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NYTimes: "The Death of the Electric Guitar"


p90jr

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We've seen all this before. But any decline will be a long one this time around. I do agree with the notion that it's due to the changes in the tastes of younger listeners and the way they access and listen to music. But it also, just based on personal observation, seems to be cyclical. I remember an old guy who owned a little music shop in '69 making the declaration "Guitars are on the way out." And figured the salvation of his business is to scrap the sale of both acoustic and electric guitars and instead change to selling only pianos and being an exclusive dealer for the CORDOVOX. That accordian looking instrument that sounded like an electric organ. He went out of business within the year.

 

And remember, as far back as 1962, DECCA Records turned down The Beatles because, as they claimed, "Guitar bands are on the way out." It may take a while, but eventually aspiring "stars" are gonna realize it takes MORE than YouTube and autotune to make it big in the music biz.

 

But then, I'm only guessing.

 

And besides. Country music still has it's fair share of decent pickers. I don't see THAT genre soon switching to turntable DJs and Country "boy bands" anytime soon.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Guitar manufacturers seem to be focusing on millenials. Millenials are 23 to 37, the group they should be trying to reach is generation z. I'm a millennial, but I missed z by 1 week, so I identify more with z, so I hope know a little about what I am posting.

Fender and Gibson will find it hard to reach this group. They have been making the same guitars since the 50s. New colors and a few electronic changes and put it on the market. If an automobile manufacture did that they wouldn't last long. Ibanez is the company, IMO, that is best situated in this demographic. They have modern guitars at an attractive price range.

For the record, so you won't think I'm a Fender or Gibson hater, I play Stratocasters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guitar manufacturers seem to be focusing on millenials. Millenials are 23 to 37, the group they should be trying to reach is generation z. I'm a millennial, but I missed z by 1 week, so I identify more with z, so I hope know a little about what I am posting.

Fender and Gibson will find it hard to reach this group. They have been making the same guitars since the 50s. New colors and a few electronic changes and put it on the market. If an automobile manufacture did that they wouldn't last long. Ibanez is the company, IMO, that is best situated in this demographic. They have modern guitars at an attractive price range.

For the record, so you won't think I'm a Fender or Gibson hater, I play Stratocasters.

 

Y' know what? Maybe the guitar NEEDS 'Fender and Gibson Haters'. The guitar, we, and the youth, need new blood both in guitars and those playing them. We need to see and hear new players using new guitars to do NEW things, heavily relying on guitars to play wild Techno and Dubstep and Glitch Soulazz and Triphop and Dark Bass and Bro Country and (you get the picture). Lots of loud feedback, trippy NEW sounding heavy-processing effects, synth-like sounds, looking and sounding and acting extremely flashy. THAT will get more guitars into the hands of young people. NOT forcing what WE old farts think is still relevant (whether we're right or not) on da yutes. NOT criticizing what we don't like and don't understand. If ya let 'em come, they will build it.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Good calls, JuJu and Caev.

 

It's true that most of Gibson's "new" guitars are mostly slight cosmetic changes of the "same old, same old" designs. Like the JOHNNY A, which to me DOES look like a BARNEY KESSELL after liposuction. I LIKE the way it looks, but actually, it ISN'T a "new" look.

 

And if manufacturers CAN make guitars designed for specific genre appeal, like B.C.RICH and JACKSON does for the largely Metal and "Death-Metal" crowd, why NOT for the others Caev mentioned?

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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They have been making the same guitars since the 50s.

 

To be fair, Fender and Gibson have tried new guitar designs since then- some of them almost comically desperate in their apparent desire to be "relevant"- and with little to show for it.

 

For instance, Fender did do some superstrat designs starting in the 1980s (the Contemporary Stratocaster Japan, Performer, HM Strat, Prodigy, Talon and Showmaster), but those guitars-while technically well-designed and constructed- were passed over for the Jacksons, Charvels, and likewise that were so popular. The Showmaster ceased production in 2009.

