Hey there reddit people, Andy McKee here. I thought it might be fun and interesting to do one of these AMA's so here it is! Feel free to ask me anything about anything!

For authentication please go to my website, Facebook fanpage, or twitter account.




Comments: 2196 • Responses: 51  • Date: 

[deleted]898 karma

Hi Andy, I'll post my 5 questions again from the AmA request thread (http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/p4gpe/iama_request_guitarist_andy_mckee/)

  • Which song are you most proud of from a technical point of view?
  • Of all your songs, which do you find the most challenging to play?
  • I read that you are into video games. What are you playing at the moment?
  • You seem to have a good relationship with Blizzard Entertainment, how did that come about?
  • You recently had a security issue with an over zealous fan at a gig. I'd imagine it must have been scary, do you have any plans to step up security at your shows because of this?

Cheers :)

AndyMcKee318 karma

  1. Hmm, from a technical point of view I guess Hunter's Moon was a bit of an accomplishment.
  2. Hunter's Moon
  3. I am playing Tribes Ascension a lot lately. If anyone is on there you can add me, my name is Dudeabaker. :-)
  4. Their PR guy is a guitarist and he heard I was into video games. He sent an email to my management sayign I was welcome to tour the campus anytime I was in Irvine. I've been over twice now and Diablo III is looking awesome. Great company, great people there!
  5. I don't really have any security, I can't afford any! I just rely on the security at the venue if they have any.

ReverendY45 karma

Care to elaborate on that security issue you had?

AndyMcKee112 karma

A crazy guy jumped on stage at NAMM and started banging and strumming on my guitar as I was walking off the other side of the stage.

BestPseudonym46 karma

Was your guitar damaged? That's kind of scary.

AndyMcKee101 karma

Fortunately not!

Forkhammer681 karma

I have no questions, but I'd like you to know that my wife gave birth to your music. You're the soundtrack to the most incredible day of my life.

Thank you.

AndyMcKee679 karma

That kicks so much ass. Thanks for letting me know! :-)

And congratulations!

dermined61 karma

So nobody's going to make the joke about his wife birthing a CD? I know it's a shit joke, but this is Reddit ffs.

pipi3141560 karma

I also pictured Andy McKee's music trumpeting out of her vagina... glad I'm not the only one with a 6th grader's mentality today! Damn reddit, why you all serious?

AndyMcKee79 karma


guitar2adam432 karma

True story of Andy's amazingness:

In 2008, I was 20 years old and saw that Andy was playing at a 21+ venue in my city. I didn't have any fake IDs so I called the venue and asked if I could just stand in the back and listen to the show. I even offered to help clean up and do dishes. They said no. As a last effort I wrote a message on Andy's myspace page asking if there was any way he could get me in to the venue by saying I was his apprentice helping out with his setup aka "with the band".

The day of the show I was at a play with my parents and I saw after the play that I had 2 missed calls and 2 messages. They were both from Andy. The synopsis of the first was "I told them you're my apprentice and you're good to go! I'll see you there!". The second was "Damn it all, the manager just spoke to me and said no dice because they could lose their liquor license. Sorry, I'd be happy to meet you after the show."

I was so moved because Andy was (and is) my idol and I couldn't believe he gave me that kinda of personal attention. I didn't give up though, and I borrowed a bunch of my older brothers ID's, didn't shave for a week, and dressed up like my bro (med school student) with a scrubs top underneath a sweater. Of course I got in easily, and then me, Andy, and Rob Poland all had a good laugh about all the ridiculous measures I took to see the show. Andy dedicated my favorite song of his, "Keys to the Hovercar", to me on stage and was kind enough to listen to my original music.

I also saw him play a live show 2 years ago and I got to play more of my original music for him. I just want everyone to know what an amazingly kind and genuine person Andy is, in addition to his guitar abilities. He is the best kind of musician.

AndyMcKee38 karma

Hey Adam! Yeah man, I was glad it all worked out in the end as well. See you next time in Indy, if you're still living there?


