In the 40 years that I have been teaching all styles of guitar to every type of student, there have been a few questions that come up over and over which seem to be the cause of great concern and anxiety.
The Best Guitar Teacher In Los Angeles
High on the list is “Am I too old to learn guitar in Compton ?I have been anxiously asked this question by a 28 year old student, a 38 year old, a 46 year old, and let’s see…off the top of my head, I can remember students at age 52, 65, 77, and finally, good old Frank who was 84! I have had plenty of experience with this question, and more importantly, with the answer
.I am going to tell you the answer right up front to set your mind at ease, just in case you are one of those guitar students desperately attempting to remain hopeful about your chances of success. Yes, anyone can learn to play the guitar at any age, period and any place in Los Angeles
Jump to navigation Jump to search The lap steel guitar is a type of steel guitar which is typically played with the instrument in a horizontal position on the performer’s lap or otherwise supported. The performer changes pitch by pressing a metal or glass bar against the strings as opposed to a traditional guitar where the performer's fingertips press the strings against frets. The bar placed against the strings is called a "steel" or "tone bar". There are three types of lap steel guitars: Freddie Roulette holding console or double-neck steel guitar. A lap steel guitar's strings are raised at both the nut and bridge ends of the fingerboard, typically to about half an inch. The strings are too high to contact the surface of the neck, so frets, if present, are only for reference and are often replaced by markers. Some lap steel guitars can be converted between lap and fretted playing, or are modified versions of conventional guitars—the only difference is usually string height. Round-necked resonator guitars set up for steel playing fall into this category. Instruments designed exclusively as lap steel guitars typically have modified necks that make fretted playing impossible. The hollow neck acoustic lap steel, developed by Chris Knutsen and popularized by Weissenborn, extends the body cavity behind the neck all the way to the head. The square-necked resonator guitar has a strengthened square profile neck, allowing heavier string gauges and/or higher tunings that would normally be considered impossible (or certainly ill-advised) on a conventional guitar. The electric lap steel guitar typically incorporates the entire neck into the solid body of the guitar, again providing extra strength to allow a greater variety of string gauges and tunings. Console steel guitars, typically with more than six strings and/or multiple necks, are rarely played in lap steel fashion (without their legs), but are often referred to as lap steel guitars by many makers and authorities. See table steel guitar. Kaki King performing on lap steel guitar. The lap steel guitar is typically placed on the player's lap, or on a stool in front of the seated player. When playing with stand-up musicians, such as in a bluegrass band, it has become an alternative for the player to also play standing up; supporting the guitar with a guitar strap around the neck, with the guitar suspended horizontally, resting against the stomach area; providing stage mobility, such as for mic accessibility for singing. Unlike a conventional guitar, the strings are not pressed to a fret when sounding a note; rather, the player holds a metal slide called steel (or tone bar) in the left hand, which is moved along the strings to change the instrument's pitch while the right hand plucks or picks the strings. This method of playing greatly restricts the number of chords available, so lap steel music often features melodies, a restricted set of harmonies (such as in blues), or another single part. David Gilmour playing lap steel guitar - 26 January 1977 The steel guitar, when played in Hawaiian, Country, Bluegrass, or Western Swing styles, is almost always plucked using a plastic thumbpick affixed to the right hand's thumb, and metal or plastic "fingerpicks" fitted to the first 2, 3, or even all 4 fingers of the right hand. This allows the player greater control when picking sets of notes on non-adjacent strings. Some Blues players, especially those who use a round-neck resonator guitar played upright, conventional-guitar-style, with a bottleneck or hollow metal slide on one left-hand finger, forgo the fingerpicks and thumbpicks, and use their bare fingers and thumb instead. On the other hand, a minority of Blues players, and many Rock players, use a conventional flatpick. Tut Taylor is one of the few Dobro players that use a flatpick. Ben Keith playing lap steel guitar + pedal steel guitarIt is widely reported that the lap steel guitar was invented by a man named Joseph Kekuku in 1885. It is said that, at the age of 7, Kekuku was walking along a railroad track and picked up a metal bolt, slid the metal along the strings of his guitar and was intrigued by the sound. He taught himself to play using this method with the back of a knife blade. Various other people have also been credited with the innovation. The instrument became a major fad