The 21st Century Guitar

A gateway to new acoustic guitar designs, playing techniques, and sounds

Ian Ethan Case with a mind-blowing approach to the double neck 6-string/12-string acoustic

Preston Reed ranging from soulful depths to remote realms

The late, great Michael Hedges. The music begins just after 2:30

Andy McKee's beautiful and poignant Rylynn

Many compositions in this genre strike me as playable on hammered dulcimer. Erik Mongrain suggests what that might be like

The incredible Overland by Alex de Grassi. It's hard to believe it's over 30 years old

Mark Kroos needs no wings, just 12 strings for his Flight Attempt

Australian multi-instrumentalist John Butler with an 11-string take on modern acoustic playing

Seeing and hearing Kaki King's Letterman appearance introduced me to this genre. There were some OMGs uttered that night!

An early piece by Andy McKee. Posted to the then-new YouTube, it became one of the first viral videos

English singer-songwriter John Gomm covers a great Chaka Khan tune. John is one of many inspired by Michael Hedges

Mark Kroos with a stunning bluegrass self-duet, amusingly bookended as a music video

It's appropriate to close with Andy McKee's tribute to Michael Hedges. There are many versions of this uploaded, including this one from Yoshi's where Andy's personality and regard for Michael come through, but Andy chose this one for his own website ... can't argue with that

About This Site

I had been wanting to hear more of this genre of guitar music, so when I learned that Free Code Camp had added a 'tribute site' challenge to their curriculum, it became the nudge needed to take a deep dive into this ... ummm, what do I call this? Fingerstyle? That conjures up images of folk music and countrified acoustic, but the new guitar genre is much broader than that, often with an avant-garde sensibility that has also informed hard bop jazz and the best of 20th century classical music. New Age guitar? Please hand me my Yoga mat 8-). Guitar World, in an article worth a look, called it "daring percussive alternate-tuned shred." Perhaps the most felicitous characterizations came from Michael Hedges, who bristled at the "New Age" appellation, instead describing his own style as "new edge" and "heavy mental."

One problem for me and other potential fans: how does one discover this music? I had run into it by accident on several occasions, only to lose track again. Fortunately, my friends at The Gear Page deciphered my convoluted description and provided some helpful pointers. Once they reminded me of Kaki King,, I rediscovered Michael Hedges and Andy McKee. From there it was just a matter of browsing YouTube to find more than enough additional artists and great tracks.

Suggestions for further exploration:

  • Candyrat Records - there's a gaggle of players on their Artists page
  • Windham Hill - the roots of this genre run right through this New Age label
  • YouTube - browse the artists you like to find plenty of other suggestions
  • Spotify, Pandora - I haven't tried Spotify, but typing any of the names here into Pandora will begin an wonderful journey

Technical note: this site is a simple one-page affair using only HTML and CSS. Bootstrap 3 is the foundation for styling, layout, and mobile-friendliness.

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