“Classical guitar is often about emulating other people, especially older generations – so I just wanted to do the wildest thing possible”: Marcin Patrzalek is reinventing the nylon-string for a new generation – and going viral while he’s at it

Marcin Patrzalek
(Image credit: Klaudia Kurek)

It's been a wild few years for Marcin Patrzalek. The Polish guitarist, who goes by just his first name on his myriad popular social media accounts, has risen to become the Big Thing in classical guitar, enjoying crossover success virtually unparalleled in that world, culminating with his recent acquisition of the biggest symbol of having “made it”: his very own signature guitar

The floppy-haired guitarist rose to fame through videos of his flamboyant and percussive acoustic guitar techniques: he strums, picks, taps and slaps all while treating his instrument just as much as a drum set as a guitar. 

It’s an approach that has well-positioned Marcin in the current music industry zeitgeist, where visual panache is as important, if not more so, than the actual music. (Case in point: Marcin has just under 82,000 monthly Spotify listeners but has almost 10 times that many YouTube subscribers and more than 1 million followers on Instagram). It’s particularly impressive given the traditionalist mindset that can dominate much of the classical music world.

“Classical guitar is often kind of about emulating other people, especially older generations of classical musicians,” he said. “So I just wanted to do the wildest thing possible, and that culminated in this style, which just happened to be very visually stimulating.”

Marcin has had ample opportunity to bring that style to wider audiences; for two years in a row, he’s been included in Jared Dines’ annual holiday-season shred collaboration, tearing his acoustic up alongside electric titans such as Matt Heafy, Jason Richardson and Herman Li. 

He’s also had a recent high-profile team up with mercurial YouTuber Ichika Nito. The sheer eclecticism of who he’s played with is illustrative of how healthy the guitar universe is right now, he says. Because guitar music is no longer the dominant force in pop, players have “gravitated toward more eclectic and idiosyncratic ways to play. Because if you don’t do that, there’s no place for you.”

For his own out-there style, Marcin has finally found the perfect tool: the Ibanez MRC10 features a deep cutaway to better reach all 20 frets, built-in Fishman preamp and, perhaps most important, a reinforced wood plate designed to enhance Marcin’s distinctive percussive body tapping technique. 

“It’s a guitar where when you put the strap around yourself, you can run around the stage with it, you can jump around with it,” he says. “You can do anything you want with that guitar.”

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Adam Kovac

Adam is a freelance writer whose work has appeared, aside from Guitar World, in Rolling Stone, Playboy, Esquire and VICE. He spent many years in bands you've never heard of before deciding to leave behind the financial uncertainty of rock'n roll for the lucrative life of journalism. He still finds time to recreate his dreams of stardom in his pop-punk tribute band, Finding Emo.