Acoustic Innovators Series – Preston Reed

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Preston Reed

Preson Reed is widely known as a pioneer of percussive acoustic guitar techniques and for his unique approach that integrates both the percussive potential of the guitar body with the use of both hands on various parts of the guitar body. He has influenced many modern acoustic players including Andy Mckee and Kaki King.


AU: How would you describe the expressive potential of the acoustic guitar?

PR: There's just a certain kind of amazing versatility going on because you have the ability to make single notes, you can make chords so you can make the harmonic progression in the music, and there's something that combines that with this intimacy where you're actually the texture of the fingers on the strings. So it's it musically powerful and compositionally powerful but also intimate. The dynamic range especially with the acoustic guitar is quite amazing.

AU: Why do you play the guitar the way you do and why is your approach on the fringe of what is possible with the instrument?

PR: I suppose because it's fun and it's challenging, and it enables you to use the music that's inside you as well as your intellect you know the problem solving of where could this technique go?... how can I use this in a composition?. At the end of the 80s and early 90s it got very exciting discovering new techniques and sound possibilities, but also how to incorporate them musically so that what you end up with doesn't sound like a lot of techniques and 'look what I can do' but contributes to a composition. Ultimately it's just really fun.

AU: You have seen the record industry go through some change in your times. Has technology made things better for us as artists?

PR: I would say ultimately in the end yes. It's made it possible for someone like me to be seen and heard all over the world. It's made it possible to be seen and heard by a kid in Africa, a kid in Asia. So just for the reason, it's better than it was. It stills seems it's very difficiult to get the big corporate entities to value and pa fairly for the content that they are making millions from. It just seems to be an eternal problem for musicians and artists.

On Youtube
I think that guitar playing in general works on youtube for the same reason that cats are so popular on youtube. There's something small enough and containable enough and camera angles work so well that it just seems to work for the environment of youtube. You can watch someone playing guitar, you can follow what they are doing so there's the instructional element to it. And then there's also just the magic of the guitar, again it's intimate and youtube has a great ability to bring that across to billions of people.

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