The Virtuoso Guitarist – By Matt Palmer

I first met Matt Palmer at the Koblenz festival in 2005 and I observed a steady flow of guitarists approaching him asking for a demonstration of his astounding technique. Apart from his innate musicality and facility on the guitar, it was Palmer’s exceptional deployment of ami fingerings that beguiled other guitarists. Not only was it fast, but it sounded full, fluid, and most importantly, musical. The new method by Palmer entitled ” The Virtuoso Guitarist: Volume 1 A New Approach to Scales” essentially answers the burning questions that arise when we see dazzling displays of virtuosity such as this:


As Palmer points out in his introduction, the method is intended to supplement an already well-established technique and is therefore a method aimed at the intermediate to advanced player. Essentially, the method conveys the study and application of ami fingerings which enable velocity and agility displayed in Palmer’s formidable technique. However, the ability to execute ami passages is more complex than right hand technique alone, it requires a solid understanding of appropriate fingering, string crossing, and left hand technique.

What I admire most about the method is its clear and thorough delivery of the topic at hand. The 82 pages discuss the technique in a structured and comprehensive manner. Not only is the technique dissected and discussed on micro levels but it is also put into practice with appropriate repertoire excerpts presented to display the application of ami in action. It is clear from the way in which Palmer writes, that he has not only spent many years developing his own facility but also teaching it to others. Palmer addresses problems that will inevitable arise from practical applications of the method and his step-by-step approach to building up the technique points to a writer who has put a lot of thought and time into this method. The presentation of the publication is of a high quality, and is laid out in a style reminiscent of the ever ubiquitous Pumping Nylon.

While the method has a narrow focus, I believe it is indispensable for any advanced guitarist or teacher to include in their library. It presents a consolidation of ami technique, that while not revolutionary, has been distilled and delivered in an easy to understand and elegant manner.

Kudos to Matt for raising the bar!


Purchase the book at:

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9 Responses

  1. Jake says:

    ami technique is nothing new.
    Think of tremolo, and you know how long it’s been around.

    Narciso Yepes also used it in scales, but nowhere near to Matt Palmer’s brilliant refined approach (Matt’s Etude No. 2 by Villa-Lobos is miles beyond poor Yepes).

    Štěpán Rak also uses ami in scales and tremolo, and is certainly one of today’s most important guitarists.

    But Matt Palmer is the first one to really go out and describe the technique and make it more widely known and accessible.
    So thanks Matt for actually going ahead and writing about these things…
    (Other guitarists just play, get old and disappear… and with them… often … things that they should have passed on, but failed to do so)

  2. Jake says:

    Dear Matt, when are you going to record Douze Etudes… in some daring interpretations. 😉

    I’m bored sick of other’s rigid unlyrical interpretations.
    That video of Etude 2 shows that the “Douze Etudes” have never been fully realised yet. And not by a long shot.

    • Michael says:

      @Jake –

      1st of all I agree, Matt Palmer’s playing of the 2nd Etude is absolutely stellar.

      But – You’re bored of every interpretation of all the Etudes? Really … ? And NONE of these Etudes has EVER reached it’s full potential in the hands of ANY guitarist? Do you realize what you are saying about our community and our artists?

      Is fluent lyricism, the opposite of “rigid unlyrical interpretations,” really how you would describe the appropriate character for every one of the Villa Lobos etudes?

      I’m just really curious if you truly realize what your blunt and incredibly broad statement screams off the page …

      • Will says:

        I think Jake has a right to voice his opinion.

        Who are you to go around saying that the Etudes cannot be improved? I think the last word on the Etudes has not been said. I for one look forward to the fine interpretations from people who can finally handle technique at a sufficiently high level … think Matt Palmer, Beijing Guitar Duo, etc.

      • Will says:

        By the way… Jake was simply addressing his enthusiasm for Matt’s interpretation of the Etude 2.
        Why do you get so ruffed up by his simple comment anyway?

  3. ronjazz says:

    Perhaps Jake has not heard Bream’s or Barrueco’s recordings? Both, while quite different from each other, are musical and fun, which is all we should ask for, really.

    Matt Palmer’s take on the set would be very welcome, in any event.

  4. In my humble opinion I do not think is a comparison is needed. We are all very different guitarist and different musicians. We should not confused fast scales with musical ability. It takes a lot more than Fast Scales to called one a virtuoso. Is all about the balance, every player has something different to offer and they are all valid. I am close friend with Matt and I know that he will be very sad if he would only be remember for his scales rather than his musicianship. We need to look beyond all that and listen to the musical criteria.
    You all have your opinions and you are entitled to them!!!! We all at the end try to do what is musically pleasing to us regarding of someone else criteria.

  5. Peter says:

    On the topic of virtuosity and technique, have a look at this:

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