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Industry experts: Current boom in guitar sales comparable to post-Beatles era

Guitars on rack at a store
(Image credit: toxawww)

Music Trades editor Brian T. Majeski has predicted that the current boom in guitar sales triggered by COVID restrictions, is likely to continue for some years.

In an editorial titled Will The Guitar Boom Outlast COVID?, Majeski compares the current impact on the industry to that of the post-Beatles boom of the 60s, in which millions of instruments were sold annually.

Citing research from Fender which estimates that COVID has led to 16 million new guitarists taking up the instrument, alongside other data, Majeski draws a positive picture for the industry.

Acoustic guitar imports for the first half of 2021 came in a hair under 1.0 million units, 35 percent higher than any six month period over the past ten years,” says Majeski. 

“During the same time frame, electric guitar imports of 965,000 units also saw a 35 percent gain over historic averages. U.S. guitar factories are also running at peak capacity with production booked well into 2022.”

As a result of the excess demand, Majeski reports that retail profit margins have also risen (good news for your local guitar store, if not for your wallet). He also predicts that while the current 20-30 percent increase in sales is unlikely to last, there will be increased demand for guitars for some time yet.

Majeski refers to the Beatles boom that powered guitar sales from 200,000 units annually in 1950 to 2.5 million by 1971, noting that even when sales began to fall a “sizeable minority persisted” with the instrument.

In the same piece, he makes a persuasive comparison to the impact of COVID, noting the online learning platform Fender Play’s free trial in March 2020 led to over a million sign-ups, some 250,000 of which remain paying subscribers. What’s more, notes Majeski, the instrument is appealing to a far wider audience. 

In the words of Earl King (via Jimi Hendrix, SRV and Freddie King): come on, let the good times roll…

Head to MusicTrades.com to read Majeski’s full piece.

Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.