Jacob Raagaard

SJ: I’ve been a fan of your music from the first time I heard you play but I don’t really know much about your background and musical story. Where did you grow up, how did you get started playing music and when did the Weissenborn guitar become part of your musical identity?

JR: Thank you! I’m grateful that my music is appreciated. I grew up in a Danish town called Odder. It located in the central part of Jutland. There’s not too much to do in Odder, and I think that’s the reason why I spend so much time at home working on my guitar playing. I started playing the guitar when I was 11 years old. I took private guitar lessons at the local music school. My first teacher wasn’t terrible, but he didn’t inspire me much. In the beginning I wasn’t too passionate about playing, but when I was 13 years old another teacher, Christian Alvad, started teaching at the music school. He introduced me to the art of fingerstyle guitar, and I was pretty much hooked from the very first lesson. Alvad’s own compositions where beautiful and inspiring and he also introduced me to a big variety of fingerstyle artists, many of who are signed with the label, CandyRat Records. While researching different artist on YouTube, I came across a video of Thomas Oliver playing the song “The Moment” on his Weissenborn guitar. It sounded so unique and beautiful, and I just knew that I wanted to play like that myself! I bought my first Weissenborn in 2015, and started by learning to play the song that inspired me to play, “The Moment”. I soon realized that the there’s very limited material available for Weissenborn Guitars online, so I started writing my own music. After only have been covering other artists, it definitely seemed like a challenge to come up with my own material, but I did my best. I wrote my first song, “Sundown Slide” and posted a video of me playing it on YouTube. The response to the song was overwhelming, and I decided to continue exploring the possibilities of the instrument by writing more of my own songs. Playing with a steel bar felt very limiting in the beginning, but as I was progressing I realized how many possibilities there really is on a Weissenborn. I haven’t found the limit of possibilities yet, and I don’t believe there is one. When writing I’m not holding back on using different techniques on the instrument, many of which I don’t even know the name for.

SJ: When I listen to your original tunes I get the impression that you’re drawing from sources that are outside of Weissenborn world. Who are some of the artists on your musical Mt Rushmore and have they had any influence on your creativity?

JR: Definitely! Many different artist across a variety of different genres have inspired me to create the music that I play today. I almost don’t know where to start. I’d still say that most of the artist that have inspired me are fingerstyle guitar players. Some of my favorite players and songwriters are Andy Mckee, Erik Mongrain, Franco Morone and Michael Hedges. Not to forgot my teacher Christian Alvad, who I mentioned earlier. I could definitely mention more fingerstyle artist who has inspired my playing, but these are the first that comes to my mind, when I think about my absolute favorites. They have all influenced my creativity in their own way, and I’m stealing as many techniques, tunings and songwriting ideas as I can, while still focusing on having my own style. When mentioning musicians that have inspired my playing, I absolutely have to mention the most iconic band in music history. I think you all guessed it… Yes! The Beatles..! I had a few years of my childhood, I’d say from around the age of 11 to 13, where the only music I’d listen to was The Beatles. I guess it was some kind of weird obsession, but not like the obsession I imagine young teenage girls had over The Beatles in the 60s. My fascination was beyond the bowl cut. I was simply fascinated with the songwriting.

SJ: I can hear some of those influences in your tune and (sometimes) unorthodox approach to playing the Weissenborn. Would you be able to take apart a specific tune you’ve written and walk us through how you came up with the original idea and developed it into a tune?

