Teen Guitar Prodigy Plays Two Guitars at Once: Jason Kertson!

Your weekly listen for 9/28/2014 is Jason Kertson of Seattle, WA. Now seventeen years old, Jason began learning to play the guitar at age 7 and began performing in coffee houses and other venues when he was 9. Here he presents an instrumental piece by guitarist Andy McKee entitled “Drifting” on two guitars, using one guitar for bass and percussion and the other for melody.

This piece isn’t actually all that technically hard to play in terms of requiring a lot of hand strength or speed. However, it does involve a lot of hand and rhythmic co-ordination. Both hands are doing a lot of different kinds of movements simultaneously. If you can pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time, you’ll be off to a good start on “Drifting”. This kind of co-ordination just takes patience and practice to develop.

For intermediate or advanced guitar students, there’s a great breakdown of how to play this piece on one guitar below. Fortunately, Andy McKee, the composer who generously posted this instructional video of his own tune, was a guitar teacher before he became a full-time touring performer, so he does a superb job of explaining it in relatively easy terms. Note: Andy’s guitar here is in DADGAD tuning, as opposed to the standard guitar tuning EADGBE. For whatever reason, Jason’s version on two guitars is actually in DADGAD flat (which would be Db, Ab, Db, Gb, Ab, Db).

I haven’t learned to play this piece, but after studying both these videos, I’ve concluded the reason Jason decided to do it on two guitars was probably to address the problem of having his hands run into each other on the guitar neck (which Andy discusses at around 5:13 in the instructional video). I haven’t been able to figure out any other advantage to doing it this way, although of course it looks like a super badass guitar stunt in a video (and I’m not saying it’s not)!

Jason Kertson plays in and around Seattle quite a bit. Keep your eye on his facebook page for his next upcoming performance:

Andy McKee hails from Topeka, KS, and now tours internationally. He’s coming to Benaroya Hall on December 11. Buy tickets or check out his full tour schedule here:!tour/c1yk3
(Special note for guitar nerds: His website features dozens of tabs also! Check it out.)

Kudos to both these gentlemen for some very fine acoustic offerings.

– Charlotte

One reply on “Teen Guitar Prodigy Plays Two Guitars at Once: Jason Kertson!”

The ‘two-guitars’ thing reminds me of a local musician in my area, Ed Peekeekoot, who does something similar. But what Ed does, is he plays both the bassline and melody on ONE guitar, by wrapping his thumb round the neck and hitting the bass notes with it. During a performance I saw, he told us that it was “Chet Atkins style” – he, too, was emulating a musician he admired.

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