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  #1  
Old 06-17-2019, 07:10 PM
jklotz jklotz is offline
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Default Solo fingerstyle gigs?

Recently, I've been working up a few fingerstyle tunes for my own enjoyment. It's a nice break when I'm not out with the band. I love that it's just me and the guitar (seems like most of what I do these days requires 4 other people and a lot of gear to sound like a finished product, or a backing track, which is not very satisfying to me). The tunes are just one's I like, but fairly accessible to the general listener. Beatles, Amazing Grace, Tears for Fears, an Elvis Costello tune, etc etc.

I can't sing a note. That's why I took up lead guitar I guess, and why I am attracted to fingerstyle arrangements. Anyway, my question is if I work up a few sets of this stuff, is there a market for it (if done well, of course)? I'd love to be able to do some solo acoustic gigs from time to time to fill in some gaps. Coffee shops, parties, wine bars, etc. Have any of you guys been able to make a few bucks doing this sort of thing, or do solo acoustic gigs require singing as well?
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Old 06-17-2019, 07:25 PM
Gordon Currie Gordon Currie is offline
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As a solo guitarist, you will have to work very hard to get gigs. I would estimate that there are at least 10 times the gigs for singer-guitarists than for only instrumental players.

If you are serious about pursuing this, then you'l need to be tightly focused on sniffing out every possibility for performance. Something you didn't mention is gallery shows. For some, canned or vocal music may be distracting, and something light (and ignorable) might fit their aesthetic well. Many may want something more classical in style, though.

More than most musicians, you need to search out each and every niche because - unless you MASTER a style and become known for that, or have your own original style - all you have is niches.
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Old 06-17-2019, 07:57 PM
rokdog49 rokdog49 is offline
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What Gordon said.
The fact is, unless you are incredibly gifted, it will be tough.
You have to understand there isn't much demand for what you are wanting to do.
You might get some opportunities to play for tips or for free.
Best of luck to you.
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Old 06-17-2019, 08:18 PM
Skip Ellis Skip Ellis is offline
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Yep - I've been wanting to do the same thing but it's beyond tough. I've even played fingerstyle instrumentals (Doc, Merle,Chet, etc.) in an auction house to warm up the crowd while they looked at the merchandise to be sold. You might try some assisted living places - do a 1/2 hour trial run for free and see if it works - just contact the activities director and tell them what you want to do. Some of these folks are starved for any entertainment.
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Old 06-17-2019, 08:50 PM
jklotz jklotz is offline
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Jeez, that bad, huh? Guess I'm lucky that I love doing this stuff for me. I'll keep doing it, but it is disappointing there is not more of a market for it.
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  #6  
Old 06-17-2019, 09:04 PM
Dustinfurlow Dustinfurlow is offline
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I played two yesterday, one at a retirement home for their Father's Day Brunch and the second a regular 2-hr gig at a campground. Maybe 1 in 5 of my gigs are strictly instrumental these days. They're definitely my favorite!

You may have to drive as much as an hour at times because they can be a little spread out, but they are there, depending where you reside.

I have two other friends in my city that are solo-guitarists and one has trouble getting consistent work to truly thrive off of, while the other is an established jazz/classical guy who has contacts all over.

The fact is: If you send out enough emails and NEVER OFFER TO PLAY FOR FREE there is a good chance you can make a good buck off of it. (Absolutely no offense to anyone who does this or recommends you do so) but I emphasize the part about not playing for free because it makes you appear very unprofessional. Professionals know their worth and that their time and talent have value.

My approach has always been to introduce via email, include a link to your website and press/high-quality promo, a setlist (probably the most important part) and why you think you'd be a good fit (I always say "I thoroughly enjoy playing at ______ (the type of venue) because I think this style of music enhances the energy of the room potentially more than a singer or band - which could be distracting."

I saw someone mentioned art gallery gigs and those are wonderful! Cafes, weddings, farmer's markets, breweries, wine-tasting rooms and retirement homes, even jewelry stores have been fruitful solo-guitar gigs for me personally. It would be worth your time to also look into who is booking solo-acoustic guys in your area and grab their email and introduce yourself stating you'd be available for any potential gigs for a solo-guitarist (I live in a pretty populated area and you'd be surprised how few there are for my agent to choose from).

