the tape to prevent it from moving a lot and while playing I was trying not to actually press down with the thumb but just do all the work with the other 4 fingers. Tough to balance! Oh yes, and lot's of pain meds :D

TalkOfSexualPleasure6 karma

I always thought it was insane that Zack Wylde finished his solo bleeding all over the place and his guitar, but this just blows that out of the water, like completely. That's insane that you could make that happen.

MakGrgic4 karma

Lol. Thanks. Just wanted to play that Bach all the way through :DD

TalkOfSexualPleasure5 karma

And I respect the hell out of you for it too!

MakGrgic3 karma

Lol thanks :)

_My_Angry_Account_2 karma

As a fellow classical guitarist, props. It hurts like hell to play when you have hand or wrist injuries but the drive to play never goes away.

How long were you unable to play for after breaking your thumb?

I broke my wrist a few years ago and wasn't able to play for almost a month due to having a cast. Would constantly be moving my fingers like I was playing though so I didn't have any atrophy. Right after the cast came off and it still hurt to move I was practicing again. Nothing scarier than thinking I would lose that.

MakGrgic4 karma

Oh, it took a while to get to full recovery, but I did more or less exactly what you suggested. I practiced and played without using my left hand thumb for support, just the other 4 fingers on the fretboard.

whystharumalwaysgone9 karma

Hi Mak! I just want to say that I've really enjoyed reading your responses so far. You seem like a cool person.

What would you say is your favorite tour/concert memory?

MakGrgic18 karma

Oh thanks!

Undoubtedly my one performance with the Assad Brothers in Denver a few years ago. I was shaking before going on stage of the big auditorium because it was one of the most important moments of my early career (they are legendary). When sitting on the stage with them, Odair was shredding and while he was shredding, he leaned to me and asked if I'm enjoying myself.

Needless to say, I was shocked. How in the world could he be so relaxed?? When we finished, the crowd roared and I've concluded that I want to also play for the enjoyment of playing not for the fear of being judged.

whystharumalwaysgone6 karma

That's an amazing lesson. Thanks for sharing!

MakGrgic5 karma

My pleasure!

Li0nat0r9 karma

What is your favorite song that is furthest from the genre of music that you regularly play?

MakGrgic12 karma

Easy! Wake Me Up by Avicii :)

HobbleWkennedy9 karma

Hi Mark! I’m curious to know what your take is on music competitions? I have a classical guitar degree from Marshall University and the faculty always liked talking about us signing up to participate in competitions. For me personally I don’t like the competitive atmosphere based on music. I’m curious on your take as several classical guitarist that visited the school had different takes on this. Also, who was the luthier that made your guitar? Thanks for the awesome AMA

MakGrgic20 karma


Ah! The forever talked about subject. Personally, my career hasn't been built through competitions, so I have to say that even though my ego sometimes suffered, I do prefer that I have had the expressive and creative freedom to do cool projects and having them heard (cinema music, microtonal music, balkan music, flamenco etc..).

The competitions however have become a must in the past 2/3 decades to adjudicate quality. This is hard in music, so not all the winners can be performers and the other way around. This means that sometimes a winner cannot be a super exciting person to listen to. Additionally, the players need platforms to showcase themselves on. Competitions are one possibility.

My concern is that with the staggering number of competitions out there, the players will continue to think less about the limitless possibilities of where their careers could go, rather than focusing on one singular possibility. Having said that, I do work as the artistic director of EuroStrings, a European Guitar Festival network, and we have a competition lol

Luthiers many! Antonius Muller, Hanson Yao, Slavko Mrdalj, Samo Sali, Jose Ramirez/Contreras. I used to play also Hauser 2. And then of course all the re-fretted guitars and fretless guitars etc :) Many guitars in the closet!