 

IOW, it isn't mere that the old dogs can't, won't or don't innovate, it is also that the market doesn't reward them when they do. There are many reasons for this, not the least being that many people don't want or expect innovation from Fender or Gibson, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Some people WANT their grandfather's guitar, and any replacements for them being offered by Fender or Gibson will be eyed with great skepticism.

 

Remember New Coke? Not only did it fare better in taste tests over the original Coke recipe, it beat Pepsi pretty soundly as well. The mistake was many people who liked New Coke didn't want a replacement for the original Coke recipe; a supplemental product would have been better received.

 

Fender & Gibson have at least not made that mistake...yet. (Though they have come close.)

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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As for who is innovating? Well, it's a big market out there. I've found and bookmarked hundreds of guitar makers' websites...and it isn't any of the big companies doing anything way out there in terms of trendsetting.

 

Indeed, even when they try new stuff, they're more likely to be emulating the innovations of a smaller company or doing some custom work at the behest of an established artist. Ibanez makes pretty guitars, but the JEM's monkey grip- courtesy of Steve Vai's requests- was the last big splash of innovation they had. That was in the 1980s.

 

Schecter, for instance, deserves some credit for being the first company to incorporate a Kaoss Pad into a production guitar. But was after Matt Bellamy had one installed in his Manson guitar, and Crimson not only offered the same feature, but have released videos on YouTube showing how it's done. And I'm not sure that Schecter is still in production.

 

(Edit: is seems to still be available.)

 

AFAIK, nobody else is doing what Visionary Instruments is doing with interactive video screens & displays mounted in instruments.

 

But it isn't like the world is flocking to the doors of the innovators, either. Moog's Paul Vo guitar was a killer, filled with all kinds of electronic wizardry. Pricey, though...and no longer in production, as I recall. At least, not the full-features ones.

 

And Line 6's Variax guitars continue to sell like "lukewarm" cakes. They have their proponents, but the instruments just aren't selling in big numbers.

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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One thing I notice is that there is still little variety in terms of gear preferences, among Guitarists within a certain age range, older than millennials. Putting it another way, it seems like the new makers aren't getting the attention they need from older players? Even established brands like Ibanez aren't breaking through the way they should, IMHO.

 

At the Music for 70 Guitars event, you would have thought there was a truck from Fender, out back, loading vintage and more recent model Amps into the venue. Out of 62/63 Guitarists in attendance, I saw easily 40+ Fender Amps. (In fairness, my Roland Blues Cube was designed as a SS answer to the Fender Bassman, so it's not as if my amp was radically different, in that regard.)

 

Much the same situation with Guitars. I saw only a handful of hollow or semi-hollow body Guitars, maybe four other SG's, and exactly 1 left-handed Guitar, in a wash of Strats, Teles, and LP's. While the arrangements were for 6-string Electrics, I would have expected to see more variety, in every regard. When your target market is shrinking, and you stick with increasingly expensive or pointless variations on the Same Old Thing ("Oh look, someone beat the hell out of this Relic model and it's only $1000!"), well, it's a slow path to extinction.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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Guitar manufactures should pay attention to what the kids like and/or think they need. They come out with DeLong Strats, reverse headstocks, Goth LP's and SG's but, they also must pay attention to who their main purchasers are. Prices are getting way out of line for what you get these days IMHO. Even us old farts will think twice before laying out $4 grand...I think Leo and Les got it right the 1st time out and you can tell how successful those designs are when you look at the number of clones on the market... :cool:
Take care, Larryz
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re: Visionary Instruments;

 

Seems to me the more technology like interactive screens and displays mounted in the instruments that are installed in the products, the pricier they get and a bigger hassle and expense if something goes wrong and repairs are needed. They might appeal more to the "established" pro who could afford it, but enticing newcomers and novices? I don't think so.

 

And I agree with Larry on one point. Manufacturers should pay attention to what kids like and/or think they need. Now, we all know that for YEARS most guitar makers were more prone to putting out what THEY thought we needed. And that DOES have to change.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Skipped reading the article [*] b/c, frankly, while numbers may back some of the ideas, a decline does not equal death.

