April Update: Mask of Judas @ Frankfest Plus More!

Mask of Judas are playing Frankfest 8th April alongside Orange Goblin and Beholder

Get your tickets here:


I have a feeling this is going to be one heavy metal festival looking at that line up. I hope to see some faces there this weekend! We will be playing as a four piece as Reece is away with other work. I shall be grabbing my Ibanez 8 string and plugging it right into a Laney Ironheart 60 watt head and picking all the notes.


I recently received some extra photos from my jam with Paul Gilbert from upcoming photographer Jessie at Capture The Moment Photography you can find her Facebook Page here:

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I am still inspired from my jam with Paul. I have been working on solidifying my technical playing and simplifying some of my more complex ideas. I have also been working on my vibrato and timing even more so since our jam. Sometimes its the simple stuff that lots of Guitarists over look, I am enjoying going back to basics!

I have been back at Guitar Interactive Magazine HQ filming some reviews and new columns but what is most exciting is that I will be working on a few new DVD’s I have a feeling that musicians looking to grab some composition concepts and tips on playing guitar in a musical context will enjoy this DVD. Of course there will be some licks and phrases to learn, but I hope to really focus on the concepts behind songwriting, creating and arranging a song in an instrumental context.


Of course I am still doing a lot of shows for the Freddie Butlins Tribute, and I will be back on tour in May with Lloyd Wade’s Soul Town and Beat Street.  Playing live teaches me a lot, with every show I feel a sense of purpose and satisfaction with what I am part of. As you can tell by the photo above I am also able to pull a rock face whilst playing a soul tune! This photo was taken by Dan Holland, you can check out his more breathtaking photography here:

(Feature Image by  https://www.facebook.com/michaelberkeleyphotography/ )

Jamming with Paul Gilbert & what I learned.


On Wednesday 22nd of March I was lucky enough to jam with one of my biggest influences and guitar hero’s Paul Gilbert. A massive thank you to Ben Robinson from UK Guitar Masterclass who is a fellow student at Paul Gilberts Artistworks Guitar Lesson website for making this amazing experience possible. The event was promoted and put on by him in association with Guitar Academy UK.

Paul gave as usual a fantastic masterclass in which he played some covers and discussed various approaches to note choice, groove and chords. Inspiring as always. He was joined by some fantastic local musicians who supported him on bass and drums, I was fortunate enough to catch soundcheck before the event was opened up to the public, they were jamming songs and learning them on the fly, and they did an amazing job!

Halfway through the masterclass Paul announced the time had come to jam with some audience members, I knew I was already on a list however everyone who had come to the event had the option of putting their name down on a piece of paper to be pulled out a hat at random. I was first up! I knew I was jamming so I was already quite nervous…I am fortunate to have a job where I play to a few 1,000 people a week at Holiday Parks around the UK, I have a fair bit of gigging experience (160 gigs in 2016 alone!), I am not usually afraid of going on stage and doing my job, but this time it was very different for me. Not only was I to be jamming with Paul Gilbert himself but the audience was packed full of Paul’s fans, most of whom play guitar! I also knew there were a fair amount of well known local musicians in the audience who I really respect as guitarists. The pressure was very different from what I am used to…I got out my seat, got my guitar out the bag and climbed onto the stage!

Paul was running a JCM800 Marshal head into a 4×12 cab, he had his usual array of pedals, a bright purple signature guitar and bright orange pants to match. He was super smiley and accommodating straight away. He gave me a few moments to sort out my sound. Turning around I noticed I had been bestowed a 1×12 single channel amp, it was a clean amp with a tone, volume and nothing much else. Someone had borrowed a bluesy style overdrive to slightly boost the amp..I am no stranger to this kind of basic set up, I am a fan of going direct into an amp…but today I feel I may have needed a bit of comfort from some familiar gear, which I didn’t have…but no time for excuses! Paul set up a cool jam that moved between a C# major and minor tonality during the chord sequence, straight away we started jamming… Whilst I am clearly nervous (you can tell mostly by my vibrato and rushed phrasing, especially towards the end) however during the jam I felt a sense of calm…I remember at one point listening to Paul and looking over and thinking to myself ‘I’m just jamming with Paul Gilbert’…then suddenly it hit me..this really was happening! It was a really fun jam and I had some nice compliments from him, his road manager and some people in the audience. Safe to say I drove home that night on a high!