HobbleWkennedy5 karma

Thanks for the response! It’s always nice to see a classical guitarist on here as there are not a lot of us compared to other classical instruments! If I may ask, I am also curious to what would be your advise to a fellow classical guitar performer to gain more traction into a career with the instrument? Unlike other instruments ours doesn’t fit to well in orchestras as there are not too many pieces except for concertos that include guitar. I’m currently getting my MAT to teach in public schools but I want to do more with my performance degree also, but I don’t know where to start?

MakGrgic5 karma

Funny that you ask me this, because I just got ask to teach a course in Europe on that very topic of self-management and I've had a few people FaceTime me just on that topic too, searching for ideas how to propel their performing careers.

It's hard because it takes a lot of puzzles to build this. Happy to discuss it more in depth at a different occasion. Would you like to get in touch and allot an hour to talk different angles?

nckcbll8 karma

What are ways you can calm your nerves prior to a performance? (That is, if you still get nervous at all, haha.) I'm currently in music school and I always get really jittery before my juries even though I've practiced for hours upon hours.

By the way, Adam del Monte and Dr. Jeff Askew are my instructors, if you know them from USC :)

MakGrgic9 karma

Hey! Good question. Before I answer, here's a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WibsEtDsKxU

... I know Adam very well! :)

Nerves are natural. You just have to understand, that in most performances you are playing for people that want you to do well, and that they have come there to enjoy their time, not judge. So you are sharing something beautiful with them that you like, and they are eager to hear that. With such a mindset, there is little to be nervous about :D

kyjb707 karma

Hi Mark!

Have you ever encountered Impostors Syndrome, and if so how did you deal with it?

MakGrgic10 karma

Just googled what this is. You know, yes, surely. Not to a large extent, but I believe it is natural to doubt once own authenticity of a work within art, since there is always someone out there telling us that what we do is not good or not legitimate. This is normal.

I think self doubt is always there. It makes us want to be better. As long as that doubt is geared towards making our efforts within the arts project continuous passion for it, I think the problem is dealt with well.

But doubt is always there. It may also be the reason for musicians/actor/public people to have self-esteem issues. They are constantly being challenged to revisit their image.

jasper_grunion7 karma

I’ve played guitar since my 20s but am 50 now. Four years ago I decided to buy a Spanish classical guitar and have learned five pieces. In that time I have not sought out lessons though I have followed the Frederick Noad book on basic technique.

I have no aspirations of course, but am I limiting myself by not seeking instruction? I’ve heard many say that serious pursuit of the instrument requires a teacher/student relationship. OTOH I’ve enjoyed this as a singular pursuit and am not sure I would enjoy constant instruction and “homework” if you know what I mean.

MakGrgic4 karma

Right! Depending on your level of interest, I'd suggest some of the online masterclass platforms (there's many). You can choose what you'd like to listen to and whom you'd like to learn from, by not being obliged to do homework or to meet with a person on a weekly basis.

Happy to recommend a few if you'd like.

The other thing is also, if you don't feel like working with a teacher, there's probably a reason for it. So, follow your gut!

magusdave7 karma

Do you think neo-classical music will one day have its spot in the mainstream forum, or is it doomed to the shadows?

MakGrgic10 karma

Wow, what a great question. Possibly doomed, hopefully not. If we continue to separate the art from the masses, making it more exclusive, we are probably facing that. But if we change our perspective at some point, and decide that classical music (or neo classical, as you put it) can be popular too, we might shift the tides a bit. Hopefully that happens sooner than later.

SecularMantis6 karma


MakGrgic13 karma

Absolutely! Depending on where you are in the process of learning, I think the following tips are always good: - start on a nylon string guitar or electric (steel string is very hard on the left hand) - start by learning simple melodies first than immediately chords (chords or tricky to navigate as they use many fingers at once, making people frustrated quicker). - once simple melodies are learnt, try to add a few bases to the melodies to make it sound fuller and to have a fingerstyle version of the song you want to play. - learn to use both your fingers of the right hand and the pick interchangeably (reverting to just one causes the other one to be difficult to learn at a later time).