in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s. The instrument became especially popular in Hawaii, as musicians played in tent-rep shows. It was electrified in the early 1930s, and in 1932 the first production electric guitar was introduced, the aluminum Ro-Pat-In (later Rickenbacker) A22 "Frying Pan" lap steel. This made the so-called "Hawaiian" guitar the first electric stringed instrument (just a few years before Les Paul and Charlie Christian modified their instruments and after the theremin was patented in 1928). The earliest documented performance with an electrically amplified guitar was in 1932, by Gage Brewer. The Wichita, Kansas-based musician had an electric Hawaiian A-25 (frypan, lap-steel) and a standard electric Spanish from George Beauchamp of Los Angeles, California. Brewer publicized his new instruments in an article in the Wichita Beacon of October 2, 1932 and through performances that month. The first electric instrument on a commercial recording was made and played in 1935 by Bob Dunn, a musician in Houston, Texas who played in the Western swing band Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies. Dunn owned a music store that bore his name in the Houston area. The lap steel, dobro and pedal steel guitar are associated most closely with Hawaiian music, country music and bluegrass, though some players have used them in rock music, jazz, blues, and other musical genres. The round neck, metal-bodied resonator guitar is used almost exclusively by blues, rock, or blues-rock musicians. Harmon Davis playing steel guitar The Lap steel guitar is not tuned in standard guitar tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E, low to high). Rather, it is usually tuned to an open chord, often an extended chord like a 6th, 7th, or 9th. (All tunings are shown low-to-high; that is, thickest string to thinnest, or 6th string to 1st string). The earliest Hawaiian lap steel tuning was A low bass, E A E A C# E. Blues and Rock players tend to favor one of two tuning families: open G/open A, or open D/open E. Open G is tuned D-G-D-G-B-D; open A raises each of those notes a whole-step (2 frets) to E-A-E-A-C♯-E. During the 1920s and 1930s, much of the sheet music written for lap steel utilized open A tuning as the de facto standard tuning for the instrument. Other tunings such as E7 ( B D E G# B E ), C#m (B D E G# C# E), and many other tunings were developed. Open D is tuned D-A-D-F♯-A-D, and open E is a whole-step higher: E-B-E-G♯-B-E. Joe Perry of Aerosmith uses Open E on his electric lap steel. David Lindley is another player who uses transposed variations of these tunings. Bluegrass and Country Dobro players using a square-neck instrument tend to favor an altered G tuning, often called "High-G", where the 6th string is tuned up to "G" instead of down to "D", and the 5th string is also tuned up, to B: G-B-D-G-B-D. They also sometimes raise it up to "High-A": A-C♯-E-A-C♯-E. These are examples of tunings possible on a lap steel that could cause serious damage if attempted on a round-neck resonator or standard guitar. Henry Kaleialoha Allen in his book uses a modified C6 tuning, with a B♭ in the bass: B♭-E-G-A-C-E. Jerry Byrd has a C6 variant with C# in the bass: C# E G A C E. Dobro players also generally use a set of strings with different gauges than those used on standard electric or acoustic guitars to help them to project more sound and to achieve their higher tunings. Many Western Swing lap steel players, and some Old-Time Country lap steel players, use a C6 tuning. There is no "standard" C6 tuning; one popular one is C-E-G-A-C-E. This tuning is a good one for learning Don Helms' lap steel melodies from old Hank Williams records, although Helms used a lap steel with legs (a "console steel"), with two necks having 8 strings each; Helms actually used an E13 tuning, which adds the 7th (D) and the 13th (C♯) to the E tuning, making it B-D-E-G♯-B-C♯-E-G♯, low to high. An extended C6/FMaj7 is used by Western Swing pedal steel guitarists on their 10-string pedal steels. This tuning, C-F-A-C-E-G-A-C-E-G, is difficult to achieve on the 6-string steel but a subset thereof is achieved as previously mentioned. A6 is a commonly used alternate for C6 and was used by greats such as Billy Hew Len, Leon McAuliffe, Herb Remington, etc. The E7 tuning is used by many players, especially those who begin learning with the Mel Bay Steel Guitar Method instructional books. The E7 tuning in those books is spelled either B0-D-E-G♯-B-E or with the 6th string lowered to the tonic E: E-D-E-G♯-B-E. Note the similarity of this second tuning to the open E tuning above: the only difference is the 5th string, which is lowered from the tonic E to the 7th note in the key of E, which is D. There are many other tunings used by players. Pedal Steel guitarists switching over to lap steel often bring over a modified version of the 10-string E9 tuning that is the standard for Country pedal steel; pedal steels, and a few non-pedal "console steels" actually have multiple necks, each in a different tuning, and very often on a pedal steel the 2 main necks will be in E9 and C6 tunings. As noted under the C6 tuning, an A6 tuning is also used. See the links below for a list of additional tunings.
