OVERALL GUITAR DOLLAR SALES ENJOY A MORE THAN 5-PERCENT YEAR-OVER-YEAR INCREASE, WITH MANUFACTURERS AFFIRMING 2018 WAS A GREAT YEAR.
ONE OF THE BEST YEARS EVER? By Brian Berk
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Last year, in our guitar industry update, we declared the “the slow, secret death of the six-string electric,” as alleged in a 2017 Washington Post story, was a bunch of hogwash. This year, not only is this electric guitar decline clearly in the rear-view mirror, but we are pleased to say that the guitar industry is “kicking rear ends and taking names.” According to MI SalesTrak, overall dollar sales of guitars, including basses, roared to an increase of 5.3 percent in 2018 compared to 2017. And this follows a 2.2-percent gain the guitar industry enjoyed when comparing 2017 to 2016. Hence, these 2018 results represent two solid years of guitar sales gains, following 2016, when electric dollar sales finished the year down 0.3 percent vs. 2015, and acoustics dropped to the tune of 3.1 percent compared to the prior year. In 2018, as the accompanying chart in this story shows (see page 30), electric guitars comprised 48 percent of guitar dollar share by type, with acoustic/electrics coming in at one-third of sales and acoustics making up 19 percent of sales. “Guitars enjoyed robust sales growth throughout 2018,” Jim Hirschberg, president of MI SalesTrak, told the Music & Sound Retailer. “Electric guitars led the growth early in the year, with acoustics coming on strong later in the year. In total, dollar sales of new guitars (including basses) were up 5.3 percent vs. 2017.” Looking at color trends for electric guitars, as the chart on page 32 shows, sunburst was the most popular choice early on in 2018, but black was the most popular color in April, and also during the allimportant holiday season of November and December. Red was the third-most-popular color, with blue finishing fourth. “Black is back,” said Hirschberg. “Sunburst finishes were the most popular choice for electric guitars in 2017. But by November/December of 2018, black was again the most popular color.” To get their take on guitar sales in 2018, as well as the early stages of 2019, we enlisted the help of several manufacturers. Joining us are: Yoh Watanabe, director of marketing, Pro Music division, ‘Sales-wise, 2018 was Yamaha Corp. of America; the strongest year we Fred Poole, general manhave seen as a busiager, product developness. Yes, we were quite ment, Peavey Electronics; pleased.’ Ken Fuente, general — Jim Cullen, manager, North American PRS Guitars sales and business devel-