Playing solo guitar at a wedding

I  love to play at weddings.  Especially when it’s outside and there are good people.  There is something about playing an event that is very important to at least a few people.  Sure I would love to play a concert as well.  But there is more to music than playing concerts.  What about at the beach or the deserted parking lot at midnight or for your grandmother?

Gear

Here’s a few gear ideas that come to mind that I think would help one have a great experience playing at a wedding.  There’s definitely a lot of different ways to approach the situation of course.

  1. The Crate battery-powered 50 watt bass amp.  It’s called the TXB50.  It isn’t manufactured anymore but it’s great to have.  Its sound is more full than the Crate Limo.
  2. A battery-powered preamp that can process a stereo or mono 1/4″ or an xlr input.
  3. JBL 14″ PA and mixer if you need more power than the Crate, unless you want to get a second Crate/extension cords/surge protector
  4. Speaker stands for projection if it’s a bigger area
  5. Mic stand
  6. AKG 1000/mic holder/xlr cable
  7. a short cable to connect the preamp to the amp
  8. a medium cable with a on/off switch like the planet waves cable
  9. 9 volt batteries
  10. guitar stand
  11. music stand
  12. page clips
  13. tuner
  14. an xlr to 1/4″ converter in case your preamp doesn’t have an xlr input

The main idea is to have a battery-powered amp and preamp so you don’t have to worry about too many cables.  Since so many weddings are outdoors, it’s safer and more practical anyways. Though it’s a long list, most everything could be carried in one trip.

If your guitar doesn’t have pickups, you can get a battery-powered mic like the AKG 1000 or maybe the shure 57 works(?).  Put the amp very far in front, EQ the mic and try to get a mix between the acoustic sound and the amp.  Keep the preamp near you so you can adjust EQ and volume whenever you’d like.  If the wedding is for less than 100-150 people, you should be fine.

You don’t have to be loud.  Folks’ ears should think that you are playing acoustic but that they can hear you well.  I like my sound mixed with the natural environment so that it unobtrusive but apparent.  People can effortless talk and you can still hear birds and wind in the leaves.  Not quite like Freddie Green but somewhere in the middle!

Music

Pick your songs for the processional and recessional before the event, if possible.  Also, the morning of the wedding and the day before, review the songs your are going to play.

You aren’t there to prove anything.  You are there to create an even better vibe for the bride and groom and to help the families relax before the wedding.  There’s no need to play anything you consider overly technical.  Instead focus on music that creates a good mood and that relates to the event.  Tell stories of love and romance and beauty!  I like to leave a lot of space in the music.  There’s no need to pick tempos that are too fast.  Let the notes breath and use the tone of your guitar to create wonderful music.

It’s more to enjoyable to memorize all the music so you can focus on creating the music instead of reading the music.  Also, sometimes for events where I am playing solo guitar I like to create extended intros or song medleys with extended improvised between the songs, especially before and after the ceremony, like in the reception.  Complete silence is a good contrast to music, too.  It better to leave silence than to play a continous stream of notes for an hour!  The mind need to variety!  And to rest from listening to music.  It’s like courses in a meal – the palate needs to pause so that it can better enjoy each dish.

Best wishes!

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