Steve Vai called him “the evolution of guitar”, Tosin Abasi said he was “a virtuoso beyond virtuosos” – now Matteo Mancuso shares his mind-twisting new single

Matteo Mancuso playing a Yamaha Revstar
(Image credit: Paolo Terlizzi)

Matteo Mancuso, one of this generation’s most virtuosic young guitar talents, has shared Drop D – the lead single from his upcoming album, The Journey, which doubles as a mind-melting masterclass of his unique electric guitar skills.

Mancuso’s name has been bouncing around the circuit for some while now. And, more often than not, it’s his playing style – which first caught traction via a few viral YouTube videos – that generates the most interest.

With a fingerstyle-esque approach that sees him position his right hand above the strings as if he’s playing bass, Mancuso is seemingly able to flirt with the speed of light, curating wave after wave of breakneck licks that somehow still carry lashings of feeling, dynamics and melody.

But it’s not just a novelty, though – Mancuo’s one-of-a-kind style and virtuosic phrasing has placed him firmly on the radar of some of the guitar world’s most prolific players, with the likes of Joe Bonamassa, Al Di Meola and Tosin Abasi all singing his praises.

Steve Vai is also a notable fan of Mancuso's, having included the young sensation in his list of five contemporary guitarists who are taking the instrument to the next level.

“The evolution of guitar is firmly secure in the hands of these kinds of players,” Vai once said. “It's just a new level, the tone, the touch, the notes!” “His improvisational ability is light years ahead,” observed Di Meola. “How did he get so good and so fast?”

He’s also been called a “virtuoso beyond virtuosos” by Abasi, and prompted Bonamassa to confess, “I have not seen anyone reinvent like this since Stanley Jordan.”

Drop D is an excellent example of why such praise is warranted. With his Moonlight Blue Yamaha Revstar RSP20 in tow, Mancuso spends almost five minutes trawling through his entire technical and tonal arsenal, from the intro’s edge-of-break-up blues passages to the sledgehammer humbucker riffs later on.

It’s an instrumental track, so there’s certainly no shortage of top notch fretboard pyrotechnics on offer, but the highlight arrives at the 3:40 mark, when Mancuso goes absolutely ballistic on the outro solo. Make sure you watch the video above to see that trademark picking style – and some two-hand taps – in action, too.

Of his upcoming album, Mancuso noted it pays homage to the hard rock and prog heroes that influenced his early sound, such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Yes and Dream Theater.

"I didn't really have a specific concept behind the album, but I wanted to do something that wasn't associated with only one genre, so there are some rock-oriented songs like Drop D and some modern jazz tunes like Polifemo,” he said. “I just want people to hear it. 

“Music has always been my favorite form of communication, and the thing I love about instrumental music is that there isn't a language barrier. I'm sure that people that don't usually listen to instrumental music can find something interesting from this album.”

The full tracklist for The Journey can be found below.

  1. Silkroad
  2. Polifemo              
  3. Falcon Flight       
  4. Open Fields
  5. DropD   
  6. Blues For John     
  7. Time To Leave     
  8. Samba Party  
  9. The Journey    
  • The Journey is available to preorder now ahead of its release on July 21.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.