David Henriksson is a Swedish guitarist who moved to Nashville to pursue his dreams as a guitarist. He fell in quickly as the lead guitarist for country music legend, Tracy Lawrence, playing the Grand Ole Opry House, Ryman Auditorium, and a ton more. Two years later, he’s still looking for new challenges.
We caught up with him to play a quick game of 20 Questions. Henriksson talks about guitars, gear, transitioning to the U.S., and more.
20 Questions With David Henriksson
1. How did you start playing?
I had played the violin for a couple of years and the acoustic guitar for about 3,5 years when I finally got my first electric guitar when I was about to turn 13. When I was 14 I was lucky enough to get an incredibly inspiring and encouraging teacher, and from then on I kinda knew I wanted to do this for a living.
2. Who were some early influences or “guitar heroes”?
The first guitar based music I got really into was an English rock band called Status Quo, I learned how to operate my dad’s vinyl player with their 70’s albums when I was like 6 years old. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Gary Moore were two main influences in my teens.
3. Your current main guitar?
My main guitar since a year back is a custom built strat by Swedish Sonnemo Guitars – an incredibly versatile instrument that suit my hands perfectly. Very happy to have such a great relationship with them!
4. The guitar you want to get next?
Since I’m so happy with the Sonnemo strat I’m planning to order a tele from them sooner or later. Might go with a Thinline as I’ve never had a semi hollow instrument, also thought about having a kind of weird pickup configuration on it. Possibly P90 in the bridge, Gold Foil in the middle and Filtertron in the neck. Maybe a Bigsby as well. And maybe…
5. Any tips on how to practice effectively?
I always practice the most efficiently when I have something very specific in mind. Otherwise it turns into just playing/noodling very easily.
6. What’s your typical effects line-up when you play live?
Depends on the gig, but my main pedalboard has a Strymon Timeline+Mobius+Flint which covers delay, modulation and reverb. Then I have 4 spots for mini pedals that covers my dirt section – I have a bunch of pedals from One Control since I’ve produced demos for them for a few years. I usually have one transparent low gain od, and then a couple of more od’s, distortions or maybe even a fuzz and then I always have a clean boost in the end of the dirt section. I quite often stack a couple of low/medium gain pedals for higher gain sounds. Even though I’ve made a living playing a lot of country music in Nashville I’ve never been a frequent user of compressor pedals.
7. What guitar pick do you use?
The last year and a half I’ve been using the D’Addario Classic Celluloid picks, different gauges but mostly 1.00 mm.
8. What’s a favorite memory from a gig?
There’s so many – one I gotta mention is meeting and getting complimented by Vince Gill after a performance at The Grand Ole Opry. Another is to play direct support to Jason Aldean in front of 30 000 people in Arizona – running out on the catwalk to play a couple of guitar solos was as cool as I imagined it to be when I was 14 🙂
9. What was it like to move from Sweden and get into the American music scene?
To get a work visa and arrange the move overseas was actually way trickier than to get into the music scene over here. Fortunately I had a lot of friends that helped me out in the beginning and recommended me for a lot of work that led to more opportunities than I could’ve hoped for. Very grateful for all that help!
10. What would you tell a young guitar player who’s considering making a career out of it?
Make practicing fun, find new influences, learn essential music theory and apply it to your playing right away, play and listen to different genres, take lessons, network, be on time, be prepared for rehearsals and gigs, don’t be an a**hole, learn a bit about the music business, see yourself as a brand that sells a service… I could go on, but maybe that’s enough for now haha!
11. What’s playing in your Spotify/AppleMusic/etc right now?
I’ve been listening quite a lot to the Eagles the last couple of weeks, never got into them when I was younger really but now I love their stuff!
12. What’s a surprising challenge to playing with major music acts?
That’s a hard one to answer actually, there are a few challenges of course but I wouldn’t call them surprising.
13. Books that influenced you ?
I spent some time with Guthrie Govan’s books “Creative Guitar” vol 1 & 2, they have some really inspiring content!
14. What do you do to relax, other than playing guitar?
Spend time with loved ones, work out, enjoy some good food and something on Netflix.
15. What part of your guitar career are you most proud of?
Probably that I set out to get a US work visa and move to Nashville, and that I didn’t give up even though it was a long, tricky and frustrating process. It took me almost two years to get a work visa approved but I’m definitely proud that I stayed persistent and focused on my goal.
16. Where do you see yourself in 2 years? or 5 years?
That’s actually very tricky as I don’t even know if I’ll get another work visa and be able to stay here in the US. I’d say my goal is to keep on growing my career working with different artists as well as building my own brand as a player/educator. I also look forward to take my private life to the next level and build a future there with my incredibly loving and supporting girlfriend.
17. What projects are working on right now?
I’m touring a lot with a country/southern rock artists called Kyle Daniel. I’m about to finish up my first solo EP. Also I have some really cool news I’m gonna drop soon about expanding my teaching online.
18. What guitar techniques have you been practicing lately?
Slide – it’s hard but fun and rewarding 🙂
19. What’s a little-known guitar player that you would recommend for new players to check out?
A BUNCH of my friends here in Nashville! Jack Ruch is one of my favorites, VERY tasty player!
20. Where should people look you up?