The Best Resonator Guitar Players in the World?

Who Are the Best Resonator Guitar Players?

The Resonator Guitar is a killer in the right hands and we thought we’d check out some of the best resonator guitar players in the world.

Our first choice is the amazing Jerry Douglas. Take a look at him in action here:

Gerald Calvin “Jerry” Douglas was born on May 28th, 1956 in Warren, Ohio. A renowned Lap slide guitarist, resonator guitar player and record producer his career has spanned over forty years, he has nine Grammy awards and has played on around 2,000 records. He is perhaps the world’s most renowned Dobro player and has expressed his deep love of this legendary resonator guitar, which he first picked up aged eight. Talking to Vintage Guitar magazine in 2013 he spoke of his lifelong love of the Dobro ‘I love the sound of Dobros and would love to have a whole lot more because every one of them sounds different. Oh man, [I] could completely geek out over these things!’.

Douglas has stated that he was initially a fan of the Banjo; he was an Earl Scruggs fan (banjo player with the band Flatt and Scruggs) when he was five or six years old. However he describes being enthralled by the Dobro played by Josh Graves, which he describes as sounding ‘soulful, like a voice’. It was after hearing Graves play at a Flatt and Scruggs concert he was taken to by his father that he decided to take up the Dobro guitar at the tender age of eight. Enthralled by the sound of the old guitars he decided to start playing stating; ‘I love the old guitars – that’s what made me first start playing, the sound of it. Once you hear the instrument, if you love its sound, it never goes away. You have to go get one’. In addition to being the world’s most foremost Dobro player Douglas is an accomplished Lap-slide guitar player, record producer and composer.

Douglas played with his father’s band, The West Virginia Travellers for several years before joining the Progressive-Bluegrass band The Country Gentlemen in 1973. In 1975 he became a member of J.D Crowe and the New South alongside other future stars Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice. A year later, in 1976, Douglas founded Boone Creek, the legendary Bluegrass combo, with Ricky Skaggs.

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In 1979 Jerry Douglas released his first solo album, “Fluxology”, whilst still only twenty-two. That year he also became a full time member of the country group The Whites, with whom he stayed until 1985. During his time with The White Douglas had built up a career as a session musician and was now Nashville’s most in demand Dobro player. Douglas has had a long and illustrious career as a session musician playing on albums for a diverse array of musicians including Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Phish, Dolly Parton, Paul Simon, Mumford & Sons, Keb’ Mo’, Ricky Skaggs, Elvis Costello, and Johnny Mathis, as well as performing on the hugely successful, eight times platinum “O Brother, Where Art Thou?’” Soundtrack.

He continued to develop as a solo artist during the 1980s, releasing a series of critically acclaimed albums, he has released fourteen solo albums to date, the latest “Traveller” being released in 2012. In the 1990s Douglas decide to end his career as a session musician in Nashville to concentrate on more creatively fulfilling projects, it was around this time that he was asked to play with Alison Kraus on a Union Station tour which began a long partnership, in an interview with he describes playing with Alison and her band as a ‘true thrill. Douglas also continued to collaborate on varied and forward-looking recording projects such as 1994’s Grammy-winning all-star “The Great Dobro Sessions” and 1996’s “Bourbon and Rosewater”, with bassist Edgar Meyer and Indian musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.

Douglas has spread his wings beyond Nashville and worked on diverse projects such as the BBC series “Transatlantic Sessions”, which ran from 1995 to 2013 For the series he teamed up with Scottish Fiddler Aly Bain as co musical director. The successful BBC series showcases live collaborative sessions between various leading Folk, Country and Roots musicians from both sides of the Atlantic. It has featured talents from Scotland, England, Ireland and North America. Douglas also scored the 2010 film ‘Get Low’ and wrote additional music for the soundtrack.

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His latest solo album “Traveller” released when Douglas was aged fifty-six in 2012, was an album of firsts; indeed Douglas originally wanted to name the album ‘Firsts’ but decided against it as it was too hard to pronounce. “Traveller” marks the first time he sings lead on the track “On a Monday”, and the first time he worked with an outside producer; Russ Titelman. On the Album Douglas collaborates with many big names including Paul Simon, Mumford and Sons and Eric Clapton. The album is aptly named as the recording took place in a variety of locations including New Orleans, New York, Montreal, Banbury, England as well as his adopted home of Nashville. Douglas described making the album as an ‘Adventure’ and that ‘the idea was to take myself out of my comfort zone, and to keep putting myself in unfamiliar situations’. Proving that the pioneering spirit of his long career is still going strong, Douglas has hinted that Traveller is only the beginning and that he has ‘all kinds of records that I want to make.’

Douglas’s prestigious and varied career has seen him well rewarded for his efforts, alongside his nine Grammy awards he has picked up a slew of other awards and recognitions. In 2004, the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) awarded Douglas with a National Heritage Fellowship for being “a composer and arranger who has explored musical forms from bluegrass to blues, and from country to classical”. In 2008 he was the Country Music Hall of Fame artist in residence in Nashville, Tennessee. Douglas was honored further in 2011 when the Americana Music Association awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also honored in 2009 at the 36th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival for playing his twenty-fifth consecutive year. He has also been voted Country Music Association Musician of the Year three times. Jerry Douglas currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife and children.


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