Profile: Dave Matthews

By Mettler, Mike | Guitar Player, August 1996 | Go to article overview

Profile: Dave Matthews


Mettler, Mike, Guitar Player


Dave Matthews attacks his acoustic's fret-board as if he were playing drums. "That's my obsession, percussion. Plus, I've always loved to dance. The spins of African rhythms, Latin rhythms--they send me into throes of ecstasy," says the guitarist, who is rarely caught standing still when performing with the Dave Matthews Band.

To underscore his commitment to pure pulse, Matthews tossed out the click track when recording the band's new RCA album, Crash, the follow-up to Under the Table and Dreaming. "When we did Dreaming the click was so easy to follow--we all fell right in with it. But for Crash, we found the click to be a burden--it was almost like painting by numbers, because you're confined in what you're trying to do. Once we got rid of it, a lot more dynamics happened."

Matthews played a Gibson Everly Brothers on Dreaming but now prefers the touch of his favorite live guitar, a Gibson Chet Atkins. The Chet gets processed by a White 5024 EQ and a Meyer Sound S-1 before running through a Crest 7001 amp and splitting off to a pair of Meyer USM-1 monitors loaded with 15" speakers and 2" fitted horns. "I'm really attached to the Chet now," Dave says. "It's come to define our live sound, and so it became a key component of Crash."

The 29-year-old Matthews was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and now makes his home in Charlottesville, Virginia, where five years ago he put together a multiracial band consisting of acoustic guitar, bass, violin, sax and drums. The combination caught on with 1994's Dreaming. Propelled by its catchy grooves and the band's relentless touring schedule--including a few HORDE stints--the album sold more than three million copies.

Commercial success notwithstanding, Dave reacts modestly when told he placed third in the Acoustic Pickstyle Guitarist category and second as New Talent in Guitar Player's 26th Annual Readers Poll. "Oh, wow. That's amazing. I didn't realize that," he says, quickly deflecting the accolade by pointing out that Tim Reynolds, a longtime cohort but not an actual Matthews Band member, doubled every line (on a Gibson J-50) that Dave played on Dreaming. "But on Crash we told him, `Tim, you just do what you like. …

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