Gearing Up: Greensky Bluegrass Bucks Instrument Traditions

greensky-instrumentsIn the early days of bluegrass music, two companies were largely responsible for creating that sound – Martin, for its guitars, and Gibson, for its mandolins and banjos. Even today, bluegrass patriarch Del McCoury plays a Martin D-28, mandolin legend Sam Bush depends on his trusty Gibson F5 named “Hoss,” and banjo monster Bela Fleck is still jamming on his pre-war Gibson. Things change, though, and new generations of players bring a fresh sound and different equipment preferences. That’s the case with progressive bluegrass band Greensky Bluegrass, a band that can perhaps more accurately be called an acoustic rock band that uses bluegrass instruments. While the group features mostly the same instrumentation that Bill Monroe changed the music world with, the players use instruments that are more appropriate to their own sound and who they are as individuals. For instance, upright bassist/vocalist Mike Devol uses a modern Eminence bass, known for its unique smaller body size and shape. And the other four members of the band also play instruments that are definitely 21st century axes. Guitarist/vocalist Dave Bruzza plays a Santa Cruz VS (Vintage Southerner) model, but it’s not totally stock, as Bruzza uses a Hipshot drop tuner on the low E string. “I just like the way the guitar sounds,” he says. “I’finlve played many D-28s and I use a lot of guitars for recording, but the VS is used the most. I own a lot of guitars, and the one I used for the majority of our If Sorrows Swim album is a 1990 Brazilian sides and back Santa Cruz Tony Rice model. It’s really the definition of a bluegrass guitar to me.” Mandolin player/singer Paul Hoffman plays a mandolin made by Paul Newson, a luthier in the band’s home state of Michigan.... Sign In to Keep Reading

This content is only available to members.

To view this content,

Join Today

or Sign In

The Benefits of Membership:

  • Limited-time FREE Feature Magazine Content
  • Exclusive access to members-only contests and giveaways
Click to Join

We've started a free American Songwriter membership. Click here to learn more.