SecularMantis4 karma


MakGrgic3 karma

My pleasure! Best of luck!!

Scoops16 karma

Do you hang out with the guys from the LA Guitar Quartet? They seem cool.

MakGrgic12 karma

I do in fact. Have been lucky to have that privilege. Mostly with Scott Tennant, who likes craft beers, but Bill tends to put on a Christmas party every year, which is always fun. John and Matt I see mostly at events, and are both super cool!

helsquiades6 karma

Who is the best classical guitar composer and why is it Barrios?

MakGrgic7 karma

Lol. I guess you answered your own question :D Barrios is super cool, indeed.

HiFiiiiiiiiii5 karma

Do you ever go busking just for the hell of it and use the cash on something fun for yourself? I assume a professional like you would attract attention on the street.

MakGrgic3 karma

Eh not really, but I probably should!

Well, here's a funny article of an anecdote where Joshua Bell played in the NYC Subway and got attention from very few people! https://www.liveabout.com/a-violinist-in-the-metro-3299658

Burglekunt5 karma

Can you share your warm ups and some tasty finger picking patterns please!?!

MakGrgic10 karma

The easy fast answer would be: - arpeggios (the Tennant/Giuliani ones) while really pressing into the strings - scales with A-M fingers - practicing counter-motion with 1-3 and 2-4 left hand finger combos

Tasty finger picking pattern: P-I-M-A and then pull down from string one to 5 with your A finger. You can create waves of sound by playing this super fast!

For more detailed discussion, write to me on IG or FB!

SlimJo15 karma

Im 22 years old and i love your music, im not english so sorry if there is some wrong words. I love music since im a kid, and listening other musicians is very inspiring so thank you for that. I love the moment when you can see the musician literaly feels the music. I want that feeling too, so do you think im too old to start guitar or any other instrument ?

MakGrgic9 karma

Absolutely not. My first feeling of being connected to music was when I was in a tram in Zagreb, about 15 years old, listening to Evgeny Kissin play the 2nd Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto. The 2nd movement took me by surprise and I felt goosebumps for the first time ever.

If you feel that, it is never too late. It is a feeling that is unparalleled and one should I always try to find it, regardless of age.

Good luck!

ElectableEmu4 karma

Do you use lubrication?

Let me explain. I have a friend who plays classical guitar and before a performance, he won't shower for a day or two. This is because he discovered that the fat/oils from the side of his nose are perfect for lubricating his nails so they leave the string just right. So the last thing he does before playing is to rub his nails on his face....

MakGrgic5 karma

Hehe. Nope. Some guitarists use Nivea cream for the nails...

Hingta4 karma

Hi Paul,

Thanks for doing this AMA.

Do you own/play a traditional electric guitar?

I know a lot of classical guitarists play strictly classical guitar.

Just interested to hear you thoughts.

Also, what do you play for fun?

MakGrgic7 karma

Hey Hingta. Mak here. Paul went to the bathroom :) Joke.

Yup, sure do. A fender strat. I am a rock and metal fan, but also need the electric guitar to play classical contemporary music that uses that kind of guitar often.

For fun I like to play simple rock and pop tunes (eg: Fields of Gold of Sound of Silence).

akumajfr4 karma

Oh wow, can you point out some contemporary classical pieces that use electric guitar? As a sax player, I love seeing modern instruments used in the "classical" field.

MakGrgic2 karma

Absolutely. Visit this page: https://www.sheerpluck.de/ and input the instrumentation specifying that you need electric guitar. It will spit out numerous contemporary pieces that utilize the instrument!

vaelroth4 karma

Segovia or Barrios?

Both are great, but everyone has preferences!

MakGrgic9 karma

Ah ah ah, should we be picking sides? For the reasons of creating an interesting self-image Barrios, for the reasons of popularizing the instrument in an artful manner Segovia. Both together did very well for this instrument!

akumajfr4 karma

Hi Mak, thank you for doing this! What are some easier pieces to learn for beginner-to-intermediate players? I’ve been working on Lagrima, but wanted some more to work through.

