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Music & Sound Retailer: It's Electric: Guitars turn in solid 2017, led by electrics.


The below are questions from Music & Sound Retailer Magazine and responses from D’Angelico’s Ryan Kershaw, Director, Product Development & Artist Relations, in support of the MSR cover story for the April 2018 issue.

  • Overall, how were your guitar sales last year? Was it better, the same or worse than 2016 and why?


Our sales have been up 200% year over year for the past three years. We attribute that success to our being a noticeably growing brand in the industry—focusing on branding efforts that have helped the D’Angelico name go from niche to nearly ubiquitous. We have also focused on continuing to improve the quality of our instruments, while establishing more and more accessible pricing—including a line of acoustic guitars that took off rapidly.


  • What were your hottest-selling guitar items last year?


Both our semi-hollow electrics and acoustics.


  • Are acoustics and acoustic/electrics still seeing growth compared to electric guitars in terms of sales?


We’ve certainly seen huge growth in our acoustics, because we just launched that line recently. But we’ve seen tremendous growth with our electrics, as well. As I mentioned before, our sales have been up 200% year over year for the past three years, and I think that’s largely because our name is no longer unfamiliar to consumers.


  • Does talk of the decline of the electric guitar make any sense, or is it nonsense and why?


It makes no sense. We’ve been having this conversation for years and it’s consistently disproved. The demand for guitar has not gone down, it’s just that the kinds of products customers are looking for are changing—and that can be said across all industries. Consumers now expect only the utmost quality products for an accessible price. It creates a competitive playing field, but it also creates an environment in which only the fittest survive. High customer expectations have allowed our brand to grow and thrive in a difficult industry. Separately, whenever faced with this question, I think it’s important to mention that guitar is an inherent and immoveable part of modern music culture—guitar brands just have to have the ability to change alongside and respond to that ever-changing culture.


  • Are Guitar Gods needed to further grow the industry, or are we fine without them?


Both! Obviously guitar gods are an important part of music and guitar culture, and historically they’ve been monumental in aiding guitar sales, but we’re living in a different time now. Especially in the age of social media, the meaning of “guitar god” has changed—and in many ways for the better. Customers now feel a lot more closely related, for example, to social media influencers who seem similar to them and have started a successful guitar-based Instagram channel just because they are a great player. Or, with the huge volume of successful independent bands because we’re no longer living in a world where major labels rule all, young guitar players are finding new spheres of influence all around them.  


  • Are you bullish about the future of the guitar market and why?


Yes, absolutely. As I mentioned, I don’t believe the guitar market is dying at all—it’s just evolving. It’s becoming a reflection of a changing music and business culture where only those who have their finger on the pulse of all that evolution survive.


  • What future trends/technologies do you think can change the guitar industry in the future?


We hold the belief that, with guitar making, we’ve seen time and time again that it’s not about reinventing the wheel, but rather making the absolute best wheel you can. It’s part of the reason we reference our brand roots and our history—context that we are tremendously fortunate to have. We believe it’s tremendously important to preserve what is sacred about the guitar and to tread lightly with certain innovations. We believe wild technological innovation is not what guitar consumers want. They want the absolute best, realest instrument they can get their hands on. To us, that means logical innovations in sound and design, but not turning your guitar into a hoverboard that’s also a microwave.


  • Can you provide MI retailers any advice when selling your products?


Play them, know them well, and compare them to products in their price range—they will sell themselves. We take a huge amount of pride in ensuring that our instruments are better than those they stand alongside, and that’s easily proven when a player is given the chance to compare.

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