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Andy McKee

Andy McKee

Of all the presents he’s ever received, Andy McKee should be able to choose a favorite easily: the nylon-stringed acoustic guitar his dad gave for his 13th birthday. McKee, who since that day has flourished to become a world-renowned modern master of his finger-picking guitar craft, took the rest into his own hands.

“I’m almost entirely self-taught. I had one year of lessons when I started, learning chords and scales, but the modern acoustic stuff I was learning all by ear,†says the Kansas native. “I think the advantage of learning that way is that it forces you to think creatively. You have to solve some problems on your own, whereas if you were learning from a teacher, there may be a more regimented [education].â€

McKee is anything but regimented, experimenting with unorthodox tunings and techniques for a style rife with melodic beauty (inspired by the likes of Don Ross and Eric Johnson) and a distinct percussive flair (for this, he credits his younger days as a metal-head). This attention to detail has made him a web sensation, with videos of his instrumental originals and a cover of Toto’s “Africa†going viral.

“I don’t really take the time to learn chord shapes or scales in these altered tunings. I’ll play around in that tuning and start to come up with progressions, riffs and beats, and as I’m repeating those things, I start to get melodic ideas,†he says before laughing. “Then I’ve got to figure a way to play them at the same time.â€

So far, he seems to have figured it out just fine.


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