Also, how do you like to shape your nails? It seems there are as many opinions as there are guitarists.


MakGrgic6 karma



There are as many opinions as there are guitarists and 4 times as many opinions of nail shapes. The best I advice I could give just by a quick assessment is that that nail should feel like it's gliding through the string, and not catching the string. All of this providing that there is good technique of playing to support this. I think Scott Tennant has it nicely drawn in his book Pumping Nylon. The other tip that I heard a while ago is that when looking at the nails from your view of the palm, you shouldn't see the nails being much longer than your finger tip.

Easy pieces: how about some simple Fernando Sor etudes (those are beautiful), Brouwer Etudes Simples are also very nice. And hey, Tarrega has some other pieces that are easy to learn (Adelita for instance)? And then you can never fail with the Romanza ;)

CrazyDuck1234 karma

I want so bad to play guitar, i have one now and learned how to play a few songs by youtube videos and websites, but i want so bad to learn to read sheets and manage to move more freely my hands, i'm 27 years old and have a family and 2 jobs. Do you recommend a website or book that i can obtain to practice by my own??

MakGrgic4 karma

Absolutely! Some of my friends have been working on an online masterclass platform called Tonebase, that seems to be helpful. Otherwise, I used to use Pumping Nylon (book) all throughout highschool and early college! That should be helpful!

Good luck!

akumajfr4 karma

Oh, another question: have you done any work on lute? It’s something I’ve always wanted to learn. Thanks!

MakGrgic8 karma

I certainly have. I spent quite a bit of my studies in Vienna playing the lute. It's where I developed a special appreciation for composers like Piccinini, Kapsberger, Zamboni.

You should totally learn it! It's worth also for figuring out a different right hand way of playing, that you can apply to the guitar later on!

scifiking3 karma

Do you like rock music or play it? I bet you could pull of a convincing Roundabout!

MakGrgic2 karma

Love rock! Haven't played it enough!!

I'll certainly take your word on this and check it out ;)

MarkAttark3 karma

What's touring like? Wildest story?

MakGrgic13 karma

Well, there was a tour with KD Lang that I thoroughly enjoyed. Sitting on a tour bus as a fore-mostly classical musician isn't something that happens every day.

Of course, then you have your 'car-breaking-down-while-driving-to-the-concert-and-barely-making-it-going-on-the-stage-sweaty-from-the-road' situations, one of which just happened last month in Sarajevo.

Touring China was exciting too. The first time I did it, I was surprised how many people tried to take photos with me, and how many hosts tried to get me drunk! LOLOL

Share-Metta3 karma

Do you sight read the sheet music when you perform with an orchestra, or do you memorize each piece. Any advice on sight reading for guitar? It seems impossibly difficult.

MakGrgic4 karma

Usually when playing with the orchestra, I try to memorize everything. Sight reading is not easy, but it gets easier with practice. For me, learning new music helped with just building the reading skills. Tonal music became easy afterwards!

Nixplosion3 karma

As a fellow guitarist, you ever get stage fright or "playing anxiety"? Where you KNOW you know the material but worry about "forgetting" it?

MakGrgic4 karma

Nope. Because that can always happen :) So there's a choice: live in fear or live without fear. It is the sad truth. There's stories of super famous musicians completely loosing their thread, going backstage to look at the score, coming back on stage and triumphantly finish!

trolleg3 karma

Favorite chord to play?

MakGrgic13 karma

All the sus-es :DDDD

The most sexy however a minor 7, with an optional 9.

postthereddit3 karma

Doberdan. Have you scored a video game soundtrack before? If not, would you?

MakGrgic3 karma

Oh hey! Dober dan tudi vam.

Have not had that chance yet, but would certainly welcome the opportunity!

Sweeztastic3 karma

Who do you believe are some of the most underrated guitar players in music, current and past?

