The Decline of Electric Guitars

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scotland
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The Decline of Electric Guitars

Postby scotland » June 26th, 2017, 6:28 pm

It seems that electric guitars are declining in popularity. I find it interesting as we have often talked about peaks and valleys in a particular console and game prices, but this is like an entire style of music or gaming, one popular for decades, falling out of the limelight. Its not like gaming generations, but really entire people generations having their tastes overwritten by what is newer and more profitable.

I read an article years ago about the electric guitar decline, and again another article the other day. Electric guitars were a defining sound of rock-n-roll, survived the rise of electronic music and disco, but it seems like modern music and electronic dance music and rap music has pushed it off center stage. Older people who grew up loving guitar heroes are selling their collections, but younger people don't have the hunger to be the next guitar hero. Fender and Gibson are having bad years and are in debt. The retailer Guitar Center is in debt. Its also interesting in that people don't junk guitars, but sell them second hand, much like video game consoles.

Its kinda like video gaming thriving, but moving into a type of video gaming different from what was popular for generations. An analogy might be a style of movie, say westerns - popular for decades and then falling into a niche genre, or for us gamers, the rise of mobile gaming taking over slowly from PC and console gaming, just as electronic dance music and other modern music has taken over from electric guitar heavy rock.

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ptdebate
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Re: The Decline of Electric Guitars

Postby ptdebate » June 26th, 2017, 7:08 pm

An interesting trend, to be sure. I think the flexibility and accessibility of digital music software could play a part in this.

I generally dislike the electric guitar as an instrument. In most applications, the characteristic distortion is not a sound I enjoy hearing. There are a few exceptions. Thinking back to one of my recent reviews, I thought the electric guitar was really well implemented on the soundtrack of FF XIII-2. I also enjoy certain classic rock acts such as Led Zeppelin due to the diversity of their style and instrumentation. By and large, metal doesn't do it for me.

I enjoy the acoustic guitar but it still ranks pretty low as a string instrument in my opinion. The 12-string is nicer because it has a richer sound. As a plucking instrument, the harp is just categorically superior to the guitar in my opinion, but it takes a great deal more skill to play well. The harp is an excellent lead instrument and is way underutilized.

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Stalvern
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Re: The Decline of Electric Guitars

Postby Stalvern » June 26th, 2017, 10:47 pm

You have to remember that the people who give a crap about music are not the people who make music popular. The labels decide, entirely through reaction, what gets enough promotion to be popular, and what they sell gets bought through sheer saturation. Then it gets too saturated, and the labels move on to something else. Let's not pretend that rock worth hearing has figured into that since the '90s. Ten or fifteen years ago, radio's idea of "rock" was Linkin Park and Nickelback and other (formally) aggressive acts driven by loud guitars. When those bands started selling less, the labels started pushing lighter groups like Maroon 5 and Train. At this point, mainstream "rock" has been run miles into the ground and is irredeemable.

You might argue that this happened in the '80s and resulted in "Smells like Teen Spirit", but there are some major differences. In the '80s, the worthless radio bands at least claimed to rock. Nirvana and Pearl Jam broke big because they cut through the insipid posturing and actually delivered what people had been told to want to buy. (Do not mistake their success for the public's good taste!) Maroon 5 not only don't rock, they don't even pretend to; the dogma now is "poptimism", the idea that spineless, soulless, interchangeable music constructed to formula by five corporate songwriters at a time (out of the industry's stable of maybe twenty) is actually something noble because you can project politically fashionable buzzwords onto the pretty face that's been assigned to sing it. What does a rock band have to offer to that mindset?