Jump to navigation Jump to search An instrument amplifier is an electronic device that converts the often barely audible or purely electronic signal of a musical instrument into a larger electronic signal to feed to a loudspeaker. An instrument amplifier is used with musical instruments such as an electric guitar, an electric bass, electric organ, synthesizers and drum machine to convert the signal from the pickup (with guitars and other string instruments and some keyboards) or other sound source (e.g, a synthesizer's signal) into an electronic signal that has enough power, due to being routed through a power amplifier, capable of driving one or more loudspeaker that can be heard by the performers and audience. Combination ("combo") amplifiers include a preamplifier, a power amplifier, tone controls, and one or more speakers in a cabinet, a housing or box usually made of hardwood, plywood or particleboard (or, less commonly, moulded plastic). Instrument amplifiers for some instruments are also available without an internal speaker; these amplifiers, called heads, must plug into one or more external speaker cabinets. Instrument amplifiers also have features that let the performer modify the signal's tone, such as changing the equalization (adjusting bass and treble tone) or adding electronic effects such as intentional distortion/overdrive, reverb or chorus effect. A Fender "combo" amplifier. The combination amplifier is a preamplifier, power amplifier and tone controls and one or more loudspeakers or drivers mounted in a portable wooden cabinet. This amp's sound is being picked up with a microphone in a recording studio. Instrument amplifiers are available for specific instruments, including the electric guitar, electric bass, electric/electronic keyboards, and acoustic instruments such as the mandolin and banjo. Some amplifiers are designed for specific styles of music, such as the "traditional"-style "tweed" guitar amplifiers, such as the Fender Bassman used by blues and country music musicians, and the Marshall amplifiers used by hard rock and heavy metal bands. Unlike home "hi-fi" amplifiers or public address systems, which are designed to accurately reproduce the source sound signals with as little harmonic distortion as possible and without changing the tone or equalization (at least not unless the hi-fi owner adjusts it themselves with a graphic equalizer), instrument amplifiers are often designed to add additional tonal coloration to the original signal, emphasize (or de-emphasize) certain frequencies (most electric guitar amps roll off the very high frequencies), and, in the case of guitar amplifiers designed for electric guitar or Hammond organ, offer the capability to intentionally add some degree of "overdrive" or distortion to the tone. The two exceptions are keyboard amplifiers designed for use with digital pianos and synthesizers and "acoustic" instrument amplifiers for use with acoustic guitar or fiddle in a folk music setting, which typically aim for a relatively flat frequency response (i.e., no added colouration of the sound) and little or no distortion of the signal. Main article: Guitar amplifier A Vox AC30 used by The Beatles A guitar amplifier amplifies the electrical signal of an electric guitar (or, less commonly, with acoustic amplifiers, an acoustic guitar) so that it can drive a loudspeaker at sufficient volume for the performer and audience to hear. Most guitar amplifiers can also modify the instrument's with controls that emphasize or de-emphasize certain frequencies and add electronic effects. String vibrations are sensed by a suitable microphone or pickup, depending on the type of guitar. For electric guitars, strings are almost always made of metal, and the pickup works by electro-magnetic induction (these are called magnetic pickups; they are the most widely used type of pickup on electric guitars). Acoustic guitars do not usually have a built-in pickup or microphone, at least with entry-level and beginner instruments. Some acoustic guitars have a small condenser microphone mounted inside the body, which designed to convert acoustic vibrations into an electrical signal, but usually they do so from direct contact with the strings (replacing the guitar's bridge) or with the guitar's body, rather than having a membrane like general-purpose microphones. Acoustic guitars may also use a piezoelectric pickup, which converts the vibrations of the instrument into an electronic signal. More rarely, a magnetic pickup may be mounted in the sound hole of an acoustic guitar; while magnetic pickups do