I also note that while other means of music making have gained in the pop world over recent decades, pop music reviews, no matter the source, of new recordings seem to involve a lot of gtrs.

 

As far as manufacturers, I'd posit that new interactive means of playing would be more enticing than specific FX.

 

 

[Yeah, I will read it but later]

d=halfnote
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All I have are cheap guitars these days. I get the job done with a $272 Ibanez RG321, a $599 Gibson Faded SG, a $300 Strat Clone, and a homemade from parts (partscaster) probably $200 spent 25 years ago. That be it, with a $400 amp and $300 1-12 speaker & Cab plus a $499 when I bought it Hot Rod Deluxe version 2 with the addition of a Cannabis Rex speaker $125 or so when I bought it. Plus a few hundred for stomps, that is my entire quiver of guitar related gear.
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Skipped reading the article [*] b/c, frankly, while numbers may back some of the ideas, a decline does not equal death.

 

[Yeah, I will read it but later]

 

We must laugh in the face of Death LOL! :evil:

 

I finally went back and read the article and it was a fun one with some interesting stuff. They didn't really cover the cost to our budding young artists, of a decent guitar. This is what I think is putting our two old manufacturing companies in the red...they just want way too much money for a new guitar and there are tons of used ones out there to choose from...

 

Having an idol to want to look like (i.e. the Taylor Swift concept for girls and Eric Clapton for boys) is a cool guitar selling idea, but that too will fade. I don't think the electric guitar is dead or dying. Back in the Disco days, they said the guitar is dead! :cool:

Take care, Larryz
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I do agree with Mr Gruhn's assessment that there are more manufacturers than ever, trying to serve a shrinking market. At some point, one of those numbers will shift; we'll either see a Darwinian event within the industry, or an upswell of new Guitar players.

 

Personally, as a Gibson player, I feel that Gibson has lost its mind, as to pricing. I can still find used, recent Gibson models for $500-600, and they suit me just fine. I don't worry about getting the first ding on a used Guitar.

 

Fender's Cradle-to-grave approach has only served to cheapen the brand, IMHO.

 

Some instruments die a more or less 'natural' death, as interest fades. Look up photos from late 19th or early 20th Century String Bands, and try to identify half the things they're holding; Banjo-Ukes, Harp-Guitars, Tenor Banjos, and things that you hardly see anymore, if at all. How many really hot Harpsichord players are there, that any of us can name?

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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Here's an example of what I meant earlier.

 

What if you were a performing composer & you had a backing track for live perfs but wanted to vary it by either yer inspiration level or the the audience's responsiveness?

You programmed a series of cadence repeats as a coda but maybe you feel like extending that or maybe the crowd's getting restive.

So you play a line that puts the track into auto-repeat...or a line that puts the track into final repeat.

 

Maybe you'd like to have the track match yer rubato playing ?

Wouldn't it be great to have a program that automatically matched tempo to the speed you played the lead lines live ?

 

Those 2 ideas aren't gonna necessarily send raving crowds of consumers to GC but I think they'd be more interesting than another new body shape or clone pedal.

 

d=halfnote
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@ D, I can match speed, tempo, vibe, etc., live and incorporate my lead lines using my looper to keep my rhythm guitar playing going. I just record a complete Verse and Chorus while singing and playing the song and when I get ready to take a lead, I kick in the looper with what I just played sans vocal. I then delete by not saving and do the next song on my list live. I liked getting it down, as I like doing my own arrangements. However, the starting and stopping, recording, etc., tap dance takes some better timing than I possess and sometimes I might not kick in the record or get distracted by the taping aspect after awhile. So I gave up on the idea. I can just record the whole song (99 on my looper) and take a lead when it comes up. I can leave the looper playing on soft and low and then kick in a clean boost to bring it into the act but I choose to forget that idea too LOL! Now I just use the looper for practice and forget about using it in a live performance.