The other thing is that music is much, much easier to make on a computer than with a guitar. You can download everything you need for free, you don't have to learn to play a note, and thanks to poptimism (teenagers today aren't any dumber than the teenagers of the past, but they're given much dumber ideas to latch onto), you aren't expected to sequence much more than a basic dance beat anyway. And you can do it all yourself! Why would you go to the trouble of buying a guitar, finding a place to play in, and finding other people to play bass and drums - and then practicing until you can actually play together as a band - when you can fart out a few minutes of vaporwave and be the star of Soundcloud for the week?
Last edited by Stalvern on June 28th, 2017, 10:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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David
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Re: The Decline of Electric Guitars

Postby David » June 27th, 2017, 12:47 am

Interesting, I didn't realize this was happening at all. I played guitar for 10 years, from about 14 to 24, dropped it after being busy with all hobbies, and just bought a 1991 butterscotch blonde American Telecaster about a month ago. Funny enough, I bought it used from Guitar Center for $800, when a new one would have cost well over $1000. The last guitar I had was a Martin acoustic, but wanted to pick up an electric because the slimmer neck makes electrics easier to play for me, I find it more versatile to switch between a clean sound and distortion, and I've just always wanted an American tele or strat.

There's so much benefit to buying used rather than new i think for guitars. They're all set up, are significantly cheaper, and with acoustics the sound gets better with age. Plus, I like the idea of having a "played in" guitar for some reason, it just gives it more character. The tele I bought is in really great shape, but it has a couple dings here and there and that's okay with me. If I stick with guitar playing maybe I'd consider a new strat, or I've always wanted a hollowbody Gretsch, but it's hard to pass up good quality used ones.

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SpaceGuitarist
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Re: The Decline of Electric Guitars

Postby SpaceGuitarist » June 27th, 2017, 7:21 pm

With hindsight, Jay-Z headlining Glastonbury in 2008, making fun of Wonderwall with a white Strato around his neck, was a very bad sign of things to come. Now, rap and pop have always dominated the charts, but at least up until a decade ago, there was a huge presence of guitar based music, people who bought records with real musicians playing on them, and press that actually supported new bands.

I think one key factor is that the amount of money around the music industry has significantly lowered. Back then people used to spend on music enough money to keep afloat both the pop singer for the masses and the guitar band for the people with an interest. In the 80s you had both Madonna and The Smiths; in the 90s both Oasis and Mariah Carey; in the early 00s both The Strokes and Jennifer Lopez. It was okay, there was balance.

Now that there isn't any money, because of mp3s, YouTube, streaming services that apparently are only profitable for 0.5% of the artists, and most of all because newer generations are simply not aware that music is an integral part of one's development as a human being - what they are doing now is that they emphasized a few key genres that produce money (pop, rap, r'n'b) because they are highly marketable to the masses, easy to produce (because, few exceptions aside, most of the songs in these genres are written by a bunch of faceless corporate idiots) and fundamentally light in content. What doesn't make money is slowly pushed outside of the public eye.

This also affects new trends in indie music, because it's only natural that people are going to look for variation on the enstablished formulas in the indie scene. We had great indie guitar music in the early 00s, but nowadays it's the obscure rapper, the twisted rapper, the crazy rapper, the enraged rapper, the philosopher rapper........there is guitar music around too, but it's not treated with the same artistic respect and interest that most of these artists get.

I partially blame the decline of music in general on videogames too, as they have eaten a lot of young people's attention and money. I like videogames as much as the next guy, but it's sad to see young lads in their 20s spending thousands of dollars a year for videogames and not one single cent on an album..........

OzGamer
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Re: The Decline of Electric Guitars

Postby OzGamer » June 27th, 2017, 10:12 pm

SpaceGuitarist wrote:With hindsight, Jay-Z headlining Glastonbury in 2008, making fun of Wonderwall with a white Strato around his neck, was a very bad sign of things to come.


I think context is important here, Noel Gallagher said a rap artist shouldn't headline Glastonbury. Jay-Z coming out playing Noel's song was a great example of taking the piss out of someone.

