Wanna know what’s doing well during the pandemic? Guitar sales.

With much of the global economy has been decimated by the pandemic, there are certain segments that are doing very, very well. Video game makers. Manufacturers of disinfectants. Grocery stores. Zoom. Home gym equipment. And, believe it or not, guitars.

Three years ago, the Washington Post had a very depressing on the “slow death of the electric guitar,” point to a years-long decline in sales and that the biggest purchasers were getting older and fewer in number.

Not so fast. Fender is reporting a record sales year. In fact, 2020 will be “the biggest year of sales volume in Fender history, record days of double-digit growth, e-commerce sales and beginner gear sales.” (New York Times) Fender is selling everything they can make.

Why? Once the factories got up and running after an initial shutdown, people in lockdown started looking for things to do. Many turned to making music. And much of that music is being made on guitar.

Online instruction sites like Fender’s Fender Play attracted almost a million users, up from just 150,000 last year. Some 20 percent are under 24 and 70 percent are under 45. Female players increased from 30 percent to 45.

And it’s not just Fender. Martin, Taylor, and Gibson are also reporting healthy sales, describing the situation as a “guitar boom.”

One more thing: These stats only reflect the sales of new guitars. There’s no way of telling how many millions of people have picked up used six-strings during COVID-19.

Question: Will this renewed interest in guitars lead to a boom in new rock music? We’ll see.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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