Life on the Fretboard: Derek Gripper

Derek Gripper plays Malian Kora music on a vintage Hermann Hauser classical guitar…and if that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will!

John Williams himself describes feeling that this was, and, I quote, “absolutely impossible until I heard Derek Gripper do it.” So that’s pretty cool.

We talk about his work translating the music of this beautiful African harp to the nylon string guitar, and the extraordinary instruments he has used in his quest to make the music in his head come to life including 8-string guitars, fanned frets and interchangeable magnetic fretboards. Yes, he has gone deep here!

Also discussed are Derek’s visit to the Hauser Guitars workshop to choose a career-defining instrument from their archive, his trust in embracing the “less good idea” and his love of single-purpose technology, from Rolleiflex medium format cameras to his vintage Nagra reel-to-reel tape recorder.

Speaking of recording, I also managed to record Derek playing my new guitar using this beautiful piece of technology and mics by Microtech Gefell and Royer. The results are right here:

Derek Gripper is a true iconoclast who as comfortable with Bach as he is with Toumani Diabaté. He has a truly orchestral sound when playing solo and fills concert halls around the world regularly. He is also one of the most quick-witted and funny people I’ve met. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

Learn more about Derek Gripper




To support this podcast please use this Tip Jar link https://michaelwattsguitar.com/tip-jars/4745

Your Host,

Michael Watts