JR: Absolutely! I can try to put into words the process of writing one of my newer tunes, “Oblivion”. I actually wrote the song during a time where I felt like the inspiration for writing new music was really low. I felt like I was a bit stuck in open D tuning, which is the main tuning I’ve always used the most on the Weissenborn. I decided that I wanted to experiment more with alternate tunings on the Weissenborn. Playing in alternate tunings is something I used to do a lot back when I played fingerstyle on the acoustic guitar. However finding a tuning that works for slide guitar can sometimes be a little more tricky, as you only have the steel bar to work with. After trying out a few different combinations I ended up discovering the tuning B F# C# F# G# B. I have never had a theoretical approach to playing, so I honestly have no idea why this tuning works so well for slide, but it really does, and it gave me a new boost of inspiration for writing new songs. Writing Oblivion wasn’t something I did on purpose. The songs more or less brought itself into existence, while I was trying to discover the possibilities of this new tuning. I’ve always felt that the best songs I write are those that just come out of nowhere when I’m not trying to play anything in particular. I’d say the first 60-70% of a new song comes to me very fast. Sometimes in a day or even just a few minutes. Finishing the songs has always been a longer process for me, since I feel like I’m getting more stuck by trying to force the music in a way that might not benefit the song. It’s really difficult to put in to words, the process behind songwriting, and I think that every artist have their own approach. Simply said, my approach to writing new music is by having no expectations of how I want the song to turn out in the end.

SJ: I’ll have to check out the BF#C#F#G#B tuning. How do you think about and/or approach live performances vs studio recording? I’m also curious, do you play Weissenborn guitar in a band context as well?

JR: Recording my own music has always been a challenge for me. I’m not quite sure what makes it so difficult, but I think that most musicians will agree that hitting the record button makes it much more difficult to play. At least for me it does. I’m sure it must be from the pressure of having to play without making mistakes. I’ve experimented with different approaches to recording, and I’ve realized that I usually get the best result when I do the recording in one take without the use of a metronome. Focusing to much on not making mistakes sometimes kills the vibe of the song. Sometimes I can get it in the very first take other times I’ll record it a million times before I’m satisfied. Maybe not a million, but it feels like it. Playing live is a little different since I know that I’ll have to keep playing, even if I mess up a part of the song. It’s been a long time since I’ve played a live performance, and it is something that I have a love-hate relationship with. Once I’m on the stage performing, it’s honestly a very peaceful experience, especially when performing in front of a great audience. As a solo artist I also feel very vulnerable on stage. Being the center of attention is usually something that I try to avoid. Even though the songs I write are all instrumental compositions, they all tell their own story, and they are reflections of my inner world. I’ve used the Weissenborn in band contexts a few times, but I’m not currently in a band. It’s something I definitely wish to explore more in the future!

SJ: The sonic quality on your videos is outstanding! Can you give us a rundown on the gear you use for studio recording?

JR: Thank you! I usually try to keep my setup as simple as possible, but I’ll always record with at least two outputs. A mic (RØDE NT2-A) pointing somewhere in between the 12th fret and the sound hole. I’ve really come to realize just how important the mic placement is when recording. When the recording is on point it really minimizes the work you have to do in your DAW after recording. You don’t have to do much more than add a little compression and reverb to the recording. For the second output I have a Seymour Duncan Mag Mic installed in my Weissenborn. I’ve always felt that most pickups in acoustic guitars sounds very artificial and flat, but the Mag Mic sounds incredibly nuanced and has a great low end! I create a stereo effect by panning the two signals slightly to opposite sides, right and left. For the album “Sundown Slide” I recorded all of the songs on my own, but the mixing and mastering was done by Antoine Dufour. He’s an incredible player and composer himself! He definitely added some magic to the songs that I wouldn’t have been capable of doing myself. All songs on the album was recorded on my Richard Wilson Style 3 Weissenborn made from Tasmanian Blackwood. It sounds absolutely incredible and the recordings don’t even do it justice. It’s in fact the only Wessenborn that I own right now, and it works just perfect for my style of playing! Love the rich overtones and incredible sustain..!

SJ: Do you have any tips for aspiring players on developing good technique and/or the creative process of writing new music for the instrument?

