Kevin Kastning

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Kevin Kastning
Kevin Kastning with the 36-string Kevin Kastning Signature Double Contraguitar by Emerald Guitars
Background information
Origin USA
Genres modern classical, avante-garde acoustic, jazz
Instruments 36-string Double Contraguitar, 30-string Contra-Soprano guitar, 16- and 17-string Contraguitars, 12-string guitar, six-string guitar, fretless guitar, 12-string extended baritone guitar, 6-string bass-baritone guitar, 12-string alto guitar, mandolin, piano, bass
Years active 1979-present
Labels Greydisc Records

Kevin Kastning (born December 26, 1961 in Wichita, Kansas) is an American guitarist, composer and musical instrument inventor.[1] He plays the 36-string Double Contraguitar, 30-string Contra-Soprano guitar, 15-string Extended Classical guitar, twelve-string guitar, six-string guitar, fretless guitar, 12-string extended baritone guitar, 6-string bass-baritone guitar, alto guitar, the 14-string contraguitar, the 16-string contraguitar, the 17-string contraguitar, mandolin, piano and bass.


Born in 1961 in Wichita, Kansas, Kastning's father was a musician, and by age 11 he had first guitar.[2] He attended Wichita East High School[3] during which time he was in the school orchestra and jazz ensemble as well as in several bands. Kastning attended Wichita State University between 1980 and 1984, graduating with a Bachelor of Music. While there he studied composition under the tutelage of Pulitzer Prize winning composer, Walter Mays. In 1985, Kastning moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he pursued graduate studies at Berklee College of Music for 2 years.[4] At Berklee, Kastning studied with Walter Beasley and John la Porta while being privately tutored by guitar legend Pat Metheny. Between the years of 1985 and 1990 he played in numerous jazz chamber groups, playing at clubs throughout the greater Boston and Hartford area are as well as in his own jazz ensemble, the Kevin Kastning Unit, which released a self-titled album in 1988. The Kevin Kastning Unit included Carl Clements on tenor and soprano saxophone with which Kastning has maintained a working relationship.

Since that time, Kastning has made numerous notable collaborative contemporary classical guitar recordings, which are largely improvised. Kastning plays a number of guitar family instruments of his own imagining on his albums including a 36-string Double Contraguitar, a 30-string Contra-Soprano guitar, 6-string bass-baritone guitar, a 12-string extended baritone guitar, a 12-string alto guitar, and 14-string, 16-string, and 17-string Contraguitars. His music consistently receives strong reviews in the experimental acoustic music community and other modern abstract traditions. Irish painter, Ken Browne's March 2011 exhibition 'Odyssey II' [5] at the Origin Art Gallery[6] (Dublin) featured abstract paintings based on Kastning's music.

Kastning has invented a number of guitar family instruments which extend the traditional range of the guitar into new territory.

Kastning is an artist endorser for Santa Cruz Guitar Company, Daniel Roberts Stringworks, Anvil Cases, Emerald Guitars,[7] Enhanced Audio, Bricasti Design,[8] Kelsone, Peluso, John Pearse Strings,[9] Cervantes Classical Guitars,[10] Microtech Gefell Microphones, G7 Performance Capos, ToneRite, Hipshot, and K&K Sound,.[11]

Recording artist[edit]

In 1990 Kastning was invited by colleague and fellow guitarist to form the KastningSiegfried Duet Project,[12] and over the next several years they wrote and recorded 5 albums of acoustic, experimental classical guitar compositions which were all released on the label, Greydisc. The KastningSiefried Duet Project is ongoing although Kastning has moved away from performing and recording composed music and favors instead improvisation[13] in the recording studio.

In 2006 Kastning began a long term collaboration with Hungarian guitarist, Sandor Szabo.[14] Together they have released 4 albums, on the Greydisc label, each of which is completely improvised, or composed in real time within the studio. Each album was recorded in a single day and each track represents a one time recording without overdubs or multiple takes.[15] Szabo and Kastning toured Hungary [16] in 2009[17] with guitarist, Dominic Miller,[18] who is well known for playing with Sting (musician).

