David Grier Interview

Q: What about a brief biography?

DG: I started playing guitar at 6. My father played banjo and was a

member of a band with Richard Green and Peter Rowan around 1965 - 67. So

I was surrounded by such music since I was pretty young. I went to

festivals or we had house concerts. My father taught me some basic chords

like C and G and I played along Bill Monroe's records. Mostly I'm

self-taught by ear.

Q: When did you start as a professional?

DG: About 20 years old. I joined a band called "Full Time" in Virginia and

I played electric there. I have a rare vintage electric, a 1952 Fender

Esquire. A great guitar

Q: Who influenced you most?

DG: Clarence White

Q: He came to your house often?

DG: Yes, Bill Monroe and Clarence White always stopped by whenever they came

to the area. I was a kid so they usually jammed with my father. My father

still has the tape recordings. That's so cool to listen to.

Q: You used to use D-18

DG: Yes, I got a 1955 D-18 with pick up. I own another one [and he brings

out a guitar]

Q: It's a Mark Whitebook, isn't it?

DG: Yes, 1974

Q: Which year was Clarence's?

DG: I don't know. Roland has it now so he must know.

Q: You like this one because of Clarence?

DG: Yes

Q: What about the Nashville guitar? When did you get it?

DG: September 10, 1992

Q: How did you end up with this?

DG: I've known Marty Lanham for a long time. He did repairs on my Martin

and did refretting. He lives not too far from here so I visited his shop

often. One day he asked me to try a new guitar he built. It was a nice

guitar but a little different from what I wanted, so he made another. I

think this one [the one he owns] is the third guitar Marty made with me

in mind.

Q: What was it that you asked him?

DG: I asked him to make the neck exactly same as my Martin. Then he

measured the neck very carefully and reproduced it as closely as possible.

Q: Is that why the binding is like D-18 than D-28?

DG: I guess so.

Q: Is this Indian or Brazillian rosewood?

DG: It's Brazillian

Q: You Martin D-18 is a mahogany.

DG: Yes, I like the sound of mahogany used beck then but not the sound of

recent mahogany [he's not talking about age but the sound quality of wood


Q: Strings?

DG: D'Addario medium light J-14

Q: Pick?

DG: I use David Grisman model, very heavy stuff

Q: Looks like everyone's using it now a days [It looks like his pick is

falling off his fingers. Almost one half of the pick is exposed but

that's how he holds the pick]

Q: Are you happy with this Nashville guitar? Or are you looking for

anything else? Vintage Martin?

DG: No, I like this guitar. The ones I really like to have are too

expensive, especially vintage Martins.

Q: What do you do for maintenance? A new guitar breaks in and changes the

sound. [I'm so relieved that this interviewer did not ask about loosening

strings :-p]

DG: AS far as this guitar is concerned, it's getting better all the time

so that's not a problem. I've already refretted it once and that's the

only thing I did. I play hard and I need refret once in two years. Oh,

American Airline knocked off this guitar and broke the headstock but

Marty repaired it so it's OK.

Q: You don't use a pick up?

DG: No, it's all natural

Q: You use Paige capo?

DG: Yes

Q: you asked for Shaller tuners? The one we saw at the workshop had


DG: Yes, I asked for the Shaller tuners but it doesn't really matter as

long as they stay tuned.

Q: Compared to other players, your playing is much smoother. For example,

Clarence played with a lot of attack. Your sound is smooth, like Les Paul

used to play. Is it intentional?

DG: Yes, I'm conscious of the way I play, although it takes time.

Q: Do you practice everyday?

DG: No, just some times.

Q: You don't play fingerpicking?

DG: No, I don't. If I do, I only use my thumb

Q: Your band (the interview took place after the band's practice) sounded


DG: Yes, it's more like a swing band

Q: Your own band?

DG: Yes, and today was the first rehearsal. WE got two gigs at Station

Inn in Nashville so we are getting ready for that. We don't really decide

what we do. I like old timey music, and I do bluegrass. I'm also

interested in swing. And I play electric guitar, too. I just love playing


Q: Any advice to younger players?

DG: Practice. Do what you like to play and practice on that.

Picture of David Grier (the young kid) with Clarence White. This picture was taken at the Indian Springs festival in Maryland in 1972 (Jack Lawrence said). Clarence is carrying his Whitebook with a cedar top. He also carries a Pabst Blue Ribbon. The young kid is David Grier with a soft drink in his hand. The gentleman behind David is his father, Lamar Grier. The drunken gentleman on the ground is presumed to be Harry Moore.