Ed Gerhard
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Ed Gerhard


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"Ed Gerhard on Live Recording"

I’ll never forget a guitar player’s showcase event I attended a few years ago in Nashville. The stage played host to one guitarist after another who subjected the beleaguered audience to more chops than a lumberjack convention. Impressive and entertaining for a while- but exhausting. Then, in a much-appreciated moment, one brave soul ventured a ballad. The audience was enraptured. It was their first taste, it seemed, of music that night. The artist, upon completing the performance, wondered aloud what he might play next. The audience, in vociferous unity shouted, “Just play that again!” I couldn’t have agreed more.

By now you know I am speaking of Ed Gerhard. And as it turns out, that night’s audience and I are in good company. Says Seymour Duncan, “Ed Gerhard is one of my favorite guitarists. He plays with extreme emotion and phrasing. It’s hard to put into words the passion he puts into his music and the feeling I get inside when he performs. I am glad to be living in the time of such a great guitarist, when a single note can say so much.”

-John Schroeter Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine (Excerpt)
- Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine

""Luna" Chosen as one of 240 Essential Albums"

“Luna” Chosen by
Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s 20th Anniversary
List of 240 Essential Albums

“This soulful album of original compositions rich in melody, chordal complexity and stylistic variety proves why Gerhard is considered to have
the most exquisite acoustic guitar tone
on the planet.” - Acoustic Guitar Magazine

"Arts & People"

Guitarist don’t get any better than Ed Gerhard. Sure, there are
great classical and flamenco guitarists and lightning-fast fingerpickers and
jazz improvisers who can take you through a set of variations so complex
they make your head spin.
But, Gerhard can do it all, not only with technical perfection but
with the ability to illuminate the emotional core of whatever he is playing.
Clear and uncluttered, yet containing enough harmonic layers to make
you forget you’re listening to only a solo instrument, Gerhard’s arrangements
are so delicate, so melodically gorgeous that if they were three-dimensional
objects, they would be made of spun glass.
His new CD, titled simply “The Live Album,” is his best yet. He calls
it his “own private bootleg” CD, made with a digital recorder he carried
around with him on tour, plugging in directly into his audio mixer on
stage. Some of what ended up on the album was recorded in Japan, some
in New Hampshire- two in a concert in Derry, one from a performance in
his home town of Strafford, and two from his annual Christmas concert in
Portsmouth last year.
Gerhard says he feels more relaxed on stage in front of an audience
than in a studio and more inclined to try new things. The result is an
album that captures that special charge that can exist between performer
and listeners.
Among the new things that Gerhard tries in live performances are
different kinds of guitars. On the recording, the tune “Malaika” is played
twice- first on a 12-string guitar modified to deepen the tone so that it
sounds like an instrument twice its size, or, as Gerhard puts it, “like a
bouzouki on steroids,” and then on a hybrid instrument, an electric mandotar,
that has the sparkly sound of a Russian balalaika but pitched lower,
as if the body of the instrument were the size of a cello.
Anyone who can play a Hawaiian lap steel guitar without producing
a single twangy note has to be gifted. Gerhard goes further with it than
that. Out of an instrument usually associated with tackiness and kitsch,
he coaxes the dreamy, mysterious melody “Homage,” floating it on nearly
sub-audible bass notes that reverberate in your sternum
In “Slide-Improv,” he gives his audience a dose of deep-in-the-gut
blues, one note at a time, taking it slowly, letting each sliced and bent
steel tone completely fade before playing the next. When it’s over you
hope you’ll never feel that low.
One comes away from this recording feeling the auditory equivalent
of having eaten a gourmet meal, with all its ingredients at the peak of
freshness, served in the proper proportions and with just the right wine. - THE BOSTON SUNDAY GLOBE

"Tone Truths"

SCHEMIEDENHOF / Ed Gerhard, master of Open Tunings performs in Acoustic Guitar Forum

By Urs Grether

BASEL, Switzerland.

