The biggest threat to the guitar? It could well be guitarists: how online hate endangers the instrument we love

Generic view of a guitarist in a rock band in silhouette smashing a guitar on the stage while performing, taken in May 2009 in London, the group is called Caimbo
(Image credit: Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty)

Best of 2020: For a decade or more, headlines featuring the word ‘guitar’ on mainstream news outlets have been reliably prefaced with ‘the death of’. These premature obituaries blame everything from the rise of EDM and bedroom producers to declining attention spans, not to mention the demise of the guitar hero as we know it. But all have failed to blame another culprit: guitarists themselves.

We all love guitar in one shape or form, but in recent months, takedown videos have become a worrying trend, online commentary is at peak hysteria and a new shred arms race has erupted - something that even led to allegations of fake playing - all of which doesn’t exactly create a welcoming environment for anyone seeking to pick up a six-string for the first time.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.