Phil Keaggy Acoustic Guitar Style Review

Phil Keaggy Acoustic Guitar Style ReviewPhil Keaggy is most notably recognized as a virtuoso guitarist in the Christian music circle. However, on occasion he has also received recognition as an accomplished acoustic fingerstyle guitarist on popular guitar magazines, and there are many contemporaries who cite him as an influence on their playing.

This instructional DVD showcases many of Keaggy’s masterful acoustic compositions and techniques.

Overview

Much like his Electric Guitar Style DVD, this video is far more demonstrational than it is instructional in approach. There are many performance sections scattered throughout, but the accompanying booklet does not include transcriptions for these sections. In fact, the booklet only includes a fraction of the examples.

To be fair, you could probably pick up more from watching Keaggy than you could from staring at a tab sheet all day. There is also very little one can’t find online these days, though accurate transcriptions of Keaggy’s intricate guitar playing might be one such thing. You will still find some tabs.

Keaggy’s Playing Style

Most of Keaggy’s acoustic compositions make use of alternate tunings, and borrow liberally from Michael Hedges (“The Reunion”), Country music, and Folk music. One has to be impressed with his versatility too, however, as he also draws upon Classical music (“Castle’s Call”). Having said that, most of his compositions seem to have a thread of commonality.

This is not a step-by-step explanation of Keaggy’s guitar playing. If you want a crash-course in alternate tunings, and pick up a few licks besides, then you could very well benefit from this DVD. Even so, it’s more of a visual experience than it is a hands-on experience. Watching Phil Keaggy play guitar is like watching art in motion.

Conclusion

All in all, the video is quite short, clocking in at just under an hour. Keaggy talks a little bit about his influences and the gear he uses, but not as much as he did on the Electric Guitar Style DVD. However, the video seems adequate in showcasing Keaggy’s stylistic approach, and you get a glimpse into his acoustic guitar methodology. Easy to imitate, but hard to duplicate.

I would have liked more examples in the booklet myself, and more time spent talking about the custom rack mount gear and the settings he uses (his tone is breathtaking), but alas, it cannot be found in this video. This DVD is definitely worth the purchase if you consider yourself a visual learner. Aficionados of the acoustic guitar will appreciate this release also.

Phil Keaggy Electric Guitar Style Review

Phil Keaggy Electric Guitar Style ReviewPhil Keaggy may not be a household name, but he is known as a guitar virtuoso in the Christian circles, and has also been recognized as an accomplished acoustic fingerstyle guitarist by popular guitar magazines.

Nine-finger Keaggy is probably known more for his acoustic style, in fact. He may not be as widely known for his electric style, but this instructional DVD proves that he’s got some impressive chops worth studying.

Keaggy’s Tone & Versatility

His guitar tone is smooth and breathtaking throughout the short one-hour video (similar to Allan Holdsworth’s guitar tone, now that I think of it). At fist I was struck by his fluid whammy bar techniques, skillfully dipping in and out of target notes. His smooth legato style seems to complement this aspect of his masterful playing, and this in itself is impressive enough.

But then we are introduced to the diversity and variety in his playing style, ranging from 70s Funk Rock to 60s Rock ‘N Roll. In my humble opinion, the ability to transition from one particular style to another is the mark of a seasoned and experienced musician. Keaggy’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” is simply mind-blowing, and the examples that follow are equally mind-boggling.

Process, Gear & Influences

I always like it when musicians talk about their gear and influences, and throughout the DVD Keaggy does not disappoint. He talks candidly about the guitarists that not only influenced him but “blew him away”, and all of the secrets to his guitar tone, including guitars, pickups, rack mount gear, and amplifiers. Frankly I wouldn’t have minded if he had spent more time on this.

The Booklet

The accompanying booklet contains transcriptions for most of the examples, but unfortunately does not include the performance sections, where Keaggy performs entire pieces. However, it’s not hard to see why they didn’t include these sections, as there are underlying complexities to Keaggy’s playing that would be very difficult to notate.

Final Thoughts

All in all, this isn’t really your standard instructional DVD. Keaggy takes more of a demonstrational approach, so the video does not follow the standard format (example 1, play this, example 2, try this, etc.). For all intents and purposes, I believe this was for the better. I rather enjoy watching Keaggy play, and I always come away inspired. I always learn something, but for the most part I don’t attempt to follow the examples note for note. If your intention is to learn all of the solos verbatim, more power to you.