In 2009, Kastning met British electric guitarist Mark Wingfield and proceeded the following year to record an ambient, electro-acoustic album of improvised guitar duets with Wingfield which was released on Greydisc Records.[19] In 2012 Kastning and Wingfield released a second album of wholly improvised ambient duets entitled "An Illustrated Silenece".[20]

During the 2009 Szabo/Kastning Hungarian tour, Kastning recorded a trio album, entitled "Triptych", with Szabo and percussionist, Balazs Major on location in Nograd. Triptych was released on Greydisc Records in December 2011.[21] The album has drawn comparisons to the recordings of Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie.[22]

Kastning toured Hungary a second time in March 2012 with Szabo and Major in support of Triptych with a concert entitled "Kontaktus". The concert was a melding of sound poetry [23] and movement featuring two Hungarian dancers from the Hungarian National Ballet, Timea Gyorke and Judith Szamosi.[24] The tour included dates in Budapest, Debrecen and Vacz. In Vac Kastning and Szabo recorded a duo album entitled "The Book of Crossing", which was released on Greydisc Records later the same year, as well as a trio album with Major, "Becoming", which was released in March 2013.

In 2012, Kastning released a duo album with longtime musical collaborator Carl Clements entitled "Dreaming As I Knew". The album represents various improvised contemporary classical duets with combinations of Kastning's guitar family instruments and Clements multiple wind instruments.[25]

In 2012 Kastning also released a duo album with famous bassist, Michael Manring entitled "In Winter" an exploratory album of improvised compositions.[26]


In addition to performing, Kastning is a modern classical composer with over 200[27] compositions for various chamber and solo instrumentation, including ten piano sonatas, seven string quartets and numerous works for unusual instrument duets, trio, quartets and quintets. Kastning's works have been performed annually by the London Chamber Group since 2001.[28]


Kastning has invented a number of guitar family instruments in collaboration with Dan Roberts. The two met in 1999 when Kastning commissioned a guitar from the Santa Cruz Guitar Co,[29] where Roberts was the production manager. By 2002, Kastning was an artist endorser for the Santa Cruz Guitar Co. Kastning is interested in extending the pitch range of the guitar and from this, he has developed several unique instruments with Roberts. The first instrument was the DKK 6-string extended baritone guitar, a 13 fret D baritone, voiced for a low G tuning developed in 2005 with Roberts and the Santa Cruz Guitar Co. The second was the Santa Cruz DKK-12 string extended baritone guitar, a 13 fret, D baritone voiced for a low F# tuning developed in 2005/06 . The third, the Santa Cruz KK-alto, a 12 string alto guitar in A, was developed in 2008. Kastning continued his collaboration with Roberts after Roberts left Santa Cruz Guitar Co to form his own company, Daniel Roberts Stringworks.[30] In 2007 Kastning commissioned at 14 string contraguitar[31] from Roberts which was completed in 2010. A second Contraguitar was commissioned from Roberts in 2011 to be utilized in alternate tunings.[32] In 2012 Roberts converted one of Kastning's contraguitars to a 17-string, 9-course contraguitar.[33]

In 2012 Kastning collaborated with Alistair Hay of the Irish company, Emerald Guitars, to conceive of and build a 30 string double-necked guitar. The guitar model was named "Triocha," the Kevin Kastning Signature Model, and combines an 18-string Contra guitar neck with a 12-string alto guitar neck providing an unorthodox tonal range. This instrument is known as the Kevin Kastning Signature Series 30-string Contra-Alto guitar

In 2013, Kastning again collaborated with Alistair Hay of the Irish company, Emerald Guitars, to conceive of and build the 36-string Double Contraguitar. This doubleneck instrument consists of two 18-string Contraguitars used in two different tunings. This instrument provides both an extended range and an unorthodox harmonic palette. The 36-string Double Contraguitar and the 30-string Contra-Soprano guitar have become Kastning's main instruments for both concerts and recordings. This instrument is known as the Kevin Kastning Signature Series 36-string Double Contraguitar.

In 2014, Kastning once again collaborated with Alistair Hay of the Irish company, Emerald Guitars, to conceive of and build the 15-string Extended Classical guitar. This is a classical nylon-string guitar with six double-courses, and three bass single courses. It also features a Multi-scale. This is known as the Kevin Kastning Signature Series 15-string Extended Classical guitar.



