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Half of new guitar players in the UK and US are women

By | Published on Thursday 18 October 2018


Fender has released new research which reckons that 50% of new guitar players in both the US and the UK are women. This matches a trend which first appeared in research conducted in the US in 2015 which caused the guitar maker to re-evaluate its advertising.

“The fact that 50% of new guitar buyers in the UK were women was a surprise to the UK team, but it’s identical to what’s happening in the US”, Fender CEO Andy Mooney tells Rolling Stone.

He added that when the trend was originally discovered a few years back, some people (grumpy men) reckoned it was just a fad. Mooney explains that there had been a “belief about what people referred to as the ‘Taylor Swift factor’ maybe making the 50% number short-term and aberrational”.

“In fact, it’s not. Taylor has moved on, I think playing less guitar on stage than she has in the past”, he notes. “But young women are still driving 50% of new guitar sales. So the phenomenon seems like it’s got legs, and it’s happening worldwide”.

The trend actually seems to go back further than Fender’s research suggests. Female-focussed guitar magazine She Shreds launched five years ago, and is yet to give Taylor Swift the cover.

In recent years, there have been numerous reports that guitar playing in general is on the wane. Last year, the Washington Post reported that sales of guitars in the US had fallen by a third over the last decade. Then earlier this year, Fender’s main rival Gibson filed for bankruptcy – although it blamed this on a failed attempt to get into consumer electronics.

The picture is more complex than presented by the Washington Post – with some countries seeing growth – but it does seem that, in order to survive, guitar manufacturers will need to market their products to people they’ve traditionally ignored. Women making up a large part of that. Though the challenge isn’t just about persuading people to take up guitar playing for the first time, but also persuading them to stick with it.

“In 2015, we found more than 90% of first-time players abandoned guitar in twelve months – if not the first 90 days – but the 10% that didn’t, tended to commit to the instrument for life and own multiple guitars and amps”, says Mooney in a statement. “It’s our central mission at Fender to accompany players at every stage of their musical journey – and more importantly keep new players playing”.

Read the full study here.