If your experience of singing guitarists is limited to campfires & out-of-tune renditions of Wonderwall, then it’s high time we introduced you to the wonderful world of professional singing guitarists!
These musicians have earned their stripes playing gigs all around the UK, ranging from weddings, to pub gigs, to corporate events—with this comes a versatility and adaptability that is near unmatched in the musical world.
It’s no wonder singing guitarists are one of our most highly requested musician type on Encore.
If you’re interested in booking a singing guitarist, but don’t know Ed Sheeran from a bar of soap, worry not dear reader. This guide will put you through your paces—by the end, you’ll have all the info you need to book an amazing singing guitarist for your event!
- The Basics
- Equipment & Setup
What kind of music can a singing guitarist play?
Singing guitarists have some of the largest song lists/genre variety out there, so when we say that singing guitarists can play practically anything, we mean it! Traversing anything from Adele, to Michael Jackson, to the Beatles, singing guitarists certainly embody the phrase ‘variety is the spice of life’. They will often give their own particular flavour to covers, providing a fresh and interesting take on well-known classics.
Of course, most singing guitarists will specialise in a few genres (often those most suited to their voice and playing style), and can usually dabble in many others on request. Popular genres for singing guitarists include pop, rock, jazz & folk.
If you’re open to it, many singing guitarists are original artists in their own right, so would be more than happy to play you some of their original songs too!
Will my singing guitarist use an acoustic guitar, or an electric guitar?
Most singing guitarists will perform on an acoustic guitar as this is usually the best instrument to pair with voice. The acoustic guitar has a full-bodied, resonant tone, accompanying the voice exceptionally well. Acoustic guitars can also be plugged into a PA sound system, allowing it to project just as well as an electric guitar. If you’re after a purely acoustic performance, that’s even easier!
Some singing guitarists can also perform on an electric guitar, although they will usually reserve this for specific songs where it works best. Songs like Superstition by Stevie Wonder work particularly well with electric guitar (& a loop pedal if you’re after a one-person band!).
The joys of a loop pedal—expertly demonstrated in this video by Encore singing guitarist, Chaz Thorogood
Which parts of my event should the singing guitarist play during?
Normally, the best time for singing guitarists to perform is in the afternoon, or evening, when your your guests are beginning to relax and mingle. Singing guitarists are excellent at providing smooth background music for a cocktail reception or, alternatively, getting your guests jiving.
For weddings, singing guitarists will be ready to play for any of the following portions: seating of the guests, the bridal procession, signing of the register, the walk-out, & the reception.
Singing guitarists will tailor their set and volume according to the context of their performance; you can rest assured that they will be sensitive to the needs of you as the client, and reflect this in their performance.
Equipment & Setup:
How much space does a singing guitarist need?
For one singing guitarist, about 2×2 metres will do just fine—singing guitarists stand when they play, so they can squeeze in fairly tight quarters. You will also need to ensure there is enough room for a microphone, a microphone stand, and also a small PA sound system.
What equipment will I need to provide?
Singing guitarists will ordinarily be fully self-contained, provided all the equipment they need to bring you music, stress free! However, make sure a power source is nearby, as well as a chair for breaks between their sets.
Will I need to provide a PA system?
If your venue has one, the singing guitarist might ask to use it, but most professional singing guitarists will come well-equipped with a microphone and PA sound system (or amp). Make sure you check with them first though!
How much setup time does a singing guitarist need?
Approx. 10–15 minutes without a PA system (i.e., a fully acoustic performance); 20–30 minutes with a PA system.
Can a singing guitarist play outside?
So long as you can provide adequate shelter, it should be fine—best to check with them beforehand though!
How long will a singing guitarist play for?
Generally, a singing guitarist will play two to three 45–50 minute sets. Of course, they can be flexible depending on the schedule of your event, but keep in mind they will need short 10–15 minute breaks after their sets to catch their breath and give their legs a rest!
Should I provide food?
Musicians will appreciate water and light refreshments upon arrival (especially if they’ve travelled a long way to perform for you!). Meals are always welcome, though generally not necessary unless your event is at dinnertime.
Do I need to provide parking?
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!).
The one-woman-band, Lilac Sheer, proving you don’t always need a four-piece band in order to impress!
Popular pop requests:
- I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
- Blackbird – The Beatles
- Fields Of Gold – Eva Cassidy
- Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
- Perfect – Ed Sheeran
- Someone Like You – Adele
- Happy – Pharrell Williams
Popular rock requests:
- Paint It Black – The Rolling Stones
- Hotel California – The Eagles
- Wonderwall – Oasis
Mr. Brightside –
With Or Without You – U2
Popular jazz requests:
- Valerie – Amy Winehouse
- Feeling Good – Nina Simone
- Autumn Leaves – Eric Clapton
- Don’t Know Why – Norah Jones
Popular folk requests:
- Little Lion Man – Mumford & Sons
- Whisky In The Jar – The Dubliners
- The Dress Looks Nice On You – Sufjan Stevens
- Skinny Love – Bon Iver
Can a singing guitarist play my favourite song / take requests?
Definitely—that’s their specialty. Check their song list first though, as your request might just be there! Otherwise, let your singing guitarist know early; if they’re not already familiar with your song, they will need adequate time to prepare. While most singing guitarists will learn an extra song for free, please be aware that some may charge for this extra service (especially if you’d like them to learn multiple new songs!)
Take advantage of your venue’s natural acoustics! In this video, Thom Morley shows us just how good un-amplified guitar and voice can sound in a open, reverberant space.
How far in advance should I book?
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 singing guitarist at short notice.
What’s the typical price for a singing guitarist?
Every singing guitarist will set their own rates, but expect a fee of £200+ for two 45-minute sets, plus travel expenses if applicable.
Do I have to pay travel fees/porterage?
You may have to factor in travel costs if the musician isn’t local. Most musicians have a set radius from their home (generally 15-20 miles) and charge extra for any travel outside that area.
How do I handle contracts and payment?
The simplest way to handle contracts and payment is to book through Encore. Our bookings process is straightforward, and once you have confirmed a booking with your chosen singing guitarist, contracts and payments are handled painlessly and effortlessly by our secure ‘Encore Pay’ payment system.
Our singing guitarists would love to hear from you and find out how they can make your event one to remember—feel free to email us at [email protected], or put through an enquiry via our homepage; we’d love to help you find the perfect singing guitarist for your event!
(Featured image: Georgia Thursting—another brilliant singing guitarist—available to hire through Encore)