Doc Watson Interview

Q: Your favorite instrument is Gallagher?

DW: Yes, I got my first one in 1968, model G-50. The Doc Watson model is
based on G-50 and has mahogany back and sides

Q: Which model do you use now?

DW: It's a Doc Watson cutaway model. Merle had one and Don Gallagher made
one as my retirement present

Q: Is this cutaway model specially made for you?

DW: No, I think there are others. In fact, my grandson plays another one.
So I think Gallagher regularly makes these.

Q: Is this one rosewood?

DW: No, mine is mahogany but I'm sure you can get one in rosewood.

Q: And you use a pick up on it

DW: Yes, it's by Fishman. Somebody else not Gallagher installed it.

Q: And it goes through a pre-amp?

DW: Yes, I use an Ashley pre-amp and then send it to sound system. I also
have a Fishman amplifier and it sounds great

Q: You sound pretty loud acoustically. Why do you need a pick-up and pre-amp?

DW: If a sound operator is not very good, you get feedback when you mike
your guitar. I can avoid feedback using pick up

Q: What strings do you use?

DW: John Pearse light gauge. I used medium gauge on my first two
Gallaghers but on this cutaway, I use light.

Q: What other guitars do you use?

DW: I have a lovely guitar made by McIntyre. It's a copy of a Jimmy
Rogers model

Q: Who made it?

DW: A young gentleman named John Arnold

Q: So it is a small-bodied guitar?

DW: Yes, it's after a Waymann, that you can see at Hall of Fame

Q: IS that the guitar you used in your instructional video?

DW: No, that one was made by John Arnold, christened "Rosalee". It was
the first prize of the ruffle here two years ago [interview was 1995;
location unknown]. The fingerboard is rosewood with inlay, and he named
it after my wife. I really wanted to own that one  It was a nice one

Q: Which guitar did you use on this festival?

DW: I think I used the McIntyre on one set. I also use the Martin guitar
with the Wayne Henderson neck. I did not like the original neck of the
D-28 and replaced it.

Q: Have you tried new builders like Santa Cruz and Collings?

DW: I have a Santa Cruz at home and it's a fine guitar. I think Collings
is one of the best guitars right now

Q: What about old Martins and vintage Martins?

DW: I don't have any vintage Martins. The oldest is the D-28 with the new
neck with Brazilian rosewood.

Q: You played electric?

DW: Yes, in 50's.

Q: How is your action

DW: A little low but not much

Q: You like your arm rest?

DW: This arm rest is made by John Pearse and it works great. When you
play wearing a short sleeve, the top stays free of sweat, and you can
play without muting the top. It is adhered not to the top but only to the
edge so it won't damage the finish

Q: When you flatpick, you seem to use more of your arm than the wrist?

DW: I think one third comes from my wrist and 2/3 from the elbow

Q: Is it the most comfortable way for you?

DW: I cannot say it is the correct way but I learned it that way

Q: When you play crosspicking, how do you do it?

DW: I do alternate, down-up-down-up [not down-down-up]

Q: Fingerpicking is always two-finger?

DW: Yes, I use my thumb and index finger. The other fingers rest on the
pickguard as a depth gauge.

Q: What pick do you use?

DW: I use anything that feels good. I'm using this [plastic, teardrop]

Q: Looks like George Gruhn's

DW:  I just borrowed it. 

Q: You used to use a nylon pick? It changes the tone?

DW: Yes, and I still use them

Q: Who influenced you when you started playing?

DW: The original Carter family. I think I heard "Jimmy Brown the News
Boy" from the Carter Family.

Q: Do you play everyday?

DW: No, not really. I play sometimes and I don't play other times. I'm 72
and I've played a lot, so I'm not playing as much. I still enjoy playing
very much.

Q: Who do you like among younger players?

DW: No one in particular. I like anybody who plays well so I can't single


An accompanying photo shows Doc had a strap pin installed on the body,
right next to the neck, bass side. I lkike this position, too, but the
installation must be carefully done. The screw must go into the neck block.