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We could sit here and play five thousand blues... Because all three of us here now, we knows it. When he sings it (Brownie McGhee), when he starts it then it comes to me, and it comes to Sonny (Terry) and then to Brownie... Because you feel it from one another, which don't happen to all musicians though - Big Bill Broonzy

Author Topic: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP  (Read 1452 times)

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Offline Stuart

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The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« on: June 28, 2017, 04:16:45 PM »
FWIW, this was in the latest Fretboard Journal e-blurb--Here's the leadin:

"Last week, the Washington Post penned one of the longer mainstream pieces on the guitar industry we've seen in recent memory, entited "The Slow Secret Death of the Electric Guitar" [link below]. It went pretty viral, at least on our social media feeds. The piece used Guitar Center, Fender and Gibson sales figures (and some choice commentary from George Gruhn) to paint a pretty bleak picture of the industry's future: Fewer new guitarists taking up the hobby, no new guitar heroes and too many guitars available. Yes, we've heard this story before (and heard it disputed before, too).

But the reality isn't that simple.

It didn't take too long for many retailers (including Carter Vintage and Gruhn himself) to remind their followers that they're having some of their best years yet in terms of sales. Gruhn's exact statement said, "the guitar market is under stress from over-saturation [new manufacturers], but that by no means is the market for guitars simply dying." We tend to agree: I've seen numerous high-end and vintage shops flourish because they're selling instruments customers actually want. In our own backyard, a little shop called Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar just moved out of their garage and into a nice new brick & mortar shop; another Seattle shop (Thunder Road) just announced they're opening a new branch in Portland. This doesn't seem like a death knell... We also continue to see great new small-production electric and acoustic guitar makers (not to mention pedal builders, who are their own little universe) flourish. I just returned from the Vancouver International Guitar Festival, where the aisles were packed with customers of all ages.

Though changes in radio and pop music may have killed off any notion of future guitar heroes, on our end we'll continue to celebrate young musicians (and builders) who we think could inspire the next generation of players (or you). That's why faces like Blake Mills (FJ #34 cover story), Joan Shelley (appearing in the new FJ #39) and Julian Lage (also in #39) show up in our magazine alongside all the elder statesmen...
 
 -Jason"

https://tinyurl.com/ycz6cydy

Offline DerZauberer

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2017, 04:58:50 AM »
The article is worth a read and currently sparks many discussions in a couple of forums I follow.

I also find the following YouTube reply quite interesting:


"The blues is not a plaything like some people think they are." - Son House

Offline Chezztone

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2017, 06:59:32 PM »
The article is worth a read and currently sparks many discussions in a couple of forums I follow.

I also find the following YouTube reply quite interesting:

RIP. It was a fad that finally is going away.

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Offline alyoung

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2017, 08:38:59 PM »
I got 2m 34s into the young fella's reply and turned off -- at that point I had found no argument except the old Farcebook standby of "I don't agree with this, so it's wrong" (also known as "these facts don't match my opinion, so they're wrong")... plus a bit of "us young people are being ignored by those bad ol' baby-boomers" and an undertone of the Trumpian whine, "mainstream media is deliberately distorting this". Sad, sooo sad. Maybe he had valid points further along .... I'll never know. 
« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 10:17:19 PM by alyoung »

Offline DerZauberer

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2017, 04:01:55 AM »
The fair points he makes are:
- People today have the internet, which gives price and product transparency as well als lessons
- Hence people are well informed, know what they want, know the products via reviews, etc.
- As a result, music store salesmen have less power to influence decisions
- Also, customers today see through model policies that were previously shrouded in mystery
His point is: It's not the electric guitar that's dying, it's old-fashioned music stores and old-fashioned brands that don't adapt their sales and marketing and product policies to the changed demand situation.

In simple terms: When I bought my Fender "American Standard" Stratocaster back in 1994, I did so because I wanted the best Strat I could get for the money I had, went to the source, reliable quality, the brand, Fender. If I were to look for a new strat today, I would go onto the forums, websites, internet shops, ... browse around, read reviews, etc ... and likely NOT end up with an original Fender. So while I do believe that Fender and Gibson sales are down, I would doubt that electric guitar sales are plummeting - people are just not buying the "legendary" brands for a "legendary" price, unless (!) the quality is also legendary.

In "our" world - well, Martins are still considered really good instruments, for example - for a reason. Not because of the brand name and its history, but because they simply continue to build really good guitars.
"The blues is not a plaything like some people think they are." - Son House

Offline alyoung

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2017, 07:02:24 AM »
Thank you for that, DerZauberer, and I hail your patience and endurance, which obviously far exceed mine. I went back to have another look at the Post article, and if it is read without the preconceptions that influence the video response, it seems perfectly reasonable. The core of Edger's thesis is that electric guitar sales are down -- and he gives facts and figures to support this. The rest of his piece looks for reasons and provides analysis. And it turns out he's not an uninformed party -- I found this follow-up. .... http://medium.com/thewashingtonpost/how-much-did-this-guitar-story-cost-me-2-376-99-8f938d06f087 

Offline Stuart

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2017, 11:08:04 AM »
While there are certainly elements of truth in the WP article, I thought that the Fretboard Journal lead in was more insightful. There are many co-factors at work here and given the number of people who play--and don't play--I doubt that anyone could do a comprehensive analysis that would yield conclusive results. It's impossible, IMHO. But FWIW, I found it an interesting read.


