“He would probably look at my guitar playing and think, ‘You’re a moron!’” Dave Matthews explains how Robert Fripp inspired his unconventional fretboard approach

Dave Matthews Robert Fripp
(Image credit: The Howard Stern Show YouTube / Getty Images)

Dave Matthews has explained how King Crimson and Robert Fripp’s “spread out” fingering techniques have inspired his music during an interview with Howard Stern.

Asked about his love for the hugely innovative British prog band, Matthews beams: “They just go out of their minds!”

“He would probably look at my guitar playing and think, ‘You're a moron,’ but he has this tuning where he plays in a really formal way [with his hands spread out],” he adds, with an acoustic guitar to hand.

“Like with the song, Warehouse, it makes a sound, and you can make these patterns up and just sort of repeat the patterns. There's probably an easier way to play it [where you're less spread out across the fretboard] but it's satisfying.”

Alongside 1991 hit Warehouse, he also cites how Satellite, released four years later, came after he wanted to replicate Fripp’s unique technique.

“I was just trying to imitate him, and I was also ignorant. So it was a combination of those two things. I was trying to play what he was playing by looking rather than listening, like ‘What is he doing?’ So I tried and it didn't sound anything like what he was doing, but it was nice.”

The King Crimson founder, who recently completed a UK run of his Sunday Lunch covers with his wife Toyah, is credited with developing new standard tuning. The tuning (C2-G2-D3-A3-E4-G4), places each string at perfect intervals, a method of tuning used for violins, cellos and mandolins. It prompted the guitarist to relearn the King Crimson back catalog.

Discussing his Sunday Lunch endeavours in an interview with Guitar World, Fripp was clear to underline that the covers he creates with his wife are more than just wacky entertainment. 

“We’re not taking the piss, playing silly rock riffs," he said. “I work hard to honor the original players.

“Our kitchen performances have been described as ramshackle, which I think is very fair and generous! It’s very clear that we don’t put too much time into, shall we say, high-definition performances.

“The key to it is, ‘Are we having a good time?’ And I’ve noticed in retrospect that the absurdity is rampant... From time to time, we forget to take the washing down. I might look at a video after and see laundry hanging up or a tea towel drying, all manner of things!”

The Dave Matthews Band released their 10th studio album, Walk Around The Moon in May 2023. Two months later, Matthews joined John Mayer's Dead & Company on stage, covering All Along the Watchtower, Not Fade Away, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door and The Weight. 

Matthews and co will play five dates across the US and Mexico in February and March before embarking on a European run in April.

For more information, head to DaveMatthews.com.

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Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to Prog, Guitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.