Laddergoats353 karma

Rylynn makes me weep like a child every time I hear it. What was your inspiration to create this amazing piece of musical art, and does it have any special meaning behind it?

AndyMcKee466 karma

I dedicated Rylynn to my friend. He had a daughter named Rylynn but sadly she passed away at a young age.

[deleted]91 karma


AndyMcKee106 karma

That is so amazing. I am truly honored! :-)

HowsItBeenBen31 karma

How does it make you feel knowing you inspire other prodigies like Sungha Jung?

AndyMcKee46 karma

It's an honor!

SeaSharp12 karma

Me and my wife got the mp3 of Rylynn from Amazon so she could walk down the isle to it when we got married... One of those "perfect" moments in my life, and I wanted to say thank you for contributing to it, even if the song was born out of tragic circumstances... it meant the world to us that day!

AndyMcKee18 karma

Thanks for letting me know, that is killer!

Truesday22 karma

His music is unforgettable. I shit you not. I have heard several dozens of Andy Mckee's songs several years ago on loop(when they all blew up on YT few years back). You would think the titles would all sort of blend together and one wouldn't be able to differentiate one solo acoustic song from another. But the moment you mentioned Rylynn and before I opened the link below, I already started humming it in my head (I knew I was humming an Andy Mckee song, just not Rylynn). When he played his first few bars, it confirmed to me what classics all his songs are.

AndyMcKee23 karma

Thanks a lot man!

cthrubuoy266 karma

I know you're famous for your solo acoustic work, but have you ever thought about doing some music with a full band?

pipi31415274 karma

Full band fail: 10 seconds into every song, they'd give up playing their own instruments so they could watch Andy McKee.


While I know this is a joke, I think Andy McKee would be the first to admit that Andy McKee is really great at guitar, but not an anomaly. Plenty of studio musicians could easily keep up with McKee and be just fine playing along.

AndyMcKee246 karma

Absolutely agree, I think my talent is more in the compositional area than playing.

AndyMcKee111 karma

Definitely. Sometimes the guitar is limited in the textures that you can create. Maybe someday I'll do some collaborative stuff

mondt164 karma

Just wanted to say how much I appreciate your music. You're were a pretty big stepping stone in my music listening and appreciation, which manages to grow much faster than my ability to create or play music. :P

Hope some day I get to go to a show, or at least meet you at the WVF! Or both :)

As for a question, what made you decide to begin using a harp guitar?

AndyMcKee153 karma

I first heard the harpguitar on a Michael Hedges recording called "Live on the Double Planet". The first time I actually saw someone playing one though was actually at the WVF! Mr. Stephen Bennett as I am sure you could have guessed.

I absolutely loved it and SB ended up selling me the HG he was playing that day. It's the one I used in the Youtube videos (Into The Ocean etc.)

BlerpityBloop123 karma


AndyMcKee188 karma

Hahaha, cool story bro!

abiku138 karma


AndyMcKee132 karma

Surprisingly, no! I've never actually had anyone tell me they wished I did more percussive guitar stuff which is kind of nice, I find it difficult to keep a really cool melodic idea going when you are banging away at the guitar at the same time. :D

Glad you like "Dolphins"!

dsartoris110 karma

When did you realize that you are a god among men?

AndyMcKee174 karma

Hahaha, thanks man! Honestly though, I think I just had the good fortune to find something that I was adept at and that I enjoyed.

On top of that, somehow I managed to find a way to make a living at it! I feel really lucky for that.

bobEddins109 karma

I saw on one of your facebook statuses that you deleted you wife's Skyrim save data. How'd that turn out?

AndyMcKee66 karma

All is good, man. As Bitchesloveasmiley pointed out, we were able to recover the save file!

Iamadoctor25 karma

Additionally, are you playing Skyrim? And if so, Imperial or Stormcloak?

AndyMcKee102 karma

Nord Stormcloak. 2-handed axe wielding mofo!

felpach101 karma


AndyMcKee70 karma

Hey man, thanks for taking the time to learn those tunes. That is awesome that you were able to get into Berklee with them!

