By Andrew Catania
If you’re on Instagram, chances are you’ve seen, Cyndi Zhang shredding her Ibanez in her videos. With over 20K followers on Instagram and 80K on Facebook, Cyndi has a following larger than some established bands. With exceptional talent, it’s only a matter of time before she hits the big time. I recently spoke to Cyndi and asked her about her background and influences.
Can you give me some background on yourself? When did you first start playing the guitar? Was there a specific guitarist that influences you?
CZ: I was born in China, and I’ve lived in Toronto for about the last ten years or so. My family was not particularly musical, but I did start piano lessons at age five. I started playing acoustic on my stepdad’s guitar when I was about 12 and electric when I was 13-14. Guitarist influences answered in a later question below.
Self-taught or guitar teacher?
CZ: I had an acoustic teacher at the beginning that gave me an excellent foundation on technique and later an electric teacher who introduced me to rock guitar, and who I then played in a band with when I was older. Forever trying to self-improve though, as everyone should.
You have a large Instagram following. Do you have any original material recorded? Have you thought about recording an album of original material?
CZ: The last band I played in was Call of the Wild (Toronto), and we have a demo (super rare) and an EP called Young Wolves that we released. The band is not together anymore, but the EP is still available online in hard copy. However, you should just listen to it on YouTube. There were also two music videos: Young Wolves and Voyager.
Do you have any endorsements?
I do not, and I’m not actively seeking as I don’t have a project together right now, but of course, if Ibanez wants to call… 😉 Nothing to report here.
What is your gear setup?
CZ: I primarily play Ibanez guitars, my main two which you see in all my videos and pics being my 1991 RG770DX and my 1991 JEM77FP (love those dudes). All my videos are just recorded through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 into guitar rig on my computer, but my live rig was a vintage Mesa Boogie F100 head into a Mesa 4×12 cab with metal grille (can’t remember what the model is on those cabs). I painted the baffle on the cab to try and imitate those old Metaltronix cabs. I don’t use effects outside of a Boss Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb through the FX loop and a random Tube Screamer for boost. D’Addario 10-52 stainless steel strings and Dunlop Ultex or Max Grip Jazz III picks.
Who are a few of your influences?
CZ: My primary influence, in the beginning, was Paul Gilbert, not in the sense that I tried to play like him, but being introduced to him and Racer X changed my world and made me discover all the crazy things you could do with a guitar. My friend gave me a VHS of Terrifying Guitar Trip, and I watched it over and over trying to figure out all his licks and how to play Technical Difficulties. One of my most admired guitarists is Nuno Bettencourt because he just has such amazing, inimitable style and his riffs are so exciting and fresh which is saying a lot. As far as songwriting goes, I’m also influenced a lot by Zakk-era Ozzy.
If a group offered you a guitarist slot to tour with them, would that be something of interest to you?
CZ: Depends on who it is of course? But I’m always hoping for that Ripper Owens or Arnel Pineda moment where you just get the call…
What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
Hope to have a new project on the go, get back on stage and write an album. Keep producing my little videos on Instagram and Facebook and maybe double my social media reach 😉 And of course, party – never not a party.
You can Follow Cyndi on Instagram @Cyndi_Zhang
Also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/worldofzhang/