Doug Mattocks

Shubb: home | artists | products | company
Pages on the Shubb Artists site are not intended to be a bio, but a glimpse of the artist from our perspective. For more about each artist, visit their own website: | rhythm brothers


The day I met Doug Mattocks was the same day I met John Jorgenson, Dick Hardwick, and Charlie Warren. They were the Thunder Mountain Boys (aka Main Street Maniacs) playing in the streets of Disneyland.

I was paying closer attention to the band than they were accustomed to, especially Doug's playing and his banjo. His neck had an inlay pattern that was unfamiliar to me, and I also observed that he had a Shubb 5th string capo mounted on it. After the set, I asked him about the banjo neck.
    "I made that myself," he said proudly.
    "Well, you didn't make this part," I said pointing to the 5th string capo, "because I did." Which was true, but deliberately cryptic, and he was appropriately confused.
    "No, I bought that in a store," he responded.

Dick Hardwick loves to tell that story. He tells it funnier than I do, but my version is accurate.

Doug is one of the very few people — in fact, the only one that I know — to master both the 4-string and 5-string banjo. He is especially revered among 4-string players and fans, and is in the 4-string banjo hall of fame. One day he was bemoaning the fact to me that he had to carry two banjos to his shows, and asked if I could come up with something that would enable him to use just one. I designed a little padded clip that I affixed to the head of his 5-string. He tucks the fifth string under the clip, bringing it below the level of the other four, so he can play it like a 4-string. A simple little gadget, but he loves it. Now he brings a single banjo to most gigs. I probably shouldn't have mentioned that here, because I really don't plan on making any more of these things.


Doug is constantly working, either on tour with the Rhythm Brothers (whose origin traces back to the Disneyland days) or as a very popular solo act on cruise ships, so we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like. But last year we had a chance to spend a couple of days of quality time together. I asked the musical question, "So what have you been working on lately?"
   "Mostly learning these old guitar tunes that nobody wants to hear," was his answer. I sat and listened, transfixed, for an hour.














doug at booth
Doug at our NAMM booth, circa 1990
A banjo star since his youth, Doug has also quietly become a world class guitarist, specializing in a beautiful chord-solo style that is not commonly heard these days. If you pick up his guitar, you'll put it back down in a few seconds. He uses an unusual tuning, developed by Carl Kress in the early 30s. Clever way to keep people from playing your guitar ;-)