Unfortunately, I don't know if I have any advice about how to get those parts to work together. For me, it's often a good idea to put those ideas down for a while and come back to them with a fresh start the next day or next week.

justinxduff86 karma

Are you human?

AndyMcKee312 karma


theodolphus81 karma


AndyMcKee121 karma

Sungha is a nice young guy, polite and a bit shy but I think he is breaking that mould and being a bit more outgoing these days! :-)

It's great to see such a young guy that is into fingerstyle guitar and picking it up so well. It's gonna be fun to watch his skill and career develop!

SuzDC79 karma

what has been the most difficult song for you to learn? why do you think it was the hardest?

AndyMcKee124 karma

Probably Aerial Boundaries. Actually I still can't play the middle section very well at all!

There are some very tricky things happening with the left hand in that section.

kamucho71 karma

Andy, When i see you next can i give you a piggy back?? (Merky here :D)

AndyMcKee92 karma

Yes :D

MildRelic63 karma

I saw you in London at Union Chapel a few years back, and you gave an excellenty eloquent explanation as to why your guitar had uneven frets about intonation. But i've never been able to repeat it to any else who asked me about it! Could you perhaps explain it to me (us) once more?!

AndyMcKee128 karma

Sure! It's called a fanned-fret guitar neck. What happens is each string has a more proper scale length for the pitch it is tuned to. The nut and bridge are angled out so that the scale length is increased as you go from treble to bass.

Sort of like a piano or harp; the treble strings are shorter and the bass strings are longer.

In the end the guitar is supposed to have better intonation all along the neck.

simonwjackson61 karma

  1. What is your favorite tuning?
  2. Can you recommend an acoustic & set of strings best for tapping?

AndyMcKee139 karma

I don't think I have a favorite tuning really, but here are a couple I like a lot: ECDGAD and BGDGAD.

That Gadd9 inversion is so killer. I love that B in the bass!

For strings I use D'addario XP medium gauge.

munk_e_man21 karma

Hey, not really sure who you are, but I figure I'd find out a bit by reading this AMA. Coincidentally I'm holding a guitar right now and although I'm self taught and play more for fun, I think I'll try out this BGDGAD tuning. Sounds fun, thanks!

Edit: I just checked out some videos on your website, and will be recommending you to my friends. A tip of my hat

AndyMcKee23 karma


saxturbation53 karma

Hi Andy! Which artist(s) are your greatest inspiration and why?

AndyMcKee136 karma

Michael Hedges, Preston Reed, Don Ross, Billy McLaughlin, Eric Johnson, John Petrucci, Bjork, Bruce Hornsby, James Hetfield, Joe Satriani to name a few.

All of them for their creativity and expression!

pencil36413 karma

So many people I would have never guessed! I see you and Satch or Het at two ends of the guitar playing specturm, personally.

AndyMcKee68 karma

Good music is good music :-)

[deleted]52 karma


AndyMcKee77 karma

Hey there! I've looked at those acts and they all seem to be over-reaching to me. I do still believe that intellectual rights should be respected and protected but these three acts aren't right.

As someone who owes a lot of his success to the internet, I am very grateful for sites like Youtube and all of the various social media websites out there. They've let me connect with millions of people on the planet!

I'll post a quote from my friend Don Ross here as he put it very well recently:

"We musicians are professionals. This is our living. We get to do this all the time because we're good at it. People like our music. We appreciate that. We make recordings and write our stuff out as sheet music to help us make that living. But, please stop telling musicians to give away their recordings and sheet music for free. That's tacky. If you think 99 cents is too expensive for a song, then stream on Spotify or Rdio. That's either free or costs about $9.99 a month unlimited. If you want the official tab that the artist worked on for a week non-stop, then pay the $4.99. That's cheaper than a lot of the coffees at Starbucks."

DawnWolf13 karma

I agree with your statement about the official artist tablatures. But what if someone transcribed your music by ear and decided to share his interpretation with the Internet, would you oppose that?

AndyMcKee17 karma

I'm fine with that, sure!

krisq1445 karma

How often do you practice playing guitar on average and for how long? Do you play any other instruments well?

