Guitars reportedly cool again

Despite reports of their death in the Washington Post back in 2017, it appears that guitars are, in fact, still alive — and indeed, might even be cool once more. As The New York Times reports, in the aptly titled "Guitars are back, baby!"

A half-year into a pandemic that has threatened to sink entire industries, people are turning to the guitar as a quarantine companion and psychological salve, spurring a surge in sales for some of the most storied companies (Fender, Gibson, Martin, Taylor) that has shocked even industry veterans.

"I would never have predicted that we would be looking at having a record year," said Andy Mooney, the chief executive of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, the Los Angeles-based guitar giant that has equipped Rock & Roll Hall of Famers since Buddy Holly strapped on a 1954 sunburst Fender Stratocaster back in the tail-fin 1950s.

"We've broken so many records," Mr. Mooney said. "It will be the biggest year of sales volume in Fender history, record days of double-digit growth, e-commerce sales and beginner gear sales. I never would have thought we would be where we are today if you asked me back in March."

What follows is actually a fairly interesting look at guitar economics — how marketing and sales for such an investment hobby have traditionally looked, and the surprising ways industry has already grown during the pandemic despite the fact that it's arguably less essential than lentils or toilet paper.

In the month before the pandemic hit, I traded in my ol' Marshall TSL60 half stack and a vintage 1964 Sears Silvertone amp for a brand new Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amplifier, and dropped another $300 or so on a BOSS VE-8 Acoustic Singer Effects Processor Pedal, each of which I got to use precisely once before the world shutdown. My guitar-driven rock band also just released a new album this week. So despite the corny headlines, I am somewhat comforted to hear that guitars may not be so dead after all.

Guitars are back, baby! [Alex Williams / The New York Times]

Image: Public Domain via PxHere