After guitar legend Steve Vai added an extra string to his Ibanez a quarter-century ago, rock would never again sound the same. At first, it wasn't clear that this was a good thing, as the "nu metal" acts of the 1990s embraced the down-tuned, chug-heavy sound of seven-string guitars to thuggish effect -- but eventually, such "extended range" instruments made possible the boundary-pushing music of forward-thinking groups such as Animals As Leaders, Meshuggah and Deftones.
Enter Felix Martin, a left-handed, Venezuelan-born guitar prodigy who moved to America after winning a scholarship to attend the prestigious Berklee School of Music. Instead of merely adding an extra string to his instrument, though, Martin took things several steps further and added an entire second set of strings. His self-designed 14-string custom guitar features two seven-string guitars on one wide neck which allows him to play both guitars simultaneously, allowing for his unique system of eight-fingered chords and slap-tapping techniques.
On his sophomore studio recording "The Scenic Album" -- which features fellow Berklee alum Nathan Navarro on bass and drummer extraordinaire Marco Minnemann (Necrophagist, Steven Wilson, The Aristocrats) -- Martin plays an eclectic, exhilarating hybrid of instrumental prog-metal, jazz, fusion and world music. Clearly, sometimes it's better to be strung out.