Uli Roth On Why Michael Schenker Has ‘No-Jamming’ Rule

Uli John Roth recently appeared as a guest on the Academy of Tone podcast and reflected on the reasons behind Michael Schenker’s ‘no-jamming’ rule.

The guitarist described his approach to jamming and improvising on the guitar as completely free and spontaneous. He emphasized the importance of making improvisations feel like composed pieces, rather than just playing standard licks.

Contrasting Jamming Styles

He observed that most guitarists struggle with jamming, though he praised Steve Morse for his skill in this area. On the contrary, Roth noted that Schenker is not very keen on jamming, saying:

“But there are some people who are really good at it. Take Michael Schenker. He’s really good at jamming. But he hates it. He never does it. He likes to be prepared. But when he is on the spot and has to play stuff, even though it’s not suited for him, he is always musical, and he will never play rubbish. That’s what I mean.”

The musician then commented on a common issue he sees with other musicians during jam sessions:

“A lot of people fall into that trap. And then they suddenly do this and this, and it’s like, give me a break. It has nothing to do with the music and the song. It’s just someone trying to show off, and this is boring and pathetic.”

Roth’s Advice For Successful Jamming

In the earlier part of the interview, Roth also offered some valuable tips for anyone preparing to engage in a jam session. The rocker stated:

“So that’s the next thing when you’re improvising: don’t think about yourself. Just let the music flow through you. Take a backseat, wait for the moment, and the inspiration will come. Then, if you hear something in your mind, then you do it. But you have to do it at the right moment. And you also, of course, have to interact with the other people. It’s like, when you have other people on stage, you have to listen to them. It’s like a dialogue.”

During the rest of his conversation, Roth emphasized the importance of moderation in jamming, stating that while showing off a bit is fine, it shouldn’t overshadow the music’s substance. He advises starting simply and building up gradually, telling a story with the music. He believes every note should be significant and disapproves of musicians who ignore this aspect.