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Allen Estes

Singer-Songwriter Q&A

Photo credit: Renata Greene

How old were you when you started playing guitar?

I started playing guitar at 11…?

What was your first guitar? Did you buy it yourself? Do you still have it?

First guitar was a Gibson B-25…circa 1962…don’t still have it…wish I did.

A 1962 Gibson B-25. Photo credit: Heritage Auctions

Did your parents or grandparents play any instruments? If so, what did they play? Did you ever get a chance to play with them?

My mom and dad both played professionally…dad, piano and guitar, and mom was a concert harpist.

Allen playing with his dad, Phil and brother, Dave on banjo.

Three generations of Estes making music; Allen, his father, brothers and son, Dylan.

Allen's mom, Estelle Estes.

What are the guitars that you play? Do you have a favorite? If so, why is it your favorite?

I have many guitars…Martins, Guilds and Gibsons. I also play mandolin, banjo, harmonica, and piano. I have different instruments for varied occasions.

Photo credit: Joanne Silva

Photo credit: Roger Ward

Photo credit: Amy Nachbar

Photo credit: Renata Greene

What strings do you use (brands and gauges)? How often do you change your strings?

I usually use regular Martin strings for acoustics. Some medium and some light gauges.

Photo credit: C.F. Martin & Co.

Allen's Gibson Hummingbird. Photo credit: Renata Greene

Do you use a pick? If so, what brand and thickness?

I use Star Picks…1.0mm for mandolin, and .88mm, and .73mm for guitars.

Do you work on your own guitars or do you bring them to a guitar tech? Are there any guitar techs that you would like to recommend?

I don’t have a specific guitar/instrument tech.

Photo credit: Louise Welch

At what age did you start writing songs?

I wrote my 1st song at 12 years old…a song called “Forever”.

Allen's high school band, The Make Believe.

What is your songwriting process? Is it the music or the lyrics that usually come to you first? Do you write old school on paper, or electronically?

My songwriting process varies. I write on both piano and guitar, and all I can say is most often melodies come first and lyrics later.

Photo credit: Wes Thibodeau

Who are the top three musicians or bands that have had a major influence on you?

My top 3 musical influences would be, The Beatles, James Taylor, and Gordon Lightfoot.

If you could jam with one person, living or dead, who would it be?

I guess if I could “jam” with one person…it would have to be Paul McCartney.

What are your top three “desert island” albums?

Not sure what would be my three favorite albums.

What was the first concert you attended? What was the last concert you attended?

I used to go to “Club 47” (editor's note: now Club Passim) with my dad all the time when I was small. Saw a lot of amazing singer/songwriters, & bands from the early 60’s.

The Beatles or the Stones?

The Beatles.

What has been the highlight of your musical career so far?

Being able to co-write with a lot of top country acts when I lived in Nashville; Tammy Wynette and Shania Twain.

What has been your worst gig so far and why? (You don’t have to name names).

Worst gig was Norwich Academy in Vermont. Sucked. All guys wanna be tough guys in the service.

How do you work out your setlist?

I don’t use setlists. I like to play the crowd.

Photo credit: Joan Vaughn

Is there any advice you wish someone had given you when you were first starting out in the music business?

Do it cause you love it and marry well.

Photo credit: Joanne Silva

Please list some of your upcoming shows, plug your music and provide links to your merchandise.

You can contact me and order any and all of my music through my:


Photo credit: Sheila Roberts Orlando

Photo credit: Louise Welch

Photo credit: Renata Greene


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