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Acoustic VIRTUOSO Mike Dawes Returns To Guitar Village!

Adam Leaver: April 18, 2023

Full transcript below!

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In this interview, acoustic virtuoso Mike Dawes joins Sam for a discussion of his journey from electric to acoustic guitar, and his current plans for touring and performing.


Hi Sam from Guitar Village here and today I’m joined by The Fabulous Mr Mike Dawes Mike how are you hello Sam from Guitar Village it’s so cool to be back at Guitar Village Mike is a an old old customer as well not too old but it’s amazing you’re actually getting younger Yeah Yeah well yeah I mean dude it’s crazy I bought my first okay so my first ever guitar I ever had was from Guitar Village and it was a cream Squire Telecaster that my parents very graciously got me for my 12th birthday right and because I was begging them for a guitar and then when I saw it was a cream Telecaster this is no disrespect to cream Telecaster holders and owners but I thought that it wasn’t cool because I wanted to be slash so I came back here and we traded it for tobacco Sunburst Epiphone Les Paul and that’s what started my guitar journey I also got my first acoustic guitar here as well it’s it’s crazy it’s awesome to be here so you started out with electric then and yeah moved to acoustic which is what you’re known for really now yeah it’s it’s a crazy journey I guess a lot of people start on acoustic and then move to Electric but it was it was the other way around I was a slash super fan and a Green Day fan and an Iron Maiden fan and doing all that kind of you know all the other kind of Iron Maiden licks um and then move to acoustic um and yeah got a Taylor 214 from upstairs and uh yeah that started the whole journey it’s it’s it’s a trip that this place is here and crushing it and yeah best best guitar store ever oh bless you bless you he’s right it’s true so talking about guitar so Taylor 214 and so you do you still have the guitar I do yes and interestingly um I’m a big fan of like familiarity like I like guitars that feel familiar I’m not one of the kind of guys that’s very good at just um saying here play this and then just doing the same stuff I like the familiar feeling the familiar reach familiar action all that and um every luthier built guitar I’ve had since every custom guitar including this the neck is a replica of that Taylor 214 neck so this is the exact same specs as that first neck that I got from here right um so every acoustic guitar I have therefore feels somewhat familiar there are tiny nuances of course there will be if someone’s making something by hand but but essentially this is a Taylor neck pretty much oh can you tell us a little bit about your guitars yeah well this is my pride and joy and I’ve been playing this uh at every show I’ve done since about 2017 and this is my signature uh Mike Dawes Model Guitar from a German guitar maker named Andreas Cuntz it’s an unfortunate name for English speakers because it’s spelled c-u-n-t-z okay German name pronounced Cuntz uh if you search for his website I highly recommend you do just do it on private browsing um but they’re amazing amazing acoustic guitars um that’s the reason I play it I don’t play it because everyone can obtain one they’re quite hard to get because he has to make one for you uh I think Tom and stock a few of these if you want to jump the queue but um they’re insane for so many reasons I mean the top is a 38 year old Sitka Spruce top it’s it’s incredibly incredibly cool the Indian Rosewood back and sides if you’ll notice I mean other than the very cool and unique headstock design it’s a very striking design um something cool about it is that the strings don’t actually Bend here the strings all go straight and that really helps with the tension I’m changing tunings a lot and going quite low with some some strings and it really really helps maintain that tension um much more effective than a fan fret in my experience actually just having no break point here it’s great um excuse this gaffer tape I must apologize to Larry dimazio this is the third video I’ve shot today around this area and uh I’ve had this on because I’m going home tonight to fix this underneath this tape is the amazing dimazio black angel pickup which I um designed with Larry dimazio actually we made it together the only reason it’s taped there is because I walloped my guitar so hard on tour last week that it fell out it fell in I was just really going hard and I’ve been playing shows every night and there’s a quick fix because I’m terrified of it happening again I just taped the crap out of it um so that’s nothing to do with the I’m not going to hide the pickup or anything but the guitar itself yeah quilted Maple bindings um reinforcement here for the further percussion so it’s actually very very sturdy there for that is something I was going to ask you about so um in terms of the percussion does the the pick up the demands we pick up capture that as well so this one doesn’t but this one does so under here is the main uh sound um and actually I’ve just stuck a mono guitar cable in I have four pickups but right now we’re just taking one which is the dimazio Black Angel under saddle right so this is actually a bridge plate pickup that’s in here stuck under the bridge and that will pick up some of the percussion because it’s picking up the vibrations right this one only picks up the strings right because it’s a sample pickup just like an electric guitar If you knock an electric guitar you don’t really hear that knock right but the cool thing about that is you can put guitar effects on it that are designed for electric guitar and they sound Wicked because it’s essentially an electric guitar pickup so I can play with distortions and like you know octaves and all kinds of crazy stuff High Gain stuff that would sound awful on a Piezo so you get the best of both worlds on this guitar

