You use AER amps, which are just about
as transparent as you can get. You don’t
hear anything except guitar. Have you
ever gone the opposite direction and
decided to take a delay or a lot of other
different sounds and tried to make something completely wacky?
CD is Crossing Borders by the World Guitar
Ensemble, and in that CD I used a Roland
GR-33 and the Jazz Multiac synth. That
ensemble is no longer in existence.
Hammer-ons, pull-offs, tapping, smacking
the guitar around—where else can we go?
What is going to happen next?
That’s one thing that I really appreciate about
this instrument: it really stays in tune.
Very much so, yes! I also use a Godin
Multiac Synthesizer guitar from time to time.
I did a tour three years ago with an electric
guitarist, Stef Burns. He plays with Huey
Lewis and the News, and we have this quartet: acoustic, electric, bass and drums. With
them I use the Synth Multiac Jazz model,
for jazz. I like that dimension, it really gives
you ideas, just by listening to the sounds. I
also work with the World Guitar Ensemble,
now called United Guitar Ensemble, in
Europe. They play classical music, but
also avant-garde classical music, so with
them I use the synth as well. We actually
recorded Concierto de Aranjuez, just the
very fast adagio by [Joaquin] Rodrigo. In this
ensemble there’s nine guitars counting me,
and I played the synthesizer with a pad of
strings, and the other guitarists played the
melodies, and it came out really nice. That
Well, I think that really the guitar has come
so far since I started playing in 1970, when
Leo Kottke was the guitar hero of a lot
of us because of his technique, and now
you know the young players which I like,
such as Andy McKee or Antoine Dufour,
these people are using a lot of percussion.
I think that every year there’s something
new, so I’m not surprised if from a technical standpoint there’s something new on
the acoustic guitar. I hear people playing
all kinds of effects and percussion, and it
seems to me that they’re using the guitar
more as a drum than a melodic, harmonic
instrument, which is okay for me to listen to
for about ten minutes, and then after that,
it’s a little boring. But there are people able
to do both, and that’s when it becomes
interesting. Tuck Andress—his playing is
I see that you have beautiful fingernails. I’m
always fascinated by what the process is for
nails. As you know, acoustic guitarists are
obsessed with their fingernails.
And other stuff, too. [Laughs]
Would you mind if we take a picture of your
nails? Because they are really exceptional.
Of course. This is only my third or fourth
concert of this tour, so they’re still really new.
Maybe in two weeks will be different. I use
acrylic nails. Basically, the powder is mixed with
some kind of glue, and then this combination
becomes hard and they last about a month,
sometimes five weeks. As the natural nail
grows, the acrylic nail goes up, so I have to file
them every two or three days to keep the right
length. It’s a process. I just go to nail salons.
Since I started playing nylon string guitar, I
like to use my bare thumb versus using the
thumb pick because I like the sound of the
flesh of the thumb over the nylon string. It’s
kind of a sweet sound. When I play steel
string, I use the thumb pick.