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Arthel 'Doc' Watson revolutionized flatpicking guitar. If one should name the most influential guitarist in modern flatpicking, there is no doubt that this must be Doc Watson.

He began playing at age 13, on a Stella guitar. When he was 17, he replaced his Stella with a Silvertone.He bought his first Martin, a D-28 in 1940, which cannot be very long after he bought his Silvertone. The music store gave him one year to pay it off, and Doc started to perform at the streets to earn the money. This was the start of his performing career, and he got invited to amateur contests and fiddler conventions.

At 18 he got his nickname Doc, when playing in a radio show and the announcer thought that Arthel was too long. A woman in the audience said "Call him Doc", and since that he has been Doc Watson.

When he started his professional career, he was playing electric guitar in a country and western swing band Jack Williams and the Country Gentlemen. He had tried to learn to play fiddle, but got very frustrated and gave it up. But he liked the fiddle-tunes, and started to play them on guitar. He had installed a pick-up on his Martin D-28, but eventually he traded it in for a Gibson Les Paul Standard. During the folk-revival, he transfered his licks to acoustic guitar.

When Ralph Rinzler came to record Doc Watson after hearing him play with Clarence Ashley, Doc Watson did not own an acoustic guitar. He suggested that he could play his Les Paul with volumen turned down. But Ralph Rinzler did not like the idea, and Doc Watson made his first recording on a borrowed Martin D-18.

His breakthrough came when he was invited to play at Newport Folk Festival, where he played in 1963 and 1964. Doc Watson eventually got himself a Martin D-18, which was used on his first Vanguard albums. In 1968 he switched to a Gallagher guitar, and has been playing Gallagher ever since.

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