not have the same acoustic tone that microphones and piezo pickups can produce, magnetic pickups are more resistant to acoustic feedback. A small Gibson "combo" amplifier. Standard amplifiers, such as the Fender "tweed"-style amps (e.g., the Fender Bassman) and Gibson amps, are often used by traditional rock, blues, and country musicians who wish to create a "vintage" 1950s-style sound. They are used by electric guitarists, pedal steel guitar players, and blues harmonica ("harp") players. Combo amplifiers such as the Fender Super Reverb have powerful, loud tube amplifiers, four 10" speakers, and they often have built-in reverb and "vibrato" effects units. Smaller guitar amps are also available, which have fewer speakers (some have only one speaker) and lighter, less powerful amplifier units. Smaller guitar amps are easier to transport to gigs and sound recording sessions. Smaller amps are widely used in small venue shows (nightclubs) and in recordings, because players can obtain the tone they want without having to have an excessively loud volume. One of the challenge with the large, powerful 4x10 Fender Bassman-type amps is that to get the tone a player wants, she has to turn up the amp to too loud a volume. These amps are designed to produce a variety of sounds ranging from a clean, warm sound (when used in country and soft rock) to a growling, natural overdrive, when the volume is set near its maximum, (when used for blues, rockabilly, psychobilly, and roots rock). These amplifiers usually have a sharp treble roll-off at 5 kHz to reduce the extreme high frequencies, and a bass roll-off at 60–100 Hz to reduce unwanted boominess. The nickname "tweed" refers to the lacquered beige-light brown fabric covering used on these amplifiers. The smallest "combo" amplifiers, which are mainly used for individual practice and warm-up purposes, may have only a single 8" or 10" speaker. Some harmonica players use these small combo amplifiers for concert performances, though, because it is easier to create natural overdrive with these lower-powered amplifiers. Larger combo amplifiers, with one 12 inch speaker or two or four 10 or 12 inch speakers are used for club performances and larger venues. For large concert venues such as stadiums, performers may also use an amplifier "head" with several separate speaker cabinets (which usually contain two or four 12" speakers). A 3×6 stack of mock Marshall guitar cabinets for Jeff Hanneman of Slayer Electric guitar amplifiers designed for heavy metal are used to add an aggressive "drive", intensity, and "edge" to the guitar sound with distortion effects, preamplification boost controls (sometimes with multiple stages of preamps), and tone filters. While many of the most expensive, high-end models use 1950s-style tube amplifiers (even in the 2000s), there are also many models that use transistor amplifiers, or a mixture of the two technologies (i.e., a tube preamplifier with a transistor power amplifier). Amplifiers of this type, such as Marshall amplifiers, are used in a range of the louder, heavier genres of rock, including hard rock, heavy metal, and hardcore punk. This type of amplifier is available in a range of formats, ranging from small, self contained combo amplifiers for rehearsal and warm-ups to heavy "heads" that are used with separate speaker cabinets—colloquially referred to as a "stack." In the late 1960s and early 1970s, public address systems at rock concerts were used mainly for the vocals. As a result, to get a loud electric guitar sound, early heavy metal and rock-blues bands often used "stacks" of 4x12" Marshall speaker cabinets on the stage. In 1969, Jimi Hendrix used four stacks to create a powerful lead sound, and in the early 1970s by the band Blue Öyster Cult used an entire wall of Marshall Amplifiers to create a roaring wall of sound that projected massive volume and sonic power. In the 1980s, metal bands such as Slayer and Yngwie Malmsteen also used "walls" of over 20 Marshall cabinets. However, by the 1980s and 1990s, most of the sound at live concerts was produced by the sound reinforcement system rather than the onstage guitar amplifiers, so most of these cabinets were not connected to an amplifier. Instead, walls of speaker cabinets were used for aesthetic reasons. Amplifiers for harder, heavier genres often use valve amplifiers (known as "tube amplifiers" in North America) also. Valve amplifiers are perceived by musicians and fans to have a "warmer" tone than those of transistor amps, particularly when overdriven (turned up to the level that the amplifier starts to