In the past decade, electric guitar sales have plummeted, from about 1.5 million sold annually to just over 1 million. The two biggest companies, Gibson and Fender, are in debt, and a third, PRS Guitars, had to cut staff and expand production of cheaper guitars. In April, Moody’s downgraded Guitar Center, the largest chain retailer, as it faces $1.6 billion in debt. And at Sweetwater.com, the online retailer, a brand-new, interest-free Fender can be had for as little as $8 a month. (…)
Richard Ash, the chief executive of Sam Ash, the largest chain of family-owned music stores in the country, isn’t afraid to state the obvious.
“Our customers are getting older, and they’re going to be gone soon,” he says. (…)
Around 2012, the gender mix of his student base shifted dramatically. The eight to 12 girls taking lessons jumped to 27 to 59 to 119, eventually outnumbering the boys. Why? He asked them.
Nobody would confuse the pop star’s chops with Bonnie Raitt’s. But she does play a guitar.