I went to see Mike the other night our local West End Center which was really an incredible show no lies he was there he actually came I did turn up I left the house for once not to come to work as well yeah yeah it’s good to see you man and it was it was honestly it was a great gig it was sold out there’s 150 people so it was somewhat intimate yeah it was it was the the good old Westie one of the first gigs I ever played in my life was at the Westies so it was like a little homecoming it was like the local boys come home kind of gig which is just a fun vibe big old piss-up afterwards which was lovely excuse my French sorry sorry Mom one of those things I think you have to do after a gig isn’t it but it’s great actually I used to go to the West End Center a lot as a kid and it’s nice actually going through the front door and getting a ticket from sneaking in the back with the bands you know what venues like this you’ve got to support because they’re really the pillars of the community I used to live in this area and I know how important that venue is to the people around here it’s so important for people like myself Who tour and play shows and you know during covert and all of that you know for the for the touring act and for the venues it was I mean it was hard for everyone obviously but they really struggled because it was just you know it was the sort of first thing to close and the last thing to open you know what I mean like Live Events so it’s awesome to see them doing well and uh the sound system in that room is massive did you see the subs the side of the stage absolutely yeah I’m used to going to punk shows there when I was a teenager it’s a cool to play cool to play an acoustic show though but the the show was great um I think you had a support Max uh with support yeah yeah Max Hobbs opened up which is really cool cool to meet him he’s he’s doing some great stuff online so you should definitely check him out and uh yeah just wrapping up a little little mini run of of Hampshire shows that I was able to squeeze in between two other tours which has been really really nice yeah actually so tour schedule you’ve just come off tour effectively yeah so I just finished my first proper like East Coast America headline tour which was um awesome it was lots of shows were sold out every show was was packed you know which is just so crazy to think you know that I’m like I’m from Guitar Village you know and you then you go to America and play in these theaters it was just like an absolute blessing and uh I don’t take it for granted at all uh a large part of that audience has come from you know just putting music and videos online and companies come from my work with Tommy Emmanuel my work with Justin Hayward from The Moody Blues and and then speaking of Tommy Emmanuel we’re going off um next week to Italy Luxembourg Switzerland and the Netherlands to do some shows here they’re his shows I’m opening up but then we jammed together throughout the night as well which is great yeah which is which is incredible having two amazing guitarists playing together it’s just so fun I’ve witnessed it firsthand it does sound incredible it’s hard keeping up with Tommy sometimes he’s the best in the world he’s the best that there ever has been and it’s going to be hard for him not to be the best that they ever will be I think absolutely well let’s see I mean in terms of you know your own development do you set goals for yourself in terms of your playing or where you want to be with with your playing yeah I mean the goals are very short term like I love playing shows you know I mean hopefully you got the impression the other night when you saw the show that I clearly enjoy being on stage like I love being a bit of a goofball playing music that I’ve written playing music that I’ve arranged and just connecting with people because I think I I guess my initial goals were to play music live and travel and I’ve been very blessed to travel to a lot of places um all over the place over the past 10 years I’ve spent about 10 months of every year for the past 10 years on the road um but at the same time there’s something special when you can reach people with a live show where you touch them in a different way then you you do online you know someone can be sat on the toilet scrolling and look at a five second clip and enjoy it but when they’re in the room and it is the atmosphere and that by the vibrations of the speakers and they’re in your world for you know uh and two hours or whatever it may be it’s a really special thing and I hate to say it’s like a drug because you know I don’t have any negative connotations about it but it’s certainly addictive and uh my goal is to keep playing live and um just trying to Spread spread Joy that’s that’s the goal absolutely enjoy and play guitar you also have your own YouTube channel as well don’t you you absolutely well off you’ve got you know a few few of your songs on there you’ve got some covers on there yeah yeah there’s there’s you know I’ve been doing the YouTube thing but obviously the touring gets in the way of that a bit I think I guess going back to talking about goals I do want to be more active online and you know maybe cut some of the touring out I’m noticing I’m missing time with family friends you know my girlfriend things like that um that that stuff’s important you know and you can’t be on the road all the time um so I will be doing a lot more videos I’m working on a new album I’m releasing a lot more music this year um but the YouTube channel is hopefully in the description of here and uh yeah there’s a lot of stuff to come some videos I think you guys are really enjoying I’m going over to Iceland to shoot a mega epic for example as well as some unsurprise some very surprising uh pieces of content as well content is the word isn’t it because we certainly look out yeah so you obviously you’ve got tour lined up with Tommy um where you’re going to be opening you’re going to do some of your own stuff Tommy’s going to do some of this stuff and then you know a little bit of a collaboration very much Tommy Emmanuel shows you know I’m Tommy’s opener it’s it’s not certainly not a Duo show or anything like that but uh but I do play for a decent amount of time you know like 45 minutes out or something how do you find it differs playing by yourself because you cover a lot of ground with just one guitar you know you’ve got the percussive sounds you know you kind of cover some of the bass Parts as well the chord shapes Melodies yeah all in one plus tapping on top um how do you find that it differs from playing with someone else do you have to do the same amount well so with yeah this kind of guitar style I often demonstrate using this kind of extract where you can play the bass with your thumb you play the guitar with your hand play the drums with your other hand so you’re kind of covering a lot of bass you can get some um Melody on top thank you [Music]

