Roy Smeck – Wizard Of The Strings

Roy Smeck (1900-94) was one of the great vaudeville artists, a master of many instruments, especially ukulele, banjo and both standard and Hawaiian-steel guitar.

I was given the following hard-to-find 1928 publication, “Blues For Plectrum Guitar”, by someone who studied with Roy. It contains four items, and I present the first two, which I also recorded on video. They are in the jaunty style popular in the late 20s and 30s, full of humour, and also with some Eddie Lang influence.

 

Here is a PDF of Itching Fingers and Rag Pickers Blues: SmeckBlues

And my video performance:

Recording King made a Roy Smeck archtop, the A104, which was based on a Gibson ES-150, but with some changes, as outlined by Tony Butler in this very good overview of a surviving instrument – and amp! Check out that non-Charlie-Christian pickup…

 

Roy Smeck was a down-stroke player 90% of the time – it’s a great technique for getting the most sound out of the instrument. Give it a try.

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