Yeah, I guess I’m not addressing the center of the bell curve with this group
Hard to say. Depends on which bell curve you've chosen to address. Spenders? Buyers? or Musicians?
There are lots of musicians here, maybe actual musicians are not the primary consumers of music equipment?
Certainly at the low end this is true, the number of cheap used guitars, amps and keyboards one sees everywhere is an indication of abandonment without accomplishment.
Craigslist, pawn shops and Goodwill locally have a pretty consistent flow of fairly inexpensive gear, and this is a small city of 90,000.
To be fair, I have to say that pretty much all of it is more useful and better quality than what was available when I started, cheaper too.
My Tascam DR-40 is a fantastic tool, I would have been in heaven to have it 30 years ago. 3 removable AA batteries BTW...