Guitar Industry is Growing, Study Finds

Russo Music in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Russo Music in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Between all of the dire headlines on the state of the industry and the instrument—The Washington Post's 2017 feature, "The Death of the Electric Guitar," and The Guardian's more recent "End of the Guitar?" stand out as particularly bleak assessments—and the recent bankruptcy of Gibson, one could be easily forgiven for assuming that the state of the guitar is far from strong. This assumption though, may not be entirely correct.

A 2017 report from IBISWorld found that the acoustic and electric guitar manufacturing industry has actually experienced solid, sustained growth over the last five years. On top of that, the report found that the industry—which posted a 1.4% annual growth rate from 2012-2017—is expected to continue to grow until at least 2022.

Though the bankruptcy of Gibson—one of the industry's giants—filled many with foreboding, it was not necessarily an indication of the overall state of the guitar. By the company's own admission, the bankruptcy came about in large part due to its Gibson Innovations business, which the company bought in 2014 from Koninklijke Philips NV. According to its bankruptcy filings, Gibson's electric guitar sales actually rose 10 percent between January 2017 and January 2018.

Guitar sales overall have also been on the rise. According to the National Association of Music Merchants, (which you probably know better as NAMM) sales of guitars have risen by 28 percent over the last 10 years.

Though the news certainly isn't all rosy for the guitar industry—the IBISWorld report also found that the revenue of the overall U.S. musical instrument industry had declined to $5.6 billion in 2017, down from $6.6 billion in 2006—your guitar certainly isn't on its way to becoming an obsolete relic of the past just yet.

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.