U.S. Guitar Sales


john of MT
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john of MT
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07/06/2013 4:39 pm
The 'Gibson' thread in this sub-forum has strayed, with my 'help' ;) , into a general discussion of buying guitars and buying online, i.e., sight unseen/guitar unplayed. But I thought these figures were better posted in their own thread...

In the U.S., nearly two and a half million guitars sold last year! And that's been the approximate annual number since 2008. Over eighteen million since 2004!!
From: http://www.musictrades.com/census.html

Total Guitar Sales

Year Units % Change $ Retail Change Avg Price

2012 2,489,390 -.9% $1,000,676,130 3.7% $403
2011 2,512,416 5.7% $934,971,450 11.4% $372
2010 2,377,310 4.6% $839,000,000 2.2% $353
2009 2,273,000 17.9% $820,746,000 21.0% $361
2008 2,341,551 20.5% $903,261,000 -1.9% $386
2007 1,942,625 11.4% $921,057,000 .13% $529
2006 1,742,498 5.6% $922,280,000 -0.1% $529
2005 1,648,595 23.3% $923,522,000 21.2% $560
2004 1,337,347 15.9% $762,185,000 9.6% $569

A Breakdown by Price Point and Product

Acoustics
Type Units
Under $100 390,028
$101 to $200 410,030
$201 to $350 110,008
$351 to $500 40,003
$501 to $1,000 40,003
$1,001 to $1,500 10,001
Over $1,501 20,001

Total 1,326,500


Electrics
Under $100 256,354
$101 to $200 561,537
$201 to $350 195,317
$351 to $600 97,659
$601 to $1,000 61,037
$1,001 to $1,250 24,415
$1251 to $1,600 13,185
$1,601 to $2,000 12,207
$2,001 to $3,000 11,229

Total 1,162,890

This article, http://www.msretailer.com/msr/guitar-sales-strumming-the-right-chords/ , has some details breaking down 2011 sales. Included is the stunning figure that in 2011, “The industry saw more than 2,850 new models introduced in the past year."

I tried to find figures for online sales but didn't come up with anything. But considering that most of the retailers have online sales, considering EBay, Craigslist, Amazon, etc. have huge lists of guitars, and acknowledging the auction houses with their collectables sales the online/guitar-untouched-by-buyer sales must be a huge percentage of the total sold. I saw an interview, now a year or two old, of Paul Reed Smith and he said online sales represented close to 50% of PRS sales.

Other tidbits I found; more but less expensive guitars were sold reflecting growing sales to schools as they added guitar to their music programs, acoustics consistently out sell electrics, and sales to boomers and middle-aged men have been growing (apparently happening in the U.K. too). Also, many retailers recently reported less guitars sold but higher profits which resulted from consolidating the store offerings, i.e., dropping lines of guitars not selling well.
"It takes a lot of devotion and work, or maybe I should say play, because if you love it, that's what it amounts to. I haven't found any shortcuts, and I've been looking for a long time."
-- Chet Atkins
# 1
Mike51
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Mike51
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07/07/2013 2:33 am
Interesting facts that bear out what a lot of us already knew in our minds and hearts.

-We were all beginners once, and purchased low end guitars.
-Mom and Dad are not going to purchase little Johnny a '57 Gold Top (original or remake)
-A smaller number will move up the to the $300-$400 range and probably do so a couple of times
-An even smaller number will play professionally and need guitars in the $1200 and up range.
-and finally the demand for guitars is not inelastic, an economic term meaning that as the price goes up, demand will fall off. Demand isn't a constant no matter what the price. This only makes sense in a tough economy.

I am surprised that acoustics sell more than electrics. I'm guessing that a lot of that is to schools, and the home shopping network that pushes out those Esteban models... lol
# 2
Steve Barrow
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Steve Barrow
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07/07/2013 6:54 am
Hey John, thanks for this research which is facscinating. On one level it's encouraging to see what a popular instrument the guitar has become. But to me the missing statistic might be 'numbers of guitars never being played and gathering dust in the corner'. I certainly have a few friends who would fit this category. Anyway, thanks again, Steve
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john of MT
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john of MT
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07/07/2013 4:02 pm
I've got to believe that a HUGE proportion of those 2 ½ million sold yearly are dust catchers and door stops. :)

I admit to a 35 year 'break' myself. A lotta dust, a lotta time lost forever. :(
"It takes a lot of devotion and work, or maybe I should say play, because if you love it, that's what it amounts to. I haven't found any shortcuts, and I've been looking for a long time."
-- Chet Atkins
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maggior
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maggior
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07/08/2013 1:16 pm
I'm surprised to see the numbers going up. Popular music doesn't feature much in the way of guitar based music with a few exceptions (Taylor Swift comes to mind). Perhaps it's country music that is driving guitar sales? Maybe that would explain the high sales of acoustic guitars?

