Saturday, December 04, 2010

Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitarists I really dig!

Here's my who's who of extreme acoustic fingerstyle/body percussion/Heavy Wood guitarists who use alternate tuning.

Thomas Leeb. Discovered him quite by accident by word of mouth at a guitar seminar. Got to meet the man a year later at a Cannington guitar weekend seminar thingy. Amazing player. I love his blend of slap and tap. Wonderful sense of timing and I love the Scratch pad he has taped on the lower bought to get some of his funky sounds! I taped one on my guitar shortly afterward. Here is a vid of "Desert Pirate", one of my faves. You have to see his version of "No woman No cry" and he can get quite mellow too, check out Akaskero.

Andy Mckee. Andy is an awesome guy from Kansas who I got to know through Don Ross's yahoo group and email list. It wasn't long before people on the list began talking about Andy's playing and I soon found myself ordering his latest CD and being blown away by his cover of "Africa". So good were his compositions that pretty soon I had all of his stuff and TAB books from Taiwan. Apparently Taiwan discovered what we would all learn later. Andy ROCKS! They love him there. I also had the occasion to study with him a few times over the years (Big hair Andy and short hair Andy). It was wonderful to be able to sit down and ask him exactly how he did what he did, and to have him show us, and me video it so I could take it back to the woodshed to learn later. A fellow video game-aholic as well. My favorite tune if his has to be "Keys to the Hovercar" (below). He is famous for Drifting and be sure to check out Africa (he is definitely using all the parts of his brain on that one) and his cover of Everybody wants to rule the world.

Antoine Dufour. Antoine is the most technically gifted guitarist I have ever met and seen play up close.Every thing he does with his fingers has a purpose and fngering and fretting selection has been so well-thought out in advance that he always plays his tunes in the most efficient way possible. When I learn tunes like these, I always second-guess the fingering when indicated. EXCEPT for this guy. Just do what the master says an, and you'll be ok. He taught me to do dampened thumbslaps on the bass string you are ABOUT to play. What a good friggin idea! He plays ahead! he also made me re-think fast alternating lines, borrowing right-hand technique from banjo players because the anatomy of the hand is made such that adjacent fingers are not as fast as opposing digits. BOOYA! One of my favorite songs of his is "Song for Stephen" (below) because it is a perfect analysis of his fingering construction. Check out Spiritual Groove, his mellow Catching the Light, and my new favorite "the Drive within".

Preston Reed ( is a guitarist I found out about through Andy Mckee as he is one of his guitar heroes. Preston kind of pioneered the "Over the top" body percussion I think, although many guitarists do a form of it. Preston takes it to the next level. My favs in his roster include "Ladies Night" (below), Slap Funk, and Tribes. One my other favorite Preston reed song is Accelerator, but there's no vids of him playing it, here's a link of an awesome cover by someone else.

Erik Mongrain I only like one song from Erik, I'm not really into his other stuff, but his one song, Airtap, is such a monster awesome tune, that all you really have to do is stand back and just watch the video. I got the music to this last summer (a guitar buddy transcribed it) and I hope to play it one day. Funny story about when I I met Erik at the Canadian Guitar festival a few years ago. I help film these events and when I was between shoots I spotted him on the side stage and walked up to tell him how awesome I thought Air Tap was and his handlers started piling press-kits and CD's in my hands because I was wearing a pass and big can headphones and they thought I was someone important. Doh!

Michael Hedges is a pioneer of finger-style alternate tuning. Before his untimely death in 1997 he helped bring it into the mainstream a bit. He was kind of weird and would do yoga onstage and stuff, and his onstage presence was that of a Stephen Wrightish comedian. he also did strange covers, which was very neat. Buffalo stance by Neena Cherry. Go figure. Jitterboogie is one of my favs, along with Sofa number1 (a Frank Zappa tune) and Layover. Also, Eleven Small Roaches! He has a great bunch of dedicated fans who have tabbed all of his stuff over at

Don Ross is the big guy on my list. Way back in the early 1990's, I had just kinda quit the music scene and was starting college, I happened to encounter a late-night radio program in Ottawa called open air. The DJ, Mike Juunta played a tune by Don called First RideCD's and sent away in the mail for the 3 tabs he had at the time and holed up in a hotel room in Montreal for three days and learned it. I had not dabbled in alternate tunings at all and it really kicked my butt.Check out The First Ride, Dracula and friends, Afraid to Dance, Thin Air , Robot Monster, and Catherine.

Since hearing that tune all those years ago I've been fortunate enough to become a student. Don is Da man when it comes to this kind of guitar playing and he's still cranking out tunes!

There's many more out there, but these guys are my favorites.


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