“This was easily the most difficult shoot we ever did”: YouTube guitar adventurist Bernth just performed his new single Farewell underwater and almost blacked out in the process

(Image credit: Bernth)

You can always count on YouTube guitar superstar Bernth to do something totally off-the-hook crazy. This is the guy who has drilled holes in his guitar, stung his guitar with rubber bands, submerged acoustic guitars in water tanks. But this time the Austrian guitarist/composer has really gone off the deep end and taken the plunge, performing his new single in its entirety while underwater.

Bernth has made no secret of his motivation for these acts of six-string radicalism; it is all to get people interested in the guitar who might not otherwise bother. And if the video for Farewell doesn’t drum up some interest in the instrument, well you can’t say that he didn’t try. He actually almost lose consciousness conducting what turned out to be – and by some degree – the toughest video shoot he has ever done. 

“This was easily the most difficult shoot we ever did for my YouTube channel,” said Bernth. “When we tried shooting with additional weight attached to me, I was dragged to the ocean floor in the deep sea – my ears started hurting immensely, and I ran out of air too soon. I barely made it back up and almost blacked out before reaching the surface. But it ended up being the opening shot of the video; it turned out great!”

Bernth playing guitar underwater

(Image credit: Bernth)

It’s remarkable, but believe it or not, playing guitar underwater, while weighted down, is not advisable. Wherever does he get the ideas for this sort of thing? 

We don’t recall ever reading anything in our Mel Bay books about playing guitar underwater, but then Bernth has been threatening to take guitar playing under the surface for some time now.

I barely made it back up and almost blacked out before reaching the surface. But it ended up being the opening shot of the video.

“It took us a week to get all the shots since we also had to wait for the perfect lighting and for a relatively calm and transparent sea,” he said. He has our sympathies a week in the Caribbean? How awful, sir. But, he assures us, it was not all daiquiris and reading paperbacks on silver sands. Playing guitar underwater is hard work, and Farewell is quite a tricky-sounding piece. There’s no shortage of technique there.

“Performing the tricky guitar parts with all that water resistance was very hard, but Ireally wanted to play the song correctly with all its intricate details,” he said. 

Mission accomplished. And perhaps miraculously the guitar, an Ibanez Talman  acoustic electric guitar, is still in some sort of working order, even if looks like the truss rod will be working overtime when he gets home.

“I had no idea what to expect when we started shooting underwater – I was quite stressed that the whole thing would fall apart after a couple of takes,” said Bernth. “But aside from a severely bent neck, the guitar survived a full week of underwater shoots.”

You can check out Bernth’s underwater exploits above, and find Farewell on Spotify. It’s a cool piece but next time we’d like to see him cover Barracuda in a similar setting. He might just be mad enough.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.