The new technologies applied to music, the generation of rhythms elaborated with programs and intelligent consoles are some of the obstacles that electric guitars are currently facing, which are being removed from the main shopping lists. Will they manage to survive in a world invaded by urban music?
The electric guitar is one of the strongest musical standards, which has been part of the evolution of different genres worldwide. In this way, we can start from the Rock and Roll of the 40s, through the beginnings of rock in the 50s, the punk of the 70s and all the other genres and subgenres that have emerged over the years.
Each era has been marked by a musical genre, bringing with it a certain ideology and clothing, being a lifestyle adopted by the followers of this trend.
If we emphasize the rhythms and chords generated by the electric guitar, we will discover that it is an instrument capable of providing different nuances in each song, strident, rhythmic and imposing sounds, with a clean, powerful meter that adapts to various musical styles. Therefore, it is not surprising the great popularity acquired by this instrument in the musical arena.
Decades ago, with the rise of alternative rock and even electronics, the use of the electric guitar suffered a decline. However, this was not an impediment for many bands to continue giving the world explosive tunes worthy of this instrument. Likewise, an important space was opened in the international music market, emerging different models capable of meeting the needs of the most demanding performers.
After about seven decades of its appearance, the electric guitar once again experiences a small relegation, but this time because of urban music, which lacks musical instruments and instead uses tracks elaborated with the help of special programs.
The guitar as a cultural icon
When we refer to the electric guitar, it is not only a musical instrument, but an icon that has managed to transcend time. It is an inanimate object, but loaded with great power and with a symbolism that can be interpreted in different ways, depending on the ideology of each person. An electric guitar is freedom, spontaneity, learning, sexuality, anarchy, effort, rhythm. It is quite a fetish, belonging to a culture with roots entrenched in Rock and Roll and that evolved to other genres and sub-genres, thus accompanying many generations for decades.
In fact, Patti Smith, an American singer who became known during the Punk movement, at each of her concerts raises her Fender high and shouts euphorically that this is “the weapon of her generation.”
Significant reduction in sales
The United States is undoubtedly the cradle of the electric guitar, so its position in this market has been indisputable, as well as the good volume of sales and future projections of the main manufacturing brands.
However, the outlook took an unexpected turn during the period 2008 – 2017, showing a marked decline in sales, which attracted consequences for some companies, being the specific case of one of the leading companies in the manufacture of instruments. musicals, as is Gibson.
The Music Trades report at that time pointed to a 22.7% reduction in guitar sales during this nine-year period. If we emphasize the figures a bit, we will find that in 2008 sales were recorded at 1,452,000 electric guitars, while 2017 closed with 1,230,000 units. The difference was 222,000 copies.
Technology in the musical arena: enemy or ally?
While the instrument’s sales figures are important, so are the music genres that lead the industry in sales. Surely, you are wondering what relationship do both aspects have? With the emergence of new urban genres such as rap, trap, R’n’B or the stars of dance pop, the presence of electric guitar on stage becomes unnecessary. This instrument uses other kinds of rhythms such as hi hats, patterns made through apps, special sound consoles, among other technological equipment.
New generations are quickly adapting to these pre-made sounds. In fact, many young people instead of looking in the shopping catalogs to find the best electric guitar of the moment and thus take classes to learn how to play it, they resort to other resources such as sound mixers, which have extensive galleries with multiple tunes of different instruments, including the electric guitar. In this sense, they would only have to worry about learning how to mix and edit the tracks.
Electric vs acoustic guitar
It is a fact that the presence of the electric guitar has diminished from the music scene, as more and more artists choose to use pre-made sounds in the studio. So the artist, when he appears on stage, will only have to carry out his performance with the group of dancers who usually accompany him, without requiring a band with drums, bass and electric guitar.
When reviewing the main music charts, we can see that they are being led by rappers of the stature of Meek Mill, Drake, 21 Savage, Cardi B, as well as other exponents of urban genres such as Maluma, Bad Gyal, among many others.
The acoustic guitar has managed to stay afloat with figures like Taylor Swift in the beginning, when playing country music. Also with Ed Sheeran, who achieved great success during 2018 by fusing the guitar with R’n’B sounds.
However, the electric guitar continues to fight not to disappear. Bohemian Rhapsody managed to reposition this instrument at least on the music charts, as well as iconic bands of all time like U2, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Roger Waters and the Eagles.