Way back in 2014—OK that wasn’t really that long ago—I came across the very cool folks from Campfire Guitar. I quickly discovered their passion for teaching people how easy it is to play guitar and also provide them with an impressively high quality first acoustic guitar. I say first because I can’t imagine anybody just having one guitar. Ever.
To help you learn more about these talented people and their passionate project, I put together another set of six scary questions. They’re still not scary questions to be honest, but this isn’t Sixty Minutes. I don’t hear a stopwatch. Do you?
On to the questions and the answers as provided by Danny Procopis, Co-founder at Campfire Guitar
Six scary questions
- You’re attempting to simplify those first moments in the guitar playing process by teaching basic chords and strumming techniques which can be applied to most modern popular songs. What would be some of your favourite songs to showcase what is possible with these basic songs?
The original reason I created the ‘Campfire Guitar’ concept was to shift the perception that someone had to be ‘musically talented’ to learn guitar or that it would take years of learning and practice to play songs. I’ve been a guitarist for over 20 years. Long ago I realised that 90% of popular songs use a mix of the same 10 chords and 5 common strumming patterns. It’s a great example of the 80/20 principle whereby 20% of the inputs deliver 80% of the results.
I’ve been lucky enough to turn this concept into a business and co-founded Campfire Guitar. In each lesson I include songs that students can start playing within an hourâ€’these vary from classics such as ‘Let It Be ‘ by the Beatles & ‘Every Breath You Take’ by The Police to modern songs like ‘Time Of Your Life’ by Green Day and ‘The A Team’ by Ed Sheeran. The truth is once a student has mastered the content within our lessons they can play tens of thousands of popular songs. Seriously!
- What has the feedback been like so far from people learning guitar for the first time through your online lesson plans?
Really positive! In our fast paced, time poor world, people are really happy that we ‘cut to the chase’ and just give them the essentials to learn and play the songs they love. They also like the mix of theory and fun drills that we include in the lessons. Whilst it does take practice to get your fingers used to the guitar chords, it is meant to be fun!
- Do you see yourselves re-entering the studio for additional lessons down the line for those people who have enjoyed the initial lesson plans?
Our priority is to be the first place all beginners go to when learning guitar so they can learn to play the songs they love as quickly as possible. We believe our course is unique in its simplicity and we wouldn’t want to do anything to over-complicate it. Too may programs out there have an absolute overload of material–that’s what makes it hard for beginners in the first place!
We would never add material for the sake of quantity however we have been encouraged by all the positive feedback from students so far who are eager for more content!
Students tell us that because they have been able to master the basics so effectively they now have the confidence to continue even further and they are asking for more material to build on our lessons.
So, stay tuned!
- You also have the Campfire Guitar which includes the online lesson plans for free. How difficult was it to decide upon the best guitar to offer to first-time purchasers?
I have personally spent 20 years playing all types of guitars. When it came to selecting the right guitar for Campfire Guitar I spent a long time playing many different guitars to determine what elements were most important within the perfect guitar for a beginner. I prioritised sound and then feel/ease of playing. It was incredibly important to me to have a guitar that was easy to play and sounded great! The guitar is very, very easy to play and has a low action (meaning the gap between the strings and the fretboard is as low as possible).
We recently gave a guitar to Maroon 5 Producer Matt Wallace (who’s based in Los Angeles) and he said that the guitar sounded good enough for him to use in the studio. A pretty nice endorsement!
The Campfire Classic looks amazing and we have received lots of positive feedback on the design.
We decided to go with a steel string acoustic. With an acoustic, you don’t have to plug it in to play and there’s less of an upfront investment (i.e. you don’t need to buy an amp). Also a steel string acoustic is more common in popular songs vs a nylon string acoustic (used in classical music).
We recommend students learn on an acoustic first. If you decide to play electric later, the transition will feel much easier than it would have had you only learned to play electric. We included an built-in tuner because it will allow a beginner to tune the strings in minutes. No one likes to play an out of tune guitar and tuning by ear is a tedious process reserved for professionals!
The price point was also very important. We did extensive research globally to understand the market and our target audience. We are in a unique position in that we manufacture our own instrument and bypass retailers, selling directly to our customers online which means our customers get a high quality instrument at a fraction of the price of mass-market brands.
We retail globally at USD$249 (including free delivery and unlimited access to our lessons) this is significantly lower than comparable instruments–our customers are getting great value because of our business model.
- What makes the Campfire Guitar a good choice for someone new to guitars and guitar playing in general?
We spoke to so many beginners in researching our business and product. Time and time again the same words came up when beginners described the process of buying a guitar and finding an instructor or an online program – ‘confusing’, ‘hard to navigate’, ‘expensive’. That gave us a great starting point – we needed to be the complete opposite: easy-to-understand, simple to use, reasonably priced.
We are a great choice for a beginner because we have made buying and learning simple for people who are starting out. We are the first one-stop-shop to buy and learn guitar. There is no need to search online for hours or spend time doing research in-store.
Beginners want a product they can trust without having to invest a significant sum of money–or time researching various models from many brands. Too much choice can be a bad thing.
When it comes to lessons, it’s a similar scenario–beginners want the basics explained clearly, high-quality content that is easily accessible and they don’t want to invest a lot of money when they are starting out. They also don’t want to be overloaded with too much material, which most other programs are guilty of!
They also don’t want:
- show-off instructors
- nursery rhymes
- hours of music theory
- 1000s of videos making up hours of content
You won’t find any of the above at Campfire Guitar!
- I’ve played the Campfire Guitar and loved it. What other feedback have you had from people who have tried or purchased the Campfire Guitar?
The feedback about our guitar has been that students and their guitar playing friends were surprised by the sound quality of the guitar. It really is an amazingly great sounding guitar for the price! I personally have not heard a guitar that sounds better under $1000.
The feedback about our lessons has been about how easy it is to follow them and get playing quickly. Our customers have been surprised at how quickly they were playing actual songs. Personally I am immensely proud that we have been able to dispel the myth for so many people that learning guitar is difficult.
- What’s in the not-so-distant future for Campfire Guitar and its customers?
2015 is going to be all about spreading the word far and wide!
So many people we have spoken to in the past 2 years of research say the same thing, ‘My husband/boyfriend/son/daughter would LOVE to be able to play the guitar!’ So now it’s about reaching those people and getting them to tell that special person in their life that it’s now possible–or even to buy them a Campfire Guitar bundle as a surprise!
We had one guy email this week to tell us that after getting his own Campfire Guitar in late 2014 he decided to give his nephew a Campfire Guitar for Christmas and it was such a popular gift that he bought another one as a gift for someone else in January! That’s we want–organic growth based on happy customers sharing their experience and Campfire Guitar with others.
You’ll be able to see on our website and YouTube channel that we have guitarists from all over the world trying out the Campfire Classic and our lessons and sharing their #reviews and #campfireshares and we want to keep this going–we think the best way to showcase our product is to let other people do the talking. If any of your readers would like to try out the guitar and review it they can email us at email@example.com or tweet us at @Campfireguitar.
Six not-so-scary questions
That’s passion. I love that. I really hope good things happen for Campfire Guitar this year. They’re great people trying to do a great thing—teach people how to play guitar. It may just work too. My wife showed an interest in the lessons and she’s not been interested in my guitar fascination for the last 20 years.
Thanks to Danny for taking the time to answer those questions. As usual, I am greatly appreciative.