JR: I believe that developing good technique from the beginning is super important. It’s a lot easier to learn good technique early rather than later. Fixing bad habits/techniques can be a challenge! That being said, there are different techniques and ways of playing. There is not only one right way of playing. My own techniques has changed a lot through the years. Now I’m using the traditional steel guitar technique with the thumbpick and two fingers with picks. If anyone’s curious, here’s the bar and picks I use: The bar I’m using is the Dunlop Lap Dawg 926. Im using a Dunlop thumbpick that I file to a different shape. I don’t like the way they are shaped originally, and changing the shape will affect the tone and playability quite a lot! The fingerpicks I use are called ProPik F-tone. These picks have holes that expose the fingertips which makes it possible to play artificial harmonics. It’s a technique I use in most of my songs, and I could not do that with normal fingerpicks. Explaining the creative process of writing new music, can be a little complicated. The best tip I can give is to allow yourself to think completely outside of the box and not only limit yourself to a traditional way of playing the instrument.

SJ: I almost forgot to ask you about your work on lap steel and dobro! At a lap slider, how do think about and/or approach playing lap steel vs dobro vs Weissenborn? Different tunings? Different voices of each instrument?

JR: I pretty much have the same approach to writing and playing on Weissenborn and Dobro. All of the songs I wrote on the Weissenborn sound great on a Dobro as well, but it does give the songs a different vibe! I’m using the same tunings and techniques, but the dobro definitely has more punch, whereas the Weissenborn has a more mellow tone. My approach to playing the electric lap steel is a little different. I usually don’t play a lot of fingerstyle on the lap steel. Well technically I guess it’s still fingerstyle, but I’m using the term fingerstyle more as a genre. On the lap steel I will usually play with a volume pedal creating more ambient sounds like doing swells with the use of different effects like reverb, shimmer, delay etc. I also like playing old rock music on the lap steel. Sometimes when I hear a guitar solo played on a guitar I challenge myself to see if I can figure out a way of playing it on the lap steel. Usually there is a way to do it. It’s also an incredible way of improving your playing and understanding of the instrument!





Tre Mistiche by Sally Van Meter – CD Review by Paul Koptak



Sally Van Meter, Tre Mistiche: A Small Congress of Ballad, Weissenborn, and Waltz (Live Oak Records, 2015). Available from artist on her Facebook page.

It’s very likely that Sally Van Meter was the first female instrumentalist to win a Grammy for her work on The Great Dobro Sessions (that comes from the Shubb artist page, along with the story of the tone bar she designed for them). Long-time member of the Good Ol’ Persons band, Van Meter has also released a solo dobro album (All in Good Time) , recorded with 60’s icons Chris Hillman and Jorma Kaukonen, and found time to pursue her interests in film production and photography.


photo by Jeremy Rosenshine

The EP’s liner notes describe this collection as  “small gatherings—a fine musical cohort, me, and a very old Weissenborn feels just right. “ The seven duets of mostly traditional tunes feature four guitarists, each bringing a different complement to Van Meter’s singing melody lines.
Hard Times (Come Again No More) with Led Kaapana matches the slack key master’s echoed guitar with Van Meter’s simple statement of the tune, the guitar adding lines until it creates a kind of counterpoint.
Irish singer-songwriter Gerry O’Beirne plays guitar and ukulele arpeggios on the gentle Margaret’s Waltz. The sync between rubato weisenborn and guitar lends a dark beauty to the modal melody of My Lagan Love. Their final duet, Na Geadna Fiadaine (The Wild Geese), again departs from regular rhythm to conjure images of watching a sunset in fall.
Northumberland blues guitarist Johnny Dickinson contributes some additional bottleneck slide guitar on two of his own tunes. Listeners might think of Leo Kottke in the B part of Little Mischief, but it is here surrounded with a playful dance instead of a Vaseline machine gun. Their second pairing, Feathers of Fen Rother, first sounds celtic, then upbeat country.
The set closes with old-time hero Bruce Molsky’s fingerpicked guitar and rugged vocal on Little Satchel, an invitation to marry and go to “Californie”– whether or not the bride’s father gives his blessing.
This collection becomes more appealing with each hearing. Because it was recorded in various live and studio settings, the sound of the weissenborn is a bit different from song to song; the magnetic pickup on Feathers gives a new sound to the slides, hammers, and pull-offs. For me, the variations make the listening a bit like a journey with unexpected discoveries and pleasures around each bend. Every tune highlights Van Meter’s spare melody and backup lines, some of the most expressive and musical I know. The duet format worked very well; here’s hoping for another will that includes Van Meter’s talents on dobro and lap steel as well.


