NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An article in The Washington Post suggesting that the electric guitar is dying a slow and secret death has the Nashville guitar community and music fans around the world talking, wondering if the electric guitar is dying or thriving.
“I would say that the guitar market is under stress from over-saturation, but that by no means is the market for guitar simply dying,” George Gruhn of Gruhn Guitars said.
Gruhn was quoted in the article numerous times, and he said that some points made in the article have some validity behind them.
Gruhn says that people are being given the opportunity to buy both new and used guitars, which they weren’t able to do when electric guitar was first put on the map decades ago.
“With proper care, these things can way outlast the great-grand children of the original purchaser,” Gruhn said.
Other claims in the report suggest that the younger generation is not listening to music that prominently features guitar. Genres like rap, techno, pop, and others that use computer-generated sounds.
The article also points to a lack of guitar idols in the spotlight, with no one like Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton at the top of the charts inspiring people to pick up a guitar.
In spite of that, if you walk down to Lower Broadway, you’ll hear electric guitars coming from every Honky Tonk, and many Nashville guitar shops are seeing more business than ever.
“On the whole, the instrument is as popular as probably it’s ever been,” Zach Broyles of Carter Vintage Guitars said.
Broyles is a guitar player himself, starting to play after hearing Eric Clapton play Crossroads with Cream when he was just 13-years-old.
Broyles said young people are able to find their own inspiration in both classic and contemporary songs to this day, and with that, they find their guitar idols, whether they’re names like Jimi Hendrix, or even people most haven’t heard of.
“I see people’s faces light up when they see a burst or a Les Paul because Billy Gibbons and all those guys are still relevant. Strats, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Mayer, it’s all relevant,” Broyles explained.
One of the other main points The Washington Post made in the article is that major guitar businesses are facing troubles, whether it be Gibson, Fender, or Guitar Center with debt or credit ratings.
Still, Walter Carter is confident that regardless of how the major businesses move forward based on their own decisions, the electric guitar will continue to be sought out by players.
“It’s still the best way to impress a girl,” Carter said. “That hasn’t changed in my lifetime.”
Carter Vintage Guitars sells more electric guitars than acoustic guitars, shipping them all over the world.
“We sold more electric guitars in 2016 than we did in 2015, and we’re on track to sell more this year than we did last year,” Carter said, adding that while there may be a lot of guitars to sell, combining new and used instruments, they’re still as popular as ever. “There’s no question that the electric guitar is still alive.”