Guitar Club Advice

Hi all,
I am toying with the idea of starting a guitar club in my area for a regular meet up maybe every week or so. Do any of you have experience of this, and how it works exactly? The cost of the room must be covered so do subs get collected at the start of the session, is an hour long enough after warm up and greetings, and so on, it will probably be a mixture of acoustic and electric, perhaps so everyone would be urged to bring small practice amps or what? And so on.
Any advice you may have would help. :thinking: :thinking: :smiley:

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Hi Malz there are a couple of these that run near me (I’m in UK) but they are more folk genre based so not ones I attend (although I know people that do). I would say an hour is too short as certainly here people have to get chairs sorted, guitars unpacked, tuned as well as a bit of chat before they start. All of that can take half an hour…and then you have to do the reverse at the end. I’d try and keep at least an hour for playing although it depends on number of people.

The format here seems either to be everyone brings a song(s) to play and each takes a turn or it becomes a bit of jam thing with someone leading a song and others supporting it or adding a solo. The simpler ones are just people taking turns to play. I would say they do tend to be acoustic only things here maybe to keep it simple. If people start bringing amps etc. then you need power and power chords which can all get a bit messy…plus you then need to amplify the vocal if they are singing…all adds to the complexity.

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Yes, thanks for this Jason. An hour is definitely too short a time so looking at least for two.

I suppose acoustic only is much simpler, and anyone who does not have one they could always loan one for the session.

Bringing a song to play is a good idea, even though it is a get together which can always lead to a jam, some structure would help.
:smiley: :thinking:

@Malz

Mal - what is the ‘big idea’ you are hoping to underpin the guitar club.
I think if you have a clearly defined concept in your mind it will be easier to visualise the creation, organisation and running of it.

Do you want a small group with a ‘leader’ who runs the event - the leader bringing along a selection of songs with chord sheets to share around, or a selection of ideas for jamming (standard progressions with set keys etc)?
Do you want a singaround - not an open mic as such but a friendly group who get to take it in turns to sing a song then pass it on?
Do you want each person to bring along an idea for a short jam or a song to join in with and provide chord sheets etc?
Do you want an instructor type affair where there is some teaching from a main person and immediate putting into practice with some set pieces that use what is being learned?

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Mal have a word with your parish or council about possibility to get that funded from social fund or whatever is that called. I know for a fact that our parish would probably let us use their place for free in order for people to socialize. At my work I know there is a social organisation that is able to fund thisese sort of stuff for our workers too therefore do a little checking before commiting to actual spending.

One extra thought is that some pubs would probably allow you to do it for free on some sort of less busy day to get folks in for a pint, same as they do with open mics. In Oxford there is a guitar jamming session for people to join in and play.

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Hi Richard, thanks for the reply and good questions all of which deserve thought.

My first thoughts on the questions are:

The initial idea is to simply meet other guitar players interested in playing together with others; from this it would, I imagine transform naturally to whatever.
A leader as such would fall to me, though not necessarily. However, at the outset I would provide some structure in the form of song/ chord sheets, as the idea is to play not discuss what to play.
Once the thing gets going others would be welcome to bring sheets, also if no sheets, a jam in various keys might occur. Though I would always try bring some chord sheets.
Any instruction being done would, for me, be one to one, unless of course the ‘group’ wished otherwise.

More thought required, thanks again. :thinking: :thinking:

Hi Adi, thanks for this. Good ideas which I will look into. :smiley: :smiley: :thinking:

I think that sounds good Malz. I reckon chord sheets is the way to go. Jamming is all well and good but it isn’t easy with a larger group of people (although you could let smaller groups perform) and I’ll be honest not a lot of people can do it.

The rest sounds good to me. Interesting feed from @adi_mrok too. Ironically it’s the opposite around here as the local parish/council etc. who run the halls look for it as a way of generating income to keep them going. That said they are not expensive (we pay about £6 an hour…although others charge up to £10 even £15 depending on the room).

Definitely some pubs will give you their backroom (happens here) on a quiet night as it brings them a bit of business as well.

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Thanks again Jason. I like the thought of a room in a local pub, and will check this out. Room rates as you say vary and am also looking into this. There is a concert room which is available when/ if something happens and a band should emerge. We shall see, first people have to be found.
:smiley:

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I don’t belong to a club but do jam a lot. A good friend holds a jam at his home 2 or 3 times a month and some of the players need song sheet so they just connect to his wifi and bring it up on his large TV. Could solve the song sheet problem

We used to have what we call a “Kitchen Jam” every Sunday at a local bar where we just pulled chairs on to the dance floor in a circle. Anyone who lead a song got a free beer from the owner. We’d get any where from 6 to 30 players every Sunday and some Sundays would fill the bar with customers. So a win win for us and the bar. So check out your local pubs and bars.
Sadly the place sold and the new owners don’t do it any more.

“If you build it they will come” applies here. There is always people looking for places to play with others. I’m really lucky most of my friends are musicians and we jam at least once a week and every level of player is welcome. A friend’s 15 year old son has started coming because none of his friends play.

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Mal @Malz

Can I give you some thoughts from the other side of the fence, and on what has been said so far, as a member of a guitar club, I joined last year after I had been playing for 9 months

What is the club trying to do - mine is mainly about performing and do two concerts a year. But this year we have had lessons on blues from a local teacher and nationally known teacher, not Justin!

We do have leader who sets out what we are going to do in broad terms, but members can discuss and agree, I am sure it is discussed beforehand with long standing members before the rest of us get involved.