I should lastly mention that it is worth it to have a loop pedal (I use the Pigtronix Infinity) where you can occasionally sneak in a song where you just play a nice chord progression and solo over it. This will help expand your material from say, 1 1/2 hours instrumental guitar, to as much as 3-4. This will allow you to accept gigs where they want a solid 3 hrs but you only have say, 2 hours of solo-fingerstyle. Many won't notice and you will have fun with it. Thats just what I do. Learning good, solid fingerstyle tunes takes time and patience, and also a lot of left-hand endurance. The looper helps take some of the load off.

Happy-gigging!
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Last edited by Dustinfurlow; 06-17-2019 at 11:00 PM.
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  #7  
Old 06-17-2019, 09:09 PM
drjond56 drjond56 is offline
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Unfortunately I will echo what the others have said. I am a fingerstyle player: classical, Celtic, jazz, acoustic rock—really anything that sounds good to me. It is almost universal that if it comes up in a conversation that I play guitar, someone will chime in, “Well, what do you sing?” Frustrating. I have played some background stuff for folks having a housewarming or a Christmas party, for example. I also have played a couple of times as background for an art show. I have never approached it with the idea of making money. I would think you might find a coffee shop, cafe, or smaller venue where you are not competing with loud bar action or sports TV. Regular work? I am not really optimistic. But my goal with guitar in the first place was personal satisfaction and not trying to go public with it. Good luck.

Jon
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Old 06-17-2019, 09:33 PM
jklotz jklotz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dustinfurlow View Post
I played two yesterday, one at a retirement home for their Father's Day Brunch and the second a regular 2-hr gig at a campground. Maybe 1 in 5 of my gigs are strictly instrumental these days. They're definitely my favorite!

You may have to drive as much as an hour at times because they can be a little spread out, but they are there, depending where you reside.

I have two other friends in my city that are solo-guitarists and one has trouble getting consistent work to truly thrive off of, while the other is an established jazz/classical guy who has contacts all over.

The fact is: If you send out enough emails and NEVER OFFER TO PLAY FOR FREE there is a good chance you can make a good buck off of it. (Absolutely no offense to anyone who does this or recommends you do so) but I emphasize the part about not playing for free because it makes you appear very unprofessional. Professionals know their worth and that their time and talent has value.

My approach has always been to introduce via email, include a link to your website and press/high-quality promo, a setlist (probably the most important part) and why you think you'd be a good fit (I always say "I thoroughly enjoy playing at ______ (the type of venue) because I think this style of music enhances the energy of the room potentially more than a singer or band - which could be distracting."

I saw someone mentioned art gallery gigs and those are wonderful! Cafes, weddings, farmer's markets, breweries, wine-tasting rooms and retirement homes, even jewelry stores have been fruitful solo-guitar gigs for me personally. It would be worth your time to also look into who is booking solo-acoustic guys in your area and grab their email and introduce yourself stating you'd be available for any potential gigs for a solo-guitarist (I live in a pretty populated area and you'd be surprised how few there are for my agent to choose from).

I should lastly mention that it is worth it to have a loop pedal (I use the Pigtronix Infinity) where you can occasionally sneak in a song where you just play a nice chord progression and solo over it. This will help expand your material from say, 1 1/2 hours instrumental guitar, to as much as 3-4. This will allow you to accept gigs where they want a solid 3 hrs but you only have say, 2 hours of solo-fingerstyle. Many won't notice and you will have fun with it. Thats just what I do. Learning good, solid fingerstyle tunes takes time and patience, and also a lot of left-hand endurance. The looper helps take some of the load off.

Happy-gigging!
Hmm. That is cool - didn't think about a looper pedal. I'll have to do some looking into that. Good idea. Also, thanks for the marketing tips. It's nice to hear a positive take on all this. I'm doing plenty of gigs with the band, so every once in a while would be just fine with me. I don't need to do this to pay the mortgage.

