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"When words fail, the guitar speaks."

~George Szell~

The Dazzling Guitar of Shaun Hopper

by Mike Fallon

The text message I received from Grazie Grille in Brentwood, CA announced:

"Tonight! Special encore performance by amazing fingerstyle quitarist Shaun Hopper @ 7:30! DO NOT MISS!"

It was at Grazie Grille that Friday night, Feb 24, 2012, that I first encountered the magnificent guitar artistry of Shaun Hopper.

There was Shaun Hopper at the end of the restaurant bar standing and playing his acoustic guitar before adoring fans. With his curly long hair parted down the middle, Shaun Hopper kind of looked like Heath Ledger in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You.

It was apparent to me very soon that Shaun Hopper is a master at playing percussive fingerstyle acoustic guitar. While he flawlessly fingers the guitar strings he also produces amazing percussive elements by tapping on various parts of the guitar body. He is also a master at producing very beautiful harmonics and bell like tones going up and down the guitar fretboard. But it was the percussion sound effects he produced accompanying his melodies that really stood out. So in effect it was like there were two performers up on the small stage — a guitarist and a percussionist.

His acoustic guitar was fitted with a transducer with the music transmitted to the restaurant sound system for a truly beautiful listening experience throughout Grazie Grill.

For about two hours Shaun Hopper and his guitar took us on a musical journey by interweaving through a kaleidoscope of musical genres (Alternative, New Age, Pop, Rock, Classical, Jazz, Blues, Folk, Celtic, and Percussive-New Age.) where Hopper was able to cross and combine these musical genres on the fly. Hopper was also able to channel Chet Atkins by perfectly emulating Atkins' Nashville sound picking style.

We were treated to sounds of Beethoven, The Beatles, George Benson, Sting, Segovia, John Mayer, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and Queen. It was all of that along with Hopper's own original guitar compositions. I was impressed by his very "clean" playing with no buzzing etc. On some songs he would actually sing and his voice was actually very pleasant to listen to.

What was so wonderful about Shaun Hoppers's live show was that it was full of change and surprises and not boring and stagnate as with so many other performers. Here was a performer who is very creative and able to push and expand the musical boundarys of what you can hear from the guitar. It is really amazing what he can do with that guitar. In his hands the guitar is "like a mini orchestra" as Beethoven would say.


Here is Shaun Hopper performing "Paper Orchid" a song he wrote inspired by Steve Vai and influenced by Michael Hedges. This is one of several YouTube videos of Shaun Hopper performing.

See Video (Small) or See Video (Large)

Note: At Shaun Hopper's live show I purchased his DVD The String Poet which contains "Paper Orchid". However, I have not seen this DVD for sale at his website,, or as a download at iTunes. Apparently it is only available at his live shows for now. However his CD Lower Case Letters is available at and as a download at iTunes. See Product Details for information on this CD.

What I really enjoyed was that Hopper would occasionally tease the audience by playing a few bars of Albeniz's "Asturias" or Tárrega's "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" as these are very difficult classical guitar pieces to perform.

My wife Barbara and I were thrilled when he actually came over to our table to perform for us We sat mesmerized watching him move his hands all over the guitar producing various musical effects. It was a truly enjoyable experience! I ended up buying his CD and DVD after that.

I spoke with Shaun Hooper after he performed. He said he has been playing guitar for 13 years. I also asked him where he was from. He must have been toying with me or something because he answered, in an Australian accent, that he is from Victoria, Australia. However, his website says he was born and raised in Adel, Georgia. I also read that his hometown is Adel, Georgia. Also, the area code 229 of his Direct Line (on his business card he gave me) is in the state of Georgia. So I'm a little puzzled by his "Australia" answer to me.

Well anyway, Shaun Hopper is a great guitarist and if you ever get the opportunity to see Shaun Hopper perform, you are in for a real dazzling musical treat. DO NOT MISS!

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