We meet fortnightly and weekly nearer the concerts, but not during the summer months. In theory the meeting is two hours but in reality more like three. A lot of chat about guitars, football etc. have a break in the middle for tea/coffee and a bit of food out of the club funds.

It is essentially acoustic but for the concerts we have members who will play electric, bass and mandolin. Sometimes a drummer if somebody can twist a friends arm.

The ability ranges from me as beginner to very good players who have played in bands. It is important that the good players accept beginners which they certainly do in my case. There are some who have encyclopaedia knowledge of guitars and groups, so often discussion is about that and if somebody has just got a new guitar they all want to look.

All level of ability can take part in concerts if they want to, I have done two.The way it works is that their are two ‘terms’ autumn and summer leading up to the concerts. Start off playing to chord sheets provided by the leader on the chosen theme but as the concert starts to get close we split into groups and each group decides on what songs they are going to do with practice at each meeting. The two concerts I have been involved in are country/classic Christmas songs and summer one country/blues - Eric Clapton type and others. The concerts are free to the public but donations are welcome. Light refreshments are provided. Some of the themes in the past have been based on particular groups or genre’s, Irish songs being one.

We meet in a church hall which has sound system, mixing desk and stage.

If you are going to perform then you need singers, some guitarist do but we have a couple of non guitarist who are happy to come along and just sing.

I think the club works because there is a purpose, concerts to perform, nothing like a goal to make things enjoyable. I am sure that doing songs each week would work but could become stale.

Has it helped my guitar playing, absolutely, without the club having to learn a lot of songs to able to perform, I would have got further through Justin’s lessons. If Justin purpose is to play songs (to an audience) then he has succeed with me.

Will be interested to see how things progress, all the best.

Michael

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Mal, although its now died a death I used to go to a weekly “jam” session (in the UK). It was organized by the local community and youth center, we used a room, see if there is one local to you. Timewise an hour is not enough as people will talk about stuff which eats into the time, 2-3 hours is better. We paid £2 each for the room.

Initially it was run by one of the staff with the rest of us beginners. Later people left and more experienced people joined. For me as a not very good beginner chord sheets are a must so I have a fighting chance of playing along. The experienced guys used them to to start off then they would jam along doing different things over the basic chords (that’s me).

If its like my session people will come and go and be of differing standards so you might have to cater for that and somehow try to make it so everyone can join in.

Good luck.

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Been involved in a long running club for over ten years, and also many jams and gatherings. Here’s my ideas of what works and what doesn’t

  • Keep it fun and inclusive. It’s great when everyone gets a go from the rank beginner to the semi-pro who’s been playing for decades. It’s not so great when certain people dominate the play time,

  • Amplifiers. My biggest no no. The jams I’ve been to where others bring their amps end up being a contest of who can turn it up the loudest. You may not want to be loud but when 3 others are cranked up you have no choice.

  • Leadership. Good to have some form of benign leadership. As an example, my preference in a jam is where it goes in a circle, when it comes to your turn, you either lead a song or pass. The leader of the jam should explain and encourage this but not force the issue if exuberance means someone plays a song out of turn.

  • Duration. Agree with the comments through this thread that an hour probably isn’t long enough. Most common structured / regular jams I’ve been to are about 2 hours. Have been to some awesome unstructured jams that went for much longer. Trying to advise on how to make such awesome jams happen is like trying to coach you on how to herd cats.

  • Song sheets. Sharing song sheets certainly helps. Also been to great jams where there have been no song sheets. Possibly and idea to have some on hand to share at your first jams and see what the consensus is.

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Been to many of these type jams and the dis-organized chaos does seem to work and everyone has a great time.
It is a lot like herding cats :scream_cat:

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Hi Rick, thank you for your input. I like the idea of a screen, that could solve problems of where to read and hold chord sheets.
The pub idea appeals and will look into this. Pity the new landlord does not carry on the music.
Now must find peeps to play. :smiley:

Michael, thanks for this, some good points made. the performance idea I like, agree that a goal is good incentive to show up and keep the positive attitude going.
Good to hear your playing has improved, which is also another of the aims for the club, to play, improve and have fun.

Trevor, thanks for the input. A shame the jam sessions have now finished, hope you can find others to join.

Tony, Thank you, some excellent points here and I will be incorporating them into the running of the club when we begin.
Fun and inclusivity is a certainty, playing and making music is the idea and everyone is able to do join in.
I agree about the amps.

Thank you all for the valuable input, all of this brings it one step closer. :thinking: :smiley:

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I attend a carer’s meeting that just happens to be held at two local church rooms and in each they have a booklet called Home Instead, a private care company. But the reason I’m telling this is at the back of the magazine are pages of community events, some free, and one I noticed, which I joined, is a beginners accoustic guitar group funded by Blu Sci, a multi council mental health support charity to encourage people to get together.
All ages attend, of all levels, the teacher isn’t professional player but we all play music sheets we might donate or suggest.
It’s only accoustic because it would be intrusive and too complicated otherwise and another group I tried with electric was unbearable. I could happily take my electric without amplification if it was just about practicing.
It’s great that experienced players attend as they “lead” with intro riffs and add quality to some of us who are just strumming basic chords.
It might be worth asking local community leads if they have anything to offer in you being part of something.
We have links to SEND (special educational needs) but adults, e.g. confidence, autism etc. and some have rock bands, excellent players.

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Mal @Malz

Just wondered if you had any success in getting the guitar club off the ground?
Michael