By Greg Olwell
Without a doubt, Ledward Kaapana is one of the guitar’s greatest fingerstyle players. For over four decades this master of Hawaii’s unique slack-key guitar style has delighted audiences with his music.
Kaapana gave us this special Acoustic Guitar Session while he was visiting our studio to shoot a session for our sister publication Ukulele magazine. (Led was on a West Coast tour supporting his latest album of slack-key, Jus’ Press Vol. 2, his first album of ukulele music.)
After playing a few ukulele songs, Led re-tuned one of our office guitars, a Collings D41, to open G (D G D G B D) to play “Kolomona Slack Key” as a duet with Northern California guitarist Fran Guidry. In this clip, Guidry plays an early Composite Acoustics OX, tuned to open F (C F C F A C) and capoed at the second fret to back up Kaapana’s G tuning.
Slack-key guitar, or kī hōʻalu, is based on open-tunings and relies heavily on Travis- and Atkins-style picking to improvise over a steady bass line and melody. (Peel back a few layers and there is a direct connection between the technique of trad pickers in Nashville and Hawaii.)
Watch Ledward’s Ukulele Session here.
For more AG Sessions, check out the archive.