you know you can do a lot with a guitar when you get rid of the guitar pick but when I play with Tommy Tommy is probably the only person that can weave in and out of this stuff so effortlessly I I do pull back a little bit but honestly I don’t have to he only ever adds what the song needs so some songs we play I’m doing stuff like this you know I’ll be playing a whole kind of Rhythm bass chord thing obviously some of you will recognize jump but Tommy will always find something to play that’s missing


I started fast so I’ll keep going fast [Music] thank you [Music] you didn’t jump but yeah like that’s incredible thanks man but but you know I love that kind of thing that all-encompassing playing style but when you do play with Tommy you know he’s it’s so hard to describe but it works so well and we actually recorded a record together that’s that kind of stuff um this is accomplice verse three yeah yeah so accomplish three we recorded in La everything I think pretty much was all one take straight through um which is crazy for a millennial to do one take you know it’s it’s very old school um and it’s it’s amazing man it’s it’s amazing to I feel like you’ve done a real record that’s really a moment captured no-nonsense no funny business just two guys playing and I think if you listen to that record it’s online Spotify all that stuff it’s all free streaming um then if you like that then then you’ll like the shows you know absolutely so can we talk a little bit so you you do some um you have a guitar course effectively for anyone who wants to learn how to play your style which you know it’s some dedication but the course is like nine hours long let’s see that’s true yeah well you’ve done your research man yeah well I do have a few courses online that are a little shorter um with a company called truefire um they’re online but I I and there’s some some free content out there as well but my real pride and joy is uh it’s actually with Jam play um but I produced this into these physical gift boxes the the initial thought process was people are always asking questions like how do you get these percussive sounds how do you get these screws yeah how’d you do all that stuff the harmonics you know the rakes the tapping

