April is International Guitar Month, a time when we look forward to celebrating “all things guitar.” In this article, I’ll show you some ways you can make it a fun and productive experience. Even if you are a seasoned participant, you will find some ideas that will spark your interest. There is no better way to satisfy your guitar obsession than to take part in this yearly ritual.
How Did International Guitar Month Begin?
International Guitar Month (IGM) was started in 1987 by the Guitar & Accessories Marketing Association (GAMA) and the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) as a way to market the guitar and its related merchandise to the general public. The other objective was to help build awareness of the benefits of guitar playing and commercial artists’ contributions to the instrument.
Each year International Guitar Month has grown in scale with an increasing emphasis on guitar instruction in the form of international workshops and the publication of a wide variety of educational materials.
Who is International Guitar Month For?
International Guitar Month is for everyone. It is essentially a time for “guitar appreciation.” Everyone is invited to participate in their own way. If you play the guitar or enjoy listening to guitar music, then this month is for you. Professional and beginning guitar players love exchanging ideas and helping each other take the instrument to the next level.
On a more commercial level International Guitar Month provides manufacturers an opportunity to market their products. If you are thinking about making a major purchase like a guitar or amplifier, then April is a good month to shop because you can find sales and special deals almost everywhere you look.
Celebrating International Guitar Month
I’m totally immersed in “everything guitar” 365 days a year, but I always try to do something a little special for International Guitar Month. I make it a point to learn something new that will lead me in a fresh musical direction and encourage others to do the same.
Here are ten of the best ways to celebrate International Guitar Month. What you do is up to you, but mark the occasion and have fun with it. You might be surprised how much you can accomplish in just 30 days!
Make More Time To Play Guitar
We can all use more time to play guitar! For me, it’s like an addiction, so I usually have to put time limits on how much I play on an average day, or I would never get anything else done.
I play guitar every morning at 6 AM (year-round) for a couple of hours when fewer people are awake to disturb me. I’m “fresh” into the day and more open to being creative.
I always set aside extra time in April to play more guitar, which means I have to be more organized. Every March, I look at my calendar to see what I have scheduled in April that can be done sooner or pushed into May.
Learn Or Write A New Song
International Guitar Month is a great time to tackle that song with the almost impossible guitar solo you always wanted to learn. Work on it a little each day, and you will see some real results. If you are a beginner, then chose a song that is realistically within your grasp and get busy. Pushing your technical skills is one of the best ways to become a better player.
If you play guitar purely for enjoyment and are not looking to improve your skills, then make it a point to add some additional songs you like to your repertoire.
When inspiration strikes, get your ideas down on paper or record them with your favorite app. Maybe it’s time to dig out those lyrics you jotted down a while ago but never finished or put to music.
Buy A New Guitar
If you have been thinking about adding another guitar to your collection or buying your first instrument, then budget ahead of time to make your purchase in April. Many people are spread too financially thin during the traditional holiday season to treat themselves to a pricey item. There are always sales on guitars and other musical equipment, especially online.
Already have a guitar but haven’t played it in a while? Maybe it’s time to pull that dusty guitar case out from under the bed or the back of your closet and give it another go. There a plenty of free beginner tutorials and courses available to get you started.
If you don’t need another guitar (seriously??) or can’t afford one, then purchase something smaller as a treat to mark the occasion. I might buy something that I have been wanting or have recently discovered in a guitar magazine, even if it’s just something as small as a set of guitar strings or a new type of guitar pick.
Give Your Guitar Some Tender Loving Care
Most of us tend to neglect to perform routine care that our instruments deserve to function properly and sound great. This can be easy to put on the back burner, especially when life is coming at you every which way. The more guitars you have, the more challenging this can become.
Have you been playing on those same dull-sounding strings for way too long? That’s an easy and inexpensive fix. While your strings are off, you have an excellent opportunity to clean the neck and frets and give the rest of the guitar a good polishing.