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astrodomekid
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Re: The Decline of Electric Guitars

Postby astrodomekid » June 28th, 2017, 10:07 am

Stalvern wrote:The other thing is that music is much, much easier to make on a computer than with a guitar. You can download everything you need for free, you don't have to learn to play a note, and thanks to poptimism (teenagers today aren't any dumber than the teenagers of the past, but they're given much dumber ideas to latch onto), you aren't expected to sequence much more than a basic dance beat anyway. And you can do it all yourself! Why would you go to the trouble of buying a guitar, finding a place to play in, and finding other people to play bass and drums - and then practicing until you can actually play together as a band - when you can fart out a few minutes of vaporwave and be the star of Soundcloud for the week?


I'm sorry, but... I absolutely DESPISE today's music! It's like every pop song nowadays is just another generic dance tune. I think that's OK once in a while (I like listening to 70's disco, 80's Hi-NRG/Italo Disco, and 90's house), but when every other song sounds like that anymore, it's just despicable. And for me, the style in these newer songs are just painful to listen to. That's why I can't look at a poster of Justin Bieber without succumbing to the urge of going up and giving it the finger!

Personal taste aside, I really think music shouldn't be made with a computer. I guess it could make something good if you squeezed enough effort into it, but just making whatever repetitive nonsense you somehow find catchy is everything that's wrong with today's music IMO. That's why reading this topic on guitars slowly fading away disgusts me. People need to learn how to make music that can actually leave an impact on someone's life. And I can assure you that bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Guns N' Roses will continue to play in our hearts, while pandering bogus like Bieber, Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj, and Miley Cyrus fade from our memory. Music comes from songwriters, not Garage Band.

I don't know about you, but I would use my love for vintage synthesizers to become an indie artist (a la Kebu), emulate the classic 80's sound that I love so but invent some new techniques to make it fresh, have more emphasis on complex pieces than dance tunes, and market it towards the modern demographic as a reminder of how music is supposed to be done. It may not be easy, but I would get a lot more respect for it.

So let me ask you this: would you rather listen to something that shows every bit of effort that was put into it, or just a generic jam that was put together in Garage Band in under five minutes?
Last edited by astrodomekid on June 28th, 2017, 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jon
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Re: The Decline of Electric Guitars

Postby jon » June 28th, 2017, 12:38 pm

That was a really interesting post by SpaceGuitarist. To be honest, I think the reason guitar music has declined is that there hasn't been a truly great band since the early 90's. There needs to be a band as great as Nirvana to get rock back on the map, preferably with extremely accessible, memorable songs. And the band needs to be better than bands like Radiohead, it needs to be in the stature of a Nirvana. Also, a lot of these very popular rock bands from the 90's not only were better than anything that's come out the last couple decades, but they had extremely charismatic frontmen, something I also think is lacking.

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velcrozombie
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Re: The Decline of Electric Guitars

Postby velcrozombie » June 28th, 2017, 1:42 pm

As someone who has played guitar and bass for over twenty years, I just consider them tools for producing sound. Don't get me wrong - I love the sound of a guitar, especially a distorted or delayed guitar - but I'm fine with the guitar having a less prominent role in music. I don't particularly care if it's easier to make electronic music, as long as it's well-written and interesting to me. Guitar is great from a performance standpoint, though - it's light and it gives the player a lot of freedom of movement.

jon wrote:To be honest, I think the reason guitar music has declined is that there hasn't been a truly great band since the early 90's.


wat

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Stalvern
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Re: The Decline of Electric Guitars

Postby Stalvern » June 28th, 2017, 11:09 pm

astrodomekid wrote:Personal taste aside, I really think music shouldn't be made with a computer. I guess it could make something good if you squeezed enough effort into it, but just making whatever repetitive nonsense you somehow find catchy is everything that's wrong with today's music IMO.

People make brilliant music with computers. Heck, even the loudest rock has been recorded and mixed largely on computers for the past couple of decades or so. There is no rule that computers can only be used lazily; it's just a consequence of their ease of use that lazy people are drawn to them.

I also disagree with the reaction that some people in this thread have toward rap. People do not forfeit their artistic integrity by rapping instead of rocking, and being popular doesn't make something bad. There are many things that you could call Kanye West, but "sellout" isn't one of them.


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