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Pete Seeger as a guitarist

06 Jul 11 - 01:05 AM (#3182203)
Subject: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: Big Ballad Singer

Everyone knows that Pete Seeger was and is an influential banjo picker. There'll probably never be any telling how many thousands upon thousands of people decided to at least TRY the banjo because of Pete.

My question is about Pete as a guitarist... I think he's a GREAT rhythm guitarist and he seems to use some interesting chord forms from time to time. I don't particularly care for when he apes Leadbelly (too slavishly imitative for me), but Pete certainly seems to be a very good, if not great, 12-string guitarist.

Pete Seeger as a guitarist... what are your thoughts on the eve of Martin Guitar Company's release of the Pete Seeger/Sing Out! 60th Anniversary 6- and 12-string guitars?

Pete Seeger/Sing Out! Martin 12-string


06 Jul 11 - 03:30 AM (#3182236)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: Dave Hanson

Listen to Pete playing his own tune ' Living in the Country ' on 12 string , then revise your opinion to great.

Dave H


06 Jul 11 - 05:29 AM (#3182278)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: banjoman

First heard him as a 12 string guitar player when he did an impromptu session at a fog bound airport where I was working.
Dont know what make of guitar he uses, but I was always led to believe that his 12 stringers were made for him by an English maker??


06 Jul 11 - 07:37 AM (#3182327)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: Wesley S

Considering that Leadbelly was one of the few 12 string players when Mr Seeger picked up the instrument - I don't think he "apes Leadbelly" when he plays. All of us are influenced by the musician who inspires us to play a particular instrument. He's another link in the chain. And a good one too.


06 Jul 11 - 07:55 AM (#3182339)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: GUEST,DonMeixner

I think he plays just fine. You don't have to be a virtuoso musician to be a great performer. Which is what Pete Seeger is. He set the bar for folk performance over 60 years ago, many don't come close.

And I have video of him playing Living In The Country from about 40 years ago. It sounded great then.

When I am 90+ I hope to be alive let alone performing at any skill level.

Don


06 Jul 11 - 08:35 AM (#3182361)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: kendall

In my not so humble opinion, Pete is one of the greatest Americans that ever lived.


06 Jul 11 - 09:26 AM (#3182387)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: Big Ballad Singer

Dave, you're right. I was trying to hedge my opinion because I didn't want to seem to be gushing. I do LOVE just about anything Pete plays or sings.

Banjoman - Pete's 12s were originally made by an English luthier, but then later by a man from the northeast US; who and where escapes me at the moment. Martin made the ones they did because it's a joint tribute to Sing Out! (a Pennsylvania-based organization, just like Martin) and Pete. Besides, Martin will have the widest distribution and biggest marketing budget, and I do believe some of the sale money goes to support Sing Out!

Wesley - I didn't mean that Pete ALWAYS "apes" Leadbelly, I meant that there are times when he tries to play things just like Leadbelly, usually songs associated with him. Still good, though. Just not my favorite.

Don- he's WAY better than "just fine". I play "just fine"... for a drunken chimpanzee.

Kendall - On a VERY short list, he's not only there, but near the top in my decided (and damn the humility!) opinion.


06 Jul 11 - 09:30 AM (#3182391)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: EBarnacle

Most of Pete's current guitars come from Taylor, who has been supplying them since shortly after he became a luthier.


06 Jul 11 - 09:46 AM (#3182404)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: DonMeixner

Hi Big,

"Just Fine" is about as good as it gets. I'd settle for "Pretty OK".

D


06 Jul 11 - 11:40 AM (#3182466)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: Wesley S

Here's a link to the Martin webpage with the story behind the Pete Seeger/Singout model.

Martin Guitars page

And it says that Pere's current guitars are made by luthier Bruce Taylor - not to be confused with Taylor Guitars.


06 Jul 11 - 01:44 PM (#3182539)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: kendall

He deserves an Apollo guitar.


06 Jul 11 - 03:53 PM (#3182595)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: PHJim

Wesley S beat me to it, but I've heard several people who were confused by the two Taylors. I know of no one else except Tao who plays Bruce Taylor guitars.
The Taylor guitar company makes great twelve strings, but not Pete Seeger's.


06 Jul 11 - 07:42 PM (#3182705)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: Mark Ross

Rik Palieri in Vermont has Bruce Taylors' 1st 12 string, copied after Pete's Stanley Francis.

Mark Ross


07 Jul 11 - 12:03 AM (#3182832)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: EBarnacle

No surprise there. Rik is one of Pete's proteges.


07 Jul 11 - 01:43 AM (#3182854)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: BanjoRay

Pete's first English twelve was made by an English Luthier - I remember him playing it at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester in the sixties. A more or less identical one is owned by a friend who swears the guy only made two. I've played my friend's and it's gorgeous. I'll see if I can find out some details.

