Have you got an old acoustic guitar knocking about that you never got around to learning? Bringing instruments into the pub for customers to play has proved a simple way of creating atmosphere and entertainment at venues across the country.

Here's how a few of them are hitting the right notes.

 

Left Luggage, Monkseaton Train Station

Andrew Findlay, co-owner of the train station based freehouse, says that music has become "weirdly and accidentally" very important to what they do.

The cask and craft specialists opened nearly three years ago and shortly afterwards introduced a 'Buskers Night' on Sundays.

Andrew explains: "Rather than people lugging stuff with them, we thought we'd get some kit in. It started with an acoustic guitar that a customer donated from his vast collection and now we've also got a bass, some tambourines knocking about, some African bongos and loads of other stuff."

 

 

It means that Sunday nights are always a great pull with customers travelling from a 30-mile radius to either perform or listen. The night has also proved to be a great recruitment tool.

"A lot of staff who work on Sundays originally came in for the Buskers Night. We've now got some really talented staff working here and if ever it's quiet on a Sunday they will get up and play."

And the use of the instruments has stretched throughout the week as well.

Andrew continues: "They get very well used. There are the people who come in who we know are going to play but you get nice surprises as well. We had a group of over 65-year-olds come in and they started to play and sing for two-and-a-half hours.

"It usually happens on a quiet and cold Tuesday rather than when it is busy, and it can really add to the atmosphere.

"We've also had some bands who have not played for years because of families or whatever get back together and play here too."

 

Caddyshackers, Leicester

When Leicestershire multiple operator Steamin' Billy was planning its latest opening in Leicester it wanted to provide some interaction for customers.

Caddyshackers on the edge of the city centre provides just that with the only 18-hole crazy golf course in the city.

The edgy and elaborate holes combine with a cocktails and craft beer offering that attracts students, stag and hen dos and office parties. In fact, fed up with bad weather ruining their day, Steamin Billy even held its company golf day there this year.

So, what's this got to do with instruments? Well, when you reach hole number five you'll find a piano that guests are invited to play.

 

 

Company boss Billy Allingham explains: "We got an old upright piano from a house clearance. I think it only cost about £40 to have it delivered here.

"We are not doing anything that hasn't been done before but when we were thinking about the concept we wanted to create a place where there was loads for people to do.

"Lots of people play and it adds to the fund and the atmosphere, so we are now thinking about getting some other instruments in on other holes."

 

Northern Guitars, Leeds

For more than two decades Northern Guitars was established as a shop for, you've guessed it, guitars, on Leeds' Call Lane.

As that area has developed into a major going out spot with bars dominating the street the owners followed the 'if you can't beat them, join them' mantra.

A couple of years ago they opened a licensed bar downstairs to the shop.

Here you'll find craft beers, live music performances and guitars on the walls. Though strictly speaking these are really for buying rather than playing there and then.

 

 

Co-owner Dave Baguley says: "It's been a good move for us and the two businesses go hand-in-hand."

They have open mic nights as well as professional live performances which ensures there are plenty of musicians to enjoy the brews and consider adding to their own guitar collections.

"Our barman is a singer-songwriter who has actually just been signed," adds Dave. "He books all of the acts in for us."

And as well as the beer and bar snacks they've got another revenue stream to tap into.

"We also sell strings behind the bar after the shop's closed," adds Dave.

 

  • For more on how you can turn the spotlight on your customers click here.