can you play guitar in prison

Can You Play Guitar in Prison

Introduction to the Topic

Are you a music enthusiast wondering about the ability to continue your passion, even in the least expected places? Specifically, ever pondered the question – can you play guitar in prison? Let’s explore this topic further.

The Importance of Music in Prisons

Music as Rehabilitation

Prisons have long recognized the importance of rehabilitation in their approach to criminal justice. Music, especially playing an instrument like the guitar, can serve as a therapeutic tool, aiding in emotional expression, mental health improvement, and fostering creativity.

Building Relationships Through Music

Furthermore, music can help in building positive relationships. In an environment often characterized by tension and conflict, the collaborative nature of music allows individuals to connect on a different level, fostering camaraderie.

Can You Actually Play Guitar in Prison?

Rules and Regulations

Whether an inmate can play guitar in prison largely depends on the institution’s rules and regulations. Some prisons allow it, while others don’t due to security concerns or noise control.

Security Concerns

Certain institutions may perceive guitars, with their strings and potentially removable parts, as potential security risks. These concerns may limit access to musical instruments.

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Famous Musicians Who Played Guitar in Prison

There have been numerous stories of famous musicians who managed to play the guitar while incarcerated. Johnny Cash, though never an inmate, is famously associated with prison concerts, highlighting the music-prison relationship.

Accessing a Guitar in Prison

Buying a Guitar in Prison

In some prisons, inmates may buy guitars from the commissary or through approved vendors. However, these guitars must meet strict guidelines and are typically acoustic due to noise concerns.

Donations and Non-profit Organizations

Several non-profits and charities donate musical instruments, including guitars, to prisons. They believe in the power of music as a form of rehabilitation and a constructive pastime.

Guitar Lessons and Practice in Prison

Prisoners can sometimes access guitar lessons, either through in-person instruction or correspondence courses. Practicing guitar can offer a welcome distraction from prison life, as well as a sense of accomplishment.

The Impact of Playing Guitar in Prison

The Positive Effects on Inmates

Playing guitar can have profound effects on inmates. It can improve mood, reduce stress, and even provide a sense of identity and self-worth. The guitar can become a tool for non-verbal expression and emotional exploration.

Effects on the Prison Environment

The calming influence of music can extend beyond the individual, influencing the overall prison environment. The shared enjoyment of music can foster a sense of community and contribute to a more positive atmosphere.


So, can you play guitar in prison? The answer is, it depends, but the possibility exists. The positive impact of music on inmates and the prison environment, coupled with the efforts of non-profits and educational initiatives, offers a glimmer of hope for music enthusiasts even in the most restrictive environments.

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  1. Can you bring your own guitar to prison? No, you typically cannot bring your own guitar, but you may be able to purchase one from the commissary or receive one via donation.
  2. Do all prisons offer music programs? Not all, but some do. It largely depends on the institution and its rules and regulations.
  3. Are electric guitars allowed in prisons? Generally, electric guitars are not allowed due to noise control and security issues.
  4. Can you take guitar lessons in prison? Some prisons do offer guitar lessons or allow access to correspondence courses.
  5. Are there famous musicians who have played in prison? Yes, there have been several, and some prisons have even hosted concerts by famous musicians like Johnny Cash.

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