Written by Walter Bryant
Tone: a major part of what attracts our rare breed to this electrified wooden axe known as the guitar. In the case of guitar virtuoso Marco Sfogli, the gift of great guitar-playing was instilled in his blood from birth; or so at least it seems. A native of Naples, Italy, Sfogli grew up with musician parents and attributes much of his phrasing abilities to growing up in such an atmosphere. Being surrounded by music is what he believes really helped develop his unique style. In several interviews, Marco emphasizes never having practiced phrases much, relying on his ear for much of his playing career. Having received his first guitar ( a Washburn) in 1989, it only took about three years of fiddling with the instrument before he put it down to take on the drums. It wasn’t until 1996, that after hearing Dream Theater’s Images & Words album, his passion for the electric guitar reignited, inspiring him to pick up the instrument once again.
One thing led to another with Mr. Sfogli, and was eventually commissioned to play guitar on James LaBrie’s solo album, Elements of Persuasion. As his name began to resonate in the prog-rock world, he made the decision to release his first album entitled, “There’s Hope”. Amazingly enough, the entire record (aside from the percussion) was recorded in Marco’s apartment, with very little sound proofing. It was also entirely engineered on his own. With that said, this collection of technical and melodic proficiency was a masterpiece to say the least, and was released on “Guitar Nine Records”, becoming a best seller on the website. It was also awarded 2nd place as Best Fully Instrumental Rock Album by the website “The Top Tens”. But what is it about Marco Sfogli that makes him worth this article? Well, as we stated before, the man has guitar-playing in his blood, and proves it with every note he plays!
Not only is his note-choice perfect, his choice of amps isn’t half bad either. A fan of Mesa Boogie amps, (often seen in earlier years using the TriAxis, Mark Series, and Dual Rectifier) he is also a huge advocate of the studio and live capabilities of the Fractal Audio Axe FX, having used it on a number of records he’s featured on. However, he is now an endorsee of DV Mark Amplifiers. As for his guitars, prior to his recent endorsement with Ibanez, Marco played his own signature model from Rash guitars, an Italian guitar company. But one thing that has remained consistent throughout his playing career is his choice of pickups, equipping each of his guitars with a set of Dimarzios. His latest Ibanez Premium RG model, sports an Dimarzio Norton, True Velvet and PAF 36th Anniversary pickup. But needless to say, we all know it’s not about the equipment when it comes to getting great tone.
With phrasing reminiscent of a soul singer, Marco emits just that with every note he picks;soul. However, Marco emphasizes the fact that he has never sat down and consciously practiced his phrasing; he owes it all to his ear, claiming that it is something that comes very naturally to him. This gift of super-emotive playing spills over into his writing as well, and can be heard in all of his work thus far. But don’t be fooled, Marco can shred with the best of them as well. With razor-sharp arpeggios and alternate picking runs, he can definitely turn up the heat when need be!
Having observed Marco Sfogli and his playing for some time now, it’s great to see him gain the exposure he has in such a short period. With two solo albums under his belt, and a lengthy list of appearances with artists such as Virgil Donati, Alex Argento, James LaBrie, and his New York based band “Creation’s End”, Marco is at the top of his game, and we can only see it getting better from here! If you want to hear some of Marco’s work, we highly recommend his two solo albums “There’s Hope” and “ReMarcoble”. Also be sure to have a listen to his work on Alex Argento’s “Ego” album. Head on over to Marco’s website for updates on what he’s doing! We’ve added a few videos below to give you a glimpse of this very special player. Try and watch them without letting your jaw hitting the floor!