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international news _ 24th January, 2007

Guitar Sales Displace DJs

Text by Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)

Sales of electric and acoustic guitars hit almost 1 million units last year, the Times revealed this week, prompting the newspaper to claim the sales boom means ‘hip-hop has had its day’.

“Guitar sales in Britain have hit a high as young people turn away from the cult of the DJ and their parents seek to have another crack at the instrument of their youth,” Times reporter Adam Sherwin claimed.

While his hip-hop/ DJs in decline claim was simply a variation on the tired old ‘dance music is dead’ cliché, Sherwin’s identification of veteran rockers recapturing their youth matched the analysis of US guitar expert George Gruhn, who two years ago said wealthy senior citizens were the key customers driving the fast growing vintage guitar market.

"A large percentage of my customers are baby boomers. We have fewer customers for high-end instruments from generations X and Y,” he told US journalist Larry Meiners in 2004.

“It is a concern to me that the oldest boomers are now 57 years old,” he added.

The 1 million sales mark in the UK was almost double the figure for guitar sales in 1999, the year when sales of turntables overtook guitars for the first time, prompting numerous ‘rock is dead’ media obituaries. Whether turntables will one day enjoy a sales renaissance remains to be seen, though with digital download sales doubling this year, their short-term future looks bleak.

“We can safely say that as far as the era of vinyl is concerned it’s not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’,” progressive house superstar DJ John Digweed predicted in 2005.

“So many DJs are nowadays using only CDs that you go to clubs and you’re lucky if you can find a turntable working properly,” he told Skrufff.