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Video by LR Baggs.
Doyle do you remember coming to Palatka, Florida in the early 80s and setting up your equipment at the Church of God of prophecy instead of the Church of God? I was one of the guys you came and got to help you move you equipment to the right place.
I certainly do. That was probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. The sign out front said Church of God and in small letters underneath said “of Prophecy.” I figured they didn’t realize how much time I needed to set up, so I pulled behind a tree where a door was, but it was locked, so I went around the back and climbed through a window. I thought I was helping them out so they wouldn’t have to come too early. I would have everything set up by the time someone arrived. After setting up completely on the stage and still no one was there, I went to the front of the church and looked at pamphlets or anything with the name Church of God and it said Cleveland, Tennessee, which is where the Church of God International Headquarters is located. Then, it dawned on me that the Church of God of Prophecy International Headquarters is also in Cleveland, Tennessee. I ran out the front door of the church to look at the sign once again and then noticed “of Prophecy” and almost fell on the ground. I was afraid then that I would be arrested, so I got in my van and finally found the Church of God where they were waiting on me and people were already in the choir singing. A couple of guys came and helped me and you were one of those obviously. Do I remember it? How could I forget it! Once again, thanks for helping me out and keeping me out of jail. Ha ha
Hi Doyle – we were wondering if you’d talk a bit about the Fred Kelly thumbpick that you use and what you like about it etc.
Fred Kelly Picks, Grayling, Michigan
(Hi guys… ) I started using Fred Kelly picks in the early 80s when a friend of mine in Jacksonville, Florida had one, and I thought it was the coolest design for a thumb pick I had ever seen. There were several years where I could hardly find them. When I would go to a different city I would go to the music store just to find Fred Kelly picks and I would buy every pick they had. It was a great day when I met Fred Kelly at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society convention and since then have never had a problem getting them. Recently at Eric Johnson’s studio I used some of the other models, like the slick pick, for different sounds. I love every one of them and cannot imagine using anything else. Also… A bonus for me is they are wonderful people!
I like all the videos that he posts, and I think the sound, lighting and overall quality is great, What is he using tech-wise to get such a quality video?
Thanks Keith… The more recent videos that we posted on our site were from L.R. Baggs in Nashville and were done in Nashville at a studio there. Most of the guitar stuff you hear is going direct through his new Session DI pedal. Of course, the pickups have to be right as well and my choice has been L.R. Baggs for many years now. We must also consider the Olson guitar and my nylon string Kirk Sand guitar.
There are also some videos that were done on my Guild guitars which are also excellent guitars with L.R. Baggs pickups and were recorded at Aspen Pittman’s (Groove Tubes guy) studio in Los Angeles. Aspen did the video work himself and ran everything through the board. There were a lot of different miking techniques that he used. You can contact him and check out his sight at aspenpittman.com.
I am planning on doing a lot more YouTube videos and will keep you posted on what we will use if you like.
Doyle, will you be performing any concerts in the Dayton, Ohio area this year?
I hope so but not sure at this time. There are a lot of good musicians around there and I hope to get up there or in that general area at least this year.
What is your favorite guitar and why?
On the acoustic son If I had one guitar to take on the road it would be my Olson. It is quintessentially the most perfect guitar I have ever played. Another is my Kirk Sand nylon string and for my 12 string I like my Adamas by Ovation & my Guild signature guitar is great. I also love my Guild six string and my old Taylors. When I am at home I like to play my old Gibson flattops and will occasionally take one on the road with me. All in all it’s the Olson.
On the electric side… I love my old Telecasters and my Gretsch guitars.
Any guitar instruction DVDs planned?
No, but I do need to do that.
What are the details (model, woods used and etc.) on your Olson guitar?
Sitka spruce top and Pernambuco back and sides. Pernambuco is basically known as the wood that violin bows (etc.) are made of. It comes from Brazil and is in the Brazilian Rosewood family but not on the endangered list. It is very rarely seen as a guitar wood. You don’t see pieces large enough for a guitar from what I understand. James Olson is making a cutaway version of that same guitar for me now.
Are you currently or will you be a Signature Artist with any guitar manufacturers in the near future and will you be performing any guitar clinics?
I probably will someday. Right now I am enjoying playing my Olson, Sand, Gretsch and my Adamas. Sometimes I will also take my old 58 or 61 Telecaster. I love guitars and the people that I represented were very special to me. I don’t have any enemies in this business and hope to involve Taylor, Guild, Fender, Gretsch, Ovation and perhaps even Gibson in my future plans.
Any new signature guitars planned?
My next main guitar will be an Olson. When you have something like that… You just let the man (James Olson) do his magic.
I thought that I saw that you were going to have signature guitar straps. Where can I order the straps?