Kastning was voted Artist of the Month by 13th Fret, the world's largest acoustic guitar forum.[34]


Kastning's Greydisc release with Szabo, "Resonance", placed in The Perfect Sound magazines Top 10 Albums of 2007.[35]


Kastning's Greydisc release with Szabo, "Parabola", was named by NPRs Pushing the Envelope as one of The Best Albums of the Year for 2009.[36]


Kastning's 2011 Greydisc release with Wingfield, "I walked into the silver darkness", was named as a Favorite of 2011 by New York City's WFMU-FM..[citation needed]


Kastning's 2012 Greydisc release with Wingfield, "An Illustrated Silence" was named as a top ten album by New York City's WFMU-FM.[37]

Kastning's 2012 Greydisc release with Sandor Szabo, "Book of Crossings" was named one of the top ten albums of 2012 by Acoustic Guitar Magazine[38] It was also named one of the top 20 albums of 2012 by FAME Magazine.[39]

Kastning's release "In Winter" with Michael Manring was named Best Instrumental album of 2012 by Latewire Magazine.


Kastning's 2013 Greydisc release with Wingfield, "Dark Sonatas" was named as a top ten album by New York City's WFMU-FM. and was named one of the Top 10 releases of 2013 by magazine.[40]

Kastning's 2013 Greydisc release with Sandor Szabo and Balazs Major, "Becoming" was named as one of the Top 10 releases of 2013 by magazine.[41]


Artist of the Month August 2014; K&K Sound [42]
KDNK Radio Network Hall of Fame, added September 2014 [43]
Kastning's 2014 Greydisc release with Carl Clements, "Watercolor Sky," is named 2014 Album of the Year by magazine.[44]
Kastning's 2014 Greydisc release with Mark Wingfield, "In Stories," is named as of the top 10 2014 Albums of the Year by magazine.[45]


Kastning's 2015 Greydisc solo release "Otherworld" is named as a WFMU Favorite Album of 2015.[46]
Kastning's 2015 Greydisc solo release "Otherworld" is named as one of the Best Albums of 2015 by The Perfect Sound Forever magazine.[47]
Kevin Kastning and Mark Wingfield's 2015 Greydisc release "Eleven Rooms" is named as one of the Best Albums of 2015 by The Perfect Sound Forever magazine.[48]


Kevin Kastning[edit]

Otherworld (2015) Greydisc Records
Skyfields (2016) Greydisc Records
A Connection of Secrets (2017) Greydisc Records


Binary Forms (1992) Greydisc Records
Book of Days (2002) Greydisc Records
Bichromial (2004) Greydisc Records
Scalar Fields (2005) Greydisc Records
Gravity of Shadows (2011) Greydisc Records

Kevin Kastning & Sándor Szabó[edit]

Resonance (2007) Greydisc Records
Parallel Crossings (2008) Greydisc Records
Parabola (2009) Greydisc Records
Returning (2010) Greydisc Records
The Book of Crossings (2012) Greydisc Records
Perspectives (2016) Greydisc Records
Invocation (2017) Greydisc Records

Kevin Kastning & Mark Wingfield[edit]

I walked into the silver Darkness (2011) Greydisc Records
An Illustrated Silence (2012) Greydisc Records
Dark Sonatas (2013) Greydisc Records
In Stories (2014) Greydisc Records
Eleven Rooms (2015) Greydisc Records
The Line to Three (2017) Greydisc Records

Kevin Kastning, Sandor Szabo, Balazs Major[edit]

Triptych (2011) Greydisc Records
Becoming (2013) Greydisc Records

Kevin Kastning & Carl Clements[edit]

Dreaming As I Knew (2012) Greydisc Records
Nowhere, Now Here (2013) Greydisc Records
Watercolor Sky (2014) Greydisc Records
A Far Reflection (2016) Greydisc Records

Michael Manring & Kevin Kastning[edit]

In Winter (2012) Greydisc Records


The Kevin Kastning Unit (1988) (Out of print)
International Unfretted Artists (2008) IUA Records
The Open Road Volume 1 (2013) MoonJune