all that fun stuff and and it really is you know a lot of dedication to learn so I was going to make three DVDs right a beginner one for three hours long and an intermediate one for three hours and a crazy one but I decided to package it all together onto these gift boxes and you can get them on my website maybe in the description here I don’t know but in the gift box is a little guitar shaped USB stick it’s super cute it’s all like branded and engraved you put that in your computer and it’s all the nine hours all videos multi-camera angles all of that um and I’m a big fan of like physical stuff I’m not a huge fan of you know although I do do true fire courses and things like that where you subscribe um I like the one and done approach where it’s just like here’s my stuff there you go it’s yours you can give it as your as a gift for Father’s Day or to your kids or mum or whatever and then it’s there and you can pick at it for as long as you want you know no stress and uh yeah people enjoy it and I see people at shows sometimes they get their guitars and they play me some of the licks from it and it’s a it’s very rewarding to see that absolutely and people can get these Direct on your website um yeah my mom posts them so it really is a family thing business keep it keep it local you know everything anything through my website my mum and dad literally take to their local post office and during the pandemic this little local post office in a village almost went out of business and it was our little merch things that kept them going for the pandemic which is just crazy to think so yeah shout out to uh the little West Country Village post office that will remain nameless but yeah

[Music] [Applause] [Music]

[Music] there we go

you know I think it’s great you know you’re obviously doing extremely well I think it’s great to hear how many tour dates you’ve got you know the the Italy tour is immense you’re doing with Tommy yeah that’ll be really exciting I think I think like 12 shows maybe in Italy and then there’s like two in the Netherlands one in Luxembourg I think we’re gonna play to the two Insurance salesmen that live in Luxembourg and then um Switzerland uh for some nice chocolates and Mountain Air but um and then I’m off to the States and Canada we’re doing a very long tour uh opening for and playing with Justin from The Moody Blues Justin Hayward I’ve been opening for him and playing with him for 10 years so we do normally a couple of Tours a year and that’s going to be awesome because we’re finally gonna get back to Canada which is a place that I haven’t played that much so that’ll be a lot of fun absolutely and for people who who can’t are not able to see you for whatever reason you will be having a new album coming out very soon that’s very true yes you really know things that’s great um so after this I’m going to go home and tomorrow you know this will be in the past when you’re watching this but tomorrow I’m recording the last song for that record um and then it’s just a case of getting it together and I hope to start releasing singles in the summer for a full release I see full in America too long an awesome release but between then uh between now and then I’m I’m releasing these sporadic duet singles just for Spotify and YouTube things like that where I’m taking a guitar player that I really like from the internet and collaborating with them on a very relaxing cover and I’m amassing these kind of relaxing cover songs with players that I really like to hopefully one day create a an anthology of Duets this was really inspired by working with Tommy I’ve released one so far I’m going to record another one tomorrow actually with another player and the idea is with that is I do the opposite of what I normally do I’m going to play the lead so I’m playing the Top Line the melody doing some cool harmonies things like that I play with a guitar pick for these so one of them is out now it’s called until I found you to Steven Sanchez cover with a great Dutch guitar player named Huss D lesson um and the next one is a secret I won’t spoil what that is but I’m kind of grabbing guitar players from the internet and collaborating uh with them but letting them do the hard work you know all the finger style stuff and I’m playing the The Melodies in the same way that Tommy would if we were playing together yes so I’m I’m doing the first thing they’re all yeah exactly exactly I thought that would be a really interesting project and it’s not for an album It’s just random tracks will just come out which is why you should follow the socials but um they’ll just come out every now and then and it’s been really nice and creatively fulfilling to work with other musicians on music rather than being completely solo so um yeah look out for the next ones of those those will come there’ll be a lot more music before the my solo album is ready if that makes sense so so yeah when the solo album hits then the crazy shred happens well for any of you who haven’t checked any of my stuff out before absolutely please do it’s been a real pleasure having you dude thank you incredible guitar player and uh it’s crazy you’re doing so well thank you it’s so good to be here guitar Village best guitar store in the land


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