That was a fender idea and they were doing this through their Guild dealers and network. Since that has been sold, all that has been scratched, unfortunately. That may be a fun thing to do with another company on my own. I’ll keep you posted on that. I am very involved with GHS strings and accessories. I’ve been intending to speak to Russ McPhee concerning this. Thanks Bill.
Hi Doyle! Do you have any advice on getting over stage nerves? As a young guitarist getting ready to head off to college to study music, I still find my nerves getting in the way of my performance. Thank you! – Katelyn from Tampa
Thanks Katelyn… everyone gets nervous. In fact, as my daughter Heidi says before she goes into a surgical environment on her job that nerves are God’s way of giving you an edge. I have been backstage with many professional guitar players and have seen some more nervous than others. I have actually given this same advice and even handed them a Bible concerning this…
Phillipians 4:13… I normally quote this Bible verse to myself (and sometimes even read over several times). Philippians 4:13 in the amplified Bible. I call the amplified Bible the guitar players version. (HA!)
“I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through him who infuses inner strength into me I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency].”
I will be praying for you concerning this Katelyn. Hebrews 10:35 tells us not to cast away our confidence because it brings a great recompense of reward. With God’s help, you can control this more than you think.
Hi Doyle! I have your book, “Virtuoso Fingerstyle Guitar”, and I really love it. Is there any chance of you releasing a new guitar book?
Thanks Shimon…. Thank you for this. I will speak to my friend Jon Chappell concerning this. Jon helped me with my last book with Warner Bros. (which became Alfred publishing). We may just see what we can do on something new.
|Hey Doyle,Do you remember playing for The Gospel Servants in Jacksonville, FL? If so, David Nelson was my father. Just was wondering if you remembered the good ole days? I follow you on FB, IG and youtube. Loving your music and accomplishments.
Susan “Nelson” Needham
I certainly remember the Gospel Servants but can’t remember how much I was involved. Was I on a recording? I also played with my family… The Bubba Dykes Family, the Goldengate trio, the Messengers, and the Crusaders. Gospel music has always been very special to me. You are right, those were great days which led up to other things that would’ve never happened such as JD Sumner and Stamps Quartet and even Grandpa Jones. God bless you Susan!
I was wondering if Doyle had any recommendations for alternate tunings, I know he uses a few alternative tunings that sound really amazing! Also Doyle played at my Uncle Ray Lynns funeral, please tell him that was one of the nicest things I’ve ever seen someone do. Thank you!
Thanks Jeremi….Ray Lynn was a friend and hero to me. What a talented person, who in my opinion, went way before his time, but only God knows that I’m sure. I sure miss him and Yvonne. They were a great blessing to me during some years that I really needed to continue my music and they gave me that outlet.
On the alternate tunings, I use them around the song whether I am arranging or writing. Sometimes with standard tuning I am not able to express myself musically where with an alternate tuning it brings you to a different place. You basically have to learn to play around the tuning of course but often times the tuning itself will lead you. I hope that makes sense.
A good example is my arrangement of the Lord’s prayer where I tune the low E to C and the low to A to G so the tuning is CGDGBE. This tuning with the song played in the key of C will have the tonic note on the bottom which will give you a lot more fullness in my opinion. Sometimes just a drop D on the low E string will do the same thing if you play something in the key of D.
I play the Wabash Cannonball with this tuning… DGDGAD and will bend the A note behind the nut to a B note which makes an open G.
What is your favorite hymn to play, and more importantly – why?
Thank you so much for blessing us with your talents – praise God!
Thanks David… How great thou Art. I have seen things happen while playing that song that are pretty much indescribable. Also, it was the last song my dad heard me play in person and then a few days later I played it at his memorial at the request of my mother and my brother Aubrey.
When will Doyle be coming back to the UK to play? We saw him at Knebworth in 2013 and are hoping that we will see him here soon!
Thanks Chris… The folks at Acoustic Magazine have been talking with my agent about doing something I believe in August. Hopefully this will also open a door that will give me more activity in the UK. I really miss going there. I will see my friend Robert Wilson in Germany in a few days and will also speak with him. He owns Sound Technology which is a large musical instrument distribution company and has also been responsible for a lot of my performances there including Knebworth House by introducing me to the Lytton Cobbold family.
I am a nephew of the late Billy Grammer. 2 part Question I suppose. How did you meet him and also did you ever get to play music with him?
Thanks so much for this… Billy Grammer was one of my favorite people in my whole life. I met him through my uncle (in fact the one I was named after) Doyle Smitty Smith. They played together many years ago in Washington, D.C. I called Billy Graham when I decided to go back into music, and he recommended me to Grandpa Jones and the rest is history. I owe so much to him. I had spent some time with Roy Clark a couple of years ago, and a lot of our conversation was about Billy Grammer and my Uncle Doyle or Smitty as they called him. I told Roy I would get in touch with Billy that week and I tried. I found out later he had been in the hospital and he died that very week. I miss him greatly. He and his wife Ruth were like family to me also, and you are very blessed to be in the Grammer family! I did play with Billy on a number of shows and also recorded with him on his “Christmas Guitar Chimes” record, which was a real honor and treat for me. I am still planning to get a Grammer guitar of my own. That would be a treasure for me.
