Focus on Guitar Techniques with editor Neville Marten

Neville Marten is editor of Future Publishing’s Guitar Techniques, a magazine he launched in 1994.

Guitar Techniques takes great songs and aims to teach dedicated guitarists how to play them. It is published every four weeks with a circulation of over 21,000, mostly male.

In this interview, Neville tells us about his first jobs working for Gibson and Fender, his favourite guitarist, and how he’d love to relax on his day off.

About the publication:

How do you differ from other publications in your sector?
We are a solely techniques based magazine that offers just songs, lessons, CD backing tracks and videos – no interviews or product reviews.

Describe a typical reader for us:
In his 30s (98% are male), a dedicated guitarist who thinks of himself as a little more serious about his playing than most.

What stories are you most interested in covering in the publication?
We don’t really cover stories, but just transcribe songs by great guitarists and offer tuitional lessons in all styles of guitar playing.

How does the editorial process run? Do you have specific days when you focus on different aspects of the magazine, or is the planning on a much more ad-hoc basis?
We plan a long time – several months – in advance, as the content is not time sensitive – we don’t focus on current ‘hits’ – and we need time to apply for and receive copyright approval to print them.

How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
We balance the whole issue based on covering a range of styles and levels. Covers are often tastefully shot guitar close-ups with hands playing them; or a famous player like Clapton, Hendrix etc…

Do you produce a features list?
Yes, in order to give our ad sales people better scope and more targeted info for selling to the music trade.

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs?
Not particularly, as we only run one interview per issue.

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
Which famous guitarists are coming to town and are available for a chat. Product info etc.

What’s the best starting point for a PR who wants to tell you about their client?
An email to me.

Do you have a PR pet hate?
Yes, the annoying habit of splatter-gunning stories to magazines when they are completely irrelevant to us. Emails from those companies that do it regularly get immediately binned.

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & when is your deadline for contributions?
Just send us a great story and we’ll put it in the next available issue. If it’s pertinent to us, matches our house style, has great pictures… how can we fail to want to print it?

About you:

Describe a typical day at work:
Arranging future issues, dealing with contributors, endless in-house meetings, dealing with other departments – licensing for tracks etc – subbing etc…

What do you love about your work?
That I’m lucky enough to have my job relating to my passion.

Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I was a guitar repairer for the world’s top two guitar companies, Gibson and Fender; then Guitarist magazine was launched and I sought, and got, a job on the mag, eventually rising to editor. I conceived and launched Guitar Techniques in 1994.

A phrase I use far too often is…
I’’ll do it later….

Who is your favourite guitarist?
Too many – Hendrix, Clapton (in his day), Jeff Beck, Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, James Taylor, George Harrison…

What’s your idea of a relaxing day off?
Driving miles to play at a gig and going down a storm!

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