MakGrgic3 karma

Hey! That's perhaps a hard question to answer, because usually we all remember the famous players, who are famous for the reason of being great at their instrument!

Everywhere I go, I see amazing talent, but sometimes it takes luck to get recognized publicly. What do you think?

-Papa_John3 karma

How’s ya day been mate?

MakGrgic3 karma

Pretty good. Thanks. And yours?

SendMeSteamGamesPlz3 karma

Do you have any tips for someone looking to learn improvisation on guitar? I don't play classical but it's a skill that I'm trying to develop for other genres.

MakGrgic5 karma

Hey hey,

I got the same questions above! Good question. You should get to know your frettboard incredibly well, by practicing transposing licks up and down in all possible keys. Then, learn all the possible chord progressions in all the keys you can imagine, and lastly try to listen to first simple then more complex music and try to repeat it by listening to it a few times. Ah, and knowing all the possible modes you can helps.

Hope this gives some insight :)

coredenale3 karma

How long are the fingernails on your plucking hand?

MakGrgic3 karma

I'd say just enough to have you slide through the string with ease :)

zortor2 karma


I play guitar as well, but am self taught, I have found that classically trained musicians have the absolute best practice habits, what are some essential practice habits that you believe every musician should have?


MakGrgic5 karma

Oh hey! Another Slovenian speaker :)

Well, we are in fact 'classically' trained! Our whole upbringing is about diligent and effective practice methods, that address understanding even the slightest motions of our fingers to understanding how that ties in into playing long phrases with ease.

I can base my answer to you by saying that focused practice is best. Sometimes even creating a timed schedule of things to practice on a daily bases makes 'achieving' the short and long terms goals easier. Doing check marks on the list of thing to do also helps!

whomed532 karma

Did you see yourself where you are right now when you began? What was the most challenging along your journey?

MakGrgic2 karma

I don't think so. My 'career' or better yet life has developed by virtue of interest. Wherever I moved towards was because I was fascinated by the process, may it be a certain style of music I was interested in at the moment, or perhaps the fact that a musician can also be an entrepreneur.

In short, I didn't have a goal that I was working towards, but I can say that I am happy that music is such a big part of my existence, and that I can make my living doing it.

The challenges I would say are always those geared by comparison. We can always find someone who we think in the moment is doing better than we are, and that drives us either nuts or can provide for a boost in ambition. Possibly both. The difficult moments for me were when something like that would turn towards jealousy in the moment rather than action. Getting out of it and moving forward is challenging, too, but satisfying when it happens :)

sydclive2 karma

If in any way you were incapacitated for several months, let's imagine broken arms,.how would you deal with it? Would asking someone to play for you, under your direction,.like a family member, help in any way ?

MakGrgic5 karma

Probably not. There are so many ways to get creative in music: writing your own music, helping others achieve their musical goals (teaching). Practicing just one hand if the other one is injured.

I also work a lot in arts business, so I would probably find things to do. EuroStrings is a cool thing I am involved in, and it works on popularizing the instrument in novelty ways. That would probably keep me busy too! :D

What would probably affect me deeply is if I would have to flat out stop doing music. That I hope never happens.

WCC5D1F0E2 karma

Hi Mak! I’ve been playing electric guitar (rock/metal) for a long time but I want to branch out into flamenco and classical. Can you recommend five good songs for a beginner to learn to get started?

MakGrgic3 karma

Absolutely: Lagrima by Tarrega, Romanza, a simple Fernando Sor etude, Malaguena and Greensleves!

Hope this helps.

Andreainmada2 karma

Hi Mak Grgic ! How should we prononce your name ?

MakGrgic6 karma

Hey! OMG. I get this question so many times. Maybe I'll change it to 'Smith' or something :D

Here it is: Gergitch. Like you are mad at someone (grrrrr), and then you have an itch with a 'g' (g-itch). :)

Leena522 karma

Great AMA. Rodrigo is our fav btw.