I Would love to know what effects and gear you use when you play acoustic; do you for instance use a DI – box?
Many thanks and best wishes from Copenhagen
I use a mini TC tuner, a Trex Replica (sometimes an RE20 Boss delay), a TC Hall of Fame reverb, a TC Chorus then go through two tube amps (if I have them) a Rivera Sedona and a vintage Fender Vibrolux or vintage Deluxe. The Sedona has a built in DI. If that is not available, I use an LR Baggs Venue.
Hi Doyle: What is the best way to learn a fingerpicking style. I’d there a book or video you would recommend? Something to make practice more efficient.
Second question: Do you want some upstate NY Italian sausage? Figured out a way to ship it?
God Bless and me, Jean, Castle and Webster Bible Church all says Hi!
David J. Mirabella
Oh my Lord… Your sausage is the best! On the side of fingerpicking there are so many videos and self-help resources available. I would suggest you just look and find the one you feel is right for you and your style. If that is too vague then just have me back up and I’ll give you a lesson in trade for some of your sausage. Love you bro.
Hi Doyle, hope you are well
We all know where you get you influences for your music from, but how do you approach a new song or new arrangement?
Hope you’re coming to the UK sometime again.
Thanks Ken… I look forward to coming back to the UK as well.
The new songs often come from fiddling around it seems for me. Sometimes I have something in my mind for months and will play it during a sound check or at home and then later make a song out of it. On the arrangements side… it has to be the right song of course for my style of guitar playing, and I will say I have left some of the greatest songs out of my repertoire because I don’t feel I can do them justice. Sometimes it is only a different tuning or put it in a different key. Some of the Beatles songs, especially George Harrison songs, I have to transpose to a different key in order to play them like I would like to. I hate to take them out of the original key, but I don’t hate it all that much because I still play them and people seem to enjoy them. Finding the right songs… the right keys and the right tunings are key elements here.
Doyle a few months ago I gave you a song I had written about Chet Atkins. It was at your benefit performance that you did for Lynn Walker in Chickasha, Okla. I didn’t have a CD with me at the time but later had Richard Hudson send you an attachment of me singing it. I realize my recording was not very good but I would like to hear something about what you thought about it; good, bad, or ugly. I hope to get it published and recorded by somebody before I sun my moccasins, ha-ha.
Still your fan, Woody Hill
Thanks Woody… If you can tell me when you sent it that would help. I still have a few CDs that I have not listened to yet. I get CDs every time I go on tour and sometimes I don’t respond as I probably should for that. I will make an effort to find it and get back with you. I try and listen to them in my vehicle as well and sometimes they get lost. Believe it or not, I get a lot of CDs with no information just the name of the song and have no idea where they come from or how to get in touch with who sent it. Hopefully yours will have that written on it. Thanks brother.
Hi, Doyle! Thanks for taking my question(s). How much practice time do you get in a typical day and what is your preferred string brands and gauges for acoustic and electric?
Thanks David… I try to get in at least two or three hours when I am home but I can’t always do that. When I’m on the road… Which is a lot, forget it. It’s very hard to practice but I do play some every day. I use GHS strings. For my steel strings acoustic I have my own signature sets I also have signature nylon strings with GHS.
Steel strings are phosphor/bronze 11.5,15,22,30,42,54.
I love your playing but steel strings are like a cheese cutter to soft cheese on my nails.
Can you advise how you manage
Peter from Scotland
In one hour I am leaving to get my three nails done on my right hand. I use acrylic covering over them it is a process so I have someone else do it. I have used acrylic nails for years but I don’t recommend it to everyone as it may cause problems with some people in their body chemistry. Thanks Peter
I am a big fan from Copenhagen, Denmark. Thank you for your fantastic music and for sharing your gifts with the world. Your music is an important part of everyday life for me.
Just wanted to know the status of your signature guitar by Guild. I Heard they closed the New Hartford factory where it was made. Are there any plans to keep it in production in California now that Fender sold the Guild brand? If so, are they planning to lower the quality?
When is your new album coming out?
I am a guitar player myself and you are a really big influence. Thank you!!!
Hello Jens… thanks so much for your nice comments.
Yes, Fender did sell Guild and the new owners are now in Oxnard, California. I have spoken with them and they have Ren Ferguson who was also formerly with Fender/Guild (also Gibson/Montana) heading up production so their guitars should be good.
I have a new album coming out in a few months… 50 Years Behind the Guitar. It will be the most different record I’ve ever produced. Thank you again!
