Saturday, January 16, 2016

Pete Huttinger - An Amazing Fingerstye Guitarist - June 22, 1961 – January 15, 2016

Pete Huttinger
Pete Huttinger, who was a finger-style guitarist died today January 16, 2016. He was only 54 years old. Pete was a most amazing player and an even more amazing person.

Pete with CB Guitars model J
He was born with a congenital heart defect and had his first open heart surgery at the age of 13. In 2010 he suffered a stroke and was paralyzed on the right side of his body. It was a struggle to regain control not just of his paralysis, but of his speech as well. Although he had been playing guitar for most of his life and was a finger style champion, it took him a year to relearn the instrument.

Pete with VAD battery pack
Then the following year, 2011, Pete suffered a massive heart attack and had to be air lifted to a hospital in Houston Texas. He was outfitted with a heart pump and a battery pack that he wore for the rest of his life.

His sister’s husband was a big influence on his music and style. This man played old time music with his friends,and Huttinger grew up listening those antiquated and delightful songs.When Pete was a teenager his mom bought him a banjo from a Sears catalog. He says that finger picking the banjo just seemed to come naturally to him which was very helpful when he eventually gravitated to guitar. He applied this same banjo "finger style" method to the guitar.

During his late teens he played electric rock and roll guitar. Upon finishing high school Huttinger attended the Berklee College of Music, earning a bachelor degree.

Playing banjo with John Denver
By 1994 to 1997 he was in John Denver’s group, only leaving after the singer’s death.

In the year 2000 he won the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship due to his ability to work out solo guitar arrangement for songs most players deem impossible to play.

Since then Huttinger went on to play on stage at Carnegie Hall in both 2007 and 2008. He was scheduled back in 2010.

At 2010 Crossroads festival
Huttinger was invited by Eric Clapton to perform at his Crossroads events. Huttinger has performed on some Grammy winning projects and was an Emmy nominee for music he wrote and performed on for PBS specials.

He also created the theme song for a national TV series on fly-fishing (this was his hobby).

With LeAnn Rimes
Pete Huttinger has backed up LeAnn Rimes on her tours and on TV shows. He has nine LP’s under his belt and has made quite a few instructional videos and DVD’s through Homespun.

After his 2011 hospitalization he went on public speaking engagements to let others know  his philosophy, which was Don’t Just Live; Live Well

In 2013 Huttinger released, what is considered his finest work, McGuire’s Landing. This was a LP of original songs which was accompanied by a 52 page story that he wrote.

His last album was done with Mollie Weaver and was called Parnassus. This came out in 2015.

Pete's final show on January 9th, 2016 was in Atlanta. Two days later he was back in the hospital with bleeding on his brain. He went from talking and laughing to being unresponsive.

For the past five years he had worn the Venticular Assist Device. This was essentially a pump for his heart. It came with a battery pack that was in a bag that he wore over his right shoulder. There were wires coming out of his belly that were attached to the batteries.

He would make fun of this in his concerts by telling the audience it was “set to stun. He even gave it a name.

Erin Morris Huttinger
Pete had recently co-authored a book with his wife, Erin Morris Huttling called Joined at the Heart: A Story of Love, Guitars, Resilience and Marigolds.”

Teaching at Fur Peace Ranch
Huttinger was a regular at guitar instructional camps and was quite fond of Jorma Koukenan’s Fur Peace Ranch in central Ohio.

Although he played other acoustic guitars, Huttinger’s favored guitar was built for him in 2012 by renowned luthier Bill Collings. This guitar was a modifed model OM1 that had a limited run of 50 instruments. The guitar listed at $4725 and Collings gave $1000 for each instrument to a fund for medical bills that Huttinger had incurred. The street price was $4000. USD.

The Huttinger model guitar’s top was made of Sitka or Adirondack spruce with a Venetian cutaway. The back and sides are solid mahogany, as was the guitars neck. The back and sides were trimmed with tortoise shell style binding and the back had a strip of walnut separating the sides. The neck was a bolt-on model with a heel and has a modified V shape. The fretboard is ebony with dot position markers and Huttinger's name in script on the 12th fret.

The body had standard scalloped X bracing. The nut at the neck was slightly larger than the standard model and is 1 3/4” and tapers to 2 3/16’s at the saddle. The Waverly tuners were made of nickel.

Huttinger can be seen in a  John Denver TV specials playing a banjo and mandolin. Huttinger  was a spokesperson for Elixir strings said that he he was fond of slightly heavy strings. He used a 013 for high E and .017 for B.

AER Compact 60
He ran his guitar through an AER Compact 60 amplifier that he lsaid maintained consistency in sound for his performances and acted as a monitor. His OM1 is equipped with a Fishman Matrix Infinity pickup. The controls are mounted inside the guitars soundhole.

He also uses a Fishman Aura Spectrum DI.

For some songs he states that he used modified tunings, such as D-A-D-F#-A-D.

Pete with his classical guitar
Pete also said that he plays a Collings OM2, a Collings D1, a Larrivee custom made guitar, a Keith Adams classical guitar, a Takamine classical guitar, and two Fender electric guitars; a Telecaster and a Stratocaster.

Additionally he owned a Gibson ES-335, a 1938 Gibson L-50, a 1950 Gibson L-7, a National Dobro, and a guitar made by TV Jones. He also owns a 1968 Gibson Mastertone 5 string banjo, a Gilchrist Model 5 mandolin, a 1924 Gibson style A-2 mandolin and a Collings MT mandolin. In addition to these he owned an Irish Bouzouki, a Cuban Tres and a Brazilian Cavaquinho.

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