Ray


07 Jul 11 - 03:41 AM (#3182893)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: BanjoRay

Pete's first twelve string was made by Stan Francis of Liverpool.

Ray


07 Jul 11 - 05:59 AM (#3182956)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: banjoman

Stan Francis - thats the name I was trying to remember. I think he also made(or makes) mandolins). Is he still around?
In Liverpool a few years ago I met a guy whose guitar had an SF Logo on it and it was he who told me about the Pete Seeger Connection.


07 Jul 11 - 06:03 PM (#3183413)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: Brian May

Pete Seeger is the reason I bought a 12 string in 1967.

Irony is, later by a couple of years, I played a song on it to Peggy Seeger and Ewan McColl.

He always sounds like he's playing 'just for you', what a wonderful technique.


12 Feb 14 - 01:39 PM (#3600804)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: GUEST

His arrangement of bells of rhymney is very interesting and appears in jerry silvermans 12 string booklet


12 Feb 14 - 02:59 PM (#3600828)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: Desert Dancer

Here is a full story on Pete Seeger's guitars, from Fretboard Journal:

The Battleship: A Look at Pete Seeger's booming "12-stringer" guitar

~ Becky in Long Beach


12 Feb 14 - 08:10 PM (#3600927)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: Stringsinger

Check out an early recording with Fred Hellerman called "Mexican Blues."
Then check out our recording called "Nonesuch and Other Folk Tunes for Folkways
Records. Pete and I


12 Feb 14 - 09:25 PM (#3600948)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: PHJim

Before he got the first 12 string with the triangular hole, I saw him playing a 12 string with a round hole and a missing fret, possibly the 12th.


13 Feb 14 - 11:56 AM (#3601138)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: Stringsinger

Many years prior about 1952, I showed Pete ten fingerpicking rudiments for guitar, one of which he used for his composition "Singing in the Country" which was changed to "Living in the Country" and became a 12-string folk guitar classic. It's on our "Nonesuch" album.


13 Feb 14 - 04:27 PM (#3601221)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: kendall

I bought my first 12 banger from Nick Apollonio, influenced by Gordon Bok.

David Mallett wrote a piece called I wish I were a horse living in the country. He picks the hell out of that old Gibson 12.


14 Feb 14 - 10:20 AM (#3601436)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: clueless don

Several folks have mentioned "Living in the Country". I remember this as the theme music for Phil Shapiro's "Bound for Glory" radio show on WVBR radio in Ithaca NY.

Could someone tell me, please, on which of Pete's recordings does "Living in the Country" appear? I'm talking about the studio version, not a live in concert version (though I'm sure that would also be worth listening to.)

Don


14 Feb 14 - 12:10 PM (#3601470)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: PHJim

Living In The Country - from A Link In The Chain

The album was A Link In The Chain


14 Feb 14 - 12:32 PM (#3601477)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: clueless don

Thank you, PHJim - I will check that out.

I just found an mp3 (or mp4) file online of the tune, and when I heard the thunderous applause after the final chord, I realized that my remark "I'm talking about the studio version, not a live in concert version" may have been extremely foolish! My apologies - it wasn't intentional.

Don


14 Feb 14 - 07:18 PM (#3601581)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman

I was glad to see Stringsinger brought up "Mexican Blues"—a tune Pete always credited to Woody Guthrie, though I thought there was at least an equal amount of Pete in it.

What's particularly notable about "Mexican Blues," like some of his work on Nonesuch with Frank Hamilton, is he's playing *6-string* guitar, not 12. He's very good on it, so good that I for one wish he'd done more 6-string work.

But of course the 12-string, like the banjo, gets more immediate attention from a noisy audience. Pre-rock, that was about the most resounding you could get. Lydia Mendoza sang all her life with one. It's best for strategizing and commanding from the stage.

But truly, Pete's 6-string should be heard more. You can check out "Mexican Blues" on Pete's Smithsonian Folkways CD SFW40018, Darling Corey/Goofing-Off Suite. One of those best-kept secrets ...

Bob


14 Feb 14 - 08:51 PM (#3601610)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: PHJim

This is Pete's complete Goofing Off Suite with Pete on banjo, guitar, mandolin and end blown flute.
Pete's Goofing Off Suite


14 Feb 14 - 09:35 PM (#3601623)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: Big Al Whittle

all that goofing off suite was exquisite. I loved the banjo version of blue skies and that lovely delicate descending chord sequence on times are getting hard boys. now that latter is classy six string work.


15 Feb 14 - 11:41 AM (#3601744)
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger as a guitarist
From: GUEST,Doc John

Stan Francis lived in Roby about five or six miles from Liverpool. I remember him showing us the guitar he was making for Peter Seeger; must have been the late 50's. He used to play at the Spinners' club in Liverpool in the basement of Sampson and Barlow restaurant. I don't recall his playing a 12-string guitar himself. I'm sure I heard somewhere that this guitar collapsed.