 

Anyway, I get where you are coming from and agree with your programming concepts. But, for me, I think just finding a fellow guitar player that wants to form a duo would be the best way to go. I wouldn't be wanting this stuff built into a guitar, but hey, I'm all ears if it's offered. The kids will figure it out just using their smart phones, attached like those cordless transmitter packs mounted on the guitar straps LOL! :cool:

Take care, Larryz
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@Larryz - I use a Boss RC-50 Loop Station; big as most MFX, with memory to spare.

 

I can have both Live Loop banks (essentially, empty Loop slot) and stored, pre-recorded Loops available, and I can arrange them in any order, so if I'm going out to do a show with a lot of backing Loops, I can have them in the order of my set list. I've gotten very used to 'playing' the Looper with my feet, so to speak.

 

OTOH, there's no spontaneity to the pre-recorded Loops; they will always sound exactly as I recorded them, so it's really like having another Musician with me.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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I know a young player who showed me the kind of stuff he's into on the YouTube's. It struck me a s all the same .kind of fast pointy guitar shredding metal dark kind of stuff. I said that's not guitar playing. That is a one trick pony there. You have to be able to do it all. If you want to play an instrument that's great learn to play it but don't confine yourself to one kind of music.

So the idea that a particular instrument may lose favor is not new. The harpsicord was very popular in the 17th century. The acordian was huge in the 50s the banjo was the string instrument before they invented the guitar pickup.

I still like the guitar even if no one else does. But I don't blame them for being tired of shredders .

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Yeah, I've covered that before. Back when most of our parents were in their teens, guys used to wear suits and TIES to parties, and the most popular guy AT the party was the kid who could play the piano. And most people HAD a piano in their homes, whether anyone could play it or not. It WAS considered the "vogue" in home furnishing. And at parties the kids would gather 'round and sing the latest on the "hit parade" like "MARZEY DOATS" and the like. But over the years it changed.

 

Some guys started picking up brass axes and forming little COMBOS, and then ROCK'N'ROLL came along, and there was the oddball who bothered with learning how to play a guitar, but still the SAX player was in high demand. And this mostly kept up until the '60's and FOLK music pushed it's way in. And soon it seemed every other guy on the block had some kind of from good to cheap acoustic and could manage at least three or four chords and play some well known Kingston Trio or such. And by the late '60's, THEN the most popular guy at parties was, well, usually the guy with the POT. But you get the idea.

 

"Basement" and "garage" bands increased as well as the number of "guitar heroes" and off we went! It's long been a cyclical sort of thing and you gotta have faith it'll circle around again someday. Best we can do is to hope it's SOONER, not later.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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What I described above wouldn't be like what's currently achievable w/ loopers or w/ live players who, no matter how well practiced, can'tr instantly match ad hoc variations.

 

I'm talking more abt what AI design might provide---instant adaptation of material to cues played by an inst.

d=halfnote
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@ Winston, +1 on being able to play the looper with your feet LOL! I have some buddies that can do it live seamlessly but they are just a little more coordinated than I am LOL! Your Looper is much more sophisticated than my pre-stereo Digitech. It does a great job for me as a practicing and writing tool. I have also used it to set my PA, Mic's, Bass and Guitar amps...there are many great uses for a Looper. I just gave up on using it on stage even though I know they can come in very handy! One of the best shows I saw incorporating a Looper was the Sax player for Hall and Oates live playing Man Eater while harmonizing the lead with himself (as it is played on the original recording)...They are a fantastic tool! :cool:
Take care, Larryz
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Paul is dead too, but he still seems to be making music from the grave http://www.kolobok.us/smiles/artists/just_cuz/JC-hysterical.gif

 

To flip an old joke, he's not de-composing yet.

d=halfnote
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OK, I read the article & I think it's got some probs.

 

There apparently has been a decline in some gtr sales but the presumption that that's b/c ppl don't have gtr heroes is suspect.

Nor does that seem to take in the used gtr market, a factor that gains significance in regard to the oft mentioned costs of high end gear.

 

Look at any realm you chose to measure (pop charts, vids, etc) & you will see a continuing, significant number of artists that base their work on grts or heavily involve them in their work.

Maybe not as many as at some times in the past but a very high percentage.

