About Dix Bruce

Dix Bruce, a musician, composer, writer and award-winning guitarist from the San Francisco Bay Area, was born and raised in the Midwest. His interests in American folk music, jazz, and original composition are blended into a unique vocal and instrumental sound. His compositions are fresh and his energetic, exuberant stage personality, along with his driving rhythm and lead guitar work, set the tone for a warm and exciting performance.

He began playing guitar at age twelve. After college, he relocated to the Bay Area where his interest in hybrid acoustic string music led him to David Grisman’s, prototype quintet in the mid-1970s. Bruce eventually teamed up with the mandolinist and edited the magazine Mandolin World News from 1978 until 1984.

In 1978 Bruce formed the band Back Up & Push to explore the emerging possibilities of swing and jazz on acoustic stringed instruments. The band toured the west coast throughout the 1980s and accompanied Bruce on his release Tuxedo Blues, which features many of his original instrumental and vocal compositions.

Dix Bruce does studio work on guitar, mandolin, and banjo, and has recorded two LPs with mandolin legend Frank Wakefield, eight big band CDs with the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, and his own collection of American folk songs entitled My Folk Heart on which he plays guitar, mandolin, autoharp and sang.

He contributed two original compositions to the soundtrack of Harrod Blank’s acclaimed documentary Wild Wheels. Bruce wrote, arranged, and performed six songs (with Jim Nunally on guitar, Darol Anger on fiddle and Avram Siegel on banjo) for the soundtrack to the computer game Streets of Sim City (a sequel to the wildly popular “Sim City” from Maxis). He’s also composed and produced part of the soundtrack for the computer game Sims’ House Party.

He has released four recordings of original and traditional duets with guitarist Jim Nunally: From Fathers to Sons, The Way Things Are, In My Beautiful Dream, and the most recent Brothers at Heart. The Dix Bruce & Jim Nunally duo is known for its fast and hot guitar playing and close harmony singing. Acoustic Musician magazine describes Dix Bruce as a “…west coast virtuoso.” His most recent recording or originals and country duets is with mandolinist and singer Julie Cline entitled Look at it Rain.

To date Mel Bay Publications has published over fifty of Bruce’s instructional books and videos. Included are the mandolin and country guitar sets from the best-selling You Can Teach Yourself series along with Bruce’s own BackUp TRAX series of play-along, music-minus-one type, sets for learning everything from bluegrass and old time music, to blues and jazz. His best-sellers for Mel Bay are his six editions of The Parking Lot Picker’s Songbook, one for each instrumentalist/singer in bluegrass bands.

One of his books explores the early 1960s playing of guitar legend Doc Watson. Mel Bay Publications has also published his book on the playing of Jerry Garcia. Guitar Workshop has released two of Dix’s instructional videos: Basic Country Flatpicking Guitar, and Basic Swing Guitar, which featured Jeremy Cohen on violin.

Musix has published four of his acclaimed book/audio sets, two each for mandolin and guitar, entitled Gypsy Swing and Hot Club Rhythm.

Homespun has released his Mandolin Licks-ercises video. Bruce has written for Acoustic Guitar, FRETS, Bluegrass Unlimited, Flatpicking Guitar, and The Fretted Instrument Guild of America. He has written regular columns for Flatpicking Guitar and Mandolin Magazine.

Dix Bruce plays throughout the San Francisco Bay Area with a number of different groups, from solo to big band, from bluegrass and folk to jazz. Please email Dix for more information about his performances.


“… (a) west coast virtuoso…”
– Acoustic Musician magazine

“… Bruce is a skilled, multi-faceted guitarist… impressive whether fingerpick(ing) or flatpick(ing)…a personable singer… enjoyable, rewarding listening.”
—Jon Fox (Bluegrass Unlimited)

“… Bruce’s guitar playing is stellar hot licks and drive, well-balanced with clean phrasing and sensitivity. Serious music (yet) Bruce’s sense of humor pervades the mix.”
—Dirty Linen

“…(Bruce is) the energy and idea man, part comedian, part story teller. His warm stage personality is apparent and so is the fact that he enjoys what he’s doing, playing the kind of music he loves.”
—Peter Corbett Flagstaff (Az.) Northlander