Guitar Players of the 2012 Olympics

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With the 2012 Olympics kicking off tomorrow in London, we wanted to take a moment to show our patriotism here at Fretbase and highlight a few guitar players that just happen to be Olympic athletes.  It turns out a few of the athletes are pretty proficient pickers and a few use the guitar as a way to relax.  We asked each of the athletes to tell us a little bit about their playing – what kind guitar, what bands, and when they like to play.  Check it out!


Arielle Martin – BMX

Arielle Martin

Olympic schedule: Starts August 8th
Favorite bands: Ben Howard, The Head and the Heart, Cold War Kids, Rise Against
What kind of guitar do you play? 
Ibanez acoustic
What kind of music to do you play?
Mellow acoustic stuff, I like to write and compose a bit myself but I’m not very good…yet!
When do you play?
Mostly when I am at my home in Washington – it’s a great way to relax.

Matt Emmons – Shooting

Matt Emmons

Olympic schedule: Starts July 28th
Favorite bands: Aaron Tippin, Billy Squier, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Katapult
What kind of guitar do you play? 
I have a Fender DG-25S acoustic guitar. After the 2004 Olympics, I finally bought one and started teaching myself to play. I’ve never had the time to take formal classes, but I really hope to be able to do that one of these days so I can learn to make a guitar sing like it’s supposed to. These days, I simply try to play whenever I have time and can make some noise.
What kind of music to do you play?
I mostly play classic rock songs, a some country ones, and then I just mess around and make stuff up. I didn’t play guitar at the time, but when I was in college, it was a ritual that the guitar came out when my team got together for a party. My best friend and teammate in college, Per Sandberg, played guitar. He’d play and we’d all sing songs for hours. I was always mesmerized by people who played guitar – and I still am.
When do you play?
I’ve been on  the road a ton this year and can’t take my guitar with me. But, when I’m home, it’s a nice way for me to unwind and do something different. Also, I actually used to play songs to my daughter when she was little to help her take her mid-day nap. It worked like a charm. After about four songs, she was almost always asleep. Otherwise, as far as playing, a few of my teammates now on the National Team also play guitar, so we try to get together now and then and learn from each other.

Abby Wambach – Soccer

Abby Wambach

Olympic schedule: Starts July 28th
Favorite bands Adele, Joshua Radin, Coldplay
I love to play but I’m such a novice.   Sometimes I take my guitar on the road with me.  Very cool way to relax after a game.

Dana Vollmer – Swimming

Dana Vollmer

Olympic schedule: Starts July 28th
Favorite band: KT Tunstall, Bass Hunter, Josh Gracin, Keith Urban
It’s only been a year since I started but it’s great.  Very fun and I know I’m getting better – at least my husband tells me I am!  I played the piano for years so that definitely helped when I picked up the guitar.

Jill Camarena-Williams - Track & Field

Jill Camarena-Williams

Olympic schedule: August 6th
Favorite bands: Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley, Lady Gaga, 30 seconds to Mars
I’ve been playing piano for 20 years and just last year, started guitar.  Even though they’re completely different instruments, playing piano has definitely helped with the guitar.  All the basics of reading music, timing, and rhythm – they’re all the same.

Megan Rapinoe – Soccer

Megan Rapinoe

Olympic schedule: Starts July 28th
Favorite bands: Dar Williams, Kings of Leon, Florence and the machine, Bon Iver
I’ve been playing for almost 12 years. I love playing the guitar. For me, it is like an emotional release and a way to get away from life really and just escape at times with is nice. A great outlet and something so different than my sport

Trey Hardee - Track & Field

Trey Hardee

Olympic schedule: Starts August 8th
Favorite bands: The Fray, Panic at the Disco, Phoenix, John Mayer
I’ve played guitar for 9 years and piano most of my life.  I don’t know if I’m musical but I really enjoy it.  Never took any kind of lesson, just self taught.  So I’m not great – or least, not great at technique.   But it helps with my coordination and mental focus.  It’s  a welcome distraction!

Photo credit: Mitchell Haaseth / NBC Olympics

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