Steve Vai called him “the evolution of the guitar” while Al Di Meola said his playing was “light years ahead”. We meet Matteo Mancuso, the young guitarist redefining virtuosity

Matteo Mancuso
(Image credit: Paolo Terlizzi / SixHats Studio)

He starts with a disclaimer (“I apologise in advance for my English…”). But Matteo Mancuso needn’t worry. The 26-year-old Sicilian is sharp, witty and rarely lost in translation – we can only imagine how much fun he’d be if you could loosen his mother tongue over a few drinks.

And besides, who needs words when you have Mancuso’s lyrical touch on guitar? Debuting with a Hendrix cover at a local festival aged 12, fusing boundless influences into his peerless/pickless jazz-shred style, notching up 158k followers on YouTube and feted by the instrumental super-league, his debut album, The Journey, feels like the dawning of a new world order.

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Henry Yates

Henry Yates is a freelance journalist who has written about music for titles including The Guardian, Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a talking head on Times Radio and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl and many more. As a guitarist with three decades' experience, he mostly plays a Fender Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul.