The Death of the Electric Guitar ("news" article)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by shinksma, Jun 23, 2017.

  1. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    Saw this just now via a FB post, decided to ask here about at least one statement made in it. The article:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/grap...f-the-electric-guitar/?utm_term=.cf1561d4cc09

    The statement that bugs me, guess which part:

    I find this hard to believe, based on what we have seen about US capacity (RL Vela and CE production now spreading out several more months).

    Most of this article is "inflammatory", as much of the "mainstream media" is characterized as in other areas of so-called "news". I don't think the electric guitar is any closer to dying now than it was in 1983 (xref New Wave and synthesizers, etc). Will companies that have lousy product and/or are poorly run go out of business or have to restructure? Possibly - but that is not equivalent to the "death of the electric guitar".

    It also describes how there are so many more good guitar manufacturers out there:

    OK, so this just means there is more choice, and the crappy manufacturers will probably suffer: new ones that don't have a good product will wither before they get anywhere, and big ones with declining quality will cede market share to other companies with better product. So? Isn't that normal free-market capitalism?

    Curiously, the article includes a couple of videos with Vernon Reid that feature PRS guitars prominently. And a good lead-up and quote from PRSh:

    The article seems to be fear-mongering more than anything, and makes me disappointed they would choose to spin the topic in such a way.

    Oh well, thought I would vent. Sorry. Anyway: anyone have any basis to back up or refute the claim that PRS "cut staff"?
     
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  2. Screamingdaisy

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    I don't know if it's dead, but a 30% decline is fairly significant.

    [​IMG]
     
    #2 Screamingdaisy, Jun 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
  3. Screamingdaisy

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    2005 makes a lot of sense to me. It was the period where pop-punk, nu-metal and hardcore all kind of died out simultaneously.

    There's obviously been a lot going on underground, but that doesn't produce the in-your-face representation that guitar used to have in the MTV era.
     
    #3 Screamingdaisy, Jun 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
  4. Dusty Chalk

    Dusty Chalk alberngruppenführer

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    I think it comes in waves, and we're in a trough. Which means we're due for another peak.

    Hey, you know what they say about articles that predict the end of the world, right? They will eventually be right...once.
     
  5. owickerman

    owickerman New Member

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    These are good news for the trees!
     
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  6. flux

    flux feline dominated

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    I think it correlates with the decrease in sales of recorded music (though streaming products fare better than others), which seems to consistently decline in terms of content and fidelity. Fewer sources of inspiration, fewer players and buyers.
     
  7. Ovibos

    Ovibos No, YOU'RE a New Member!

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    Anecdotal counterpoint: more women are playing guitar.

     
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  8. owickerman

    owickerman New Member

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    So, we're doomed...
     
  9. alantig

    alantig Santana-free since '63!

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    They had cut staff a few years ago (thinking 2010-2012 time frame, but not sure when). I want to say that it involved eliminating a third shift, but I can't swear to the details. But that wasn't a recent event, and it's somewhat telling (to me, anyway) that the article doesn't put a time frame on the statement, just that they "had to cut staff".

    I have not read the full article, but I saw another thread on a different forum, and it sounds to me that this article - like most of these types of articles - seems to take what is really a very complex interaction of a lot of factors and boil it down to one little bubble. Plus, they love the idea of 'an icon is dying' story. I'm sure a lot of us have seen the 'Guitar Center is dying' stories - for about seven or eight years now, it seems. They did similar stories about Borders and Radio Shack for years, until it finally came true - then again, I saw an article about how Barnes & Noble was dying and there was no way it could survive the year, followed a month or so later by a story from the same outlet about how great Barnes & Noble was suddenly doing. Predict the demise of something long enough, and eventually you'll be right.
     
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  10. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    Thanks for the feedback folks, especially Alan regarding the "cut staff" and the description as an overall simplification to a single "bubble" - I like that analogy.

    Yeah, of course things ebb and flow, or wax and wane, as tastes and styles change. I would have been much more surprised if the article had said "guitars continue to sell within 1% variance of overall trend for 20th year in a row!"

    And the other elements to consider:

    With fewer guitarists (assuming sales correlates to overall number of practitioners, which I'm not sure about), the ones remaining will have more of the music market to play it, and may end up being more creative as a result.

    And riffing on the correlation of sales vs actual players: maybe the lower sales of F&G simply represent more players using quality instruments from other brands that last longer and do not need to be replaced as often. If every guitarist had a quality instrument, and it was passed onto the next generation regularly, then sales would practically disappear, because only population growth would drive new sales! The USA has a population of 384 million, and a population growth rate of 0.8% (2015). Which means 2.4 million people get added to the population each year. Assume only 1 in 10 people would learn and purchase a guitar (yes, I'm ignoring folks that buy multiples, like most of us! But I did read that it is estimated there are 20 million guitar players in the US, which is about 1 in 20). So sales would be 240,000 annually, plus replacement sales of "retired" instruments. I think selling still over 1 million guitars a year is a good sign.

    And wait until my band gets famous and everyone hears me! Then sales will rocket, because everyone will say "I can do a better job than that crap!" :p
     
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  11. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    For years I've been telling people that the Next Big Thing will be a resurgence in accordion sales. And you know what?

    In 2016 accordion sales doubled.



    Two guys bought accordions. :)
     
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  12. Tucson Thump

    Tucson Thump New Member

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    So with our collections perhaps we should be dubbed "The Irish Monks" ... keeping civilization alive through the dark years.

    The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland will be a repository.

    But I think Les has something .... the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum is thrilled that a second player is out there somewhere.
     
  13. alantig

    alantig Santana-free since '63!

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    That's not accurate.

    It was one guy who bought two accordions.

    He bought the first, brought it home, and his wife smashed it.

    He bought the second, and when he brought that one home, his wife realized that he had a passion and dedication for the instrument...so she left him.
     
  14. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

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  15. GuitarDrummer

    GuitarDrummer Always learning more...

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    There was a time when I'd go into a Guitar Center, and the first thing I'd see is stacks of Guitar Hero. That was a little disheartening. At the same time, I wondered how many started on GH and moved forward into the realm of the real guitar. Although I typically avoid Guitar Center, I did go into one a few weeks ago, and didn't even notice any GH, so maybe that's a sign.

    I did see the Taylor Swift guitar last week at my regular shop. She's no Eddie Van Halen, in terms of changing the culture of the guitar. But I consider anyone who can inspire anyone to pick up an instrument to be doing a good thing. It would be cool if we had a modern day Sister Rosetta Tharp to inspire the ladies. She influenced lots of players who influence the players who have influenced most of us. Maybe someday, again.

    I've heard that guitar players are a dying breed. Then, I see videos of young kids tearing it up.

    I think it probably comes down to perspective. Consider 9/11. You can look at that event and see destruction, fear, and horrible people... and you'd be absolutely correct. You can also look and see survivors, communities coming together, and people caring about one another... and you would also be absolutely correct.

    So sales can be one marker of where things are going. Just because I haven't purchased a guitar in the past few weeks doesn't mean that I'm not playing guitar. Which reminds me, I haven't purchased a guitar in a few weeks. Gotta go. BRB.
     
  16. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Honestly, I wonder if the brisk used guitar business done on the internet affects sales figures?

    There are millions of guitar players, and so many have multiple guitars. I don't necessarily think the total of sales, including used gear, is necessarily down, but that's strictly anecdotal.

    Fortunately, PRS has great relationship with MA Pete, who's owned every 594 The factory has produced, so they're going to be just fine.
     
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  17. jcha008

    jcha008 New Member

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    I don't know how accurate the article is, but I do think there's some truth to it. A family friend (he retired about 2 years ago and sold his company)used to own a factory that produced many of the import guitars for companies such as ESP, Epiphone, Schecter, Jackson, etc and he was saying the sales have been consistently dwindling for the past 6 years or so. This could be any number of things such as people wanting more US made guitars or just higher quality products in general, but from his conversations with his associates within the business, young kids aren't playing nearly as much electric guitar as years past. The sales were reflecting that, but you never know as it's always a number of things. There could be a revival again in the coming years as well, so who knows.
     
    #17 jcha008, Jun 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
  18. Audie

    Audie New Member

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    I know a little about this subject. I have made it a hobby of mine off and on for sometime. I will try to be brief. This topic is mentioned in the Music Merchant (think NAMM) magazine annually and a topic often briefed at the NAMM show. The sum of the parts is basically this. The generation defining the dawn and establishment of the electric guitar as a formidable instrument is the Baby Boomers (for which I am one) born from 1946-1964, aging from 53 to 71. Baby Boomers, while dying off, are still carrying one of the best, if not the best financial profile (spending/earning habits) to compare to markets. The equitable answer is the generation that bought guitars in the 50's and 60's, sold them and rebought them in the 90's (remember outrageous vintage guitar prices) can only buy so many guitars from the market that has peaked. No doom or gloom in that, it just peaked. The market and manufacturing have readjusted accordingly for the electric guitar.

    Meanwhile, the acoustic guitar market, which also went crazy in the 90's with all the blazing boutique builders popping up, still sees annual growth. Reasons for this cover different ground, but the facts remain true. Acoustic guitars are growing and electric sales are loosing ground annually. I will only elaborate if you ask. PRS is gearing up to expand its acoustic line outside SE and Private Stock (awesome news when it finally happens) and Taylor is seeing phenomenal sales across the line (mostly their GS Mini and 100/200 series). Martin continues to do well despite being Gibsonish by shooting themselves in the foot with some off the wall ideas. Again, the market and manufacturing of guitars has adjusted accordingly for the sale of electric guitars.
     
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  19. Huggy B

    Huggy B New Member

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    I've read several articles with the same story line, sadly they clearly are the truth. All you have to do is listen to what's going on today in music and what is selling (..or downloading), not the older artists most of us listen to or the old skool influenced artists that sell to an older market, but the big artists. Nothing is really guitar heavy or accomplished in musicianship, and the real guitar players that play get unnoticed when most of our youth are happy to listen to 808s, boring sub-bass lines, DAW based keyboard patches and auto tune vocals and could care less about a guitar solo, musicianship, or improvisation.

    It's a reality I've come to grips with and the reason I appreciate young 14 yr olds at the GC playing 70's guitar riffs, street buskers, and people like the ones on this forum that keep the torch burning when few care.
     
  20. Shawn@PRS

    Shawn@PRS yogi
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    The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated - Mark Twain
     
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