Maybe it’s time for that guitar setup that you have been putting off. If you don’t have the skills or tools to make it happen, your local music store might give you a deal during International Guitar Month. See my article on How To Keep An Electric Guitar In Tune.
Enroll In A Guitar Class
It’s easy to get in a rut and find yourself playing the same songs or riffs again and again. Maybe you have writer’s block, or you can’t seem to get motivated to jump into something new.
One of the best ways to put the musical spark back into your playing is to enroll in a guitar class. Online classes give you the flexibility to complete lesions on demand, which can make them easier to fit into your hectic schedule. Many excellent YouTube videos are available to get you started.
If you are looking for a more comprehensive and structured commitment, you can check out some of the online guitar methods. They can evaluate your skill level and create a program that is customized especially for you. Many of these online guitar methods have a free membership, which gives you a chance to evaluate the program to see if it fits your specific needs. Yousician and Fender Play are two excellent guitar learning systems.
Are you thinking about going pro? Many universities offer online teaching programs. These programs may offer individual courses as well as degree programs. How far you end up taking it is up to you, but why not sit in on a class and see what you think? Check out the Berkeley Online or Musicians Institute Online.
So you’re more of a “people person” and enjoy learning in a one-on-one environment? You can always go “old-school” and take an “in-person” class at your local college or a guitar lesson with a private instructor. This is a great opportunity to make new friends that share your musical interests and live in your area.
Teach Someone Something New
If you ask a seasoned guitar player how to celebrate International Guitar Month, the most common answer you will get is to teach someone something new.
There’s nothing like the feeling of gratification you get from helping someone out on the guitar. Perhaps that person has been struggling with a particular concept or technique when there is a much better approach. There is always an opportunity to show someone something new, which can open up a whole new world of possibilities and be the motivation to go further.
Taking even a few minutes to help a fellow musician can make playing the guitar a positive experience. You might end up being surprised at what you learned in the process.
Listen To More Guitar Music
We can never listen to enough guitar music! If you’re like me, then one of your favorite bands or players got you started on your guitar journey. When I first heard the Jimi Hendrix “Are You Experienced Album” way back in the early 1960s, I went out and bought my first starter guitar and amp at Sears and never looked back.
Most guitarists develop their own unique playing style from carefully listening to various players in diverse musical genres. My local music store owner used to tell me, “your playing is only as strong as your record collection.” I was just a kid, and it took me a little while to figure out exactly what he meant by that.
Delve Deeper Into Guitar History
Some of the best players are scholars of the history of the guitar in their style of music. It’s worthwhile to take the time to discover some of the little-known people that had a hand in starting it all. Muddy Waters used to say, “the blues had a baby and called it rock and roll.” Many of the biggest blues players, like Eric Clapton, are disciples of the old blues masters like Robert Johnson.
The chances are that many of the killer guitar licks you are trying to learn came from simpler but similar phrases played by guitarists you may not ever even heard of. It pays to do the research, and it’s all part of immersing yourself in the learning process.
While you’re at it, it’s always fun to learn some guitar trivia. Maybe you like learning about guitar innovators like Leo Fender or Les Paul. Curious about who built the first guitar neck with a truss rod? It’s all waiting for you online, so get those search engines humming!
Here is a short video from the Smithsonian Channel on the “History Of The Electric Guitar,” as performed by G.E. Smith. Check it out, in honor of International Guitar Month!
Discover A New Band Or Guitar Player
Most guitarists are well aware of their musical genre’s biggest players like Jimmy Page, Joe Bonamassa, Eddie Van Halen, or Steve Vai. Still, chances are they are missing out on some of the unsung heroes that really took a guitar style to the next level.
Here are some examples of guitar players whose names may be new to you. Pick out a few and check out some of their tunes.
