Tips for a Great Acoustic Coffee House Set


Acoustic sets are great for a lot of reasons. For one, they let you connect to your audience in a really intimate setting. They also let you showcase your talent without anything that might distract from your skills. But, they can also be horrible. We don’t want to make you nervous, but an acoustic set requires as much work as a regular show. Being stripped down to the basics means you have to work extra hard to keep your audience interest and your songs flowing. Here’s what you can do to make it happen.

Get Creative

You’ll need to get creative in more ways than one. First of all, the drums. Going acoustic doesn’t mean you have to forgo percussion altogether. While you won’t be able to get away with a complete drum set, you can incorporate other things to give your show an extra kick (sometimes literally). You can use a kick drum or incorporate a tambourine. Just make sure this isn’t something you decide at the last possible minute, you’ll need to practice.

Another thing you need to keep in mind is the way you play your guitar. When there’s a bunch of pedals, arrangements, sounds, and gadgets going along with the guitar, repetitive chords might not be a problem. A stripped-down performance will require more work. If your songs have the same core chords, you’ll need to get creative with how you play them, you can finger pick or modulate the key. Whatever you have to do to give it some rhythm lest you want the audience to completely tune you out by your third song.

Don’t Rely on the Sound Guy

Mainly because chances are there’s not going to be one. Is not like most coffee shops have sound engineers just hanging around waiting for someone to come and play some music. If you’re lucky they might have someone to help you out, but generally, your sound will be up to you. Be sure to take time to work it out because nothing turns off an audience as fast as sound problems.

Bring Some Pedals

Pedals are a great way to get rid of the monotony that can invade an acoustic set. You can include a looping pedal to really bring your songs to the next level. Just one warning: don’t overdo it, and whatever you do, don’t make a huge deal out of it. Use it wisely.

Get Comfortable

Playing live is always a bit frightening. Playing a live set in which your voice and skills are front and center, can be ten times more distressing. But the thing is, if you get super nervous, you’ll make the audience uncomfortable and nervous.

Since you’re right in the spotlight, whatever attitude you have towards what you’re doing with determine the mood and atmosphere of the room. Do whatever you can to make yourself comfortable, a good trick is making a persona. Well before the gig, figure out the kind of person you want to be on stage, will you make jokes? Will you tell stories? Then develop a really loose script on what you could say, and then go with it.