“The picking speed on that open A is insane”: YouTube’s go-to guitar teacher Marty Schwartz reveals the hardest track he’s had to teach

Marty Schwartz giving a guitar lesson
(Image credit: Getty Images)

YouTube guitar guru Marty Schwartz – best known under his channel name Marty Music – has revealed the hardest song he’s taught during his tenure as one the internet’s most popular guitar teachers.

Schwartz is interviewed as part of Total Guitar’s new All-Star Masterclass cover feature, which sees the magazine call on some of the world’s greatest players (including the likes of Guthrie Govan, Philip Sayce and Sophie Lloyd) for a bumper crop of tips, tricks and techniques.

“I’m more of a feel and groove classic rock guy,” Schwartz tells Total Guitar. “I don’t really do the virtuoso shred stuff. It’s not what I desired to be and I have to want to get good at something in order to work on it.”

Schwartz says his toughest challenge therefore is still from the classic rock world, but an era when big hair and bigger solos dominated the scene: the 1980s.

“The hardest one was [Ozzy Osbourne’s 80s classic] Bark at the Moon,” says Schwartz. “The chords aren’t too hard, but the picking speed on that open A is insane. I’ve seen videos of Jake E. Lee teaching it at a clinic and he couldn’t even play the solo... and it’s his solo! That made me feel a little better because my hands aren’t really fast.”

The clip above certainly shows Schwartz put in a highly convincing effort nonetheless. He says the secret to getting as near as he did comes down to that (annoyingly persistent) necessity of learning the guitar: slowing it down and repeating.

“I used an app to slow it down and keep it in pitch,” says Schwartz. “I tend to start at 70 percent, where I can feel like I nail it every time, stick with it for a couple of weeks, and then speed up by five percent every couple of weeks… [but] I got that one to 90 percent and it was starting to feel like falling off the cliff!” 

To add insult to injury (or at least injured pride), the guitar teacher says the video tanked to boot, “which left me wondering why I bothered!”

Never mind Marty, we still love you. And we’re not alone. The guitar teacher was recently awarded with his own signature guitar, in the shape of the Epiphone Marty Schwartz ES-335.

In the meantime, we have increased respect for another YouTube guitarist. After all, Kayla Kent makes nailing the Bark At The Moon solo look easy.

To read Schwartz's full interview, plus tips, tricks and insight from the likes of Guthrie Govan, Cory Wong, Sophie Lloyd and Joe Bonamassa, pick up issue 376 of Total Guitar.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.

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