Everything you'll ever need to know about booking a Classical Guitarist. Find out what a Classical Guitarist will do at your event, how various types of Classical Guitarists differ from each other, what type of music they'll play, how much space they will require, how to ensure quality, how much it costs to hire a Classical Guitarist and much more.
Also see more classical musicians here.
To view our Classical Guitarist's for hire, please click here.
By Alive Network, with contributions from Jules Faife of J F Guitar, Mike Georgiades and Stephen Stanley
What is a Classical Guitarist and what do they do?
A classical guitarist is a solo musician, who plays the classical acoustic guitar. The classical guitar uses nylon strings to give a warm, intimate sound perfectly suited to a range of functions, including weddings. A classical guitarist can play a varied and versatile repertoire, from early lute music, to arrangements of modern pop tunes. Because the guitar is such a popular instrument, played by many people, audiences find it accessible and relate to it well. A good classical guitarist can create an atmosphere that is both informal and special.
Examples of Classical Guitarists
What should I look for to ensure quality?
All of the classical guitarists on the Alive Network web site have already been carefully pre-vetted so they represent the very best of what's available in the UK. We have selected our artist roster from literally thousands of applications so in order to ensure quality all you need to do is choose one from our web site. Its risk free and you have peace of mind that we've already done the hard work for you.
If you do choose to look around elsewhere, here's what you should look for:
1. A great demo CD
The music should be in time, in tune, and be well produced (it should sound like a high quality recording).
2. Great photos
If they can't be bothered to have decent photos produced, what else will they be skimping on?
3. Customer reviews and testimonials
Make sure you can read genuine recent reviews from previous customers. You'll find loads readily available here on the Alive Network web site.
They should use high quality instruments and if applicable, PA systems.
5. Experience and background
Check that they are high calibre musicians with a strong track record of playing at prestigious events or at high quality wedding venues.
6. The backing of a reliable agency
No agent, no backup if anything goes wrong.
Look for an agency that responds quickly, efficiently, and takes the time to listen to your individual requirements. They will be your point of contact so you need to be happy that they're providing a high quality service too.
You get what you pay for, so don't cut corners unless you don't mind risking the success of your event. We represent hundreds of artists, all of whom define their own fees, so our prices are a good indicator of what's usual to pay.
What exactly will a Classical Guitarist do at my event? What will the format be?
Classical guitarists have access to a broad spectrum of repertoire, so the format is very flexible. Generally, they will take between 30 and 45 minutes to set up (most situations require amplification as the instrument is relatively quiet acoustically) and play in 45 minute sets, with about a 15 minutes break in between. In between sets, music will be played from a CD or MP3 player so as not to break the musical ambience. Because of the romantic nature of the instrument, it is well suited to wedding ceremonies and receptions, where the guitarist can play as guests arrive, as the bride processes and recesses, and during the signing of the registers. A good guitarist will be able to tailor what they do to your needs, rather than force you into their format. Classical guitarists will speak to clients in advance of the function to work out timings, placements and any special music requests.
What equipment will they provide?
Most functions of more than 50 people will require some amplification to support the sound. Done effectively this makes the guitar audible, without being too loud. The guitar works well as background music, and with subtle amplification, the sound washes around the room creating a soothing, relaxing atmosphere. Normally, classical guitarists will have either an electro-acoustic instrument (with built in pickup) or a high quality microphone, plugged into a small acoustic amplifier or PA, and a microphone stand. One of the benefits of the classical guitarists set up is that it is compact and takes up little room at your function.
How much space will they need?
Only a small space is required for a classical guitarist to perform. Roughly 2m x 2m is enough for a seated guitarist, music stand, microphone stand and PA.
How long will the performance last?
Most classical guitarists will be willing to play for as little or as long as you'd like. Standard performance sets are 2 x 45 minutes, with at least 15 minutes in between sets. Providing the musician has enough repertoire and you are prepared to pay extra fees, they can play for up to 3 hours, if needed (with breaks).
Are there any options or variations available to me?
A classical guitarist should have a good deal of flexibility to perform in different length sets and respond to specific requests. Given enough notice, they may be able to learn a specific piece of music. Sometimes this will incur an additional cost.
Some classical guitarists are also able to team up with extra musicians or even a singer. This is good when you’d like the music to be a little more varied or less “background”. Please check the “Booking Options” tab on each artist’s profile page for details of what they’re able to offer.
Why is there a difference between what different Classical Guitarists cost?
Some classical guitarists are more experienced than others, and have a more established and respected pedigree as performers, so expect higher fees. You generally pay more for reputation, experience, ability and quality equipment. The minimum standard of our classical guitarists is already very high as we carefully vet everyone we work with, but you do get what you pay for.
Also, when you search our web site for classical guitarists available in your event location, those who are travelling from outside the area will add travel fees, and these are included in the prices you see on our web site. Some artists may cost more because they would be travelling a long way.
Is there anything I’ll need to provide or ensure for them?
Classical guitarists will need a small performance area, an armless chair, and 1 or 2 standard power sockets in close proximity. A changing room is much appreciated, and if possible, a mirror.
They will require refreshments and sometimes food (depending on how long they’re at your event). Soft drinks, water, tea and coffee are usually sufficient. Please make sure you inform the bar staff that soft drinks should not be charged to the guitarist. If you can’t provide a hot meal, sandwiches will usually be sufficient. Food is generally provided before or after the guitarists first set. Please ask your Alive Network coordinator to confirm whether your chosen guitarist will require food as often they don’t.
A designated venue contact for the guitarist to ask for on arrival would be useful, for clarification on where to set up and to answer any questions.
Is there anything else I need to know?
We've put together a selection of useful tips and insights provided directly by our artists.
Stephen Stanley quotes “Most guitarists are among the friendliest, most down to earth and hard working musicians around. We are very eager to help, and determined to make your event as perfect as possible. If you're looking for versatile and sophisticated music for your function, the classical guitar is one of the best choices available.”
Jules Faife of J F Guitar quotes “Providing a customer review about the performance after the event is extremely useful, both for the entertainment agency and the classical guitarist. It’s important that if you have a good experience you share it, as so much of our work is based on word of mouth.”
Mike Georgiades quotes “The term “Classical Guitar” does not limit the choice of music to classical, but can cover many styles, namely classical, Spanish, Latin, jazz and popular classics. A classical guitarist is therefore extremely versatile to suit various situations.”
How do I make a booking?
Once your agent sends you a quote and you are happy with the price, that agent will go through the logistics and timings, confirming the details of your booking. You will then be required to pay a deposit, usually over the phone by credit card, and then contracts and receipts will be emailed to you. The band will also sign the same agreement. Once a booking has been made you will be put in contact with the artist 3 weeks before the event to double check the arrangements and make any changes necessary.