I recently had a chance to attend the premier music instrument trade show in the country, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchandisers), and it was great. It was also a glimpse into the future and you had to connect the dots to see what was happening.
There were hundreds of exhibitors on hand, and the number of manufacturers showing electric guitars was astounding. There were dozens and dozens of brands and they all were making beautiful instruments.
Along with lots of buyers who were there to purchase for their store inventory, there were also lots of guitar players, since the show was open to the public.
What there was not was a lot of young electric guitar players. There were almost none, and the average age of guitarists checking out instruments in the vendors booths was well over 40.
More amazing yet was the the fact that all of the endorsers (every booth was lined with huge photos of guitarists who played that manufacturers’ instruments) were well over 40 as well.
I wondered if maybe the exhibitors had booths specifically oriented towards the demographic for this show, but based on the cost of building a booth, it seems unlikely that there is another version of the booth intended for a different audience.
Wanting to test my theory regarding the demise of this iconic instrument, I did a Google search for “famous guitarists under 30” and found a list on RedBull.com. Out of the 30 on the list, I had heard of exactly one.
If the endorsers and the browsers were both well past 40, then where are the newly famous electric guitar players who are going to be needed to keep the instrument alive and well. They certainly weren’t at NAMM.