Paul Koptak is a Professor of Theology at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago as well as a lifelong fan of resonator, Weissenborn and lap steel guitars. When he’s not busy with his day gig Paul can be found playing his dobro with his band – The Lonesome Theologians.

A conversation with GRAMMY Award winning guitarist Ed Gerhard



SJ: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Who or what inspired you to start playing in the first place?

EG: I always had a musical ear as a kid. When I was about ten years old I saw Segovia on television. That was the first time I’d ever heard the guitar played as a solo instrument and it floored me. It wasn’t until four years later I convinced my Dad to get me a guitar. I started with an interest toward classical music but I couldn’t find any good classical guitar instructors near me so I did what everyone does, went down to the local music store and sat with a nerdy guy and played those horrible things, the songs you never hear outside of the backroom of a music store (laughs). I took about three lessons there. Quit those lessons, got a couple of books. I never did learn too much from those books, just a few chords. A college kid had moved across the street from me in Pennsylvania where I grew up. He was a guitar player, so whenever he was home from college I’d take a lesson or two with him. So I made it a point to digest as much as I could in one sitting. I would learn pretty much an entire tune in one lesson. Not all the details, but I could get from the beginning to the end and figure out the rest by myself later on.

SJ: Sounds like you are largely self-taught then?

EG: Pretty much. This college friend of mine was a guy named Bill Morrissey, if that rings a bell with anyone. I would take a few lessons from him when he was home, but in the meantime I had to figure out some way to learn tunes so I applied myself. I always had a pretty good ear so that always served me well. It allowed me to not only figure out what was going on in a piece of music, but to memorize it. That’s one of the big things that I see now in a lot of players that are learning how to play – they don’t memorize stuff. It only exists on a page for them. They don’t have it in their head. But that was a natural thing for me. I ate it all up.

SJ: I see that you offer occasional workshops and I’m curious if you have any general thoughts about the learning process? It seems to me when you watch a great musician play you see the results, but you don’t see all that went into producing those results, which might be years or decades of dedication and practice, overcoming obstacles, paying your dues, etc. What are your thoughts about teaching yourself to play?




EG: I think that some people are more philosophically or motivationally inclined toward one way of learning as opposed to another. For me it was a natural thing to never say die or take no for an answer. I just kept working until I figured it out. But that takes a lot of time. People don’t seem to have a lot of time or be willing to make a lot of time, so they will often use aids like tablature or instructional videos which are great way to learn, but in order to really play the music has got to be inside you. You’re not trying to claw your way in from the outside. So my workshops are a little different than what folks might expect. I’m not sitting in a room telling everyone to play the same thing. What I like to do is to work with each player, listen to what they are already playing and use that as a starting point. What I try to do is to help them listen more deeply to the effects that they are having on the instrument. People will often ask me how to learn to play with more emotion or more dynamics. Unless you can really hear how your own technique is creating those effects on the guitar you’re going to miss those things. So you have to think, feel and do. That’s what I try to help folks do in my workshops.

SJ: When I listen to your music I find myself taken with the beauty of your arrangements. You play with great finesse and communicate with your audience at a deep level, all without words. What is your perspective on instrumental vs. vocal music and how does that influence how you arrange your repertoire for live shows?

