What Guitar Does Nick Drake Use

What Guitar Does Nick Drake Use?

Nick Drake was an English singer/songwriter and musician, he was well known for his acoustic guitar focused songs. He never reached international fame mainly because he was reluctant to perform live or give interviews. He signed for Island records when he was 20 and still studying at Cambridge University.

Nick recorded 3 albums they were “Five Leaves Left”, “Bryter Layter” and “Pink Moon” None of his albums sold more than 5,000 copies, but after his death in 1974 his music continued to gain momentum and in 1979 when his album “Fruit Tree” was released  5 years after his death, people started looking at his back catalogue.

Who Has Nick Drake Influenced

By the middle of the 1980s Nick was being quoted as an influence on many top performers. People like:

  •  Kate Bush
  • Paul Weller
  • Robert Smith (The Cure)
  • Peter Buck (REM)
  • Beck
  • The Black Crowes
  • Norah Jones
  • David Gray

What Kind Of Guitar Did Nick Drake Play?

Nick Drake was an acoustic guitarist, he is most associated with a Guild M-20 he can be seen with the Guild on the cover of his second album “Bryter Layter”. He also played:

  • Martin D-28
  • Levin LS-18 Super Goliath Dreadnought

What Strings Does Nick Drake Use?

It is widely believed that Nick used John Pearse “Folk Guitar Flat-Picking” some of the time and there is much speculation that he used Gibson steel strings as many folk guitarists were doing back in the 70s. There is also a good argument for Nick to have used D’addario strings made by the Martin company.

What Chords Does Nick Drake Use?

Nick used to open tune his guitar then he often used a capo to get the desired key for his voice. He often tuned the guitar in the same way classical guitarists do when playing a piece originally wrote for a lute. This comprises of nothing more than retuning the G string down half a step, so the string line-up would read E A D F# B E. With the capo in place Nick would then play Eb6 and Cadd9.

So the chords Nick used although contemporary, they never sounded like they were originally intended. Apart from the semitone drop on the 4th string, Nick used many other open tuning combinations. He wrote many songs using the B E B E B E tuning (listen to “from the morning”).

On the track “introduction” Nick used open tuning of C G C F C E with the capo on the second fret. So it’s not so much the chord structure, it’s the tuning that changes the voice of the chord.

What Pick Does Nick Drake Use?

Like many folk guitarists, Nick Drake used a fingerpicking style, and never used a pick.  He would alternate the bass notes using his thumb and play the melody using his first and second finger.

Guitar Picking

What Kind Of Music Does Nick Drake Play?

.Nick Drake has been described as a Folk singer/songwriter and guitarist but he was also a master at folk-rock. Sadly due to his depression he never reached his full potential, but his albums make for easy listening and his guitar techniques are fascinating.

How To Play Guitar Like Nick Drake 

To play the guitar like Nick Drake you will need to become experimental in your playing. Using open string tunings in what at first glance seem odd to traditional guitar tuning. These different tuning styles will lead you to learn  much more technical hand movements. The use of the capo with various different open string tuning will enhance the Nick Drake sound. As will playing many alternative chord shapes like Cadd9 but played with a totally different open string tuning this will open up a whole new world of music.

These experimental tunings take some getting used to.  But if you can master them you will achieve a sound like Nick Drake produced. He played acoustic guitar and mastered the fingerpicking style. So to sound like Nick you will need to master:

  •  Fingerpicking
  • Open string tuning 
  • How to use a Capo
  • Augmented and diminished chord shapes

What Age Did Nick Drake Learn Guitar?

Nick was 16 when he first picked up the guitar, it’s worth mentioning that he could already play the clarinet and the saxophone. After 2 years of playing the guitar he started writing his own songs. He was discovered by Ashley Hutchings from the band Fairport Convention and subsequently signed for Island records.

Frequently Asked Questions

Did Nick Drake use a pick?

Nick Drake never used a pick. He used his thumb and fingers in a style known as fingerpicking. This uses the thumb to cover bass notes and the fingers to cover the melody.

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