– learned guitar as a child on his father's guitar and, for a short time, studied classical guitar. When he was 16 his interest was rekindled by Jorma Kaukonen's acoustic guitar-playing in Hot Tuna. He took the guitar again and began to compose his own songs in the style of Leo Kottke and John Fahey. His first public performance was at Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., in a concert with Allen Ginsberg.
Reed moved to Scotland in 2000.
Technique and musical influences
Reed plays with his fingers, thumbs, fists and hands at once. He is also a player of blues or ballads reminiscent of Bill Evans, one of his musical idols.
As a teenager, Reed was initially influenced by Leo Kottke and John Fahey and in the beginning of his career was a more traditional fingerstyle player. In the late 1980s, though, he began to experiment with his own highly individual and percussive style, a short time after Michael Hedges published his first records using some technically similar techniques, but Reed's approach created very distinctive and different sounding music.
His guitar style is characterised by the use of percussive effects he generates with both hands on various parts of the guitar body. He names them rim shots and bongo hits. He uses slap and tap techniques like slap harmonics or the generation of notes or whole chords with his left hand (hammer-on, pull-off). He uses both hands for tapping (two-hand tapping) and frets chords with his right hand (right-hand fretting). He often plays with both hands from above the guitar's neck. In many of his compositions, Reed uses altered tunings characterized by very low bass string tunings, for example BGDGAD or CGDGGD.
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