Thanks for doing the AMA!

AndyMcKee95 karma

Believe it or not, I don't really practice much at all. I will go over my tunes before I go out on tour to make sure they are still under my fingers but that's about it.

When I pick up the guitar at home I am usually trying to work on new musical ideas.

I play a little bit of keyboard and some bass. I am really interested in the harpejji as well!

kamucho34 karma

Harpejji for anyone else who was confused...

AndyMcKee48 karma

Thanks kamucho!

WhoAmIHmmm11 karma

You dont practice much at all now or did you never practice much at all? :) Thank you.

AndyMcKee20 karma

I used to practice a lot when I was a teenager and early twenties. Sometimes 8 hours, sometimes 1 hour. It was never very regimented.

phenovenom43 karma

Whoaa!!! Huge fan here! Alrite, question...

  1. Who's ur main influence as a guitarist?

  2. Name one guitarist that you respected so much (that are still alive at the moment)

  3. If you can recommend everyone one of your favorite guitar song, what is it?

  4. What do you think of sungha jung and tommy emmanuel? (because i saw you three play together at youtube and it was so frickin cool)

  5. Whats your tips and advice for new guitarist?

Thank you! Hope this question is answered.. Sorry if i asked too much. Im excited! :p

Sorry for the bad grammar btw, english isnt my mother language

AndyMcKee77 karma

  1. Probably Michael Hedges
  2. Eric Johnson
  3. Fusion of the Five Elements by Michael Hedges
  4. Sungha is great, he's doing so well for such a young guy! Tommy is an unreal guitarist. His ability to tear it up on the acoustic is unmatched.
  5. Practice what you love! Don't get bogged down in exercises and scales too much. Take the time to learn the songs that you like and you will learn a lot about music alongthe way. That's what I did.

Philip_Marlowe10 karma

On a similar note, what do you think of Derek Trucks?

AndyMcKee19 karma

He's a great player

djmyst911937 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA!

Your guitar cover of Toto's Africa is one of my favorites. Any particular reason you chose to do that? Could you explain a little about the process that goes into creating such a cover?

AndyMcKee40 karma

Sure! Well, the main thing when trying to arrange a tune for solo guitar is to really try and capture the elements of the song that make it unique; the melody, the groove, etc.

On Africa, I really wanted to capture that intro part as best as I could. That interesting keyboard part and the groove. The chorus is a real big dynamic departure from the verse in that tune so I decided to keep the verse pretty simple with the melody and only the backing bass line. The chorus then explodes with the strumming part.

The keyboard solo was tricky and I decided to approach it in a Billy Mclaughlin-esque manner by tapping the bass line with the right hand and the solo with the left.

Anyway, overall as I said, it's important to capture those really memorable parts of the song so people can recognize it but sort of flip out in hearing it in a new way.

justamathnerd37 karma

Oh man, this is exciting!


  1. When you write music, how much of it is a result from just playing around in a certain key/tuning, and how much of it is a result from coming up with a melody and writing music to support it?

  2. From a technical standpoint, what is your favourite/most impressive song? Kind of like this: if you were asked to play one song that demonstrated your best abilities as a fingerstylist, what would you play?

  3. Most of us (I'm assuming) found out about you through Candyrat's youtube channel. What was it like "blowing up" like that. Now, if I'm not mistaken, you're putting out music under Razor and Tie. Do you still have ties/connections to the Candyrat "family"?

  4. There are so many cool musical collaborations with fingerstyle guitarists (Antoine Dufour and Tommy Gauthier, Brendan Power and Andrew White, You and Don Ross, etc.). Who is someone or what is an instrument that you'd like to work with that you haven't yet?

AndyMcKee31 karma

Cool questions!

  1. My music is almost entirely made up the following way: I will begin to experiment in an altered tuning and come up with a progression or riff. After that I will start to hear melodic ideas. Finally, I will try to find a way to play them together at the same time.

