The Slow Secret Death of the Guitar

A really fascinating piece on the current state of the guitar industry.
While there certainly are some very talented new recording artists on the scene today, I find myself drawn back to the the age and/or style where real instruments - horns, strings, percussions, etc. - was the foundation of some very incredible arrangements and performances. Neil Diamond, for many years, recorded and toured with a full orchestra and cult bands like the Moody Blues and Pink Floyd had some incredible arrangements incorporating orchestration. Today, there are still some very talented performers that continue the art of incorporating real instruments with fine vocals - Nora Jones, Alison Krause, the Avett Brothers and others. I guess when you have thousands invested into audio equipment, it's kind of pointless to waste it on drum machines and synthesizers.
Enjoy the music,
crazyeddy  - spot on. I've heard many artists with much less technical ability just absolutely sound so engaging and keep you coming back. Of course, I'd like to have both technical prowess and emotional connection exhibited by the same artist, but I'd much rather have that compelling experience over some notes being connected cleanly.

ghosthouse - I agree too. There's so much great music being made and now made available through vendors like Spotify and Pandora. It makes listening to music fun again.

Hello there Eddy...yup, as popular music became more and more predictable and formulaic and controlled by MBAs and accountants (and I am NOT one of those anti-business, "Occupy" knuckleheads), feeling and creativity tended to get squeezed out. While I regret the loss of opportunity for talented engineers, producers and studio musicians I ain’t ringing my hands over the gloomy outlook for "the music industry". Before things got all twisted around by big money (read Bdp’s post up top here) there wasn’t a guaranteed pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. People were chasing a dream out of love and madness. For the originals (talking the blues), pain and suffering informed and inspired what they did. The music came first and then the payoff...maybe. The music biz isn’t dying but it sure is and has been undergoing a transformation. The big studios don’t wield the clout they used to. That’s good and bad. But the decentralization of recording, the access to software and equipment is giving some indies a shot the big money men might never have afforded them.


Couldn't have said it better myself, but I'll add that what I see from the young guns on YouTube is a generally a fine sense of technique, but lacking completely of emotion and imagination. Perhaps it's just me, but as a guitarist myself, I could care less about having the chops, if the emotional/creative element is missing.

No the guitar is not dead. It has been a staple in one form or another for thousands of years and will remain so.

If anything it is larger orchestral and big band that is dying - so much can be done with technology today that the expense of a multitude of musicians (and the discipline this requires) is being eschewed for one to three-person bands.

The drum set mechanically replaces three percussionists. Electronic sampling and synthesizers are replacing the drummer and entire orchestras....

Nice clip, sparky. At the very least she’s got some melodic content and feeling. Without doubt she’s got the technical skills too.  Not just another soulless shredder. I’d be interested knowing what her listening habits and tastes are. I’m not ripping her at all but the problem for me after 50+ years of being an avid music listener is that I heard those licks somewhere else and probably many times before. Maybe not her exact composition but something much like it. On the other hand, for younger listeners only in their teens or twenties, it she’s bringing something new, fresh and great...that’s a good thing. Glad someone like Juliette is out there carrying the flag. There are others too, no doubt.

I, personally, am not distraught about the "imminent demise" of the music industry. I stopped listening to mainstream commercial radio (e.g., top 40 and Clasic Rock) a long time ago. You can only listen to "Stairway To Heaven" so many times before going stark raving mad. Not real worried if the collector market for vintage guitars collapses or if vinyl loses its "cool". Turn off, tune out and drop in. Plenty of great new music around but like arcam88 says, you have to search for it. Fortunately, things like Spotify and Tidal with their tailored "recommendations" lists make this easy and fun to do. Of course, one of the best things about A’gon is the music that gets in point, your link.

Thanks again for posting it.
Hey everyone, rock guitar is not dead!!  Meet Juliette Valduriez from Paris France.  The following is a clip of an original composition of hers.  She also just released a full length album of all original material in which she plays all instruments and sings lead vocals in both French and English!  Her vocal style reminds me of Francois Hardy!
arcam88, absolutely.  There's still some good stick licks going on, but they tend to be one or two on an album.  The rest, contract filler...

But I'm pretty picky.  If it don't make something smile within, or rustle some leaves on this wilted tree, I'm out. ;)
chayro is right!
But not just The Chainsmokers. Anything in the so-called top 10 or 20 is garbage and pretty much all sounds the same! The crap that passes for music nowadays amazes me!( no Talent or emotion involved)
There is still great music out there, you just have to search for it.😉
Anyone want to buy my Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster guitars?  Happy Playing!

Some good posts here and glad I posted that link. I was just amazed to read it I guess I listen to so little "popular" music I didn't realize how little guitar is being played. The part about Taylor Swift just cracks me up I have to say.
Just listen to anything by the Chainsmokers if you want to know everything that's wrong with music.  Not wrong, actually, just why things are the way they are.  You only have to listen to one song because they're all the same.  
The electric guitar was the dominant technological innovation in musical instruments from+/- 1935 to 1970.  After that, keys and digital technologies replaced it.  So, no huge surprise - sunrise, sunset.
While the article is interesting (and accurate) it really should not come as too much of a surprise to us, since the acknowledged guitar gods are only one facet of the overall of what we've really been in decline with and that is rock or pop musicians who are talented with their (physical) lead or rhythm instruments in general.

The lure, after all, of making music by computer is not that it's 'just as good as guitar', it's really the implied promise that you don't Have to spend all those years learning how to play Really well.

But, based on all that has musically come of it so far, I'd say that maybe the computer is still proving to be the most difficult musical instrument to learn yet. ;>)
It was real nice to watch Vernon Reid play Chuck Berry licks.  Otherwise the decline of the guitar god is a boomers lament (cue the really small violin).

Thanks for posting the link.
Guitar Center has never been profitable. I beileve an article I read many years ago, they have been in debt since they went public.

This isn't a surprise. I say it's simply part of the process. The slow death of R&R which was occurring by the late 70's, and interest in general, certainly changed music  and listener tastes.

What teenage kid by the 90's was listening to 70's and earlier guitar-centric music, and got inspired to spend time in the "woodshed?"(does anyone even know that means anymore?)

R&R was  diluted by the mid 70's and "spectacle" was holding the attention of the masses just as much as the music.

There still seems to be up and coming Classical and Jazz musicians. I'm listening to the NPR Classical station and every Sunday is the program, "From the Top," It's young classical musicians performing . The program usually includes an amazing Classical guitarist, of course acoustic guitar.

Good article. There’s another element not touched upon, which I became aware of in the 1990’s. I met some young guys in L.A. who had a band playing showcases (not paying gigs), trying to build a following and get a record deal. When they talked about what they did after leaving their day jobs the night before, it was watching porn and playing video games. I asked the bass player if he practiced his instrument as well, and a sheepish look crossed his face. The answer was obviously no. His bandleader/guitarist/songwriter told me, in so many words, "We're not trying to be musicians, we’re trying to become Rock stars". They were just in it for the money and the women. I doubt they played music after turning thirty, when their dream of Rock stardom was obviously not going to come true.