I wonder what percentage of those purchases are by middle aged men looking to relive the glory days of the 70's and 80's :-).
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maggior
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maggior
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07/08/2013 1:21 pm
I was in a music store a couple of years ago and had my son hold a mini strat just to see how it fit him. The guy that owned the store tried to tell me that kids don't want to play guitar any more, they want to play ukelele.

What!?!?!?

As my kids get older, I still don't see any sign of what he was talking about. Makes me think he was trying to unload his stock of ukes.
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Guitar Tricks Admin
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Guitar Tricks Admin
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07/08/2013 7:39 pm
Really cool stuff, John. Thanks for sharing!
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact us.
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john of MT
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john of MT
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07/10/2013 2:44 am
Originally Posted by: maggiorI wonder what percentage of those purchases are by middle aged men looking to relive the glory days of the 70's and 80's :-).


Here's to the halcyon glory days!! :D

A search got these hits. Not too many firm numbers but the impact of middle-aged men is clear.

"Middle-aged men spark guitar revival", http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-205624/Middle-aged-men-spark-guitar-revival.html This from the U.K., "Once frequented almost exclusively by professional members of the rock and pop fraternity, the store now sells mainly to amateurs and enthusiasts such as businessmen, doctors, dentists and lawyers. Many are prepared to spend hundreds - if not thousands - of pounds on top-of-the-range instruments...The 30-pluses are discovering they have some disposable income and are reliving their childhood dreams..."

And this from a 2008 post on the Boomer Guitar blog, http://www.guitarboomer.com/2008/01/aging-rocker-demographic-and-its-impact.html
"I was discussing my perception that aging rockers must be having an impact on guitar sales worldwide with another blogger at World of Baby Boomer’s fudge. So, I did a quick search on Google and quickly came upon articles showing that a large number of aging rockers are either picking the guitar back up or learning it for the first time as a cure for the midlife crisis."

The author posted the links below. They are now old articles but all seem to point to a trend -- boomers are pushing up guitar sales numbers and, perhaps, prices as well.

CEOs That Rock – Wall Street Journal - Beer-soaked gigs by night, LBOs by day. Our reporter on high-powered boomers who are still chasing their teenage rock-star fantasies, only with much nicer guitars. http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB115394172219418136-CaXUzU5YW9NAwMN3mG6mnbb0Zqs_20070728.html?mod=tff_main_tff_top

UK Guitar Sales Top 100m - miPRO http://www.mi-pro.co.uk/news/read/uk-guitar-sales-top-100m

Guitar sales jam despite music woes – USA Today http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/media/columnist/lieberman/2002-12-16-music_x.htm A story about Martin's sales.

Guitar boom strikes a chord as all types get in on the axe – Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/guitar-boom-strikes-a-chord-as-all-types-get-in-on-the-axe/2006/09/09/1157222379590.html Aussie sales...

Now, Baby Boomers Are Digging Guitars as Pricey Collectibles – The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/24/arts/design/24ANTI.html?_r=0
"It takes a lot of devotion and work, or maybe I should say play, because if you love it, that's what it amounts to. I haven't found any shortcuts, and I've been looking for a long time."
-- Chet Atkins
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maggior
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maggior
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07/10/2013 12:09 pm
Wow John, good bunch of data. That sure backs up what I suspected.

As far as a cure for the midlife crisis goes, it's cheaper (and safer) than a sports car!
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john of MT
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john of MT
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07/10/2013 9:05 pm
A LOT safer than some alternatives. I saw a quote...

"We started playing guitar to get girls...and ended up talking to middle-aged guys about fingernails."

:D :D
"It takes a lot of devotion and work, or maybe I should say play, because if you love it, that's what it amounts to. I haven't found any shortcuts, and I've been looking for a long time."
-- Chet Atkins
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john of MT
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john of MT
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10/03/2013 4:34 pm
The idea that guitar sales are booming is well accepted now, I think. But this article about Martin kinda blew me away with this quote;

“It’s the biggest boom I’ve ever seen with demand as high as I’ve ever known it. The world market has grown,” said Mr Martin IV..."This is bigger than the MTV Unplugged boom of the mid to late 80s, the folk rock boom of the 70s and the folk boom of the 60s,”...Martin says he is “selling more than ever” in the growing US market, indicating that growth in international sales has been even higher..."we are selling more in America than ever before...”

Much of the later part of the article discusses the environmental issue of finding quality wood for the guitars.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/mumford--sons-laura-marling-and-ed-sheeran-fuel-boom-in-acoustic-guitar-purchases-8853909.html
"It takes a lot of devotion and work, or maybe I should say play, because if you love it, that's what it amounts to. I haven't found any shortcuts, and I've been looking for a long time."
-- Chet Atkins
# 11
maggior
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maggior
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10/03/2013 5:11 pm
That's really interesting. I wonder if there is a corresponding increase in enrollement for lessons, particularly here at GuitarTricks.

When I take my daughter to piano lessons, there are young kids (I would say between 9 and 16) that I see regularly coming in for guitar lessons. It's good to still see young kids showing an interest in the instrument.
# 12

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