As a side note, I'm really starting to worry about my hearing doing the band gigs. One of my motivations for doing this is to be able to go out and play once in a while and not having my ears ring when I get home.
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  #9  
Old 06-17-2019, 10:59 PM
Dustinfurlow Dustinfurlow is offline
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Quote:
As a side note, I'm really starting to worry about my hearing doing the band gigs. One of my motivations for doing this is to be able to go out and play once in a while and not having my ears ring when I get home.
A friend of mine who plays keys in a dance band got sick of that as well so he got in-ear monitors and he swears by them. They block the high DB stuff that does the most damage and help you hear yourself loud and clear in the mix.

I personally haven’t used them but they sound really appealing for those loud gigs where the impulse slips in to turn the guitar up, which isn’t always the best thing to do in reality.
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  #10  
Old 06-18-2019, 04:42 AM
Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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Doing side gigs is part of being a musician. So jobs show up that are not regular band shows. Some of the most enjoyable jobs I have done were the not really band shows but background music shows. No vocals. They are early in the evening and pay as well. Especially when you don't have to split the pay in allot of ways. The equipment hauling can be kept at a minimum. Piano players do these types of gigs often. Mix up tempos and feels of the songs and just do it. Be there but not in their face. Often it doesn't matter if they know the tunes or not. At times they will think they do. There is no reason to get all anal about performing the songs as long as you don't have train wrecks. And some times there's free food
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  #11  
Old 06-18-2019, 04:59 AM
DoryDavis DoryDavis is offline
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I'm in an instrumental acoustic guitar duo, no singing, and we get our share of gigs. The trick for us, is just to get in somewhere once. (never for free though). Then, if it is a restaurant or gallery say, the owner can see for him/her self that no singing can be a plus. It becomes less about the performer and more about the venue and the food or the art etc..

The trick is, my opinion, to be good enough that if someone sits down in front of you to actually listen, they like it. And to be loud enough to be heard to the back, but be soft enough to allow easy conversation.

This is so much easier without vocals. Having no vocals can be an advantage if you position it right. I readily agree that most gigs go to bands with singers.

Oh, and about the ringing ears. If that is what is happening, I would get in ear monitors, or earplugs that allow you to still hear what you need. Don't mess with your hearing.
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Old 06-18-2019, 06:54 AM
Tycobb73 Tycobb73 is offline
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Most people think they can't hear well enough to sing. This is false. Most people can hear well enough and can't sing because they can't get their vocal cords the right length to hit the note. With lessons almost anyone can learn to sing well enough for the local scene. When you first picked up guitar did you try it for 5 minutes, say i can't play a song, and put it down? Yes some people are naturals, but a lot work at it.
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Old 06-18-2019, 07:44 AM
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I busk regularly and about once per year get a gig out of it. A barbershop heard me playing on the street and paid me to play outsider their door, then gave me a paying gig at the grand opening of their new shop. I asked a drug store if I could busk outside their store and they made it part of their customer appreciation day, and we agreed that all money given would go to their adopted charity.

A looper is great to use, and fun. Just tapping in a beat gets you noticed. Get at two-pedal looper for its ease of use and added features.

If you have the time and gumption, email and visit businesses asking them to hire you, and allow a tip jar.
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Old 06-18-2019, 08:23 AM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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To get the gigs, besides business sense, you need talent, and to be entertaining. IF you are not singing, then both the talent and entertainment need to be better than they might otherwise need to be. I would look for gigs in restaurants, wine bars, brewery's, places where the owners do not want their patrons distracted by words.
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Old 06-18-2019, 08:29 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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If you do jazz type stuff, there's gigs, restaurants, wine bars, etc. They can pay pretty good, although the last 2 places I had a steady at went under because their food was overpriced garbage.

But modern "fingerstyle" type stuff, I'm not so sure. Definitely no market around my neck of the woods.

Try farmer's markets, Art Fairs, coffee shops, they don't pay much, but don't play for free, unless that's all you ever want to do...once you set your price...well...
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