2023 has well and truly been Matteo Mancuso’s year. After announcing his arrival on the global guitar scene with an unmissable debut album earlier this year, Mancuso has continued to melt minds with his superhuman electric guitar skills and an otherworldly technique.
Through original material and covers – he recently nailed Steve Vai’s Eugene’s Trick Bag – Mancuso has gained a reputation as one of today’s most exhilarating talents, tipped for greatness by the likes of Vai, Tosin Abasi, Al Di Meola and more.
Now, the young Italian virtuoso has turned his attention to one of his other guitar heroes, clocking in an Eddie Van Halen-channeling performance of the Kinks classic You Really Got Me.
The track – which Van Halen covered and recorded themselves back in 1978 – was recently included in Mancuso’s setlist when he took to the stage alongside an orchestra as part of his Propaganda Live TV show appearance in Italy.
Naturally, Mancuso relies on his own arsenal of brain-boggling fretboard maneuvers for the majority of the cover, which sees the Yamaha Revstar loyalist transform the original vocal melody into a wailing, pinch-harmonic laden solo line.
The guitarist’s rapid-fire fingerstyle approach – which takes cues from the classical discipline, he recently told us – is front and center for the majority of exchanges, accommodating dizzying pentatonic embellishments and, in a nod to EVH himself, a flurry of two-hand tapping lines.
Alongside the likes of Eric Johnson, Scott Henderson and Frank Gambale, Van Halen was a formative influence for young Mancuso, who recently told Guitar World that the late guitar icon “influenced me both in sounds and vocabulary”.
Diving into his influences further during a recent conversation with Guitar Bonedo, Mancuso went on to explain he “stole a lot of tapping from Van Halen and Greg Howe”.
But Mancuso doesn’t see tapping as a technique invented by Van Halen. Instead, he sees it as something the iconic instrumentalist elevated to the next level – something Mancuso relates to his own experiences of developing the playing style he is now famed for.
“I didn’t plan this technique. It’s a good mix of bass technique and classical style that I learned when I was a teenager. It’s just rare to see it on the electric guitar,” he told Guitarist during a technical masterclass. “I always say that I didn’t invent this technique. Like [Eddie] Van Halen never said that he invented tapping, he just put it on the rock ‘n’ roll side of things – I see it in a similar way.”
During his spot on Italian TV, Mancuso also performed Blues for John from his debut studio album, The Journey.
2024 is poised to be another fine year for Mancuso, who has already racked up some serious plaudits: Joe Bonamassa once called him his new favorite player, Steve Vai hailed him as the evolution of guitar, and Tosin Abasi labeled him “a virtuoso beyond virtuosos” – and that was all before he released his first single.
For those of you wanting to wrap your head around Mancuso's next-level lead style, you're in luck: he recently sat down with Guitarist for a comprehensive guitar solo clinic.