I heard a great interview early this morning on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. NPR’s Liane Hansen interviewed Charlie Hunter, a jazz musician who plays an instrument unlike any I’ve ever heard of before, a modified eight-string guitar. I’m given to understand an eight-string guitar is usually nothing more than a regular guitar with a slightly extended range, adding one string to the top and one to the bottom. However, Hunter has his guitar modified and tuned in such a way that his three bottom strings are genuine bass guitar strings and the other five are regular guitar strings, though he notes in the interview that he’s recently removed his top string and prefers to play without it since he felt it got in his way. Eight strings or seven, though, what’s fascinating is this guy is simultaneously playing the bass guitar, rhythm guitar, and solo guitar parts in real time! My dad plays both guitar and bass (though not simultaneously, of course), so I thought he especially would get a kick out Hunter’s unique instrument and style.
Hunter’s latest record has a nice jazzy, upbeat feel with the 7-string guitar plus a couple trombones, a trumpet, and drums. The few song clips they aired during the interview were really fun to listen to. Besides talking about his unique instrument and playing style, they also discussed his practice regiment, why he chose to record the album in mono instead of stereo, and how he is learning to play the drums because it informs the way he plays the guitar, so the interview was generally entertaining for all these reasons. I’m going to be looking around online for Hunter’s albums now.