EG: I never think about it in terms of instrumental vs vocal music. When I’m arranging something I am aware of what the song is about and I try to become intensely familiar with that – on my terms – not necessarily what the author intended and try to figure out what that means for me. For example I have an arrangement of Strawberry Fields Forever that I’ve been playing lately and it’s not one of those arrangements where I’m trying to duplicate everything that was done on the original recording. Sometimes those types of arrangements have almost a novelty effect. What I try to do is figure out what the song is actually about. Now this is not a tune that I play on Weissenborn, but the tune is not just a psychedelic romp with strange noises, that’s what the record is, but what the song is is not always represented on the recording in a way that everyone can understand. When you look at the lyrics – “no one I think is in my tree” – what does Lennon mean by that? If you know about John Lennon, you know that he was abandoned by his Dad, his Dad left his family. When he was four years old he went to live with his grandmother and his aunt. He saw his mother regularly but he didn’t live with her. He always thought he was a little genius and he felt that he saw and thought and felt things in ways that everyone else seemed to miss and that confused him. But he would go to this park and play and climb trees – he loved to climb trees. There was an orphanage nearby and the orphan kids would come out to play and they would come out to the park and he would play with them and he felt that he fit in with them. That’s what the song is about. So when I play that song that’s what I’m trying to get across, not the backward drums and noises. I mean I love that stuff, but I’m trying to take something and figure out what’s personal to me about it. That’s where that connection comes from. A lot of times people will hear things in a way they haven’t heard before. Other times they’ll hear something that should be intensely familiar and they’ll ask what is name of that (laughs)!

SJ: So it’s a search for trying to understand and play out of your own experience vs. duplicating what someone else is doing?

EG: Well, we all start out imitating and trying to make the sounds that we hear that we think are so cool. And that’s a really empowering thing. For some it leads to discovering our own selves as musicians. Other players just want to be amused and just duplicate music and that’s fine. I think that’s where most people are. But you hear people in the world who are taking their influences, internalizing them and what comes out sounds like a whole new thing and that’s kind of the hope for most of us – to be ourselves. Your interests lead you in a certain direction and you follow it.

SJ: Did you start on guitar?

EG: Yes

SJ: What was the transition like moving from guitar to Weissenborn? What inspired you to start playing Weissenborn in the first place?

EG: I always played bottleneck style slide. I’d mess around playing lap slide every now and then. I’d see a Weissenborn here and there and I’d played them, but the bug never bit me until sometime in the 90’s when I was recording a record called Counting the Ways. I wanted some Hawaiian guitar on the record, I loved the sound. I wound up getting a little electric lap steel to experiment with. I thought to myself this is a new thing. It’s still a guitar but totally different. So I recorded a tune with Bob Brozman playing on it. He played some Weissenborn on it. I was recording inSanta Cruz, California and Martin Simpson was out there at the time so I had him play on a track and Bob Brozman play on a track. Martin was opening a show for David Lindley at the Great American Music Hall and he invited me to come to the show. So I met Lindley and hung out. At that time he was traveling with his vintage Weissenborns and they just sounded magnificent and I said to myself “it’s time.” To hear the Weissenborn is one thing. It’s a beautiful compelling sound. But when you sit down and make that sound yourself, I mean, once you’re hooked, you’re hooked for life.

SJ: That’s so great! I think it’s difficult for someone to completely appreciate the difference between listening to someone else play a Weissenborn guitar and getting those sounds out of the instrument yourself. It’s one thing to play a Weissenborn acoustically, they sound great, but you put a good pickup in one and play in a great sounding room in front of an appreciative audience the amount of sound and the depth of the sound is nothing short of amazing!

EG: Yeah, generally I don’t like magnetic pickups in six string guitars, but in a Weissenborn it’s like they’re made for each other. You’ve got the acoustic Weissenborn guitar on one side, the electric lap steel on the other side and squarely in the middle sits the plugged in Weissenborn and it’s totally its own thing. One of the great experiences I had was playing a trade show in Germany. It was in this big industrial park in an arena sized room with an arena sized P.A. system with really great sound. I plugged in the Weissenborn in this gigantic rock and roll system and whenever I would play it was like sitting on a volcano. There was really high volume with enormous clear bass and you could see in the very back of the room there was a little hallway where people were passing from one hall to another. Whenever I would play the Weissenborn everyone would stop to listen.

