“I’m only myself when I have a guitar in my hands.” - George Harrison
Since the beginning of the 1900’s, stringed instruments such as the acoustic guitar, steel guitar, bass, and later on the electric guitar have become a cornerstone for popular music all around the world. Live performances and the popularity of recorded music that escalated in the 50s and 60s has certified the guitar as an integral part of the world’s musical and cultural landscape. Whether you enjoy listening to blues, rock, folk, jazz, grunge or indie, guitars remain as a common string instrument among many musical genres.
So, it comes as no surprise that if you ever attend a live music event such as a music festival, you are more than likely to see someone playing guitar (electric, acoustic or bass). Australian music festivals such as Byron Bay Blues Fest or St Jerome’s Laneway Festival have been known to feature prominent guitar-driven artists and are both great settings to enjoy the instrument being played to hundreds of thousands of other fans..
Additionally, there are also guitar shows catered to enthusiasts and guitar fans which focus on music gear and performance - these are less of a concert experience but are still great to take part in.
Whatever it is, we’re going to take a look at some of the best guitar shows and festivals in Australia as part of our series on learning to play the guitar without spending too much money, and how these events can help you learn new techniques and expose you to new and exciting sounds.
Learning About Guitar at Music Festival or Guitar Show
The guitar is so common in everyday life, that we may not even realise how prevalent it is within television commercials, jingles, theme songs, movie scores and popular music. Despite this, there are much more enjoyable and entertaining ways to actively seek out and engage in string-based music - two of these ways include music festivals and specialised guitar shows.
Hanging out and enjoying a festival is a perfect way to listen to your favourite musicians play the music that you love, and seeing the songs (and more specifically the guitar parts) being performed before your very eyes - it's something that can't be replicated by watching a live video. Moreover, festivals are great for discovering new acts that you haven’t heard of before, which can be great if you’re trying to find more guitar-based music to surround yourself with.
By watching talented guitarists, you are able to witness the different types of playing required within parts of a song. Perhaps you might want to observe the rhythm technique and chords used by the rhythm guitarist, or maybe you’d like to observe the guitar phrasing used by the lead guitarist. Whatever you’d like to learn, a live music setting is a great first-hand way to take in every aspect of a guitar act while simultaneously enjoying yourself and having a great time with others!
If you already consider yourself a guitar fan or enthusiast, perhaps your best bet is to head to a guitar show that is primarily used to showcase new and/or vintage guitar studio gear and live equipment (amplifiers, pedals, cases, etc.). Whether you’re a guitar collector, musician, professional songwriter or amateur hobbyist, guitar shows can really give you an insight into some of the best instruments used by professionals.
Here you can find out about the latest different guitar accessories, pedals, amplifiers and microphones you might want to use in the future, giving you direct insight into their features and application to live or recorded music. From Gibson to Rickenbacker, you’re sure to find a new guitar model on the show floor that peaks your interest. These shows can really help you find what guitar tone you enjoy and can even help you discover what sound you’d like to achieve at you own future show or recording session.
This knowledge and experience can really help you become a better guitar player in addition to lessons where you can find tabs online.
The Melbourne Guitar Show
Held in Australia’s music and cultural capital, The Melbourne Guitar Show is an annual celebration of all things guitar-related.
The Melbourne Guitar Show is perhaps the most visited guitar show in the whole of Australia, with more than 5000 enthusiasts participating nearly every year.
Throughout each day, you’ll be able to enjoy product demonstrations from all the latest and cherished electric and acoustic guitar brands such as Gibson,Fender, D’Adarrio Yamaha, Eastman and more. These demonstrations are great for enthusiasts trying out new gear before making future purchases.
In addition to this, you’ll be able to see some of the world’s best guitarists perform over four different stages located around the show! So whether you’re a casual lover of guitars, or you consider yourself a qualified expert, there’s something for everyone to see and enjoy.
The event is held at Caulfield Racecourse between August 1-2.
Strings Attached: The Western Australian Guitar Festival
Held over three whole days in the beautiful location of Margaret River, WA, Strings Attached features a range of exhibitions for distributors and collectors to showcase their guitar brands and gear.