I have studied Paul’s playing for years, and I know how versatile and experienced he is as a musician, showman and guitar player. But when you share a stage with someone like that, the experience is electrifying, its something that only those who have jammed with someone of his calibre would understand.  Paul’s playing is indestructible…he has scary chops, and he execute them on a low slung guitar, whilst making guitar faces and most importantly make it groove and make total sense in the musical situation. It made me realise that I have a lot I need to clear out of my playing and re-evaluate how I focus on my practice and performance. Which is much needed for me as I have been feeling a bit directionless recently. I already started realising this a few years back when I started gigging REGULARLY in front of large numbers a few years ago, but listening back to my performance with Paul I can hear it and see it in plain sight. I know I can play better than I did in the jam…but its not about that, its about the fact I was able to get on stage with one of the worlds greatest guitarists and get the opportunity to communicate with him and jam.

Thank you Paul!



Not sure what I was saying here…




Jason Spell

Recently the online guitar community received some heartbreaking news. Virtuoso Guitarist and Music Blogger Jason Spell took his own life a few days ago. Whilst I never had the pleasure of meeting the Man, he reached out to many other people and is much loved by not only his Family and Friends, but the whole online Guitar continuity. Jason was a hard working Musician, striving for the same things as all musicians strive for. Jason used to reach out to me when I was having my darker moments, he was super supportive of everyone in the community, he cared about it, he was part of it, and he added a light to it. Depression is a serious thing, nobody can ever really know how deep somebody else’s pain is, if you sense someone is struggling, reach out whilst you still can.

Rest in peace Jason.

There has been a Fund started for Jason’s wife Sarah. You can donate here:


Soul Music, Heavy Metal, Guthrie Govan and Paul Gilbert!


Lloyd Wade’s Soul Town and Beat Street by Viva Productions:
Not long after I had started my Freddie Tribute contract for Viva Productions I got a call from them asking if I could hop on tour with two new productions as they had a guitarist drop out last minute. Of course I say yes! Viva Productions consists of a highly talented cast of 14 dancers and musicians, this particular tour has two shows, Beat Street, which is a high energy dance/drum/percussion based show with lots of different styles of music from RnB, Rock, Swing Jazz and Pure Pop, however this is all set to intense Latin and Hip Hop inspired rhythms and complex arrangements. The other act is Soul Town with Lloyd Wade, which features the same amazing cast however with the host being the incredibly talented Lloyd Wade. He knows a thing or two about soul music and it was an absolute honour to provide backing guitars for his set. You can catch him here singing with Take That at the O2 Arena:

I am fortunate enough to have been asked back for more dates on these tours in between my other work with the Freddie Tribute. I really enjoy playing as a sideman in different styles of music, I also really enjoy the choreography of stage performances like this, its awesome being part of it all. I hope to do lots more of this!
Mask of Judas Shows with Galactic Empire/Sithu Aye:
Mask of Judas-40(Photo Credit Michael Berkeley Photography)
Before I went on tour with Viva, Mask of Judas had two shows with the amazing Star Wars metal band ‘Galactic Empire’ and the Anime inspired band Sithu Aye. We supported then at the Joiners in Southampton and Patterns in Brighton, we had a great show playing to sold out audiences. It makes me excited about our upcoming album release! Here is some footage from my GoPro at the Joiners:

NEW Premier Guitar Feature on Guthrie Govans ‘Erotic Cakes’ Album:
Premier Guitar called me up last month to make a feature on the amazing Guthrie Govan’s landmark guitar instrumental album ‘Erotic Cakes’. I had such fun creating the examples and writing the text for this feature, I break down his composition approach, gear, inspirations and technical  aspects of this amazing album. I am proud of it, please check it out here:  https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/25440-guthrie-govans-erotic-cakes 


Paul Gilbert is coming to town

Paul is coming to the UK in March to do some guitar clinics, I have tickets to the Guildford and Bristol ones. I always feel inspired after watching Paul play and hearing him talk. One day I would love to jam on stage with him, just have fun playing phrases back and forth and cranking those Marshall’s past 5!

‘Carry You’ | Live Performance at Licklibrary

I recently went into Licklibrary/Guitar Interactive Magazine HQ to shoot some reviews, whilst I was there I recorded a live performance of a tune that will feature on my solo album called ‘Carry You’ here is the video!

Recording/Solo Album? and Upcoming Mask of Judas Shows

Recording with The Sirens of Titan.