SJ: So when you are doing a live show you play regular guitar and Weissenborn guitar. I’m curious to know what kind of response you get from the Weissenborn. What kind of comments do you get? Do they even know what the instrument is?

EG: Every now and then I’ll explain what it is but people are generally either informed or disinterested. Occasionally someone will approach me after a show a say what’s that laptop guitar you were playing? It sounds quite of twangy! But people seem to really like the sound of the Weissenborn. In some ways the Weissenborn has made my life miserable. The Weissenborn is so lush and full sounding and then I’d go to pick up the six string again, and plug it in and it sounded like two armadillos getting it on in a dumpster (laughs)! It’s made me work a lot harder on my six string rig and getting the best sound I can get out of it. So now I feel that I can go back and forth without completely losing that roundness and depth.

SJ: How did you develop the repertoire of tunes you play on the Weissenborn?

EG: The only tune that I play that I’ve heard other people play is “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live.” I remember hearing that on an old Ry Cooder record and really liked the melody so I worked up a version in just about every tuning I was using – open G, open D, dropped D. I worked up different versions of the tune just because I liked playing it. So when I got the Weissenborn I decided to work it up and then found out that David Lindley had already beat me to it. But he’s accompanying himself singing where my version is a solo version with chords, melody and bass. As far as how I get ideas, I don’t know. Usually something just bubbles up. I don’t noodle around on the Weissenborn as much as I should. A lot of times you discover things – a lick, a chord progression or a rhythm which can lead to writing new tunes.

SJ: What tunings do you use?

EG: Open D is the one I use all the time. I tune it down a whole step so it’s actually open C. I used to tune down to B but sometimes P.A. systems can’t handle that low note, you know.

SJ: Do you play without picks?

EG: I use a thumbpick. Sometimes you want that extra bite on a downstroke.

SJ: How do go about getting the best sound out your Weissenborn for live performances? What kind of pickup, preamps do you use? Do you use any spatial effects?

EG: I use a Fishman Neo-D Humbucker, it’s a passive magnetic pickup which I run either through a Fishman Pro Platinum EQ D.I. which I’ve had for a million years or sometimes I’ll use an Aguilar Tube Direct Box which are no longer made, but mainly its right here (points to his hands), that’s where I get the sound. You have to hear what the instrument is capable of, learn what it’s capable of to connect what you’re feeling or thinking with the actual sound that’s being made. Only then can you really modify that sound and find an emotionally complete way to play; that all becomes part of your sound.

SJ: I’ve found that playing squareneck dobro vs Weissenborn guitar requires a different approach. It’s not just a matter of D vs G tuning (DADF#AD vs GBDGBD) but the differences in string tensions and the way that the guitars respond to your touch. Getting good tone out a Weissenborn guitar seems to be more about finesse than anything else.

EG: When I was tuning with the open D tuning way down to B I was using a standard set of medium gauge strings. The strings felt very mushy. Playing with the right amount of string tension and finesse the tone that you got from it was like nothing else. It wasn’t like a big fat heavy string at high tension tuned to the same pitch. Because that string was looser it tends to swing more and I think it excites the magnet better. But when it’s tuned that low you have to back off with your touch. That really taught me about a lot about how important the right hand is. That’s your voice right there (points to his right hand)

SJ: I took a lesson with dobro player Randy Kohrs one time and he told me that 80% of tone is in the right hand.

EG: I believe that. Obviously you want an instrument to be capable of it, but if the sound system is bad, or your guitar is not sounding good you work harder to produce what you want and that’s what the right hand is for. But the right hand is only in service of what’s in here (points to his heart), you know what I mean? The hand is not going to do it by itself!

