Hiring a guitarist can be a great way to add live music to your party or event. The guitar is an extremely versatile instrument that’s well suited to many genres of music, so it’s the perfect choice for almost any occasion.
And, although guitarists are often used to provide background music, some are also talented vocalists who can add yet another dimension to your entertainment.
But just how do you ensure you hire the right guitarist for the job?
Before you start looking for a guitarist, there are several things to consider that will ensure the artist you choose is a good match for both your event and your expectations. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of useful tips for hiring a guitarist.
Electric, classical, or acoustic guitarist?
Should you hire an electric, classical, or acoustic guitarist, and what’s the difference between them? Classical guitars, as the name suggests, are well-suited to classical music; they have nylon strings and create a more mellow sound than their steel stringed counterpart, the acoustic guitar. However, classical guitars also lend themselves well to other musical styles such as folk and flamenco. Electric guitars, on the other hand, are much louder sounding and are commonly used to play jazz, heavy metal, or rock music.
Ultimately, there are two things that should guide your choice:
- Which sound do you find most appealing?
- What size is your venue?
While sound is purely down to personal preference, the size of your venue will affect your choice; unless the venue is very small, hiring a classical or acoustic guitarist could be a problem as the sound may not carry sufficiently. If, however, you’ve set your heart on one of these options, you could always get your guitarist to use an amplifier.
Do you have a special song in mind for your first dance? If so, you’ll want to check that any guitarists you’re considering are willing to accommodate special requests. Some guitarists charge extra for this service, while others are happy to learn your song free of charge. If you want to avoid expensive surprises further down the line, find out which category yours falls into before you book them! One more thing: let them know well in advance if you need them to learn a song that’s not in their repertoire.
A classical guitarist should only need about 2 x 2 metres of space in which to perform. This should be sufficient to accommodate your guitarist, a music stand, microphone and amplifier.
Listen to demos
One of the best ways to get a feel for the style and ability of a particular player is to listen to their demos. This will give you a good idea of their capabilities and whether they’re likely to be a good fit for your event. Make the most of demo tapes by:
- Taking your time – listen to the entire track to determine whether you like it or not.
- Paying attention to detail – how does the artist play the intro and the outro, and do they add anything special or different?
- Taking note of the overall tone and how it makes you feel – this will give you a good idea of the guitarist’s general style.
- Ensuring you’re listening to a good quality recording – the most accomplished guitarist can sound terrible on a poor-quality recording!
Attend a live performance.
Listening to a guitarist live on stage is an excellent way to get a good sense of their playing style and to discover how well they engage with an audience.
Check their credentials.
One of the best ways to ensure you are hiring a quality guitarist is to check their credentials. It’s a good idea to:
- Ask for references; a quality musician should be able to provide you with a list of satisfied customers who can vouch for his or her skills.
- Read online reviews of the guitarist.
- Ask to see / hear audio and video recordings of them playing.
- Ask how long they’ve been performing.
- Ask if they’ve played at this type of event previously.
- Meet them in person to discuss your requirements. This will give you an opportunity to get a feel for their personality as well as their musical prowess.
Taking a little time to check a guitarist’s credentials before booking means you can be confident you’ve hired a quality musician who will live up to your expectations.
Guitarists are usually happy to abide by the dress code for your event. However, don’t forget to tell them what it is – they are musicians, not mind readers! That said, any professional worth their salt should be asking what you expect them to wear. If you have any very specific, or out of the ordinary, dress code requests, you may need to pay extra or be prepared to provide your guitarist with the appropriate attire.
What you’ll need to provide for your guitarist
Your guitarist will need:
- An armless chair
- Access to a changing room
- 1-2 power sockets close to the performance area.
- Soft drinks and possibly food (dependent on how long your guitarist attends your event).
Booking your Guitarist
Once you’re sure you’ve found a guitarist who will be a perfect fit for your event, book them! It’s advisable to book up to a year in advance of your event. This is especially true during the summer months, and over the festive period, when guitarists’ diaries can fill up very quickly.
Get a written contract.
Having a contract in place will help to protect both you and the guitarist by setting out terms and conditions that both parties agree to. The contract should include:
- The name of the guitarist and the person hiring them.
- The date, time and location of the event.
- A detailed description of services to be provided.
- The length of time the guitarist will play for.
- Any sound or amplification requirements.
- A note of special requests.
- The cancellation policy.
That’s a wrap
Hiring a guitarist for your event is not an easy task! However, if you follow these tips, you should be able to find a guitarist who’s a perfect fit for your event. We hope you’ve found this blog post useful, and that it’s saved you some time.
At PartyWizz, we specialise in providing entertainers and party suppliers such as magicians, photographers, singers, and of course bands. We pride ourselves in only working with the best in the business. We operate in Ireland and in the UK.