Interview: South African guitar maestro Derek Gripper chats at the Sydney Guitar Festival

We spent some time getting to know South African guitar maestro Derek Gripper while he was in Sydney for the sydney Guitar Festival.

What was the first guitar you bought?

Spanish Guitar from a guy at school for 100 dollars – not counting a Clear Sound bass Guitar somebody gave me

Do you still have that guitar? If so, do you still play it live or do you keep it at home? If not, what happened to it?

A very good friend has it and is still playing it I saw it for the first time a few months ago.

What’s your advice for someone who’s starting out on the guitar?

Play what comes easily, leave what doesn’t, it’s forestry, the trees grow by themselves.

Who was your “Guitar Idol” so to speak growing up?

Egberto Gismonti, Brazilian pianist/guitarist/composer

You’re now someone else’s “Guitar Idol”, what do you think your younger self would think of you now that you’re in that position?

There are a lot of things I dreamed about being able to play, or places I would like to have played, or people I would like to have gotten to know or played with and if I look around quite a lot of that has just kind of happened which is great.

Do you have a favourite chord?

Yeah but I don’t know what it’s called!

Do you have any new music you’d like to plug?

People can listen to my album Libraries on Fire or One Night on Earth or follow my music and teaching on my website.

While Derek’s festival shows have already wrapped up, the festival continues until August 19th. For more details head to and for more on Derek head to

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.

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