How do I get a guitar, a bass or drum kit to get started in a band?

There are lots of things that stand in the way of women who might fleetingly think about being in a band. The big one is confidence in knowing what to do, but another is having never had a go on different instruments to try them out. Here’s a few ideas that might help you have a go at playing instruments without making any big financial commitment:

  • Music shops – With a friend, go into a musical instrument shop at a non-busy time (early morning or weekdays). Have a look around and then talk honestly with the person serving. You’ve never tried a bass/drumkit/electric guitar and would like to start. Can they give you any tips? If the shop isn’t busy, ask if you can have a go on a basic instrument. If you get good service, go back in a week, buy something cheap – drumsticks, a guitar plectrum etc and maybe have another go.
  • Contacts and friends of friends – In every situation (work, family, socialising) mention that you’re trying to find someone who will let you try out a drum kit/guitar and does anyone know someone who might help you out? There is bound to be someone who will let you have a go, or maybe even lend you something basic.
  • Second-hand and charity shops – you often see instruments on sale in these shops. The quality isn’t always good, but if it’s cheap enough, it’s worth considering and you can always have an extended try out in the shop and then decide not to buy it. Don’t be embarrassed about any lack of skills, just hit, pluck or strum any old thing confidently!
  • Rehearsal rooms – people in bands hire practice rooms, often by the hour to do rehearsals in. Often weekends and evenings are busy, with muso types carrying guitars in and out. But these spaces will have quiet times where they’d be glad of any new customers. Look for rooms or studios that are staffed and ring up or go in to enquire whether they can help beginners. The people should be friendly; if they’re snobbish, ageist or sexist, ask them why – because everyone has to start somewhere and music should have no limits. Ask if they could help by letting you borrow or hire instruments (drum kits and amplifiers are usually provided) and showing you how to set up. If you and some friends go together, maybe daytime or early evening, you might be able to play around and experiment in a private space for less than £5 each.

There are barriers to getting started playing in a band, but a lot of them are to do with knowledge and knowing what is possible. Please comment if you have other tips!

Main picture The Wonky Portraits band formed in Leicester 2022

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