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Learn How to Create a Compelling Cover Song

Learn How to Create a Compelling Cover Song

Unlock the secrets as Mateus Asato & Nahre Sol cover Billie Eilish and John Lennon.

Learn how classical pianist/composer Nahre Sol and electric guitar virtuoso Mateus Asato breathe new life into iconic songs by Billie Eilish — the Grammy‑winning "What Was I Made For?" from Barbie and John Lennon's iconic "Imagine" — live at Studio 610 at UA Headquarters in Santa Cruz, California.

(3:48) Identify the Melody: The Foundation of a Stellar Cover

When building a cover arrangement, Asato takes a methodical approach to dissecting the tune's original melody. This lays the groundwork for a captivating arrangement. Once he has the melody down, Asato starts building around it by adding chords and other melodic flourishes to create more complex and interesting harmonies.

After he has the melody and harmony down solid, Asato uses his ear to weave his own style and influences into the arrangement, seamlessly blending chords and melody ala Jimi Hendrix, John Frusciante, Paul Gilbert, and John Mayer among others, always letting the song's groove lead the way — while not embellishing the original harmony too much, thus losing the listener.

(11:39) Use Dynamics to Elevate your Cover Version

Learn how Asato uses dynamics to separate the main melody from the underlying harmony. This gives his playing an extraordinary depth-of-field that sounds like more than just one guitar. Asato also details how he developed this skill in his early days, when he didn’t have any way to record himself, forcing him to find new techniques for fuller, more interesting arrangements.

Asato also explains how knowledge of the fretboard is important, so you can play the song's melody but still easily find the chords you need anywhere on the neck.

(21:08) Building on the Foundation: Navigate Chord Progressions with Style

From chord inversions to extensions, Asato explains how you can breathe life into your cover arrangement, infusing it with musicality that appeals to guitarists and non-guitarists alike.

Watch as Asato shows you how to keep your arrangement interesting — even if it’s a simple three chord song — by incorporating open strings when possible to change the tonality of the chord.

(27:34) Tone as an Arrangement Tool: Crafting the Perfect Sound for your Cover

When arranging for multiple instruments, Asato pays extra attention to his guitar tone, making sure it fits in with the instrumentation — in this case a lush, full-range piano.

To that end, Asato used a lot of UAFX pedals, including Ruby '63 Top Boost Amplifier and Lion '68 Super Lead Amplifier to create a “crystalline” tone that would cut through, but also sit on top of the piano, just like a lead vocal. He also avoids distortion, keeping his tone clean to emulate the softness and vulnerability of the original recordings.

Asato adds a healthy dose of reverb and delay with UAFX Starlight Echo Station, Golden Reverberator, and Galaxy Tape Echo pedals for an ethereal, spacious sound. He set Galaxy and Starlight to quarter note delay times, lowering the feedback control so the repeats trail off in time, filling the empty spaces without getting in the way.

Watch Nahre Sol and Mateus Asato perform their medley arrangement of “What Was I Made For?” and “Imagine” here:

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