Punters may want to explore the festival and take in some special guitar performances which demonstrate a range of diverse music genres such as classical, blues, bluegrass, metal, roots or Hawaiian classical.
If you’d like to increase your skills and learn more about guitar, the festival also hosts a variety of masterclasses and industry expert panels hosted by certified industry professionals to help give you the best advice there is.
Melbourne Guitar Festival
Held between September 20-22, in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Kew, the Melbourne Guitar Festival is home to some fantastic concert shows. These shows demonstrate some of the most skilled and well-loved classical guitar performers from Victoria and abroad.
Much like other festivals and guitar shows, the Melbourne Guitar Festival offers many workshops and classes to broaden your guitar skill set and gain industry advice, however unlike many others, these workshops are entirely FREE and include such topics as ‘Arranging for Guitar’, ‘Composing For Guitar’, ‘Memorisation Strategies’ and ‘Competition Preparation’.
Additionally there are many guitars on display and regular competitions throughout the event, giving festival-goers an extra incentive to soak up the good vibes and entertainment.
Festival passes start at just $60.
Adelaide Guitar Festival
The Adelaide Guitar Festival runs each day from 1 July - 9 August and is one of the most significant and well-curated guitar festivals in the southern hemisphere.
The extensive program of events is made up of shows performed in regional areas, workshops that are free or low cost to festival-goers, artist panels/discussions and supported programs for upcoming musicians within the Adelaide music scene.
The Festival is also home to The Adelaide International Classical Guitar Competition, a prestigious competition for classical guitarists from all over the world that has provided career-starting opportunities and prizes worth over $20,000.
Maton: Australia’s Guitar Exhibition
‘Maton: Australia’s Guitar’ is a retrospective expo featuring the history of iconic Australian Guitar manufacturer ‘Maton’ held at The Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.
Here, you’ll be able to explore the rich backstory behind Maton, seeing some of the early models made in the company’s inception and how they influenced a range of guitar players from all kinds of musical genres. Moreover, rare and special custom Maton guitars made for well-renowned artists such as Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), George Harrison (The Beatles) and Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones) are also on display.
For fans of Classic Rock N’Roll, Jazz, Country & Western, Folk or Bluegrass, there’s no better way to see how these home-grown guitars influenced the rest of the world throughout the hey-day of guitars in music.
Entry to this event is FREE, however booking is essential.
Sydney Guitar Festival
The Sydney Guitar Festival is held between Thursday 9 August - Sunday 19th August and is a celebration of all things guitar - from its long and prolific history, to its place in the future landscape of music and culture.
The event is predominantly made up of local and international guitar performances spread out over different venues each day including The Factory Theatre, Northern Sydney’s performing arts gateway, The Concourse and last but not least, the renowned Enmore Theatre. These diverse performances feature blues, country and even psychedelic rock - no matter what kind of guitar music you prefer, there’s bound to be music that you’ll really vibe with.
Accessible Guitar Shows For Everyone
As you’ve read, guitar festivals and shows are extremely popular around Australia and take place at different times throughout the year. Before you go however, you may want to reinvigorate your interest in the guitar by hiring a private tutor to brush up on your skills.
If you’re uncertain, many tutors offer free tutoring for the first hour - so you can determine whether your tutor’s teaching style is compatible with your learning ability and skill set. If you’re unable to reach a lesson or can’t find any local tutors near your location, you should consider hiring a private tutor remotely for online lessons held via a video call.
If you have a few friends who are also interested in learning the guitar and going to the best guitar shows in Australia, it can be a cheaper option to hold group lessons with your private tutor. These lessons can be incredibly fun and rewarding for new students and will provide you with the confidence and knowledge to play like a pro.
Tutoring can be expensive at times, but is often worth it. However, if you’re sick of learning with free sheet music, but are also strapped for cash, there are certainly ways to get cheap or even free guitar lessons.
Finally, if you’re still in school and looking for a good foundation for guitar knowledge, you should find avenues where you’re able to study Guitar in High School.
With these forms of musical education, you’ll be able to fully appreciate these guitar festivals and make the most of each event available to you.