Tom Nothnagle

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

Known in his local area as host of a long-running public access television show, Tom promotes music literacy for all ages and abilities. He is a guitarist's guitarist with a sense of humor, virtuosity and genre-bending facility based in solid classical technique.

Nothnagle 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 lifelong multi-instrumentalist and a professional musician for more than three decades, Tom Nothnagle creates genre-bending improvisations and compositions solidly rooted in classical guitar technique. His training is as varied as his musical approach with hundreds of lessons from such teachers as Benjamin Verdery, John Hoffman, Michael Lorimer, Nelson Amos and Pierre Bensusan.

Prior to his nearly two-decade run as producer and host of Tom's Guitar Show, Nothnagle composed and performed the score for the play Dark Laughter, written by and starring Thomas G. Waites and 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.


As a native Iowan, Nothnagle has served since 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. He has performed period pieces for arts festivals and benefit concerts, and his musical scores have served as accompaniment for ballet, flamenco and modern dance performances.

Nothnagle also has performed as guest soloist at 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 Nothnagle won the All-Iowa Heavyweight Guitar Championship.


His professional breadth includes: thousands of performances in fairs, schools, guitar shows, bars, lounges, clubs, restaurants, coffeehouses, concerts and conferences throughout the Upper Midwest and in California, Oregon, Boston, Manhattan and Paris; product demonstration for varied manufacturers including for Martin’s $35,000 “Tree of Life” guitar; founder and former owner of The Guitar Gallery; and owner of an extensive personal collection including a Mattingly, Lowden and custom-built Sahlin 10-string guitar.

Photo by Marcy Capron

Photo by Marcy Capron

Wedding Music

Since his first wedding performance in the '70s, Tom has provided music for hundreds of ceremonies, receptions and rehearsal dinners. He offers an extensive repertoire of classical and Renaissance music and arranges popular songs for solo guitar or to accompany singers and other instrumentalists. Tom is glad to customize music for each unique event. He also offers a number of options for instruments: classical guitar, steel string acoustic, electric guitar, even banjo or ukulele.

Tom often serves as the sole musician for celebrations from guest arrival until the dance band begins. A typical wedding includes prelude music, one or more processionals (grandparents, parents, groom, bridesmaids, flower girl and bride), meditation (e.g., candle lighting), special music for readings, recessional and postlude. 

The wedding party should meet with Tom a month or more in advance to plan the desired sound. Popular wedding pieces include:

  • Renaissance music like the pavanas by Luis Milan
  • classics like "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring"
  • Pachabel's "Canon in D"
  • Sor's "Study in B Minor"
  • folk songs like "The Water is Wide"
  • and popular pieces like "(I Can't Help) Falling in Love" and "Stand By Me"  

Amplification for soloists and officiants is available.