Guitarist John Doan is a master of the Renaissance lute, as well as classical and contemporary guitar styles. His signature instrument, however, is the 20-string harp/guitar, originally popular at the end of the 19th century in Europe and America.
Doan began playing guitar at age of 11 when he lived in Venice, California. Given the setting, his favorite music then was surf music. He later became interested in classical guitar and earned a degree in music performance from Cal State Northridge. After moving to Oregon, Doan earned his master's in musical education from Western Oregon State and served on the faculty there. He studied the renaissance and baroque lute in the Netherlands, and mastering this instrument prepared him for learning the harp/guitar.
The instrument Doan plays has six standard fretted guitar strings, six unfretted bass strings, and eight unfretted high strings with pure tones and long sustains. Given the popular revival of Celtic music, it's surprising that few other artists have taken up the expressive instrument.
Doan has played with many folk and country legends, including Burl Ives, Larry Carlton, and Chet Atkins. He created his own brand of folk-fusion on his first album on Narada, titled Departures (1988). He has starred in two PBS music specials in which he used old-time instruments (A Christmas to Remember with John Doan and A Victorian Christmas with John Doan), and has released two albums with Hearts of Space: Wrapped in Christmas: Visions of Christmas Past and Eire: Isle of the Saints, A Celtic Odyssey. His Remembrance: Melodies from a Forgotten Era is on the Tapestry Productions label.
Doan lives in Oregon with his wife; he is an assistant professor of music at Williamette University in Salem.