“Someone should give him a special tuning” joked someone in the audience, “what’s that” asked a colleague, “another guitar tuning” explained a third. Guitarist Ed Gerhard, an American from the East Coast, works extensively with open tunings, i.e. where the strings of the guitar are tuned differently to the normal “standard” tuning - allowing an unusually wide sound spectrum.
Technicalities immediately become unnecessary as Ed Gerhard, with his imposing presence and long flowing grey hair, takes his place on stage: it’s all about beautiful tone - every one of them. Throughout self-penned compositions and arrangements pieces flow filigree and carefree; changes in harmony and key are handled as if obvious. Gerhard is no superficial tone painter, no bluffer, and no aesthetic lightweight; this is already apparent in the left-handed Gerhard’s infallible sense of timing. There aren’t any flourishes and everything sounds absolutely necessary: when every single tone is important, then not a single note is either too much or too little. Gerhard arranges precisely and sparingly. This prominent lesson was bestowed upon the regional “Acoustic Guitar Forum”, for whom, by the way, Gerhard played his first ever concert in Switzerland.
On the Weissenborn steel guitar he first parodied Hawaiian-cliches, then unveiled the core of the song, which, like on a piece from the Fiji Islands, finally sounded once again “true”. The beauty of the sound became the sharply circumvented truth. This is a precious quality and makes Gerhard a rare ambassador.
Or, for instance on “Malaika”, that million-selling Africa transference song, Gerhard takes the piece (including the usually omitted introduction) very seriously; he invents as he compliments. In this way Gerhard, brings the poor wretch and village beauty finally together.
The two sets, peppered with many amusing anecdotes, gave, in passing, a musical autobiography. The influence of Ry Cooder, Gerhard’s dissatisfaction with “white” blues, or the shock of Blind Willie Johnsons apparently dissonant, “wrong” chord. Sadness and joy are here inseparably conjoined; this “wrong” chord - in further conjunction with this music makes actually the only possible sense.

Newspaper: Basellandlschaftliche Zeitung, Basel, Switzerland

- Basellandlschaftliche Zeitung

"Various Quotes"

"Gerhard targets a tune's emotions with unerring accuracy."
-Guitar Player Magazine

“Breathtaking, exquisite, gorgeous- even the strongest superlatives barely seem adequate when
describing the guitar music of Ed Gerhard. This man is a major talent...”
-John DeAngelis, Record Roundup

“...[his] recordings and live performances have established him as one of the most
exciting of the guitarist-composers.”
-Acoustic Guitar Magazine

“Gerhard should take his rightful place next to Leo Kottke and Pierre Bensusan
as one of the true masters of steel string fingerstyle guitar.”
-Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine

“Gerhard plays with understated finesse and his tone is impeccable.”
-Acoustic Musician Magazine

“A very fine acoustic guitarist...a cut above Windham Hill.”
- FolkRoots London

“Gerhard’s two instrumental sets provided ample demonstration of why
critics have been so unstinting in their praise. An original musical voice, he has
something to say; and he says it with a rarely- heard clarity."
-The Telegraph Nashua, NH

“Turn it up to 11 and break off the knobs!”
- a fan at Greenstreets Columbia, SC

“I am glad to be living in the time of such a great guitarist, when a single note can say so much.”
-Seymour Duncan

“Gerhard has become a favorite of audiophiles as well as guitar fanatics for his fabulous
tone he has achieved on his recordings." -Acoustic Guitar Magazine

“Gerhard does not write instrumentals -he writes songs only a guitar can sing.”
-Boston Globe - Various

"Ed Gerhard, Sunnyland"

At first glance, the blues seems to impose strict stylistic and harmonic
constraints on musicians, but within this framework is a limitless canvas
for expressing every aspect of human behavior and emotion. On
Sunnyland, fingerstyle virtuoso Ed Gerhard isn’t just “runnin’ down the
road feelin’ awfully low;” he’s skipping down to the crossroads, kicking a can. With this joyful set of originals and country-blues and gospel covers, Gerhard steps outside the poetic, sonically pristine territory on which he built his reputation to embrace the messier-in-a-good-way, syncopated
picking that first caught his ear as a kid- thumping bass, string buzz, and all. Sunnyland pays tribute to Mississippi John Hurt, Dave Van Ronk,
Blind Willie McTell and other seminal fingerstyle blues players, and
Gerhard retains his unique ability to get to the heart of a song in an
instant and say more with two or three notes than many players say
with a hundred. His precise touch on Breedlove, Somogyi, Oahu,
National and Weissenborn guitars sounds effortless and musical. A
gorgeous lap-steel rendition of “Amazing Grace” brings him within
touching distance of sacred-steel icon Willie Eason, to whom Gerhard
dedicates the cut. Sunnyland is a fresh and spirited effort that
demonstrates the enduring power of the blues.
-Andy Volk - Acoustic Guitar Magazine

"Making Magic with Pawnshop Prizes"

Even before he started recording "House of Guitars" [Virtue Records], Ed Gerhard knew it would differ radically from his previous albums. The concept would be simple, but daring: Round up a bevy of inexpensive pawnshop guitars and play them as is-without even changing the strings.

