Tony Rice (born David Anthony Rice, June 8, 1951) is an American guitarist. He is one of bluegrass’ most inventive and influential
Tony Rice was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2013. Raised in Southern California, Rice inherited his musical skill from his father, who played with several West Coast bluegrass bands and was heavily influenced by California-based bluegrass groups, including the Dillards and the Kentucky Colonels, which featured influential guitar picker
Rice has been a pivotal influence on recent generations of players like Bryan Sutton, Jordan Tice, and more.
So, how to play like Tony Rice? Well, it’s less about the guitar gear list and a whole lot more about woodshedding your bluegrass chops (fortunately, Rice recorded some video lessons to help out with that). Here’s a quick rundown…
Tony Rice’s Guitar:
As a Bluegrass musician, Rice didn’t have a lot of gear. It was all about a flat top acoustic, a pick, and some amazing playing.
His main guitar was the Martin D-28, which is a legend in the acoustic guitar world. It’s the quintessential workhorse of music legends like Tony Rice, Hank Williams, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and so many more.
Tony Rice’s D-28 has a better story than usual, however, having previously been owned by Clarence White, stored under a bed, and then restored by Rice years later.
Martin D-28s aren’t cheap, though, with a list price over $3k. Check latest price here.
Tony Rice Guitar Lessons:
If you want to know how to play like Tony Rice, you’re in luck. Rice recorded several video lessons where he discusses technique, style, and his general playing approach. You can still get them on DVD.
An Intimate Lesson With Tony Rice
This archival video lesson, originally recorded in 1984, brings the fabulous Tony Rice picking style up close and personal so you can clearly see what he’s doing. Tony has chosen six songs and instrumentals to demonstrate a variety of styles and techniques, and he breaks them down carefully for the learning player.
The Tony Rice Guitar Method
In a wide-ranging and detailed session, Tony Rice demonstrates his world-famous technique, gives invaluable advice, analyzes some of his best-known pieces and discusses his style, influences, guitars, and favorite players. This 2-part set is filled with great conversation and, of course, the amazing playing we’ve all come to expect from this master picker. (140 minutes.)
You can also get some ‘Tony Rice style” lessons from Stephen Mougin on Truefire. Mougin walks you through the rhythmic feel and technique of Rice.
Bluegrass Rhythm Evolution by Stephen Mougin
Stephen Mougin covers Tony Rice’s style in “Bluegrass Rhythm Evolution”. While Tony Rice’s style is based on the Jimmy Martin style (especially when performing Martin’s hits), Tony’s style always demonstrates a bouncier groove. He accomplished that by slightly altering the timing on his down-up-down strum, then relaxing into the next downbeat.
Tony Rice Discography
If you’re just looking to soak up some of Rice’s tunes, you’ve got a lot to choose from. Here’s his discography, broken up by decade. Some albums are solo, and some with groups.
- 1968 Session: Bobby Atkins, Frank Poindexter, and Tony Rice (1968 – Album apparently not released until 1981))
1970 – 1980
- Guitar (1973)
- Bluegrass Evolution (1973)
- J.D. Crowe & The New South (1975)
- California Autumn (1975)
- Tony Rice (1977)
- Acoustics (1979)
- Manzanita (1978)
- Mar West (1980)
- Skaggs & Rice (1980)
1981 – 1990
- Still Inside (1981)
- Mondo Mando (1981)
- The Bluegrass Album (1981)
- Backwaters (1982)
- Bluegrass Album, Vol. 2 (1982)
- Bluegrass Album, Vol. 3 – California Connection (1983)
- Church Street Blues (1983)
- Bluegrass Album, Vol. 4 (1984)
- Cold on the Shoulder (1984)
- Me & My Guitar (1986)
- Blake & Rice (1987)
- Bluegrass Album, Vol. 5 – Sweet Sunny South (1989)
- The Rice Brothers (1989)
- Norman Blake and Tony Rice 2 (1990)
- Devlin (1990)
1991 – 2000
- Native American (1992)
- Tony Rice Plays and Sings Bluegrass (1993)
- The Rice Brothers 2 (1994)
- Crossings (1994)
- Tone Poems (1994)
- River Suite for Two Guitars (1995)
- Bluegrass Album, Vol. 6 – Bluegrass Instrumentals (1996)
- DGQ-20 (1996)
- Tony Rice Sings Gordon Lightfoot (1996)
- Out Of The Woodwork (1997)
- Rice, Rice, Hillman & Pedersen (1999)
- Unit of Measure (2000)
- The Pizza Tapes (2000)
2001 – 2008
- Runnin’ Wild (2001)
- 58957:The Bluegrass Guitar Collection (2003)
- You Were There For Me (2004)
- Quartet (2007)
- Night Flyer: The Singer Songwriter Collection (2008)
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