clip or shear off the wave forms). Instead of abruptly clipping off the signal at cut-off and saturation levels, the signal is rounded off more smoothly. Vacuum tubes also exhibit different harmonic effects than transistors. In contrast to the "tweed"-style amplifiers, which use speakers in an open-backed cabinet, companies such as Marshall tend to use 12" speakers in a closed-back cabinet. These amplifiers usually allow users to switch between "clean" and distorted tones (or a rhythm guitar-style "crunch" tone and a sustained "lead" tone) with a foot-operated switch. A 2 x 10" bass speaker cabinet stacked on top of a 15" cabinet, with separate bass amplifier "head" unit Bass amplifiers are designed for bass guitars or more rarely, for upright bass. They differ from amplifiers for the regular (and comparatively higher-pitched) electric guitar in several respects. They have extended low frequency response and tone controls optimised for bass instruments, which produce pitches of 41 Hz, in the case of a standard four-string electric bass or double bass, or even lower for five- or six-string electric basses. Higher-cost bass amplifiers sometimes include built-in bass effects, which are electronic effects units designed for electric bass or more rarely, for upright bass. Common built-in effects include audio compressor or limiter features, which help to keep the amplifier from doing unwanted distorting at high volume levels and potentially damaging the speakers; equalizers; and in some amps from the 1980s and more commonly in the 2000s, bass overdrive. Bass amps may provide an XLR DI output for plugging the bass amp signal directly into a mixing board or PA system. Larger, more powerful bass amplifiers (300 or more watts) are often provided with internal or external metal heat sinks and/or fans to help keep the amplifier cool. Speaker cabinets designed for bass usually use larger loudspeakers (or more loudspeakers, in the case of the popular 4x10" cabinets, which contain four 10" speakers) than the cabinets used for other instruments, so that they can move the larger amounts of air needed to reproduce low frequencies. Bass players have to use more powerful amplifiers than the electric guitarists, because deep bass frequencies take more power to amplify. As such, in a band in which the electric guitar player uses a 50 watt guitar amp, the bass player typically uses a 200 watt to 300 watt bass amp. While the largest speakers commonly used for regular electric guitar are 12" speakers, electric bass speaker cabinets often use 15" speakers. Bass players who play styles of music that require an extended low-range response, such as death metal, sometimes use speaker cabinets with 18" speakers or add a large subwoofer cabinet to their rig. Speakers for bass instrument amplification tend to be heavier-duty than those for regular electric guitar, and the speaker cabinets are typically more rigidly constructed and heavily braced, to prevent unwanted buzzes and rattles. Bass cabinets often include bass reflex ports, vents or openings in the cabinet, which improve the bass response and low-end, especially at high volumes. A small keyboard amplifier suitable for at-home practice capable of mixing the inputs from two keyboards. A keyboard amplifier, used for the stage piano, synthesizer, clonewheel organs and similar instruments, is distinct from other types of amplification systems due to the particular challenges associated with keyboards; namely, to provide solid low-frequency sound reproduction and crisp high-frequency sound reproduction. It is typically a combination amplifier that contains a two, three, or four-channel mixer, a pre-amplifier for each channel, equalization controls, a power amplifier, a speaker, and a horn, all in a single cabinet. Notable exceptions include keyboard amplifiers for specific keyboard types. The vintage Leslie speaker cabinet and modern recreations, which are generally used for Hammond organs, use a tube amplifier that is often turned up to add a warm, "growling" overdrive. Some electric pianos have built-in amplifiers and speakers, in addition to outputs for external amplification. These amplifiers are intended for acoustic instruments such as violin ("fiddle"), mandolin, and acoustic guitar—especially for the way musicians play these instruments in quieter genres such as folk and bluegrass. They are similar to keyboard amplifiers, in that they have a relatively flat frequency response and avoid tonal coloration. To produce this relatively "clean" sound, these amplifiers often have very powerful amplifiers (up to 800 watts RMS), to provide additional "headroom" and prevent unwanted distortion. Since an 800 watt amplifier built with standard Class AB technology would be heavy, some acoustic amplifier manufacturers use lightweight Class D, "switching amplifiers." Acoustic amplifier designs strive to produce a clean, transparent, "acoustic" sound that does not—except for reverb and other effects—alter the natural instrument sound, other than to make it louder. Amplifiers often come with a simple mixer to blend signals from a pickup and microphone. Since the early 2000s, it is increasingly common for acoustic amplifiers to provided digital effects, such as reverb and compression. Some also contain feedback-suppressing devices, such as notch filters or parametric equalizers. Instrument amplifiers have a different purpose than 'Hi-Fi' (high fidelity) stereo amplifiers in radios and home stereo systems. Hi-fi home stereo amplifiers strive to accurately reproduce signals from pre-recorded music, with as little harmonic distortion as possible. In contrast, instrument amplifiers are add additional tonal coloration to the original signal or emphasize certain frequencies. For electric instruments such as electric guitar, the amplifier helps to create the instrument's tone by boosting the input signal gain and distorting the signal, and by emphasizing frequencies deemed desirable (e.g., low frequencies) and de-emphasizing frequencies deemed undesirable (e.g., very high frequencies). In the 1960s and 1970s, large, heavy, high output power amplifiers were preferred for instrument amplifiers, especially for large concerts, because public address systems were generally only used to amplify the vocals. Moreover, in the 1960s, PA systems typically did not use monitor speaker systems to amplify the music for the onstage musicians. Instead, the musicians were expected to have instrument amplifiers that were powerful enough to provide amplification for the stage and audience. In late 1960s and early 1970s rock concerts, bands often used large stacks of speaker cabinets powered by heavy tube amplifiers such as the Super Valve Technology (SVT) amplifier, which was often used with eight 10" speakers. However, over subsequent decades, PA systems substantially improved, and used different approaches, such as horn-loaded "bass bins" (in the 1980s) and subwoofers (1990s and 2000s) to amplify bass frequencies. As well, in the 1980s and 1990s, monitor systems substantially improved, which helped sound engineers provide onstage musicians with a better reproduction of their instruments' sound. As a result of improvements to PA and monitor systems, musicians in the 2000s no longer need huge, powerful amplifier systems. A small combo amplifier patched into the PA suffices. In the 2000s, virtually all sound reaching the audience in large venues comes from the PA system. Onstage instrument amplifiers are more likely to be at a low volume, because high volume levels onstage make it harder for the sound engineer to control the sound mix. As a result, in many large venues much of the onstage sound reaching the musicians now comes from in-ear monitors, not from the instrument amplifiers. While stacks of huge speaker cabinets and amplifiers are still used in concerts (especially in heavy metal), this is often mainly for aesthetics or to create a more authentic tone. The switch to smaller instrument amplifiers makes it easier for musicians to transport their equipment to performances. As well, it makes concert stage management easier at large clubs and festivals where several bands are performing in sequence, because the bands can be moved on and off the stage more quickly. Instrument amplifiers may be based on thermionic ("tube" or "valve") or solid state (transistor) technology. Vacuum tubes were the dominant active electronic components in amplifiers from the 1930s through the early 1970s, and tube amplifiers remain preferred by many musicians and producers. Some musicians feel that tube amplifiers produce a "warmer" or more "natural" sound than solid state units, and a more pleasing overdrive sound when overdriven. However, these subjective assessments of the attributes of tube amplifiers' sound qualities are the subject of ongoing debate. Tube amps are more fragile, require more maintenance, and are usually more expensive than solid state amps. Tube amplifiers produce more heat than solid state amplifiers, but few manufacturers of these units include cooling fans in the chassis. While tube amplifiers do need to attain a proper operating temperature, if the