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 available] 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 Weaverleys. 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 jazzy 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 guitar Q: Any advice to younger players? DG: Practice. Do what you like to play and practice on that.