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Quarantined Strings: Watch YouTubers Tackle Classics in Their Own Tune

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no shortage of guitarists, bassists and other string musicians playing recitals, offering tutorials or just plain shredding for the sake of ripping off some faces on the internet.

But now that we remain inside for the time being, a simple search of the word combination “quarantine” and “guitar” on YouTube will yield a results page of infinite measure. Naturally, the grand majority of it is an exercise in kindhearted tedium if one chooses to endure 20 minutes of some hooded flannel bro recounting his glory days on the Dream Theater tour circuit.

But when you sift through the schlager, there are quite a number of performances well worth your free time–especially if you are in search of signposts to help you learn how to play that Fender knockoff Santa got you last Christmas.

Here are some great videos from the guitar multiverse available online right now aimed to teach, inspire and enjoy during a time we all feel so shiftless in idle.

Marty Schwartz

Marty “Music” Schwartz is a musician based out of San Diego who has been giving guitar lessons on YouTube since 2008 after he was furloughed from his regular job as an elementary school music teacher. That affable good nature that has made him a hit with his students, is clearly transmitted through his video tutorials, which display a vast knowledge of music and a dexterity on the six-string to match. And with 2 million subscribers and counting, Schwartz has been getting more online traction than ever during the stay-at-home era, making the best of it with both nifty original jams and lessons on how to play everything from Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train” to Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.”

Dane Zimmerman of Zimms Guitars performs “Under The Milky Way” by The Church in his empty store

Over at Zimm’s Guitars in Mesa, Arizona, owner Dane Zimmerman has been making the best of the time spent inside his shop during its temporary closure. Mostly he’s been filming video guitar lessons and hosting virtual hangouts on the store’s socials and on YouTube as well. But it was this spare, lovely solo take on The Church’s “Under The Milky Way” that immediately draws you in as Zimmerman with a wall of Ernie Ball strings behind him. “This is a perfect song for the situation that we’re in,” he professes before diving into the 1988 modern rock hit with an immediacy that will inspire you to break out your copy of Starfish shortly thereafter.

Kfir Ochaion

Meanwhile, on Instagram, Israeli guitarist Kfir Ochaion has been posting videos of himself playing his axe on social media since 2014, amassing 950,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel along the way. Like Schwartz, Kfir’s range is vast, though many times it gets filtered through his love for hard rock and metal from the ‘90s and ‘00s. But he also does these spectacular closeup videos of him playing up the neck of his salmon-colored Fender Stratocaster that are especially enjoyable when he’s playing note for note alongside Mark Knopfler on this version of Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing” you can’t tell where the original ends and the facsimile begins.

Melissa Y Eureka teach us Camilo’s “Favorito” on ukulele

One of the hottest new singles in Latin America is “Favorito” by 26-year-old Colombian singer-songwriter Camilo, whose Green Gartside-esque pitch and breezy rhythmic pulse makes it such an irresistible listen. The song hasn’t been on the air for three weeks, yet multiple homemade covers of the song exist on YouTube. The most endearing one, however, goes to Mexican YouTube ukulele instructor Melissa Y Eureka, who gives us the “super facil” way to learn “Favorito” as her cute pup hangs out by her side. At 2 million subscribers, Melissa continues to post new content while in quarantine, performing songs in both Spanish and English with a special place in her heart for Irish singers like Sinead O’Connor and Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries, whose 1993 hit “Linger” was the first ukulele cover she posted on YouTube in 2012.

Enrico Monti plays Raining Blood

There are a bunch of videos out there of guitarists riffing on everything from AC/DC to Ennio Morricone from the balconies and rooftops of an Italy under lockdown. But it’s a 35-second clip of this Euro looking cat playing a few bars of Slayer’s “Raining Blood” while shouting to his annoyed neighbor down below. It’s so funny. And it turns out the dude, Enrico Monti, plays guitar in the Italian death metal band Skulld, so hearing riffage billow from his balcony is most likely nothing new.