What is the best technique for avoiding squeaking the strings?

MakGrgic2 karma

Simple! When you move your fingers from one position to the other in the left, simply tilt your fingers diagonally against the fret-board, so that you make sure that you have the least friction possible between the strings and your fingers. Then when you reach the position you are aiming for, put the fingers in a vertical stance, and you should be solid. This takes a bit of practice but saves a lot of editing in the studio!

peteypete4202 karma

Who are some of the classic guitar greats that you love?

Outside of rock, country, blues, and folk, i dont really know what a guitar does. Who do i listen to to hear some cool new shit?

MakGrgic2 karma

Good question! Here's a few to check out: - Margarita Escarpa - David Russell - Berta Rojas - Duo Assad - Ricardo Gallen - Carlo Marchione - Tillman Hopstock - Ana Vidovic - Marco Socías - Alex Garrobé - Zoran Dukic - Andrew York - Antigoni Goni - Manuel Barrueco - Aniello Desiderio - Pavel Steidl - Joaquín Clerch - Marcin Dylla - Pablo Marquez - Sharon Isbin - Judicael Perroy - Paul Galbraith

This should give you a list to work through :) Of course, there's many more out there that I couldn't remember just now.


Does any one piece you've performed stick out as the most challenging? And how do harmonic analyses function in microtonal music vs. a classical IV-V-I type of deal?

MakGrgic6 karma

Hey! Good questions.

Yes: in terms of stamina, the Rodrigo's Toccata has been very challenging, and the Berio Sequenza does not fall far behind. I have recently played an all Rodrigo recital and that was hard to pull of with grace and full energy!

Many factors affect how the progressions work within microtonality. I guess the easiest answer is that having the leading notes in the chords within a simple progression (like the tritone or the minor 7th in the dominant chord) be slightly adjusted in tuning. For instance, the minor 7th has a 'pull down' feel, so it can be slightly tuned lower, and the leading tone 'pulls up', so it can be slightly higher, depending on the temperament in which we tune.

The more complicated answer is that there can be also 0 relation between western harmony and microtonality. Gamelan music (whose soundscape functions on the bases of multiphonic clusters, as I understand), doesn't perceive IV-V-I progressions as we see them, but is still called 'microtonal' in comparison to our tuning system of equal temperament.

Of course, this bears a longer discussion :D


Very interesting stuff, just started listening to some of Rodrigo's Toccata (Holy sweet Jesus you weren't kidding about stamina!) I can't imagine the hours of work that goes into perfecting that. Given that you mentioned temperament, what is your opinion on A=432 vs. 440. Is it a load of bologna?

MakGrgic2 karma

Loved that you used 'bologna' :D

Actually, here's an article about this:https://www.wam.hr/sadrzaj/us/Cavanagh_440Hz.pdf There were conferences where the standard pitch was decided upon :) A 432 is easier on the strings however, makes the feel lighter, so in many respects it is more pleasant to use! When I play with violinists and cellists however, they prefer the pitch to be higher than than 440 (441-443).

Yup: that Toccata is a beast!

notengoanadie2 karma

Any exercises you could recommend for hand synchronization? My fretting hand is weaksauce

MakGrgic2 karma

Absolutely. I have always practiced this by using the short note approach.

  1. Play the first note of a scale
  2. Stop the note with your respective right hand finger
  3. Fret the second note of the scale
  4. Play the note with the finger that is already on the string and immediately stop the sound with the other right hand finger.
  5. Fret the third note
  6. Repeat

Start slow and as you speed up you will see that you have to start aligning the notes more and more making the synchronization more and more accurate.

MarkAttark1 karma

How do you like Jimi Hendrix?

MakGrgic2 karma

Oh man, what's not to like? I wish I could play like him.

KickAssMiles0 karma

What's cooler than being cool?

MakGrgic8 karma

Being hot while being cool ;)