 

There are a few other things that I think may reflect an intention for the article that jumped ahead of the factual basis or that excluded or failed to include some facts.

 

Before I go further I'll chk on those things...

Watch this space.

 

d=halfnote
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Nor does that seem to take in the used gtr market, a factor that gains significance in regard to the oft mentioned costs of high end gear

 

d makes a significant point here that the article doesn't, or possibly can't address; the strength of the used gear market.

 

Sites like Ebay and Craigslist are full of listings for Guitars, all kinds, all ages, all different price ranges. Reverb.com exists solely for the purpose of buying and selling used gear, and one of my favorite local Music store deals in nothing but used gear. FWIW, that store has been in business for nearly 20 years now, and has moved twice in the time I've been going there, each time to a larger retail space. They're doing better than a lot of other local businesses.

 

Looking over some of my own Music purchases over the last year or so:

 

Most recent Synth is an ancient Roland D-110, bought used from a friend.

 

Most recent Amp purchase, a Laney VC30 212, purchased used from a Forum brother.

 

Most recent effects pedal; I think I bought the Bad Comrade and the Prometheus at the same time, used, from my FLUMS.

 

I haven't brought home a new Guitar in a while, but I think the last one was my Cherry Red Gibson SG, and again, I bought that one used, at my FLUMS.

 

The only really brand-new things I've purchased recently are a Gator bag for my GT-10, four packs of strings, a book on Tube Amps, and a couple of V-Picks, and even that's over a couple of months, not one buying spree. While I've had my eye on that soon-to-be-issued Ibanez 7-string, with the fanned fret design, most of the other Guitars I've been considering are used Epiphone LP's, for setting up in the NST. Most likely new purchase would be either the EHX Synth9, or the Moog MF Analog Delay.

 

The point is, while I'm still shopping for Guitars and other gear, I'm not likely to be buying a new Gibson, or even a new Epiphone this year. If I can find a nice, used Gibson for $500-700, why should I spend $400-500 on a new Epiphone?

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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The used market is another story.

 

Gruhn has talked about it a lot... it is, after all, his specialty (and, some would argue, his creation, as far as high-end vintage instruments being treated like valuable specimen).

 

I think there's way too many instruments being made these days... which is fine. I only buy stuff used for as cheap as I can, so the more on the market the better my odds for finding something people have overlooked.

 

Every brand that ever existed has been resurrected (many by Guitar Center, itself). GC altered the market by creating demand... not in sales, but in stocking its tons of store spaces. In doing so they altered the way the big two American guitar giants did business: Gibson blew off the smaller stores to focus its production for GC, and Fender ramped up its production to meet their orders... and in doing so, both have gotten themselves into fiscal trouble. And GC isn't built on a sustainable model... it was a gamble to inflate its value so venture capitalists could sell it off to some sucker before it collapsed. Sooner or later the trap it's caught its lenders in has to break one way or another.

 

In any case, used gear doesn't support the instrument industry.

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In any case, used gear doesn't support the instrument industry.

 

Exactly my point: there are still lots of Guitars being bought and sold, but if it's mostly used gear changing hands, the original manufacturer makes nothing off of those sales, and there's no industry tracking of those sales figures. I haven't bought a brand-new, off-the-store-rack Guitar in five or six years, but I've bought at least three used Guitars in that same time frame.

 

Part of my personal complaint is that there's almost no middle ground in the U.S. market anymore. You either buy a wildly inflated U.S.-made Guitar, or you settle for a decent import Guitar, at the price a decent mid-price American Guitar used to sell for. Gibson did try offering a super-cheap Melody Maker line a few years back, but they didn't seem to go anywhere, possibly because they were so stripped-down that they compared unfavorably with the nicer-looking Epiphones at a similar price point, right around $350-400.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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That "used stuff hurting the NEW product sales" notion is also found in other areas. notably in the case of appliances. There's a few new "used appliances" stores in my area. And they too, do brisk business. When you're just starting out, either as a new homeowner OR musician, and if money IS tight, why WOULDN'T you go that route?

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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