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The Down-to-Earth Dreams of Today’s Guitar Buyer


Senior Member


Since I'm not a WSJ subscriber, I couldn't read the rest of it, but Mooney's thesis seems solid. Guitar heroes are not the driving force in pop culture they once were. Van Halen hasn't been relevant to contemporary popular music in what... twenty five years? That's a whole generation ago. The music industry was so different back then, the way music was promoted and delivered and presented to the public was nothing like it is now.

... but guitar isn't dead.

There are a couple vectors still guiding people towards picking up a guitar.

Metal music in general is still a thriving genre, and is almost entirely guitar driven.

The other on-ramp is YouTube. There are a lot of fairly popular guitar-centric entertainment channels on YouTube that have a growing audience. They're almost all driven by a single personality, like Rob Scallon, Sarah Longfield, or Ola Englund. Ola is an especially interesting case, because he actually started his own guitar company (Solar Guitars) not too long ago and by all indications it's very successful. These people generally mix entertainment, gear reviews, informative stuff, and guitar playing so the audience may not be there solely for guitar, but they are probably a lot more interested in playing after watching these channels than they were before. I've actually learned about a bunch of new guitarists from Ola discussing them on his FAQ videos (like the sublime Nick Johnston).

So, people might not dream of becoming a rock star... but they may want to be a YouTube star instead!


A glorified bedroom musician.
Sure, we have players who are absolutely crazy when it comes to guitar, but I can't think of a single one who has that "rockstar/god" status today. Hell, I bet Guthrie Govan could play just about anything, but I don't think that he's that visible in the guitar community.


my office these days
I would beg to differ - I think Mr. Govan is very visible in the guitar community, but probably less so, if at all, outside that community.


Active Member
Back then the wild rock-star lifestyle and personalities accosiated with them were new and exciting. The sound was just as liberating as the lifestyle. Question is, how can you liberate todays liberated? The guitar has had its moment, unless someone finds a new way to play it and creates a new image to-boot. It wont be as big of a phanomanom.

Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of great guitarists around, but how can they be more relevant in popular culture? The reason why non-guitar focused music is more dominent in popular culture is becasue the production sound is always different and evolving.
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