Making music with “found” tools could have been a recipe for aural disaster, but somehow "House of Guitars" stands as a creative and sonic masterpiece. How did Gerhard pull it off?

You’re known for playing high-end instruments, so why go with pawnshop guitars this time around?

Over the years, I’ve played some really fine guitars, such as my Somogyi, my Breedlove and my ’67 Martin D-18. But, I also remember going into shops as a kid and seeing these cheapo, funky looking guitars hanging on the walls. For some reason, the sound of those old instruments never left my head. I guess I connected that sound to the blues records and field recordings I’d loved, such as "Texas Songster" by Mance Lipscomb. He’s holding a Harmony Sovereign on the cover.

A couple years ago, I was in a guitar shop and saw this old OM size, solid-mahogany Harmony. I started playing it, and I was thrilled by its sound. That gave me the idea to make a record using nothing but old, cheapo guitars.

Some of this, frankly, is a reaction to the current mania for high-end guitars. I’ve met guys who have gone through 20-30 boutique steel-strings, looking for their tone. Basically, when you’re playing a guitar of that caliber, its telling you what you don’t want to hear, which is, “Dude your tone sucks.” No matter what you play, your tone isn’t in the guitar. It’s in you. A different instrument will bring out different aspects of your tone, but it doesn’t provide it for you. You have to develop it yourself, one day at a time.

Why didn’t you set up your pawnshop prizes, or at least change the strings?

I thought it would be more interesting to play the guitars as I found them. Some of the strings were pretty rusty, and, at times it felt perilous to play them- I was concerned that I’d slice my fingers! But I only changed strings on the lap steels, which were strung way too light for playing with a heavy steel bar.

Did you face any other difficulties using these off-the-wall guitars?

I had a few intonation problems recording the Beatles tune, “I Will.” I tracked the song’s first part on a Harmony Sovereign, and the intonation was a little dicey- the notes would go a bit flat in some of the higher positions-but it was forgivable.

Tell us about some of your other cheapos.

I have two Oahu acoustic lap guitars- one has a round neck, the other is a squareneck model. These are 00 size guitars, and, unlike a Weissenborn, they don’t have hollow necks. You can hear the squareneck on “Promised Land.” It has an explosive, Weissenborn-like sound with a beautiful, silvery high end. Actually, I think the guitar was ready to explode. I doubt it had been tuned up to open A-flat before.

I also used a ‘50s plastic Maccaferri archtop that still had its original strings. It makes this cool, acoustic distortion that reminds me of early R&B or Motown records where the singer hits the mic so hard it distorts the preamp. The Maccaferri is the main guitar in “Because of your, This.” Also, on “Poor Wayfaring Stranger,” you can really hear the distortion on the third verse, where I used the Maccaferri to harmonize with the squareneck Oahu. I added a touch of chorus which spread out the distortion and made it audible in a beautiful way.

You also played a cumbus on several songs.

That’s a Turkish, banjo-like instrument. This one has a fretless, 12 string oud neck, and its six pairs of string are tuned in unisons, not octaves. It’s great for creating eerie, droning sounds. That’s what you hear at the beginning of “Just Can’t Keep from Crying Sometimes.”

Any final advice for guitarists who want to make their own records?

You have to stick your neck out and not be afraid to fail. The only fatal mistake is bad material. A bad recording of good material is still way better than a good recording of bad material.

-Andy Ellis
- Frets Magazine / Andy Ellis


House of Guitars (guests: Randy Roos, Ray Brunelle)
The Live Album
On a Cold Winter's Night
Counting the Ways (guests: Arlo Guthrie, Martin Simpson & Bob Brozman)
Luna (Featured in Acoustic Guitar Magazine's 20th Anniversary List of Essential CDs)
Christmas (guests: Arlo Guthrie, Bill Mize)
Night Birds

Films that feature Ed's music:
The National Parks: America's Best Idea; Ken Burns
Mark Twain; Ken Burns
Le Vie Di Sempre (Ivano Ponzini; Italy)

Donna Lombarda Italy (Chosen by Acoustic Guitar Magazine 2010 Essential CDs)
Henry Mancini; Pink Guitar (GRAMMY® Winner)
Windham Hill Guitar Sampler
Guitar Fingerstyle
Masters of Acoustic Guitar

