Phil Keaggy is most notably recognized as a virtuoso guitarist in the Christian music circle. However, on occasion he has also received recognition as an accomplished acoustic fingerstyle guitarist on popular guitar magazines, and there are many contemporaries who cite him as an influence on their playing. This instructional DVD showcases many of Keaggy’s masterful acoustic compositions and techniques.
Much like his Electric Guitar Style DVD, this video is far more demonstrational than it is instructional in approach. There are many performance sections scattered throughout, but the accompanying booklet does not include transcriptions for these sections. In fact, the booklet only includes a fraction of the examples. To be fair, you could probably pick up more from watching Keaggy than you could from staring at a tab sheet all day. There is also very little one can’t find online these days, though accurate transcriptions of Keaggy’s intricate guitar playing might be one such thing. You will still find some tabs.
Most of Keaggy’s acoustic compositions make use of alternate tunings, and borrow liberally from Michael Hedges (“The Reunion”), Country music, and Folk music. One has to be impressed with his versatility too, however, as he also draws upon Classical music (“Castle’s Call”). Having said that, most of his compositions seem to have a thread of commonality.
This is not a step-by-step explanation of Keaggy’s guitar playing. If you want a crash-course in alternate tunings, and pick up a few licks besides, then you could very well benefit from this DVD. Even so, it’s more of a visual experience than it is a hands-on experience. Watching Phil Keaggy play guitar is like watching art in motion.
All in all, the video is quite short, clocking in at just under an hour. Keaggy talks a little bit about his influences and the gear he uses, but not as much as he did on the Electric Guitar Style DVD. However, the video seems adequate in showcasing Keaggy’s stylistic approach, and you get a glimpse into his acoustic guitar methodology. Easy to imitate, but hard to duplicate.
I would have liked more examples in the booklet myself, and more time spent talking about the custom rack mount gear and the settings he uses (his tone is breathtaking), but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. This DVD is definitely worth the purchase if you consider yourself a visual learner. Aficionados of the acoustic guitar will appreciate this release also.
Author: David Andrew Wiebe
David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a touring schedule with multiple bands.