Richard Gilewitzs Fingerstyle Journey Through Time

September 1, 2004

Who Is This Guy?

Richard is an educator, recording artist, and touring solo-acoustic performer. His latest audio release is Thumbsing [Gillazilla], which is available at, Amazon, and CD Baby. He has also just completed Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop [Mel Bay], a comprehensive book/CD/DVD resource based on the hundreds of clinics he has done in more than seven countries.

Breedlove C25 and 12-string jumbo (myrtlewood body).

Sunrise and L.R. Baggs M1.

Audio-Technica AT4041 and AE-3300.

“I typically use whatever is the designated house amp, but I’ve just started testing the Sedona Lite—a 55-watt acoustic tube amp by Rivera.”

Tech 21 SansAmp Acousic DI, L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic D.I., Sabine AX2000W tuner.

D’Addario EXP .012-.053 set (for 6-string) and a custom-made EXP .013-.056 set with a .022 wound string for the fifth-string octave (for 12-string).

“I use an open-G tuning with the guitar pitched down two full steps to C for a wonderful low-end resonance, as well as open-C, open-D, open-Gm, and DADGAD.”

“Without the Beatles, I’d be working at McDonalds asking people if they want lids for their drinks. From there, I’ve been influenced by David Walbert—he’s my classical-guitar teacher, and he has written some of the most stunning pieces I’ve ever heard for guitar—Peter Lang, John Fahey, Leo Kottke, Andres Segovia, Paco de Lucia, John Hammond, Taj Mahal, U2, Heart, Depeche Mode, Fleetwood Mac, the Archies, and just about everyone I’ve ever opened for.”

“I call my show ‘Fingerstyle Guitar Through Time.’ There are elements of 15th-Century lute, Bach, Spanish classical, Delta Blues, and contemporary stylings.”

“I’ve developed a right-hand language with certain picking patterns—an inside roll [hitting strings 6-1-4-2], a forward roll [picking strings 6-2-4-1], a pinch [plucking two strings simultaneously with your thumb and middle finger that you treat as quarter notes, followed by attacking consecutive eighth notes with your thumb and index finger], pairing [using two fingers to pluck strings], and arpeggios—to overcome speed bumps and obstacles to creative freedom. My right thumb is parallel to the strings, and I find that bare fingers offer a more human attack and a wider dynamic range.”

“For me, writing is all about the willingness to load my head full of crap, get a headache, and then have the patience to sift through the rubble and devise a sculpture. It’s like building a puzzle with all the pieces face down—you have to find the right parts. You also have to avoid being derivative of yourself or someone else. This is where a sense of humor is critical, because stepping outside of the box can be unnerving. But if you can endure the process, when that one little bar of original music gets your attention, it’s a sublime moment.”

“I’m a performer, and I’m also a storyteller. People come to a show to be entertained, and the human being who’s onstage is an act whether he or she likes it or not. Of course, the music has to be respected—you don’t want people thinking the stage banter is covering bad musicianship—but the audience should have fun. A really good performance is when the whole room is ‘in concert.’”

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