Fingerstyle Guitar Summit
All Star Guitar Night; Nashville
Solo Guitar Performance (Japan Only)

Selections from Night Birds & Luna Virtue Records Publications
The Guitar Songbook Warner Bros.
Songs & Pieces for Guitar Virtue Records Publications



GRAMMY Award-Winning guitarist Ed Gerhard

From sold out tours of Japan, to festivals in Italy and venues across the US, Ed Gerhard's music has touched concert audiences all over the world. Gerhard stands out among instrumental performers for his ability to captivate audiences with a combination of virtuosity, generosity and humor distinctly his own. Known for his gorgeous tone and compositional depth, Gerhard can move a listener with a single note.

Performing on 6-string, 12-string, slide guitar or Hawaiian Lap Steel, Gerhard's musical intensity comes with a sly sense of humor. His distinctive touch is unmistakable. Whether performing a lush, sensual ballad or a haunting, bitter lap steel melody Gerhard will mesmerize.

Gerhard’s relationship with the guitar began at age 10, when he happened upon classical guitar master Andrés Segovia on TV. “I’d heard all the pop music on the radio and maybe a little of that 60’s folk stuff, but this was the first time I’d ever heard the guitar all by itself and the sound just instantly got me,” he remembers. Ed finally got his first guitar at 14. His initial interest in classical guitar changed dramatically when he first heard the music of bluesman Mississippi John Hurt. Quitting lessons after the third one (“It just wasn’t any fun at all”), He took some informal lessons with friends and learned by ear, slowing down LPs to half-speed to pick out the tricky parts. At fifteen, Ed was already beginning to perform in local church-basement coffeehouses, playing solo and jamming with friends.

In 1977 Gerhard moved to New Hampshire where he has resided ever since. Joining a thriving folk and acoustic music scene proved invaluable for the young guitarist. “There seemed to be no limitation on places to play back then, or more importantly, what you could play” says Ed. “You could play anything you wanted as long as people stayed around and drank.” When Gerhard was not performing solo he could often be seen sitting in with other musicians. “I loved to play, it didn’t matter if I was solo or sideman.” During this period Ed began composing and arranging music for solo guitar, using a staggering array of alternative guitar tunings.

In 1987 Gerhard’s first album “Night Birds” was released. “Night Birds” garnered rave reviews from guitar fans and the press, including a spot in the Boston Globe’s Critics’ Poll Top Ten Albums of the Year. Shortly after the album’s release, Windham Hill Records included Ed on its Guitar Sampler (Vol.1). One of the highlights of the (over 300,000 units sold) Sampler, is Gerhard’s composition “The Handing Down.” The superior audio quality of Gerhard’s 1993 album “Luna” lead both Neumann and Mackie Designs, two of the world’s most respected manufacturers of professional audio and recording equipment to “endorse” the recording.

Ed's latest release “Sunnyland” is in homage to his early blues heroes. He was awarded a GRAMMY® for his inclusion on the CD Henry Mancini; Pink Guitar. Warner Brothers released Ed Gerhard; The Guitar Songbook and his guitar work can be heard on recordings by Arlo Guthrie and Jorma Kaukonen and in the Ken Burns’ film Mark Twain and the upcoming " The National Parks: America's Best Idea."

In 2010 Acoustic Guitar Magazine featured Gerhard's CD “Luna” in their 20th Anniversary List of 240 Essential Albums. “This soulful album of original compositions rich in melody, chordal complexity and stylistic variety proves why Gerhard is considered to have the most exquisite acoustic guitar tone on the planet.”

Along with players like Ben Harper and David Lindley, Gerhard's unique approach to the Weissenborn (an acoustic Hawaiian lap slide guitar) is playing a significant a role in reinvigorating interest in this somewhat esoteric but beautiful instrument. Ed's style of Weissenborn playing is unique in that he composes and arranges music for solo Weissenborn with beautiful melodies, complex chords and moving basslines; unusual for an instrument that is normally serves an accompaniment role. Ed is featured in the book "Lap Steel Guitar" alongside legendary players like Greg Leisz, David Lindley, Jerry Byrd and more.

In a true collaboration of guitarist and guitar maker, Breedlove Guitars released the “Ed Gerhard Signature Model” guitar. The guitar has become one of Breedlove's best selling guitars and won the "Player's Choice Award" by Acoustic Guitar Magazine.

Ed Tours in the US, Europe, Japan & Korea.