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Amy Speace

Singer-Songwriter Q&A

How old were you when you started playing guitar?


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

Seagull. Bought for me by my grandmother. No. Sold it a zillion years ago.

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

Mom and grandmother played piano. Dad played harmonica and had a guitar but never played it. Never played with them, but sang with Dad.

Amy with her dad.

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

My favorite is my 1956 Gibson J-45 as it was my holy grail. Bought it at Rivington Guitars in NYC. I also have a 1947 Gibson LG-2, a Collings C-10 made for me, and a 1943 Gibson arch top electric.

Amy's Gibson J-45.

Amy with her Gibson LG-2. Photo credit: Mick Leonardy

Amy playing her Collings C-10.

Amy's Gibson archtop.

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

D’Addario light. I rarely change them, I like them dull and worn in. I have a deal with D’Addario.

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

I do. Medium. Don’t know.

Do you use any effect pedals? If so, what are your favorites?

I use a Grace Electronics Alix DI/EQ, a Boss Tremelo pedal and a Boss tuner. I sometimes use a D’Addario reverb too. I love my tremolo.

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?

Joe Glaser in Nashville.

Photo credit: Michael Ross

Do you have a favorite guitar shop? What makes it a good shop?

Fanny’s House of Music in East Nashville. Female owned. Great vintage guitars and a cool “you can hang out here” vibe. LGBTQ friendly.

At what age did you start writing songs?


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?

It comes when it comes and the music and lyrics tend to come together. No real process. Just spend time on it and spend the majority of time on the editing process. I start on paper and the minute I’ve got a verse or a chorus, I go to the laptop.

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

Joni, Shawn Colvin, John Prine/Guy Clark.

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

I don’t jam, sadly.

What are your top three “desert island” albums?

1. Blue 2. Steady On 3. Blood on the Tracks

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

Toto the Roseanne Tour. My friend Lilly Hiatt at Dee’s Country Bar in Nashville, TN.

The Beatles or the Stones?

The Beatles. Duh. Musically they’ve got no peers.

Where and when was your first paid gig? How much did you make?

I think it was at The Bitter End in NYC. Don’t remember. $5 cover and I made $3 off every $5.

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

Winning the “International Song of the Year” in 2020 from the Americana Music Association.

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

Opening for The Beach Boys in the first year out performing. Long and funny story that ended up with me watching the opener, a comic ventriloquist, because my agent was shady and had lied and my father strong armed him into paying me my $500 guarantee anyway. And I fired him. (Editor's note: See Erin Ash Sullivan's answer to this question as well.)

Amy and Erin Ash Sullivan back in their Edith O days.

What are some of the venues you enjoy performing at the most? What things make the venue enjoyable for the performer (location, equipment, setup, organizers)?

I love The Bluebird Cafe most of all. They are just geared to the song, the songwriter and it’s very intimate so the audience is watching over your shoulder. I love it there.

Amy playing at The Bluebird Cafe. Photo credit: Laura Schneider Photography

How do you work out your setlist?

I have different set lists for different albums. I work on different covers for different seasons. I have a well thought out arc for my sets, but I also mess around with it live depending upon the vibe.

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

Start a savings account for emergencies and start an IRA and don’t touch it. And if you’re not making money after a few years, keep at it but get a job. Poor isn’t fun. And there’s not many people who end up making a living by it. Not making a living doesn’t mean you’re not an artist.

Do you have any suggestions for a guitarist or songwriter who might be stuck in a musical rut?

Learn some covers. Write a song without your guitar, just the melody.

Amy covering Ben Glover's Kindness.

Amy covering David Massengill's, Rider On An Orphan Train.

If you weren’t a singer-songwriter, what would you be doing for work?

I’d be a professor at some college teaching English and Creative Writing.

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

People can check out all of my information, merch and tour on and I’m amyspeace at Spotify.


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