  1. ^ Kevin Kastning Website
  2. ^ Nathan Lamb, "Unique Transatlantic Sound", Nashoba Newspapers, November 6, 2009
  3. ^ Wichita East High School
  4. ^ Berklee Alumni
  5. ^ Kathy Foley "Backchat: Amy's Keenon a Rewind-up" Dublin Sunday Times March 27, 2011
  6. ^ "Ken Browne opens at Origin Art Gallery" 'Irish Art Blog', March 25, 2011
  7. ^ Emerald Guitars
  8. ^ Bricasti Designs
  9. ^ John Pearse Strings
  10. ^ Cervantes Classical Guitars
  11. ^ K&K Sound
  12. ^ Benny, "Kevin Kastning: a new classical language at", OnClassical, June 15, 2009
  13. ^ Barry Cleveland, "Improvising an album", Guitar Player Magazine, September 2011
  14. ^ Billy Bunker, "Interview with Kevin Kastning", Billy's Bunker: Music Reviews from the Independent Underground, July 2010
  15. ^ Mark Tucker, "A Second Conversation", Perfect Sound Forever Magazine, April 2011
  16. ^ Millenaris Teatrum "Dominic Miller, Kevin Kastning - Szabo Sandor Duo" Millenaris Teatrum Listings, November 2009
  17. ^ "Millenaris Program" Millenaris Print Program: Dominic Miller, Kevin Kastning-Sandor Szabo Duo, November 2009
  18. ^ Greg Jazz Blog, "Koncert-beszamolo: Dominic Miller", November 9, 2009
  19. ^ Robert Silverstein, "An Interview with Kevin Kastning and Mark Wingfield", mwe3, December, 2011
  20. ^ Mark Tucker, "FAME Review: An Illustrated Silence"FAME, October 2012
  21. ^ Mark Tucker, "FAME Review: Triptych" FAME, January 2012
  22. ^ Teja Gerken, "Triptych", Acoustic Guitar Magazine, May 2012 Edition
  23. ^ "Kontaktus"Fuge Produkcio, March 2012
  24. ^ Dehir "Nyerjen jegyet az akusztikus zene királyának koncertjére a játékán!" Dehir, March 22, 2012
  25. ^ Mark S. Tucker, "FAME Review: Dreaming as I Knew" FAME, April 2012
  26. ^ "Review: In Winter" Guitarbench Magazine, Issue 4, 2012
  27. ^ Two for the Show Media
  28. ^ Maureen King, "Kevin Kastning: An Artist at Peace", The Middlesex Beat, December 2004
  29. ^ Santa Cruz Guitar Co
  30. ^ Daniel Roberts Stringwords
  31. ^ Barry Cleveland, "Classical Spotlight", Guitar Player Magazine, Holiday Edition 2010
  32. ^ Irene Trudel , "An Interview and Live Studio Performance with Kevin Kastning and Carl Clements" WFMU Radio, April 30, 2012
  33. ^ Robert Silverstein, "Kevin Kastning AND Mark Wingfield", Music Web Express 3000", November 2012
  34. ^ "Artist of the Month December 2008" 13th Fret, December 2008
  35. ^ Mark S. Tucker, "Perfect Sound Forever 2007 Writer's Poll" Perfect Sound Forever, December 2007
  36. ^ "Pushing the Envelope Best Recordings of 2009" New Music Reblog, December 2009
  37. ^ "Afterglow and Thought Radio Top 10 Report for October 2012" Bill's Galactic Travels, October 2012
  38. ^ Mark Smith, "Essential Albums of 2012" Acoustic Guitar Magazine, February 2013
  39. ^ Mark S. Tucker, "FAME Reviewers' Best of 2012 Lists", January 2013
  40. ^ Mark S. Tucker, "FAME Reviewers' Best of 2013 Lists", January 2014
  41. ^ Mark S. Tucker, "FAME Reviewers' Best of 2013 Lists", January 2014
  42. ^ K&K Sound
  43. ^ KDNK Radio Network
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ WFMU-FM; New York City
  47. ^ The Perfect Sound Forever
  48. ^ The Perfect Sound Forever

External links[edit]