One of the unexpected by-products of the current COVID-19 pandemic is the escalation of prices in musical equipment. Guitar Center, one of the United States’ largest music gear retailers, has such a reduced inventory right now you’d think they were selling toilet paper. Why is this? With more and more people stuck at home, people who already engage in musical hobbies are buying more gear to enjoy with so many more hours of free time on their hands. The other reason is simple supply and demand, with a twist: larger than normal demand for gear has made it harder to keep in stock, and the supply chain delays caused by factors related to the pandemic and global economic struggles prevent stores from staying well stocked.
Funny thing is, there’s been a tone-deaf (pun intended) undercurrent of opinion in the last few years that guitar music is dead. While there is a rise of non-guitarcentric music these days, the various forms of music centered around stringed instruments is alive and well, particularly the genres based on electric guitar.
Invented in 1932, the electric guitar was adopted by jazz guitar players, who wanted to play single-note guitar solos in large big band ensembles. Early proponents of the electric guitar on record include Les Paul, Lonnie Johnson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, T-Bone Walker, and Charlie Christian. During the 1950s and 1960s, the electric guitar became the most important instrument in popular music. It has evolved into an instrument that is capable of a multitude of sounds and styles in genres ranging from pop and rock to country music, blues and jazz. It served as a major component in the development of electric blues, rock and roll, rock music, heavy metal music and many other genres of music.
Right now, one of the metal guitar world “influencers”, Ola Englund, enjoys over a half million followers. For comparisons sake, not many NFL “influencers” can say the same thing.
With so many people snatching up music gear these days, it’s not hard to jump to the conclusion that many “hobby” industries are experiencing the same things. Just ask Netflix or any other streaming service that can’t put out new content fast enough for those voracious “binge watchers” out there. Or go by a home improvement store on a weekend morning - they’re packed and picked over, with folks buying everything from yard-centric stuff, to woodworking materials, to home renovation items.
Imagine how much this is just killing the NFL owners as they’re forced to tell fans “No, you cannot come to our stadium and spend money on our overpriced merchandise, $20 beers, and $50 parking passes.”
But that’s okay. People will still idolize their favorite flavor of entertainment activities, and if they can’t idolize their first choice, they’ll move onto a second or dive into a new third option. Maybe they’ll sign up for Fender Play and learn to jam on electric guitar? It will certainly be interesting to look back on this unprecedented period in history and see how it changed modern American life, both in hobbies/pastimes and everything else.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, it’s Saturday night and off-topic is not only welcome, but encouraged.
So whatcha got?