- Albert Collins – AKA “The Ice Man”
- Albert King
- Freddie King
- Hubert Sumlin – Guitarist for Howlin’ Wolf
- John Lee Hooker
- Clarence Gatemouth Brown
- Lightning Hopkins
- Robert Johnson
- Muddy Waters
- Walter Trout – John Mayall And The Bluesbreakers, Canned Heat
- Chet Atkins
- Vince Gill
- Albert Lee
- Glen Campbell
- Jerry Reed
- Merle Travis
- Johnny Hiland
- Roy Clark
Jazz And Jazz-Fusion Artists
- Bucky Pizzarelli
- Al Di Meola
- Earl Klugh
- Allan Holdsworth
- Frank Gambale
- Frank Vignola
- Joe Pass
- John McLaughlin – Mahavishnu Orchestra
- Larry Coryell
- John Scofield
- Larry Carlton
- Lee Ritenour
- Pat Martino
- Pat Metheny
- Robben Ford – See Robben Ford Ohne Filter 1993 DVD Review – An Amazing Concert
- Danny Gatton
- Gary Moore – Thin Lizzy, Skid Row
- Cliff Gallup – Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps
- Jeff Healey
- Martin Barre – Jethro Tull
- Neill Schon – Santana, Journey
- Robert Fripp – King Crimson
- Steve Lukather – Toto
- Mike Keneally
- David Gilmour – see Delicate Sound Of Thunder Blu Ray Review – Fully Remastered!
- Leslie West – Mountain
- Popa Chubby
- Rory Gallagher
- Roy Buchanan
- Steve Morse – Dixie Dregs
- Uli John Roth – Scorpions
- Tony Iommi – See Black Sabbath End Tour – Blu Ray Review – Is That Really It?
Join A Band Or Start Your Own
If you had ever played guitar with a group of musicians when you were growing up, even in a “garage band” that wasn’t very good, then chances are you have some great memories to share!
Why not pick up where you left off and get some friends together for an impromptu jam? You never know where it could lead, and at the very least, you can have yourself a little well-deserved fun. Remember, oftentimes, “tomorrow never comes.”
Did you say you’ve never been in a band? One of the best ways to expand your musical horizons is to go ahead and give it a try! No matter how good or bad you are, there is probably a group of people just like you looking for a guitar player at this very moment. All you have to do is reach out and find the situation that works for you. It’s never too late to join a local band or start one of your own.
Keep It Going After International Guitar Month
If you started something totally unexpected or new, then why not keep it going? It doesn’t all have to end at the start of May. Use that momentum to set a goal and move toward it one step at a time. One of the best things about International Guitar Month is that it provides a refocusing point to help you pursue your musical ambitions year after year.
For more info on keeping it going, see How To Stay Motivated To Learn Guitar – Top Tips For Success.
International Guitar Month gives like-minded people the chance to come together to celebrate “everything-guitar.” This event’s most fundamental mission is to make people aware of the joy of experiencing guitar music as a player or listener. It’s a commemoration of one of the most popular instruments in the world today.
April is also a commercial opportunity for designers and manufacturers of guitars and related equipment to market and sell their products. This can present you with an excellent opportunity to find the stuff you want on sale at a price you can afford. Make it a habit to monitor your local music stores and online places that you do business with each year at this time.
Make it a point to get involved in the festivities every year by doing or experiencing something new. One of the most rewarding things you can do is to help bring the guitar into someone else’s life.
If you are a “tattoo person,” then consider getting your favorite guitar, guitar player, or band tattooed in a place where you can enjoy it and proudly share it with the rest of the world.
If this article has sparked your interest in the guitar as something that you would like to have in your life, then you are at the beginning of something truly wonderful that will enhance your overall happiness for years to come.
Tell Me What You Think
Please let me know what’s on your mind in the comment section, or if I can help you with anything.
- Do you have anything you would like to add about celebrating International Guitar Month?
- What are you thinking about doing, buying, or selling to commemorate this event?
- What do you like best about International Guitar Month?