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Hole Notes: The Exotic Tunings and Percussive Techniques of Fingerstylist Kaki King

The following content is related to the July 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

Over her 10 years as a recording artist, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Kaki King has released six solo albums and a pair of EPs and contributed to soundtracks for films such as Into the Wild and August Rush (which featured King’s hands in close-up shots for the main character). Although King started out playing classical guitar at age five, drums became her primary passion, and she didn’t return to the guitar until she was 10 and became interested in blues-rock guitar.

By her mid teens, Kaki was listening to acoustic fingerstylists and odd-tuning innovators Nick Drake, Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters), Bill Mize, Alex De Grassi and Will Ackerman, along with percussive-guitar pioneers Preston Reed and Michael Hedges. King’s take on their techniques and approaches, plus moves derived from her own drumming talents and a fascination with jazz and other styles, from Brit-pop to speed metal, forged the foundation for a riveting, high-energy guitar style that is uniquely her own. Let’s examine the techniques and tunings of some of King’s longstanding solo-guitar concert staples.