I have been in the studio over the weekend recording an ‘improvised’ album with some very talented local musician friends of mine who go by the name ‘The Sirens of Titan’. We headed to a local studio called ‘The Old Chapel Studio’ which looked amazing and had such great hosts. We only had one rule whilst we were recording ‘If it takes more than one take, its not going in’…so we had to be on our A-Game! We improvised 9 long jams and then picked the best ones. After this we had one more time to pass over all of the tracks with extras like vocals and synth pads. It was an honour to work with such great musicians and I am proud of what we created. We are going in for a mixing session in early February so watch this space!

chapel studios

The music we created was very spontaneous but everyone flourished at their full potential, the sounds direct at the source are amazing and it was sounding good right out of the desk. I have to say Mike Fry and I were blown away with the tone of our Eternal Guitar’s S and T types. I have found I really love the sound of my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe with Celestion Greenback (G12M?) speakers, I didn’t use much gain or over drive for the session. Just a light crunch with a bit of reverb and delay. I had my Providence Analogue Chorus Pedal and Mini Wah to play with during the take we did. Keith provided some wicked bass tones and some warm lush Analogue synth sounds with his original synths he brought along. The kit and percussion sounded amazing. Duncan Burgess and Steve Cubit provided all kinds of rhythmic sound spaces that really are the life and soul of the music we created. There is a bit of a 70s vibe to the sound as its all very real and honest, and I love that element of creating and production. Watch this space for more info on this project soon! Guitarists will love it I am sure!

mike and i



And in other news…last week I had a small surge of creative energy I now have 6 tracks towards a solo album. These are just demos, I have no idea how I am going to afford to record this all properly…and I mean properly, I don’t want to do a solo album with amp plug ins and ez drummer, as great they are as creative tools and for certain productions. I recently posted about my thoughts on being a solo artist…I still feel that way, I feel like more of a side-man than an artist…but lets see where these tracks go, if I can get another two tracks on the go then I might think about heading into a studio at some point. We shall see! Until then keep an eye out on the LickLibrary and Guitar Interactive YouTube and Facebook pages for an exclusive live performance play through of the tune ‘Carry You’. Its real, its raw and it’s me.





I have just posted another news post on this website about two shows I have coming up with Mask of Judas supporting  Sithu Aye and Galactic Empire which you can view here for tickets, dates and more info: http://www.sambellguitar.com/mask-judas-playing-sithu-aye-february-uk/

Mask of Judas playing with Sithu Aye in February UK


Mask of Judas have two shows coming up in February in the UK supporting the Star Wars themed metal band ‘Galactic Empire’ and the awesome Sithu Aye.

You can purchase tickets from these links:

Southampton Talking Heads Thursday 2nd Feb

Brighton Patterns Saturday 4th Feb

Whats new for 2017?

Last year proved to be an exciting year for me after completing over 140 shows, releasing 2 DVDs, finishing the Mask of Judas album recording and of course meeting and jamming with tons of really cool people. It was a blast! Now 2017 is here, I hope to share some things I am currently working on:

Mask of Judas have a couple of shows coming up in the UK (2nd/4th February in Brighton/Southampton) supporting Galactic Empire and Sithu Aye. The album has been mixed and it sounds amazing! I can’t wait for people to hear it, it features 10 tracks of what I feel is my best 7/8 string metal writing, I think its pretty different and I hope that it goes down well. More official news on this soon.

I have recently finished a new column series for Guitar Interactive Magazine on ‘The Bluffers Guide to being in a Covers Band’ which will be out in the next issue of the online magazine. I have also just finished a really cool feature on Guthrie Govans Erotic Cakes album for Premier Guitar Magazine. Watch this space!

My main task this month aside from regular teaching, Mask of Judas rehearsals and of course trying to write music for my solo album whenever I find a moment is learning Queen songs. I was recently asked to play lead guitar role in a Freddie Mercury/Queen Tribute act that is going to be exclusively playing at Butlins over the next year, I have at least 30 gigs already booked with this, and I am looking forward to playing some of Brian Mays classic solos and guitar moments on stage! There are lots of notes to learn and memorise and I find the challenge of memorising complex material really fun and rewarding!

In other breaking news, I trimmed my hair significantly…not sure why, but I need some change in my life, change can inspire new things.

Improvisation at Licklibrary HQ

After filming some gear reviews for Guitar Interactive Magazine last week, the film crew candidly caught me improvising over one of my backing tracks that is featured on my LickLibrary DVD ‘Pentatonic Workout’. Check out the video here:

I am still here, very much so!

Its been a long time since I last updated this website news section, I have been so busy recently that its been hard to find time to do it myself! I am here now however and I shall give you a summary of what I have been up to and what I have planned.

