Nestled in the hills in a small town east of the San Francisco bay lies the house of Doug Doppler, a man so unassuming and humble and possessed of such a warm heart that it’s easy to forget that he is just about one of the greatest guitar talents in the world. Last Tuesday, April 27, my close friend, Jeff Aragaki and I had the privilege to spend the day with Doug at his house for a behind-the-scenes look into the making of his upcoming DVD series, “Get Killer Tone.”
This meeting came about because Jeff lent Doug his incredible Aracom PRX150-Pro attenuator so Doug could use it on “Get Killer Tone” (I’ll have a video regarding this coming soon). Doug has since purchased the unit because in his words, “It’s saving my ears!” And taking advantage of Jeff’s relationship with him, I threw out the idea of getting a behind-the-scenes look at Doug’s process of creating the series; something Doug excitedly agreed to, much to my delight.
And a delight it was! My initial thought about the meeting would be that I’d just do a simple video interview with him that wouldn’t take more than an hour or so. But that hour turned into another hour, then another hour, then another hour, to the point where my video camera ran out of juice! Luckily I had brought my AC adapter! Needless to say, Doug had a lot to say, but it wasn’t at some condescending, “I do this and that, and look Ma! See how well I can play” level. What Jeff and I were treated to was a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse into the life of a musician who graced us with his passion, knowledge, and wisdom. All in all, we spent almost six hours with Doug, and honestly, I’ve had to let that experience sink in for a couple of days before I wrote anything about it.
It’s a given that Doug is simply an incredible talent on the guitar. That man can shred like there’s no tomorrow, but he can also play tons of different styles, and in his various demonstrations, he switched in and out of styles both seamlessly and effortlessly. I could go on all day about that, but frankly, that’s not what impressed me the most. What had the biggest impact on me was who Doug is as a person.
If I were to distill down my various observations of Doug to a single word, that word would be “genuine.” Doug is genuine about pretty much everything, and never in all the time we spent with him did I detect even the slightest air of falseness. When you spend time with Doug, it really is WYSIWYG!
Doug is also a very deep and passionate man, and he’s not embarrassed to share his philosophical or even moral views on various subjects; and it came through in our conversations. Even on the simplest subjects, Doug imparted a depth that went far beyond just surface chit-chat. This isn’t just some “Yo dude! Look what I can play” musician who leaves it at that. Doug is a deep thinker, and when you watch and listen to him play, he’s not someone who’s going to just do a bunch of “linked licks.” There’s real depth to the phrases he plays which is in turn a reflection of his personality; in other words, with Doug, there’s always more than meets the eye, and I mean that in a good way!
Doug’s enthusiasm about everything is contagious, and combined with his natural warmth and friendliness makes it easy to rap about anything; and he undoubtedly falls into the someone-you’d-love-to-hate-but-can’t-because-they’re-so-nice category because he’s such a nice guy that easily draws you in. He talks a million miles per hour, but it’s so incredibly engaging, you never get tired of talking with him.
As a guitar player, what can I say? It’s no accident that he was chosen to track the Guitar Hero game. His technique is absolutely incredible, and he weaves in and out of styles of playing seamlessly. Just watching him play was incredible! But the interesting thing is that he just did it. No pretentiousness, no attitude of having to prove anything. Doug’s confident about his playing without being condescending. Yeah, he’s a self-professed shredder, but after watching and listening to him play for a couple of hours, there’s not much he can’t play.
If you ever get a chance to see him (he does clinics for Ibanez and will be doing stuff for Orange as well), don’t hesitate to speak with him personally. Like me, you’ll find out just how great a guy he is! I’m very honored to have been able to spend so much time with him!