Offline Mike Billo

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2017, 11:08:25 AM »
 Guitars are not commodities like food, or, gas for your car, where you need a steady, ongoing supply, that you buy often

  I believe I can safely say that members of this forum own guitars that they've had for decades and aren't, necessarily, in the market for any new ones

If manufacturers over produced, beyond what the public had a need for, then of course it's going to result in decreased sales.
  But to attribute the over-saturation of the market, to a lack of guitar heroes, or interest in electric guitars,simply doesn't fly IMO
  Everywhere you look people are playing electric guitars.

When the Government bailed out General Motors and Chrysler, following a couple of years of bad sales, I didn't hear any one say "Well, there ya' have it. People don't drive cars any more. They're dyin' out"

Offline outfidel

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2017, 12:02:57 PM »
IMHO "death" of the electric guitar is an exaggeration, but the downward trend is real. The WP article says that new electric guitar sales have gone from 1.5 million down to 1 million per year -- that IS a big, industry-wide drop. Sure, the niche manufacturers and niche retailers can still satisfy niche market segments -- but on the whole, fewer people are buying electric guitars these days.

My guess is that it's all cyclical. These days, I don't hear a lot of electric guitar in the music that my teenage sons listen to, or the popular radio stations in the area, or the songs on the Billboard pop charts, or the music used in movie soundtracks, etc. A lot of it seems computer- and synth-generated.  Right now, electric guitars are in a down cycle because it's not in line with listeners' tastes. But I wouldn't declare them "dead". It's just a matter of time before it makes a comeback in the style of music that youngsters want to listen to, which will then produce a few guitar heroes, which will then drive up electric guitar sales again. Someday.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2017, 12:06:08 PM by outfidel »
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Offline Rivers

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2017, 04:51:35 PM »
I agree with some bits of what everyone has said. I would add another aspect, seasonality. A "season" in musical fads & fancies is longer than a week, or a month, or a year. The so-called new romantic movement of the late seventies saw the keyboard gain prominence, although the punks kept going with guitars.

I think you really have to separate solid body guitars from acoustics, they are each on their own seasonal path. As for me, I've got that itch to start a band again, "strictly for fun". I guess I will never learn. I have enough gear already though.

I read that article when it first hit due to some filters I've set up in Google news. The graphics were good!

Offline harriet

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2017, 05:18:32 PM »
I wonder if the statistics would change if they added in Ebay (over 30,000) and Reverb (81,399) resold electrics as of this writing - that's just the US statistics for Ebay.  Thats also competition with newly made products.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2017, 05:35:07 PM by harriet »

Offline Rivers

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2017, 06:53:45 PM »
Cooler people play older guitars, it is true. Or should that read older people play cooler guitars? Both are true.

You can get too snobby about it though. I recently played a friend's fantastically loud Taylor OOO cutaway with tone to burn. That was something I never thought I'd experience. Just winding-up the millennials, you understand! :) 
« Last Edit: July 05, 2017, 06:58:02 PM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2017, 09:02:48 PM »
I don't think trends mean much to individuals.  That is to say, if you enjoy the sound and capabilities of an electric guitar, you're not going to steer away from the instrument because of a market-wide trend away from the instrument (unless you're a sheep).  It's like those moronic taste tests they used to have--who cares if more people prefer Pepsi if you prefer Coke?  Everything that happens results in statistics.  That doesn't mean that the resulting statistics are particularly significant.  In today's current Pop music scene, I would say a factor working against electric guitars is that you have to play and practice on them to develop some degree of expertise.  You can't just play them using a computer keyboard. . . yet.

Offline Stuart

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2017, 10:08:59 AM »
After reading the article I imagined that a lot of people walked into Guitar Center, Gruhn?s or some other music store and said, ?I really love music and love playing the guitar (or would love to learn to play the guitar), but I?m not going to buy a new electric guitar because there just aren?t any guitar heroes anymore.?  ;)

Offline Rivers

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Re: The slow, secret death of the electric guitar... - From WP
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2017, 07:53:03 PM »
"Guitar hero" is such a weird concept. I guess sax players have sax heroes, mountain dulcimer players have... etc

Another, more interesting, article might have been "why guitar? And, now, why digital?" Pretty simple answer. We know from history the guitar caught on in the States because of its portability versus the piano, and shipping to everywhere via the Sears Roebuck catalog was cheap.

In modern times the same phenomenon is at work, in my opinion. Buy the base hardware & software and you can download all the patches and effects you want from anywhere on earth in seconds. Or half an hour if your internet connection is particularly rural like mine. Doesn't make it right though!

Proud to be a dinosaur, personally!

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