Chris Zoupa video rundown

This blogpost will also be in english.

In case you didn’t have an hour to watch the whole interview with Chris Zoupa of Learn That Solo, I’ve done a transcription of the topics covered in the interview, with “The Best Of” Chris’s answers to my questions:

How did you start making LTS:

“I was living with a guy who’s a motivational coach, and I talked to him about how I felt that a lot of youtube videos where of poor quality. His response was “if you feel, that you could do it better, then you need to prove it, and get started. Otherwise you’re wasting your talent.”

“I started LTS in 2012, and in the beginning it was very low key. I still remember the excitement of the 100th subscriber.”

“If you’ve got 10 subscribers, then every single subscriber you get is a massive moment for you. Someone on the other side of the world gives a crap.

On teaching and the guitar school:

“Being a guitar teacher and running a music school is not fruitful enough for me, creatively, because of bills, taxes and a lot of other hassle. I want to focus more on Youtube, and on creativity. I’ve always been teaching, and when I opened up the music school I was very excited. Now that Youtube has grown I want to focus more on this, the next stage.”


"Why only teach people, that live around the corner, when you can teach the whole world?"

“Why only teach people that live around the corner, when you can teach the whole world?”

On choosing the videos:

“At first I wanted to create attention with the songs I chose. Now that the number of subscribers has grown, people will pound on me. I’ve had people write to me like I owe them something – ‘I’ve asked you FIVE TIMES to do this song!’ – ‘We deserve it!’”

“Even my girlfriend pays attention to what people are asking for – ‘There’s a lot of people requesting Eruption!’”

“We try to look for the most relevant requests, but there’s sometimes that I will do something really hard and stupid, regardless if it’s going to get 100.000 views or not. For instance Wintersun, Children of Bodom, Yngwie Malmsteen or Jason Becker. Something that will push me out of my comfort zone.”

“If I was to only do stuff that are very formulaic, I would quickly get bored and stagnated. I also want people to see different sides of me, like when I did Django Reinhardt recently. To make people know, that they can request different things, I’m not a 2 dimensional heavy metal guy, I listen to all types of music.”

On preparing the pieces for video and transcribing the solos

“I always start from scratch, out of a conviction, that whatever tabs or other videos out there, I will be able to make it more precise. Maybe it’s a form of undiagnosed OCD, but I want everything to be perfect. I’ll start figuring out the chords and keys of the solo, and when it gets more problematic, I’ll use the audio program Audacity to focus on sections. I won’t digress on to the next section until the first section is up to speed.”

“Usually, once you know the chords of the song, the guitarist will solo within certain shapes on the fretboard. People will ask me ‘do you actually learn everything note for note’, and I do, but people will solo in a sensible way, there will be reason behind it.”

“People will ask me ‘how many hours a day do you practice?’ I may be holding a guitar for 10 hours a day, but that includes learning a piece, writing something or teaching. If I’m stuck on a piece of music, I’ll make that section into an exercise, until it gets up to speed.

“I’m feel like I’m wasting my time, if I spend it practicing something I’m comfortable with. Instead I will take something that I need to learn, divide it down into little chunks, and then practice maybe 12 seconds of music for as much as an hour every day. When I teach, I divide the solo into sections, which is as much information as I can take in, at one time. So in a way, I’m teaching the solo the same way I would like to be taught.”

“I need to be challenged, and the great thing about Youtube has been, that every day my to do list gets longer. There’s always something new to learn.”

About the recording session:

“Most of the time, recording takes place at the office of my school. I have the laptop, that I’m talking to you on, and a digital HD camera, and then my guitar and my amp. Every section of the solo will be done in a single take, and besides that I do an introduction and a ending.”

“I’ve recently started to add tabs, even though it’s a very big hassle. I have to figure it out, write the tabs, cut out the picture and insert it into the video. People don’t realise how much work that goes into recording a video – and I don’t have a crew, it’s just me.”

“When I make Youtube videos, even if it’s songs that I have taught before in the music school, I will go to greater detail to get it perfect. In Hangar 18, there are tiny nuances in Dave and Marty’s soloing, and I will nitpick, and try to making everything as good as I can.”

