“Sometimes you want to give up the guitar, you'll hate the guitar. But if you stick with it, you're gonna be rewarded.” - Jimi Hendrix
Whether it’s the acoustic guitar, bass guitar, or electric guitar, stringed instruments have always fascinated people. The guitar appears in many different genres from contemporary music to folk music. It can also be seen everywhere at music festivals because of just how common it is.
Music festivals are as popular as ever. In 2016, the attendance for gigs and festivals was 30.9 million. A lot of these attendees would have probably seen guitarists playing. That said, there are actually specific guitar shows where you can see live music, look at amps, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, basses.
So whether you like flamenco, bossa nova, rock, folk, or blues, which are the best festivals to attend if you want to see good guitarists?
You’re about to find out! In our last article in our series on learning to play the guitar without spending too much money, we're going to look at the best guitar shows and festivals in the UK and how they're useful for aspiring guitarists to learn more about the instrument and how to play it.
Why Discover the Guitar at a Festival or Guitar Show
The guitar appears in plenty of different types of music and in many different modern songs. From pop music to film scores and TV ads, the instrument can be heard regularly throughout our daily lives, so much so that we probably forget that we even hear it.
This is why guitar festivals and guitar shows are a good way to rediscover and appreciate the instrument, be it an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar. Through artists that we love or artists that you discover there at a festival, you can discover their guitar sound why watching them perform live.
You don’t need a teacher to learn how great an instrument the guitar is if you’re listening to it live. The guitar can perform miracles on stage with riffs, a few chords, and a cool rhythm. With so many different styles of musical available, nobody will be left indifferent.
Anything is possible on a stage where artists are free to express their creativity and create a bond with the audience. This is also where an instrument like the guitar really comes into its own through different arrangements, improvisation, and some music that gets your feet tapping. That is the joy of festivals, after all!
That said, if you're looking to buy a Fender Stratocaster or Telecaster, a Gibson Les Paul, a Gretsch, a Martindale, a Yamaha, or something from a specialist luthier, guitar shows and festivals are a great place to find a new guitar, learn more about a particular pedal, amplifier, or even a certain guitar player.
Don't forget that you can find tabs online to help you learn certain songs.
London Guitar Festival
As you could have guessed, this is a festival that takes place in the capital. It includes concerts, masterclasses, and competitions.
The 2018 version included flamenco music with guitarists from Spain, tributes to classical musicians and there was also a flamenco workshop for those interested.
The masterclasses included lessons from other classical guitarists, a young artist platform, and chamber music with guitars presented by UK Conservatoires.
The London Guitar Festival tends to take place in the autumn towards the end of October or the start of November.
London International Guitar Show
The London International Guitar Show took place this year at Kempton Park Racecourse. The 2018 version had 160 different exhibitors showing off their wares.
This show is mainly for guitar enthusiasts and buyers as there are tonnes of luthiers, manufacturers, retailers, and distributors showing off their wares.
That said, there were also workshops, demonstrations, events, and live events, most importantly.
The cost of entry was just £10. There aren't many things you can get for a tenner in London!
Leeds/Bradford Guitar Show
This year's Leeds/Bradford guitar show took place at Pudsey Civic Hall on 2nd September. The show has been running for 12 years and is the only guitar show of its kind in West Yorkshire.
Entry cost just £6 and children under 12 were given free entry to the show.
Much like the London International Guitar Show, while this is another event for buying and collecting guitars, there are also live performances and demonstrations from guitarists.
The UK Guitar Show, London
The UK Guitar Show takes place across two days and is held at the Olympia London. There are plenty of opportunities to check out guitar gear as well as benefit from free guitar lessons and the Vintage Showcase.
The 2019 edition of the show will take place in September and will include performances from a number of different artists.
Tickets for the show are £17.50 for a single day and £25 for the weekend if you get the early bird tickets. Advance tickets cost £20 for a single day and £32 for the weekend. Tickets on the door are £25 for the day and £35 for the weekend. Tickets will be on sale from June 2019.
Tickets for performances are £5 extra. However, there are also a free allocation of tickets available an hour before each performance and are given out on a first-come-first-served basis.
The North East Guitar Show
The North East guitar show exhibited over 100 dealers at its 2018 edition in March and also offered guitar owners the opportunity to have their instruments appraised.
Live music was on throughout the day and at £6 to attend, this is one of the cheaper guitar shows you can attend.
The North East Guitar Show took place in Houghton-le-Spring between Sunderland and Durham.
The Guitar Show
The Guitar Show will take place on 23rd and 24th February 2019 at the New Bingley Hall between Birmingham and West Bromwich.
Plenty of exhibitors are due to attend including luthiers, amp manufacturers, retailers, and producers of guitar accessories, etc.
The North West Guitar Show
The North West Guitar show is the UK's longest-running guitar show. It took place in on 20th May 2018 at the Haydock Park Racecourse Exhibition Centre.
Over 120 exhibitors were present and there were live performances of music and demonstrations of PA systems and mixers.
South of England Guitar Show
South of England Guitar will take place on 27th October 2019 and include a selection of retailers, distributors, manufacturers, luthiers, boutique makers, and private collectors and dealers.
This is definitely the type of show for those interested in guitars themselves and will definitely be a feast for the eyes.
Merseyside Guitar Show, Liverpool
The 2018 Merseyside Guitar Show took place at the Aintree Racecourse Exhibition Centre and has been going for 16 years.
The show took place with four floors of exhibitions of new, vintage, and pre-owned guitars as well as loads of different accessories for aspiring and experienced guitarists alike. Like many other retail guitar shows, there was live music available.
Generally speaking, guitar festivals are accessible to everyone all over the country at different times throughout the year. You can discover some great guitars and enjoy music through concerts and performances from professional musicians.
Are you ready to go?
If you're interested in learning to play the guitar, you should consider enlisting the help of a private tutor. Since you're the only student in their class, you can decide exactly what you learn and how you learn it.
While private tutorials aren't free, many of the tutors on Superprof offer free tutoring for the first hour. This is an opportunity for you to see if you get along with the tutor and see if you like their teaching style. Use these free tutorials wisely to find the perfect tutor for you.
If you don't find any tutors near where you live or you can't find any suitable tutors, why not consider hiring an online private tutor?
These tutors use video conferencing software to deliver live tutorials to you via webcam. As long as both the tutor and the student have a decent internet connection, a mic, and a webcam, they can get online private tutorials.
Looking for something even cheaper?
There are private tutors offering group classes. With each student paying a share of the lesson rather than the entire cost, these work out cheaper per person than one-to-one private tutorials and webcam tutorials. If you and some friends are interested in learning to play the guitar together, you could always discuss group tutorials with any potential tutors you contact via Superprof.