  2. That's tough. I don't know if I have one tune that really does that for me. Maybe Hunter's Moon?

  3. It's been crazy having the sort of success I've had on Youtube. It definitely put the career on fast forward and got my name out there quickly. I still have connections with everyone at Candyrat including most of everyone on the label. I keep up with Don, Antoine, Craig, Ewan and all the guys. Oh and of course Rob.

  4. It would be cool to do an album with Antoine, John Petrucci, Eric Johnson. Even an ambient electronic guy like Jon Hopkins would be cool!

rubydragoon66633 karma

Is it true that all the hair on your head migrated to your chin to be closer to your guitar?

AndyMcKee70 karma

Yes. It was over the course of many nights in September 2006.

tomnomnom1230 karma

Do you have any tabs or sheet music you could share? My friend showed me "Drifting" a few days ago, and I would love to be able to play it.

AndyMcKee210 karma

All of my tabs are available on my website. They go for the fairly reasonable price of $2.00. Or you can probably get them for free somewhere. I'd appreciate your support though! :-)

[deleted]24 karma


AndyMcKee85 karma

Soft= Diet Mt. Dew hard= Jameson

DrJarp23 karma

Hey Andy! When i saw you live in Freiburg, Germany (in Jazzhaus, back in 2009) a dream came true. I play the guitar myself for 10-ish years and I'm a huge fan. I love your works of art and I do my best to cover them to feel like a little McKee for a moment. ;) My favorite song to hear and play is still Drifting. It inspired my personal way of playing a lot.

Talking to you and making a picture with you was truly amazing, thanks for that (again)!

Take care of yourself, the world needs you.

AndyMcKee29 karma

Thank you so much for the kind words! :-)

NJOYLF18 karma


AndyMcKee8 karma

Right on, my pleasure :-)

camelCased116 karma

How is touring with Dream Theater? With two epic guitar players in close proximity I find it hard to believe there hasn't been some sort of tear in the space-time-continum. (P.S. I've seen you at the Sheffield Boardwalk twice with Don Ross. They were truly magical nights!)

AndyMcKee41 karma

It was like a Dream Theater come true! crickets

It was seriously awesome. The guys were all really cool and Jordan, JP and I all jammed in Mexico City at the hotel. Something might come of it...

brick_eater12 karma

Which of your compositions are you most proud of and why?

AndyMcKee3 karma

If I had to narrow it down, probably Rylynn, Ebon Coast, and For My Father. Hard to pick one!

I think they all have great melodies and interesting ideas.

jimmyRayny10 karma

hi andy, i wonder if you re thinking to do a tour in europe :D also whats your favourite acoustic guitar piece :D

cheers from switzerland

AndyMcKee26 karma

Hey! I will be in Europe in the fall around September, October, and November. I think I will be hitting Switzerland along with Germany and Austria in there. Probably Zurich.

My favorite acoustic guitar piece... man that is really tough. Maybe Fusion of the Five Elements by Michael Hedges. But that will probably change tomorrow... :D

woxxel10 karma

How do you get all your inspirations for your songs? Do you sometimes go to places or throw yourself into experiences just to get ideas from it or do they just happen to come to you like that?

I love your music! motivates me playing the guitar on and on!

AndyMcKee24 karma

Usually they just come to me, inspired by places and experiences.

musicaficta8 karma

What was it like to collaborate with Antoine Dufour?

AndyMcKee13 karma

Great! We've been friends for many years now and it's always a pleasure hanging with him and playing music. He's a really good guy and an unbelievable guitarist!

everybodyshout5 karma

hey andy...george daly here, kevin's son. you played my guitar in my living room last year...and my question is: DYRWSYP?

AndyMcKee7 karma

LMAO, you've gotta be kidding me! He's got you doing it too? I am horrible at those. Your dad is a pro.

Here's my response: QXPZJLK.

clerkjerk3 karma

If Ryan Reynolds, you and I were all gay (stay with me here) and he had his beard from Ammetyville Horror and you still had your beard and mine was still at maximum length, do you think we could go out for a few beers and listen to The Outfields - Your Love on the jukebox for a few hours and talk about toy poodles?

AndyMcKee3 karma