Tom Nothnagle

Tom Nothnagle, aka Guitar Tom, is accomplished in a broad range of genres and a number of instruments including classical, 10-string, 12-string, bass guitar, banjo, and mandolin.

Known locally in the Iowa City area as host of a long-running public access television show, Tom promotes music literacy for all ages and abilities. He's a guitarist's guitarist with a sense of humor, virtuosity, genre-bending facility based in solid classical technique, and has performed in a wide variety of settings and venues from festival stages to classical guitar concerts, preschool story circles to formal business conventions, fine dining restaurants to rowdy bars, and hundreds of parties and weddings large and small.


As a professional musician since the 1970s, Tom creates genre-bending improvisations and compositions rooted in classical guitar technique. His training is as varied as his musical approach including instruction/ influence from: Benjamin Verdery, John Hoffman, Michael Lorimer, Nelson Amos, and Pierre Bensusan.

Prior to his years as producer and host of Tom's Guitar Show, Tom composed and performed the score for Dark Laughter, written by and starring Thomas G. Waites, produced by Barry Kemp. He has provided voice-overs, scores, and acting performances for numerous short films, staged readings, documentaries, commercials, and public service announcements for stage, radio, and television. His period pieces have been used for arts festivals and benefit concerts, and his musical scores have accompanied ballet, flamenco, and modern dance performances. Commissioned work includes theme music for programming.


As a native Iowan, Tom began serving in 1990 as a rostered artist for the Iowa Arts Council offering cultural and historical music demonstrations including classical guitar, flamenco guitar, historical banjo, baroque mandolin, and antique parlor guitar. As guest soloist, he has performed in over fifty classical concerts throughout the central Midwest including the Southeast Iowa Symphony, Eastern Iowa Classical Guitar Society, Grinnell College, Cornell College, Luther College, Coe College, Monmouth College, University of Iowa, Drake University, University of Northern Iowa, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 1988, Tom won the All-Iowa Heavyweight Guitar Championship. Other chapters of his career include gigs in California, Oregon, Boston, Manhattan, and Paris.


The world of fretted instruments is as much a part of Tom's profession as the music. He provides consultations for purchases including affordable, quality instruments for beginners and has demonstrated for manufacturers including Martin’s $35,000 Tree of Life guitar. He is founder and former owner of The Guitar Gallery, a small shop located on South Gilbert street in Iowa City from 1984-1990 in what was originally a 19th century glove factory and now functions as entrance to Vine Tavern & Eatery.

Photo by Marcy Capron

Photo by Marcy Capron

Weddings & Special Events

For ceremonies, receptions, rehearsal dinners, private parties, and other special events, Tom offers a repertoire of classical music, arrangements of popular songs for solo guitar, customized music by special request, and mood-appropriate music for gatherings large and small. Instruments include classical guitar, steel string acoustic, electric guitar, banjo, ukulele too. Accompaniment and amplification for soloists and officiants is available. Fee generally ranges $350-500 within driving distance. Less for non-profit organizations.

Albums by Tom

Tom Nothnagle LP (1987) also is available in original cardboard sleeve.