I’d like to ask Doyle the following questions for his blog:
* When he’s playing how often does he use his 4th & 5th fingers on his right hand compared with his 1st & 2nd fingers?
* When is he coming to Australia (Sydney) to play?
Thanks Gary… I would love to go back to Australia. We’ll see if that is in the mix of things & hopefully in the near future.
I use my fourth or as I say my third finger as I go from thumb, index, middle third and fourth. I don’t use my pinky. Typically as a rule of thumb (pardon the pun), the thumb is for the 6th, 5th and fourth strings… the index for the third string, middle for the second and then the third finger for the first string. Of course while doing licks and runs that changes rather quickly.
1. Do you still preach, besides playing the guitar?
2. Are you still contracted to Guild? Because you play the Olson and other makes as well.
3. Will you tour outside the USA?
4. You prefer shortscale length guitars. How about the Olson?
Thanks Brian I do still preach a little…always will I guess. I still prefer to hold the guitar while I do. I am not currently under contract with anyone at this time and enjoy playing my Olson and other guitars. I would like to do more touring outside of the U.S. as I have done in the past. The Olson is not a short scale guitar but I still love it. It really is not a large guitar so the long scale gives it more punch but it plays so easy it is not as noticeable as some.
Hello all members of Doyle’s team!
I’d like a ask a question for Doyles Q&A Blog which is below:
When is the next time Doyle is planning to visit Europe, more specifically, the UK?
Thanks Nick. Hopefully in August. Acoustic magazine is trying to put something together with my agent.
I think I ask this question all the time. When is Doyle coming back to Arizona? When is he going to play at the Musical Instrument Museum?
Wouldn’t it be nice if he could play there and showcase some of the rare guitars they have there on display? Yes it would!
Thanks Bruce… I would love to play at that museum. James Olson knows the owner or the guy who runs it and has mentioned it to me as well as others at Fender. Also, my agent has been working on it. I first heard about this through Duane Eddy and Eric Johnson who have both played the museum.
Hello! My name is Hayden McMullen and I’m from Tyler, Tx. I met Doyle at Kelly Barber’s in Hawkins. I just wanted to tell Doyle how much I appreciated him talking with me, and it was such a pleasure to meet him! My question is: Did Doyle start with a thumb pick, and does he ever flat pick in certain instances?
Hello Hayden… I really enjoy going to Hawkins. Kelly barber is one of my favorite people and all the guys there at Action Sound are really great. I get all of my vintage guitars from Kelly. I started out with a flat pick but haven’t used one since I was 13. I’m not saying fingerstyle guitar and using a thumb pick is the best way to play guitar but it sure works for me and I have enjoyed it and it has served me well for many years. Happy Picking!
After years of playing and performing, what is your motivation/goals to keep doing so? Is there something left to accomplish?
Sam C. Lopez Jr.
I love what I do and I have been so blessed to continue to do this. I would like to reach more people and perhaps media is the best thing to look to next. I am talking with some guys on Sirious XM radio for a future show. This will enable me to reach a lot more people with a positive message with other great musicians and help other players and the guitar industry as well. Say a prayer for this for me if you don’t mind. I still haven’t totally given up on television either.
I’d LOVE to hear you do a Huey Lewis song like power of love in your style. Any thoughts????
Thanks Cory… I’ve always admired Huey Lewis and the News as they put such professionalism and punch in their songs. Perhaps that would translate well to guitar playing. I’ll give that some thought. Thanks so much!
I would almost kill to hear you play with Brad Paisley. He was always a traditionalist. Have you met him, and is there any hope for us hearing a track or two of you playing together?
Thanks Cory… Perhaps that will happen soon I would love that. I met him years ago at the Opry and I have worked on different shows with him. I am a total fan and admirer of Brad Paisley.
Doyle, you’re widely considered one of the best guitar players in the world, and it’s evident to all who hear you that you have been gifted and called of God to do what you do. Even so, discouragement has a way of visiting even the most gifted among us. Can you recall a time when you felt discouraged in your calling, and what helped you to persevere? What advice can you offered the discouraged musician?
Keep your confidence. Don’t let it go. Don’t ever quit. Ask God to send others who may encourage you and that is not a selfish question. We all need that sometimes and so I encourage you today Keith to keep playing and using your gift. God gave you this gift and he will not take it away from you so never worry about that. Recently I asked The Lord to send someone to encourage me because I needed it. I didn’t tell anyone else. That night one of my very favorite musicians showed up at a concert with his wife. He was very famous. He told me that I was his favorite guitar player. Even though I found that very hard to believe and that I believe he was really just touched by the Spirit of God in the concert I knew that God sent him there for me. Ricky Skaggs once told me that “fear is our foe” so keep your faith and your confidence in The Lord. It’s all about Him anyway. Thanks Keith and God Bless You!