Brian Willoughby's Lasting Impressions

By Prasad, Anil | Guitar Player, February 2006 | Go to article overview

Brian Willoughby's Lasting Impressions


Prasad, Anil, Guitar Player


"For me, writing interesting guitar instrumentals is a lot like penning a good story," explains Brian Willoughby. "It should have a proper beginning, a middle, and a conclusion. I prefer to start out with a simple melodic statement and sparse accompaniment, then build things up with more instrumentation, and finish strong with everything orchestrated together or tailing off gracefully. Guitar histrionics don't factor into the mix in my work. I believe in keeping things tasteful and leaving people with a compelling, hummable memory. Jeff Beck's solo in 'People Get Ready' is one of my favorite examples of economy of expression with masterful results. The rule is 'If I can't whistle it, I won't record it.'"

Willoughby employs his philosophy to full effect on his new solo-instrumental album, Fingers Crossed [brianwilloughby.com], his first since departing from famed British prog-rockers the Strawbs in 2004 after a 25-year tenure. The British guitarist left to concentrate on his solo career, as well as to focus on his long-running acoustic duo with singer-songwriter Cathryn Craig. Fingers Crossed showcases Willoughby's many influences, with acoustic and electric pieces that traverse blues, Celtic, country, rock, and ragtime territories. He uses ten different guitars across the album's 19 tracks, but two instruments are particularly close to his heart.

"My favorite acoustic guitar is my late-'50s Gibson J45, which has an amazing depth of sound and a beautiful ring to it," he says. …

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