First of all what I have been up to…

Mask of Judas  are currently wrapping up the debut album, its taken some time however I really do believe that the wait has been well worth it. Some of these songs may be almost 4/5 years old and feel a lot like old friends to me however Jacob Hansen is currently in the process of mixing and mastering them to his incredibly high standard. I am so happy with how things are sounding and I can’t wait to unleash this album to you. The whole band has done an astounding job of bringing these songs into the fourth dimension! Jof’s drums are linking all the divides with crazy poly-rhythms and intense grooves. Jo’s vocal work is incredible from her signature pitched screams to low guttural growls she has as also contributed LOTS of amazing melodic and soulful vocal hooks that complete the songs. George is pummeling away on bass, I have no idea how he does what he does on that 6 string bass, but its amazing. And of course Reece Fullwood has contributed two songs to the album and some epic solo work! Once we have some extra stuff done (Artwork, PR and Tour Plans) I will be able to impart some more information. One thing I can say however is there may be an exclusive play through of one of the tracks coming soon to Focusrite Academy. I recently headed up to their HQ to film some educational clips on extended range songwriting. Watch this space!


In other news I have just finished a 6 month contract with an amazing show band at Butlins. We played 5/6 shows a week and performed from an absolutely huge stage every night to big audiences. I was able to play everything from Rock, Pop, RnB, Soul and Funk. This band was named ‘The Southcoast Showband’ for the Butlins contract, however we are continuing as a high quality professional function act in the UK. The band features some incredible musicians, featuring Mitch Glover on Drums, Ash Stork/Samer Shawawi sharing bass duties and Rachel Hawker and Alex Turney on dual vocal duties, keys and extra guitars. They have all inspired me to push my own musicianship to the next level and hopefully with more gigs, far beyond! I have never met such hardworking musicians before, I really enjoy playing with these people! Here is a photo of me making a strange face, credit to Danny Inwood Photography (he was on his holidays at Butlins and took this snap!)


You may notice I am playing a lovely surf green s-type guitar, this guitar is hand built by a local guitar builder under the name of ‘Eternal Guitars’. They have made guitars for many amazing session musicians and artists. Jess Lewis has had a signature model in the past and even Guthrie Govan has used some of these guitars on his JamTrackCentral releases. Dave at Eternal kindly spent time working and building  a custom guitar for me, this is my signature guitar ‘Arista’…more information coming soon…all I can say is it plays amazingly and of course looks incredible. Eternal Guitars really make some magical instruments.


Talking of Guthrie Govan, I managed to meet him at a recent guitar masterclass he did in Horsham last month. I think this photo will put a lot of LickLibrary YouTube comments about me ‘looking like Guthrie’ to rest… He played amazing of course, one day I would love to jam with him…


I had the absolute pleasure of jamming with and interviewing British Blues Legend Robin Trower for Guitar Interactive Magazine a few months back. His tone was stunning and he was kind enough to impart some very wise words of wisdom. You can check it out in the back issues of the free online guitar magazine ‘Guitar Interactive’.


And on another note, I saw Paul Gilbert in Brighton recently, he played an amazing show for his 50th Birthday. I managed to find a spot right at the front, directly in front of his 4×12 speaker…it was only a few moments before he came on that I realised I had forgotten a very important accessory that all musicians should carry with them..my ear plugs…it was LOUD and my ears are still ringing (Look after your ears seriously) but I managed to fully experience all the notes and aggression that Paul plays with, it was amazing.  A friend and follower of mine attended a Paul Gilbert VIP lesson. He kindly printed a photo of me when I met Paul last year at a meet and greet to have signed it for me by PG. Apparently when my friend asked Paul ‘ If he could sign it to his friend Sam’ Paul looked at the picture and replied saying ‘Ah Sam Bell right? Terrific guitarist’. It feels surreal. Thank you friend who did this, you know who you are! I’m not going to look too much into this but I am thankful it happened!


There are probably some other things I have forgotten to mention…I have lots of projects on the go at the moment, I have already mentioned Mask of Judas of course. The Session/Function work makes me very happy and of course I am working away for Guitar Interactive Magazine, Lick Library and Premier Guitar magazine regularly…I have a new column for Guitar Interactive coming soon on Modern Advanced Guitar Technique and there will be some new DVD’s coming out next year…I did manage whilst being busy with all the rest to release a new Jacketrock tune, you can watch a play through here:

On top of this I am actually taking Nick Johnstons advice from the last time I met him to ‘get out there and release an instrumental album’ very seriously…and I am working on something…not sure whats going to happen with it or what direction its going, but I am enjoying the process so far!

One last thing I should mention is that I have started teaching at a local music school in Chichester by the name of Chichester Music Academy. I currently have some slots available there so get in touch with them for more information (Click the picture below!) I already have some fantastic students who are thoroughly enjoying the learning experience.


Regarding my regular postings you can get all the updates on my Instagram (click picture below), so give me a follow for exclusive up to date clips and news 🙂