Hey Kid's! Get Off My Lawn, Seat!

A lot has been written lately about the demise of the electric guitar. There have been national news stories written about it. It’s a constant source of discussion at least in my circles. The problem seems to be based on a waning interest in the instrument by our younger generations. I have to admit there are a number of factors that I find interesting and contributing.

First, guitar magazines in paper format seem to settling in to a minor place in the pantheon of interest. Similar to newspapers, by the time its on your driveway there is an update to the story that you would have missed if you didn’t see it on the web. Web content is far more up to date, interactive and who doesn’t prefer a video to a photo?

Music stores are changing. There are so many options for gear that a small home town shop can't possibly carry it all or even 10% of it all. As for the retailer web sites, well If they aren’t offering interesting content, demonstrating gear and showing us why we need something, what reason is there to hang on the site for very long?

We want to be taught, we don’t necessarily need to touch and feel , we can get enough from researching videos and reviews to get a pretty good idea if a piece of gear is for us, and if the shipping is free and I can return it, whats the risk?

Even our guitar heroes are now different. Guitar magazine covers used to be graced with the figures of near demi-gods, packing stadiums full of rabid fans. Jimmy Page , Lindsey Buckingham, Tom Scholz and on and on. These guys were making records that shaped us, made us feel things. We anxiously awaited the release of the new album, For months we read about them working in the studio, we knew the date when the record would hit the shops. Guitar heroes of today are no longer packing arenas. They are prone to highly skilled, amazing displays of virtuosity. These people put on athletic displays of finger tapestry able to impress but not inspire. Guitars aren’t race cars, they are paint brushes. You don’t need to go fast. Hyper-skilled musicians who couldn’t sell out the stage in the hotel bar are boring us to death. Coincidentally, the same hotels where our former heroes used to throw T.V’s out the windows, a lost art I might add.

So who do we offer the next generation as the arbiter of good taste? As gear manufacturers endorsees, we present aging axe slingers who played on hit records during the Carter administration. These guys were most recently seen rocking a sea of corn-dogs at a fair near you. By the way these guys are now gracing the pages of the magazines we aren’t reading and websites that we are. They're hawking and endorsing the gear that wasn’t available or even played on the records we know them by.

Record shops once culturally important, were a place where you could wander in and hear new music playing in the store, browse covers, learn about something new, read magazines & look at posters and stickers. 

Often times we looked at periods of our life like “oh man, that was the summer we listened to …” Now, not so much, The record shops are gone. The music stores are less a hang out and the magazines are stacked mostly in the bathrooms and the lobby of the advertisers who get a free copies.

Unless we want guitar shows to continue looking more like AARP conventions. I think its time we asked ourselves , what are we doing to attract the next generation of guitar enthusiasts? What are we doing to prop up the next generation of gifted songwriters and musicians? The electric guitar is just fine. The music is still being made. The kids are still alright . We are just looking for them in the wrong place.

John Thompson1 Comment