SJ: That’s such a great insight. I love that! Can you give us an overview of your different Weissenborn guitars?

EG: I’ve got a pretty good stash of different Weissenborns. I’ve got 3 of the original style 1’s. The best one is a monster, as light as a feather, you’ve played a bunch of Weissenborn’s so you know what I’m talking about. I have a style 2 that’s really nice, then I have some modern reproductions of Weissenborns. Jayson Bowerman, when he was working at Breedlove made me a really great guitar which I like which is made out of myrtlewood. I also have a Weissenborn made by Bill Hardin at Bear Creek which is an amazing guitar. It’s a strange combination of woods for a Weissenborn, its German spruce and Honduran rosewood. It’s a fairly heavy guitar. It’s a style 4. Bill Hardin makes a hell of a nice Weissenborn guitar. And it’s a monster. It’s got this low end on it that – you almost think that the strings are very dull and the notes are going to die away but they hang in there with all this presence. The treble is really fat on that guitar. Bear Creek is a really fantastic guitar. Jayson Bowerman, when he was working at Breedlove developed this Weissenborn with me which was based on my vintage style 2. Now he’s on his own building guitars. I haven’t played any of his Weissenborns but I’m sure they’re really good. Jayson has the magic touch.


with Jason Bowerman


Breedlove Weissenborn

SJ: What’s with the frets below the 6th string on the Breedlove Weissenborn?

EG: I’ll do stuff like play at the 7th fret and use my little finger to press down the string at the 4th fret, for example.

SJ: So you’re pressing down behind the bar?

EG: Yes. So you can get a bit more of a moving bass line. I discovered this when I got a really bad reproduction of a Weissenborn guitar from a guy in California. It was badly warped and set up way too low at the nut. So one day I was messing around, trying to see if I could get any notes out of that guitar and I made that discovery. So when Breedlove asked me to design a Weissenborn guitar with them I decided that I wanted that to be a feature of that guitar. It drove Jayson completely nuts. I think he hated me for a long time. It was really difficult to do that. At one point we had a slanted saddle and we angled the frets. The way its done now – and we have this patented – each fret is inlaid in a small piece of ebony and glued on to the fret board. So as the guitar changes, if the intonation starts going bad you can pop of the fret and relocate it. It’s a pretty cool system.

SJ: When you play live do you use any kind of spatial effects?

EG: I’ll try to figure out what kind of reverb the sound person has. I often travel with my own reverb which is a Lexicon LXP-1. I don’t know what I’m going to do when that thing dies, it’s just a great sounding ‘verb. Once in awhile if I’m using my own sound system I’ll bring the LXP-1 or a Lexicon PCM 90 which I will pull out of my studio.

SJ: I used to own one and remember it well.

EG: They’re great sounding reverbs.

SJ: What has being a musician and playing professionally taught you about connecting with an audience through instrumental music? There are very few musicians who play at your level but there are a lot of us who love instrumental music that the Weissenborn is capable of and aspire to connect with our audience – no matter how small – through instrumental music.

EG: It took me years and years to get completely comfortable playing in front of an audience. I always loved playing guitar in front of an audience, but it took a long time to get to that place where there was a sense of community. What I came to realize is that it’s already there before you even arrive, and an audience is never more curious, never more into what you are doing, than the moment you walk out on stage. Before you ever play a note that’s when the audience is most vulnerable and all you can do is screw it up from that point on. But I try to recognize that. My thought is that when the audience is at their most vulnerable, most curious, give them something right up front: give them the impression you want them to leave with. If you want to play something that shows that you are a good player with excellent tone than play something that demonstrates that. That connection is pretty much already there so I’m never uncomfortable on stage or I should say I never get nervous. Sometimes there are external situations – sound or lights – that are beyond my control which can impact a live performance. One of the things about playing Weissenborn is that you need to be able to see the guitar to play it. Making that connection, it’s a hard thing to describe without sounding like Deepak Chopra. It’s a very evasive thing. A lot of times you may be thinking you are making a really strong connection with a tune and you get a lukewarm reception. Sometimes that lukewarm reception can be misread as well. Sometimes you think it’s lukewarm and actually the audience is so blown away they can’t even clap.

