Encore Blog

Guitarist Booking Guide – 2018 Prices, Hiring Advice and FAQs

Wedding Guitarist

Are you curious about hiring a guitarist for a wedding or private event but don’t know where to start? We’ve compiled answers to the questions we hear most often, complete with tips and inside knowledge from some of our top guitarists. To discuss booking a musician with our team, simply email [email protected].

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  1. The Basics of Hiring a Guitarist
  2. Guitarist Equipment & Setup
  3. Solo Guitar Repertoire
  4. Hiring a Guitarist for a Wedding
  5. Booking a Solo Guitarist

Solo Guitarist or Singing Guitarist?

In this guide, we’ll be discussing how to hire a solo guitarist who does not sing. Popular styles of solo guitarist include Classical, Jazz, Spanish and fingerstyle.

If you’re looking for a guitarist who can also sing, we’d recommend you read our Guide to Hiring a Singing Guitarist – Prices, Advice and FAQs

The Basics of Hiring a Guitarist

What styles of music can a solo guitarist play?

While specific guitarists may specialise in particular areas of repertoire, almost any style of music – including flamenco, pop, jazz, folk, classical – works on the acoustic guitar, while the electric guitar is used for rock ‘n roll and heavy metal.

The genres most popular among Encore customers looking to hire a guitarist are:

  1. Pop Covers (sometimes with a loop pedal)
  2. Jazz
  3. Classical
  4. Spanish

Many guitarists are versatile and are happy to play a variety of repertoire during the same event. You might want to have a set of laidback jazz music to begin with, and then a second set of more upbeat Spanish music afterwards, for example.

Some guitarists, however, are specialists

“People love the intimacy of the guitar – it’s an instrument that brings people together.”
Encore guitarist Morgan Buckley

Hiring an acoustic guitarist vs electric guitarist?

When hiring a guitarist, you should decide whether you would like them to perform purely acoustically, either on an acoustic guitar or a classical guitar, or whether you would like them to perform an electric or electroacoustic guitar which can be amplified. We’ll discuss the differences between each type of guitar in the next section.

Your decision should be based on two things:

  1. Which sound do you prefer most?
  2. How big is your venue and how many people are attending?

We would only recommend hiring an acoustic guitarist without an amp if your venue is extremely small, or if you want them to perform during a moment when everyone is quiet, such as the signing of the register at a wedding, a solo recital, or a performance at a funeral.

Otherwise, to ensure your guests hear the music and that the sound carries across the entire room, we always recommend hiring a guitarist with an amplifier.

What are the different types of guitar available?

When hiring a guitarist, there are generally five types of guitar available:

  1. Acoustic
  2. Classical
  3. Electro-acoustic
  4. Electric
  5. Gypsy Jazz

Acoustic Guitar

This is an entirely un-amplified guitar which is well-suited to modern genres, such as pop covers and jazz.

Here is an example of an acoustic guitarist, Tom Butterworth, performing Here Comes The Sun:

Hire Tom Butterworth →

 

This type of guitar is most suitable for small venues and spaces with a small number of guests. If there are going to be a lot of people, or you’re hosting in a large space, we recommend hiring a guitarist with an electroacoustic or electric guitar.

Classical Guitar

While the acoustic guitar has steel strings, the classical guitar has nylon strings, which gives it a rounder and more mellow sound. The guitar itself also looks different, often with more ornamentation, and classical guitarists will tend to perform in a slightly different position, with the fretboard tilted upwards at an angle.

The classical guitar is obviously best-suited to classical music (!) but is also used for Spanish guitar compositions.

Here is an example of a classical guitarist, Tom Gamble, performing the Prelude from Cavatina by Alexandre Tansman

Hire Tom Gamble →

 

Although most classical guitars are acoustic, some guitarists also own Electro-Classical Guitars which can be amped up for bigger events.

Electro-acoustic Guitar

An electro-acoustic guitar, very simply, is an acoustic guitar that can be plugged into an amp and amplified. The sound is very similar to that of an acoustic guitar, but can obviously be made much louder using the amplifier.