temperature goes above this operating temperature, it may shorten the tubes' lifespan and lead to tonal inconsistencies. A Trace Elliot "Bonneville" tube amplifier as seen from the rear view: note the vacuum tubes extending into the wooden cabinet. By the 1960s and 1970s, semiconductor transistor-based amplifiers began to become more popular because they are less expensive, more resistant to bumps during transportation, lighter-weight, and require less maintenance. In some cases, tube and solid-state technologies are used together in amplifiers. A common setup is the use of a tube preamplifier with a solid-state power amplifier. There are also an increasing range of products that use digital signal processing and digital modeling technology to simulate many different combinations of amp and cabinets. The output transistors of solid-state amplifiers can be passively cooled by using metal fins called heatsinks to radiate away the heat. For high-wattage amplifiers (over 800 watts), a fan is often used to move air across internal heatsinks. The most common hybrid amp design is to use a tube preamp with a solid state power amplifier. This gives users the pleasing preamp and overdrive tone of a tube amp with the lowered cost, maintenance and weight of a solid state power amp.
Each year, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) complies a global report on musical instrument sales. This report gives us a snapshot of the numbers of people buying guitars, and ownership trends.In 2010, 2.38 million guitars were sold in the US, and these had a retail value of $839 million.Sales of acoustic guitars increased (6.9%), while electric guitar popularity declined (-2.1%). This trend reflected changes in the 2010 Billboard top 200, in which acoustic guitar strummers appeared at nearly twice the frequency of rock/metal bands. Similarly, the trend in amplifier purchase moved away from high-end valve amps, and towards smaller, less expensive combos.The average price of a guitar fell, but further analysis led those compiling the report to speculate that changes to were mainly due to new players entering the market, and established players not adding to their high-end guitar collections, rather than guitar prices falling due to the availability of cheaper imports.Here in the United Kingdom, we are generally two years behind our American cousins. However, UK sales figures reflected the currently depressed state of our economy: guitar sales were down on 2009 by 13.1% in terms of revenue, and 10.6% in sales volumes. Nevertheless, in 2010, £159.69 million was spent in the UK, on more than 768,000 guitars! That's a staggering number of guitars, and does not include private sales of pre-owned instruments.Sales trends between 2007 and 2010 show a steady decline in electric, and bass guitar sales. Conversely acoustic guitar sales over the same period have increased. Despite a fairly uniform fall in sales of all types of guitar during 2010, the popularity of acoustics is still growing. In 2007, acoustics accounted for 52.8% of all guitars sold, and this has risen steadily to 57% of all guitars sold in 2010.Elsewhere in the media, there have been pockets of speculation that the rising popularity of acoustic guitar music is both a catalyst for, and indication of more women taking up the instrument. Playing the guitar is an almost exclusively male past-time, so manufactures and retailers are delighted by the possibility of rising female interest: the size of their market could double. Meanwhile, manufacturers of electric guitars appear to be hoping for the emergence of a new Guitar Hero, on the scale of Hendrix or Clapton, to save their declining market share.As a guitar teacher, the report is very encouraging. It shows that the potential number of students is vast, despite the continuing UK recession. It enables us to check that we are in step with the dominance of acoustic guitar music, and adapt if necessary. It shows us that there is a need to encourage, and support women to take-up the guitar.I cannot help but feel that the NAMM should have a far greater interest in supporting guitar teachers. We have a part to play in ensuring that their customers return to up-grade and expand their guitar ownership. It is my firm belief that the majority of those 768,000 guitars will never get played, and merely function as ornaments to decorate homes.Maybe the new Hendrix is out there, and just needs a few guitar lessons to set him (or her) on the path that will reinvigorate music and the music industry.
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