SJ: As a fellow musician I love vocal music and have hundreds of CD’s by my favorite vocal artists. At the same time my favorite musicians tend to be instrumentalists. I’m still trying to get my head around how and why instrumental music can be so powerful, so evocative without the listener not necessarily understanding what the music is about. It’s something that I feel at a much deeper level than I can articulate through the written or spoken word.

EG: Absolutely! When I’m playing a tune, like I referenced earlier, Strawberry Fields, all that stuff I was talking about – there’s a lot of information that goes into this arrangement. A lot of choices and a lot of work go into presenting things in the light of how I think and feel about them. An audience is not going to get all that information, but they will get a sense that it’s there. You can tell when you hear two different people playing the same tune; you can tell who has the information and who doesn’t have the information. There’s a sense of ownership and authority. That’s one of the things that an audience will understand and notice. Are you confident or are you wasting their time; you know what I mean? You do hear a lot of that stuff. Sometimes it’s fun to hear; sometimes the stuff that tries so hard to get your attention winds up driving you away. It’s nice to be drawn into music sometimes. So I try to leave room for that. Everybody’s got their own way of connecting with an audience, instrumental or otherwise. I don’t ever think “there’s no vocals here so I’ve got to do something to get their attention.” It’s not always necessary to pander to your audience – it’s not always necessary to give them something snappy up front. Instead, give them something interesting and an audience will sit and listen to it, unless they’re a bunch of dilettantes and we’ve all played in those types of situations.

SJ: The perils of playing on the road. Any closing comments or words of wisdom for aspiring musicians and/or Weissenborn players?

EG: Geez, I’m kind of a hack at the Weissenborn, it’s not my main instrument. I do love playing them though. I would say with anything that you love, spend as much time as possible with it. You will find things about music and about life, about any kind of art that you would have never understood if you hadn’t put in that extra time. And I’m not talking about discipline, per se, as meaning doing something you don’t want to do or forcing yourself to practice. For me playing music has always been more of a devotion. I have no problems sitting here for 9-10 hours playing guitar, all day or all night. Sometimes I don’t want to play at all. Sometimes I might go a couple of days without playing. I have to touch the guitar everyday but I don’t have to play it. That’s really where it comes from. We’re often taught to develop our weaknesses, and sure you want to be able to get around a do a certain number of things. But, figure out what your strength is and develop that. That’s how you develop your own style.




Mark Twain; Ken Burns
Le Vie Di Sempre (Ivano Ponzini; Italy)
The National Parks: America’s Best Idea; Ken Burns


Windham Hill Guitar Sampler (over 300,000 copies sold) Donna Lombarda

(Featured in Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s Essential CDs of 2010)

Henry Mancini; Pink Guitar (GRAMMY® Winner) Guitar Fingerstyle, Narada Records
Masters of Acoustic Guitar, Narada Records

Fingerstyle Guitar Summit
(Ed Gerhard, Martin Simpson & Adrian Legg)

All Star Guitar Night; Nashville (multi artist)
Solo Guitar Performance (Japan Only)
My Love My Guitar; The Best of Acoustic Guitar (Korea Only)


Songs & Pieces for Guitar
Ed Gerhard; The Guitar Songbook Warner Bros/Alfred Fingerstyle Guitar Masterpieces Stringletter Press Portraits of Christmas Mel Bay
Guitar Music Virtue Records Publishing/Mel Bay
Windham Hill Guitar Sampler Songbook Lap Steel Guitar Centerstream Publishing
Hal Leonard
Virtue Records Publishing
“Gerhard’s two instrumental sets provided ample demonstration of why critics have been so unstinting in their praise. An original musical voice, he has some- thing to say; and he says it with a rarely-heard clarity.”