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We have seen quite a few young acoustic guitar players over the past 12 months and all have impressed in one way or another. One stands out for us though and that is George Nash. We managed to grab a few minutes with him and in this interview he tells us about his guitars, the gear he uses and what he has planned for the future.
YM – Can you tell us how you first got into playing the guitar, what inspired you to start playing?
GN – The turning point that got the guitar addiction stuck into me was when a close friend of mine started playing some really cool electric guitar riffs in school. I think I just turned 13 when this happened, so I then asked him who his guitar teacher was and then started taking lessons. Kinda simple when I put it like that but in the months leading up to this, my dad was distancing himself from me and my family as a couple years back him and my mum divorced. This was pretty distressing for me at the time and combined with me becoming increasingly bored of playing video games, I decided I wanted to do something with my life and guitar was the first opportunity that came to me that I liked!
YM – What was your first guitar?
GN – My first guitar was the cheapest nylon stringed acoustic guitar you could buy in the local music shop haha. So, it probably cost around £30 maybe? This lasted for about a year before I really disliked it’s sound and then sticking with nylon strings, I got a Yamaha NTX700 which again, lasted about a year before I then decided a steel stringed guitar would probably make me look cooler and suit my playing better.
YM – You mostly play acoustic guitar but do you also play electric?
GN – When I first started learning, I wanted to be a rock star so I did play electric for a couple years. For some reason, although I got into guitar with the thought of doing the electric, I just found classical guitar more interesting as there was more to do with both your hands at the same time… I think I decided that I didn’t want to be in the backing of a band just strumming chords with the occasional guitar solo so with classical guitar, and then later modern percussive fingerstyle guitar, it meant I could do the fun part of pretty much constantly ‘guitar soloing’
YM – You specialise in percussive fingerstyle guitar. How did that come about?
GN – I was watching people play ‘Canon in D’ on YouTube to figure out how to play it and then I stumbled across a guy called Sungha Jung doing it in a really weird way with double handed tapping which at first, I thought was really bad because of course, I guess I was jealous in some way or I’d just never seen it before, and then I left it at that.
Something drew me back to that video though and I rewatched it again, and this time I really enjoyed it and watched some of his other stuff. Anyway, it made me rethink everything and It led me to bringing it all to my guitar teacher where we both spent the time learning how to do light percussive stuff on the guitar with the thumb tap and bass drum sounds.
This then led onto me finding Mike Dawes, Jon Gomm, Tobias Rauscher, and many more about a year later and after learning all of their stuff from YouTube, guitar tabs, and the help of my teacher. I decided that it was so much fun and that I just had to keep doing it!
YM – Do you have any preferred guitars and if so can you tell us more about them and why you chose them?
GN – After I found out that I couldn’t do all the effects I needed to play in this way with a nylon stringed guitar. My mum basically took out a small loan to buy me a Yamaha APX1200ii which to this date, is still my all-time favourite guitar. It fits my playing style and hands so perfectly! It’s got a very thin body which makes it really easy to play and for my style of playing, it’s got a very strong top plate and strong bracing which means it’d be very difficult for my hand to accidently go straight through it whilst creating some of the percussive hits. I also found out that with Medium gauge phosphor bronze strings on, it’s got a really tight and clear bass response and just overall, sounds extremely beautiful.
I’m also a big fan of Dowina guitars but I’ll tell you more about that later!
YM – You recently finished studying at music college, can you tell us more about that?
GN – It was probably one of the biggest decisions I’ve made in my life so far as I had to move by myself to the complete opposite side of the country at 16, from Aberystwyth in Wales to Guildford near London to find just one College who understood and taught fingerstyle guitar in the entire UK. I ended up going to ACM which I really really enjoyed and in the 2 years I was there I probably got about 6 years better at the guitar in that time. It was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve made and my music and me as person was really supported and developed by everyone there. So much fun!
YM – I understand you have recently become an ambassador for Dowina Guitars who are based in Slovakia, can you tell us what drew you to Dowina?
GN – I have yes! I’m beyond excited to be able to work with Dowina, their guitars to me, honestly sound way better than Taylors or Martins which are double the price or more. I ended up discovering Dowina guitars about mid-way through my first year in music college as the music store Andertons is based in Guildford and they just happened to be selling them… One day I walked in with the idea of buying a second guitar around £500 but of course I ended up playing all the guitars in the store because you just have to haha. Nothing really took my fancy in the acoustic room filled with all the big names who make acoustic guitars so I then grabbed the first guitar in the main ‘reception’ area which happened to be a Dowina Vintage Arbor series and I instantly fell in love with the sound that came from it. It ended up costing around £800 so my mum wasn’t too happy at first but I’ve never regretted it and it still sounds awesome today!
YM – Do you use any effects etc when playing live? Tell us about your preferred gear list?
GN – Many! The main thing about my sound is trying to get the acoustic guitar to sound like it would recorded in a studio, live. Which is pretty hard… I’m a big fan of the K&k trinity pickup and microphone system inside an acoustic guitar and then if you mix this with a DiMarzio Black Angel Magnetic pickup, you get a really full and clear sound which sounds like a full band is playing. For acoustic guitar, any “of the shelf” systems already inside the guitar usually sound quite weak and tinny so you usually have to quite a bit of modifications. In terms of my pedalboard though, I use two Eqs to individually mix the signals from both systems inside my guitar together, I then feed this into a Strymon Timeline which has got loads of cool ambient delay sounds which I love and use quite often in my music! I then use a boss octave pedal slightly in the mix on my magnetic pickups signal to give more bass upfront, and then all of this goes out upfront where I usually just use the reverb on the desk the sound guy uses.
At the moment this is what I use but give it another month or two and then my pedalboard would probably be even bigger again haha.
GN – What are your plans for the future with regard to playing live, recording your music, perhaps some collaborations on the horizon?
This is really hard for me at the moment as I feel I’m kind of at a crossroads and I’m trying to decide which route to take… I want to play live as much as possible and travel the world but I reckon to do that I need to build an online presence doing that “YouTube guitarist” thing which many people who play in my style do but then again. I’d rather be travelling the world so maybe I’ll try something new and maybe end up ‘sessioning’ for a singer or band doing my percussive fingerstyle playing which I reckon could be pretty cool as no one really does that. I guess that depends on if anyone would be up for it though so who knows, all I know is that whatever it is I end up doing, I want to be playing my way and not just doing chords or something which is uninspiring or boring musically.
YM – What tips and advice would you give to someone just starting out on acoustic guitar and especially for anyone interested in percussive style playing?
GN – A great place to start would be watching lessons on YouTube by people like Mike Dawes, or Jon Gomm as they won’t fail to inspire you! And then from that, always keep pushing yourself to try the next thing above the level you’re current playing at. I’ve fallen into this a couple times but it’s really easy to settle into your current level and not try the next harder thing. There’s also a lot of noise in this way of playing with people who just do it as kind of a circus trick so my advice would be to strive to push the boundaries on what’s already been done and try creating something new by just being you and pursuing all of your crazy musical ideas, no matter how weird they may seem to other people. Maybe you’ll create a whole new style of Fingerstyle yourself and new and cool ideas normally go a long way!
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