Here is an example of a Encore jazz guitarist, Miguel Mendes, performing Shape of You with a loop pedal using an electro acoustic guitar:

Electric Guitar

The electric guitar can only be performed when plugged into an amp, and has a distinctive and highly customisable sound.

When hiring a solo electric guitarist to perform at an event, popular genres for electric guitarists are jazz, pop and rock.

An electric jazz guitarist is able to perform on their own without any backing, whilst a pop or rock guitarist may perform with backing tracks to pad out their sound.

Here is an example of a Encore jazz guitarist, Morgan Green, performing Yesterday by The Beatles on the electric guitar:

Hire Morgan Green →

 

Gypsy Jazz Guitar (Selmer Guitar)

The Selmer guitar was made popular by Gypsy Jazz guitarists like Django Reinhardt. The guitar itself looks different to regular guitars, often with a thinner sound hole in the body.

Here is one of Encore’s top gypsy jazz guitarists, Andrea Vergani, performing Minor Swing with his group Swing Train 42:

Hire Swing Train 42 →

 

What is fingerstyle guitar?

‘Fingerstyle’ is simply the word used to describe a guitarist plucking the strings directly, either with their fingertips, fingernails or very small picks attached to their fingers, as opposed to a guitarist who is just strumming chords on their guitar, or playing individual notes one at a time with one pick.

Fingerstyle guitar playing involves multiple lines of music played at the same time, such as a melody, a bassline and chords to add harmony in the middle, and is more intricate than either strumming or using a pick.

Guitarist Equipment & Setup

How much space does a guitarist need?

A single guitarist will need approximately 2 x 2 meters, or a bit more than the size of an average 4-person dining table.

What equipment do I need to provide when I hire a guitarist?

You will need to provide a chair without arms, with sufficient light to see the music, and a power source for their amp.

Encore Guitarist, Sean Ahern
Encore Guitarist, Sean Ahern

Do I need a to provide a PA system?

Guitarists will usually provide their own amp for small- to medium- size rooms as even twenty people talking can cover the relatively quiet sound of the acoustic guitar. All you need to provide is a power source close to the playing position. It would be good to let the musician know if you have a large number of guests and/or a large room, so they can bring extra equipment if necessary.

How long does the guitarist need to set up?

Your musician will need about 15-30 minutes to set up.

Do I need to provide food?

Musicians will appreciate bottled water and tea/coffee/biscuits upon arrival. Meals are always welcome, though generally not required unless your event is at dinnertime.


Encore guitarist David Kelly plays Lágrima by Francisco Tárrega

Can a guitarist play outside?

Absolutely, as long as the weather is warm enough, adequate rain shelter (such as a gazebo or marquee) is provided, and the guitarist is not in direct sunlight. If the guitarist is using amplification, an extension lead may need to be supplied. Make sure to tell the musician in advance if you want them to be outside so they can make the necessary preparations.

What dress code can I expect?

Guitarists can tailor their outfit to your event – white tie, tuxedo, floor-length gowns, cocktail dresses, smart casual or just all black are all possible.

How long will the guitarist play for?

Sets are usually 45-60 minutes long with a 15 minute break between sets.

Do I need to provide parking when I hire a guitarist?

If the musician is planning to drive, please make provision for parking if possible. Having to drive around looking for a parking space in a town you don’t know can be stressful, expensive, and may delay the performance. It’s worth checking, though, as some may take the train (and might appreciate a pickup from the station!).

Encore guitarist Zoe Lakota-Baldwin

Solo Guitar Repertoire

What are the most popular repertoire requests for guitarists?

Our top guitarists tell us the following pieces are guaranteed to be a hit:

Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tárrega

Asturias by Isaac Albeniz

Concierto de Aranjuez, 2nd movement by Joaquín Rodrigo (arrangement required)

Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel

Ave Maria by J. S. Bach

Can a solo guitarist play my favourite song?

