The state of the electric guitar after COVID-19

Many industries were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some industries were completely decimated and shut down, while others thrived to the point of supply shortages. The electric guitar manufacturing business was one of the industries that thrived under Covid-19, with many looking to learn an instrument to escape the monotony of lockdown. The high purchase rate of the instrument may also see the guitar making a return to the mainstream music industry.

With the electric guitar already seeing a slight resurgence in popularity within the general public during the late 2010s, the rise of electric guitar purchases during the pandemic could potentially lead the instrument back into mainstream music world.

Gibson CEO JC Curleigh believes that the guitar will see a renaissance in the near future now that more people have picked up the instrument.

“We have the balance of what I’d call innovation and inspiration and the centre point is the guitar. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of not just selling more guitars to more people but of actually supporting, nurturing, and contributing to their quest to become a musician, which is really cool.”

JC Curleigh, Gibson CEO

The Gibson CEO also believes that the sudden rise in the instrument’s popularity can also be attributed to the public desire to see a larger overall return of instruments on stage.

“Go to any festival and like everything in life, it seems we’ve over segmented markets — there’s a festival for everything. But what we’re seeing is there’s a return to authenticity and that authenticity comes through playing an instrument. The instrument of choice right now seems to be the guitar.”

JC Curleigh, Gibson CEO

While the electric guitar gave comfort to many throughout the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, guitar stores and manufacturers are now running low on supply due to soaring demand. The industry is currently seeing a 50 percent demand to supply ratio, as many trapped within their homes kept themselves occupied with creative pursuits.

However, the pandemic was far from beneficial for professional musicians’ mental health. A new study by UK charity organisation Help Musicians has shown that 9 in 10 musicians believe their mental health has heavily deteriorated due to the pandemic.

The study found that factors such as income loss and the inability to host live performances were the main factors for the decline of mental health amongst professional musicians. These musicians were also found to have felt that they had lost meaning within their own lives, having felt they lost their outlet for creativity.

Another concerning factor within the study shows that 24 percent of those questioned stated that they were considering resigning from music permanently. With current musicians struggling to find motivation and inspiration to make music, the future of the electric guitar may rely on new musicians who find a love for the instrument during their respective lockdowns.

With more beginner guitarists than ever starting on their musical journey through quarantine, there is the potential for a new wave of electric guitar virtuosos set to come over the next decade. Covid-19 has also been the catalyst for many guitar legends staging home concerts in lieu of a live stage, allowing yet another avenue for newcomers to the instrument to discover the biggest names attached to it.

Rising stars and electric guitar virtuosos within the social media scene also lend to the steady rise of popularity for the electric guitar. Social media guitar sensations such as Ichika Nito, Mateus Asato and Tim Henson have breathed new life into the instrument. They are taking the electric guitar further than ever with new styles of playing, heavily influenced by the modern rap and hip-hop scene, all the while creating short, minute-long pieces of content perfect for today’s social media users.

The electric guitar shortage is a positive outcome for the instrument as a whole. More people than ever are picking up the instrument for the first time; online learning resources are now easier than ever to access. Throughout the instrument’s history there has never been a better time to learn the electric guitar.

While many full-time musicians are feeling detached from their instrument due to the pandemic, a new wave of up-and-coming guitar players are well on their way to joining the professional scene as the pandemic subsides. The next generation of guitar players being created by the influence of the pandemic, whether simply practising within the confines of their bedrooms, garnering a social media following or performing on the live circuit, suggests a bright future for the mainstream return of the electric guitar.