Town: Mountain View, CA, Hometown: I grew up in Randolph, OH, a little town near Akron.
At what age did you start playing guitar and why?
I was 14 or 15. I'm not sure why, but it probably had to do with rock and roll. I started playing rhythm guitar in a band with some high school friends, but didn't get serious about trying to learn to play until I was in college. Then, my mother says there were two holes worn in the carpet where my feet went as I sat and practiced every day, when I probably should have been doing homework.
An $18 nylon string I bought from a five and dime in Ravenna, OH. The first decent guitar I had was the 1953 Martin D-18 a friend left with me when he joined the army. Unfortunately, he wanted it back when he got out.
Beatles, along with the usual assortment of rock groups and guitarists; Jeff Beck, Clapton, Duane Allman. I also explored jazz guitarists like Joe Pass and Jim Hall, along with fusion players like Larry Carlton. Acoustically, I liked John Renbourn and James Taylor among others. David Crosby and Joni Mitchell provided my first exposure to alternate tunings. Growing up in northeast Ohio, Phil Keaggy was a huge influence, on both electric and acoustic. We tried to never miss a Glass Harp performance.
A wedding reception in Alliance OH, with a high school rock group, when I was 16. It was memorable because I ran a red light on the way home, right in front of a cop. I'd just gotten my license a few weeks earlier. I didn't drive to any more gigs for quite a while.
Acoustic Guitars you own:
Some of my favorites are a Claxton 13 fret Malabar, Hamblin Concert, McCollum baritone, Ryan Mission and Nightingale, True North Model 1, and a Kathy Wingert 'E'.
Your Style, and how you developed it:
I'm not sure what I'd call my style, it's "fingerstyle", but probably more influenced by pop and rock than folk or celtic, or other traditional acoustic styles. I haven't done anything deliberately to develop a style, other than to try to learn what I can from everyone. I suspect a personal style starts to develop as you write and arrange your own material, which forces you to make your own choices. I try to focus on melody, and I was never particularly attracted to the alternating bass fingerpicking style, so I try to find other ways to support the melody. Even though I don't write lyrics, I do tend to structure tunes like pop songs, with verse, chorus, a bridge and so on. Hopefully having a regular song structure helps avoid the new age noodling trap a bit. I also enjoy exploring alternate tunings. I usually gravitate toward "sus" tunings like DADGAD and EADEAE. Lately, I've been exploring CGDGAD and EBEGAD.
Aside from this I have played in a variety of groups from duo to big band over the years. In my development I got chords together pretty quickly and took a much longer time to develop my own style as a soloist. For me listening to horn players and learning how to apply articulation and dynamics to the guitar in combination with understanding how to shape aline was a gradual process.
I don't have any strict regimen. I mostly work on tunes. Sometimes I'll learn someone else's tune if its something I especially like, or if it involves a technique I want to learn. But more often I work on composing my own tunes or arranging something. There, I sometimes just noodle around until I find an idea I like, then set out to develop it. Other times I'll set a goal, like "arrange this Beatles tune in the original key in CGDGAD", or whatever. Recording yourself is a great way to discover where you have problems, so I try to do that periodically. I recall some advice from jazz guitarist Howard Roberts that I read years ago, "it doesn't matter how long you practice, what matters most is how long it's been since you picked up the guitar. That made
sense to me, so I try to play at least a little as often as I can.
I like almost anyone who plays solo guitar. I've always been drawn to solo performers, or small groups, and music that's melodic. I always enjoy listening to John Renbourn, Phil Keaggy, Martin Simpson, Laurence Juber, Peppino d'Agostino, Al Petteway. I've also found myself listening to a lot more classical music lately, which is not something I really ever did as a kid. Roland Dyens is inspiring.
Is there anything else you want people to know about you, your playing style or your views on today's music in general?
I always enjoy hearing from people. One of the best things about places like the 13th fret is that we can connect with others in this small niche we have in common, the acoustic guitar. Email me at email@example.com, or give me a shout
if you're in my neck of the woods. I have some tab, sound clips and other odds and ends on my site as well, if you want to stop by: www.dougyoungguitar.com