Absolutely! Guitarists love adding new pieces to their repertoire, and if they can’t find an arrangement, will often tailor one themselves for your event. This may add an additional fee to your booking, but is well worth the extra expense to hear your favourite song played in a new and exciting way.

Can a solo guitarist take requests?

Many guitarists have spent years memorising hundreds of songs, and/or can pick up tunes very quickly by ear. However, if you have special repertoire requests, tell your guitarist as soon as possible to make sure they have adequate time to prepare.

What is the most popular party/event repertoire?

Depends on the style of your event! It can be classical, pop, or a combination. All of the pieces listed above will work well as background music for a party.

I’m not sure what type of music I want – where can I go for ideas?

Go to Encore’s guitarist page where you can listen to different audio/video clips and get ideas of which styles you like. You can filter by location to find guitarists near you!

Encore guitarist Benjamin Trott

Can the guitarist play with a singer?

Absolutely! A singer is the perfect addition to a piano, allowing you to have the full song experience. Some guitarists can sing as well as play – you can specify that you want this when you request a booking.

Hiring a Guitarist for a Wedding

Which parts of the wedding ceremony can the guitarist play during?

The guitarist will usually play at the following parts of the ceremony: seating of the guests, bridal procession, signing of the registry, and the walk out. They may also perform as your guests arrive at the ceremony, though be aware that this may increase the cost slightly.

Can I request a specific song to walk down the aisle to?

Yes, most guitarists are very accommodating and enjoy learning new repertoire for their customers. If you have a specific song in mind, first ask your guitarist if they know it already. If it’s a popular song, they’ll probably already have it in their repertoire. If not, ask if they can learn it for you. Some guitarists charge an additional fee for this and some don’t, so it’s worth checking before you book.

If the guitarist needs to learn a new song, then make sure you give them as much notice as possible – don’t leave it to the week of the wedding!

Can the guitarist play at the reception as well as the ceremony?

Absolutely! One of the advantages of the guitar is that it is easily portable, although as amplification is generally required, setup time and transportation will have to be considered. If your ceremony is at a different venue from your reception, check that your guitarist has a car or that a friend or family member can give them a lift.

When performing at a wedding ceremony, a guitarist will generally perform one or two 45-minute sets, with a 15-20 minute break in between.

Booking a Guitarist

How far in advance should I book a guitarist?

We advise booking as soon as possible, especially if you have special musical requests, but we handle last-minute bookings all the time at Encore and can easily find a guitarist at short notice.

How much does a guitarist cost?

Each guitarist will set their own rates, but expect a fee of £200 for two 45-minute sets plus travel and amplification expenses if applicable. Some guitarists have a set fee for an event while some will charge hourly. As always, be wary of musicians charging significantly less, as they may not have the skill to deliver a great performance.

Encore guitarist Dave Inkster

Do I have to pay travel fees/porterage when I hire a guitarist?

You may have to factor in travel costs if the guitarist is not local. Most musicians have a set guitarist from their home (generally 15-20 miles) and charge extra for any travel outside that area. We have guitarists all over the country, so we can usually find someone close to your location.

The standard rate is 47p/mile so if the guitarist needs to travel 50 miles each way, that’s an additional £47 for 100 miles of travel. This amount is included as a rough guide – each musician will set their own fees.

How do I handle contracts and payment when hiring a guitarist?

The easiest way to handle contracts and payment is to book through Encore. Our bookings process is extremely straightforward, and once you have confirmed a booking with your chosen guitarist, contracts and payments will be handled painlessly and effortlessly by our secure payments system. To discuss booking a guitarist, please email [email protected].

Hopefully this guide answers all of your questions! If you have more questions about guitarists, email us at [email protected] and we’d be more than happy to help.


Encore is one of the world’s largest musicians’ networks and the fastest way to find great musicians.

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James McAulay

Encore Co-Founder & CEO. Cellist, pianist, singer and aspiring guitarist.

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