“I’ve realized at this point that I’m doing something that a lot of people think are awesome. Then comes the new challenge! It’s gotta be HD, it’s gotta be with tabs, it’s gotta be with tabs!”

“I have a much harder skin now, than I used to. If someone comments ”that bend was out of tune”, then yes, maybe they’re being very picky, but I can hear it as well. So I try to avoid it, and work on improving my playing. I don’t wanna think that I’m finished, there’s still things to learn and things I can improve on.”

“I just redid Symphony of Destruction. It was the first video I did. It was so funny to watch myself fumbling and struggling with the words, and in the end I was going “I’m not sure what goes on here”. There’s NO WAY I would do that today.”

Band and endorsements:

“The last band I was in, Belasira, didn’t even have an audition, they just wanted “that guy from Youtube”. We toured Australia and got signed to management in the US, and as we where about to leave, to death of my girlfriends mom made me stay with her, forcing me to leave the band.”

“Luckily I got to keep my endorsements from PRS guitars, that gave me an opportunity to buy three lovely guitars very cheap. I’m very happy and proud to be able to use them in my videos.”


“I’m going to start an online curriculum, with general lessons, within the range of beginners to intermediate, in the same niche of Learn That Solo, but this will not only be about ‘the cool part of the song.’”

“Skype lessons enable me to charge a lot more than normal lessons, because people have sought me out, and are more dedicated to being taught by me and learn very specific things.”

On earning money:

“My partner is working very hard on finishing her psychology degree, and it breaks my heart to know that I’ve arrived at a point where I can support myself doing the stuff I like, and she’s only halfway there. Supporting another person financially, and not just yourself, is a good goal to set yourself.”

On making videos that convey an element of discipline, ideals or otherwise:

“I have a student with a rare muscular disease, and he specified that he wanted lessons from me, a 45 min drive away. Because I seemed like a nice guy when he watched my videos, he explained. That was a really big moment for me, because that wasn’t anything I thought came through in the videos.”

“I have helped other guys who have contacted me, and not put it on youtube. The tutorial videos to Metallica’s Orion were dedicated to someone, to help him with a grieving process.”

“So I want to be portrayed as someone who has a sense of humour, but also as someone who gives a shit about being happy, letting people explore creativity and using music to improve quality of life.”

On Learn That Solo as a brand

“I don’t think about it that much. Learn that Solo is me, and it wouldn’t be the same Youtube channel if another guy was doing it. But it would be a lack if people started thinking of me as the Learn That Solo guy.”

On the future of Youtube videos – will people still post it in five years?

“There’ll always be kids posting videos of them playing, to get feedback from friends. And some of them will display real talent, like Brian Chew. I can’t see it snowballing anymore than it has, Youtube is already jampacked with shredders.”

On what makes him special:

“I think, without sounding too arrogant, what I have is a unique in that I’m determined to get things right. My ears are my gift. And when I get told ‘this video is the best on youtube, of all of them, it really means a lot to me.”

“I’m not going to be the greatest guitarist in the world any time soon, but I have got a lot of patience and I can convey things that might be convoluted in a somewhat concise way.”

On Youtube as a creative forum:

“I have a little exercise thing, that I call Solo Builders, that I do when I discover something awesome, a way of playing. I put it out there, and maybe people can do something creative with it. I’m friends with other guitar teachers on youtube, it’s not like we’re in competition with each other. I love youtube, and I love that people are putting something creative on there.”

On being creative and the new album:

“If you upload enough lessons, people will start to go “That’s great, but who are you, and what’s your deal?” You can’t just be some guy that’s really good at playing other people’s stuff, what do you create?”

“My new, original stuff is without doubt the best original material I’ve ever done. It’s going to be a bit modern metal and ‘djent’-based material, and a bit of the jazz and the rock I grew up with. I don’t want it to sound too virtuosic, or dated.”

“One thing that has been terrific is that a lot of guys have offered to do guest solos. If I do too much composition on my own, it will sound me regurgitating myself. I also team up with a bass player, and this helps me get a different set of ears on it. The guys that play solos will have a whole different way of playing, and they do something that I will never be able to.”

“I thought I’ll do the solo album, and then on the next album I’ll ask the guys to collaborate on it, but I thought ‘No! Just do it now!’”


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