Is music a lifestyle or a love? For musicians, it’s life and living. Each January, in California, music merchants assemble and exhibit new products for musicians. At NAMM 2014, the acoustic guitar seems to be making a comeback. Sure, the electric guitar is still popular but more companies are boosting their acoustic guitar offerings with special, custom models.
The marketplace may be changing as more large instrument stores are in malls, high shopping areas, and online. Guitar boutiques are very popular and offer friendly, personal service. J&R Music World recently closed its music instrument store in downtown Manhattan but several guitar boutiques remain strong a little over a mile away. Consumer demand remains high, interested, and guitars are best sellers. 2014 may be a positive year!
The release of Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis movie is about a struggling folk singer from the old acoustic 1960’s. While Fender was making inroads into rock, folk singers strummed tunes in and out of clubs on acoustic guitars. From the 1970’s to the late 1990’s, interest in acoustics faded. Eric Clapton’s acoustic concert helped popularize the acoustic guitar once again.
Fine, hand-crafted, boutique and one-of-a-kind acoustic guitars step into the spotlight at the 2014 NAMM Show. The NAMM Show gathers 95,000 members of the music product industry from around the world to preview new product debuts from thousands of brands across every category.
In 2008 to 2010, interest in the acoustic guitar trailed electrics but, now, the old is becoming new again. Sales of high-end, luthier-crafted and custom acoustic instruments are at a five-year high. Guitar craftsmen and dealers point to a strengthening economy and growing pool of accomplished players for the increase in people searching for (and purchasing) their fretted Holy Grail.
Though the acoustic guitar, in one version or another, hailed from Europe, a German named Christian Martin started manufacturing guitars in the USA in 1833. That’s 190 years ago. It was the instrument cowboys and soldiers played to pass the time and entertain. It was, along with banjo, at the foundation of bluegrass. The acoustic guitar has become a consummate American instrument and is still produced in the United States. Now, virtually every guitar manufacturer selling in the USA has an acoustic guitar line.
Children often learn to play on a starter acoustic guitar, usually from a less expensive brand. The trend has changed as fewer kids upgrade to electric. The advantage of the acoustic guitar is you don’t need an amplifier to play it, though many may have pick-ups for amp connection. Pricing ranges from very inexpensive to priceless. It seems as if the acoustic guitar is back on track.
The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2014 show was at the Anaheim Convention Center in California from January 23 to 26 2014. This annual show, designed for trade only, reflects and shapes trends of how music is composed and played by musicians. Whether 2014 may create more Llewyn Davis wannabe singers remains to be seen. The acoustic guitar, for now, is on the up-trend.
Surprisingly, many of the large music instrument stores have shut their doors in New York City. 2013 marked the closure of J&R Music World’s music instrument store. There are smaller guitar boutiques cropping up that offer specialized personal services that musicians often require. In the intimate person-music instrument experience, an acoustic guitar is often one’s best friend anywhere and everywhere. Music Merchants may open and close but people and musicians will always find the instruments they want to play.