Why The Guitar is So Popular | 5 Reasons with Stats | 2022

Not only are they popular because your heroes are playing them, or because there are so many companies manufacturing them. So why is the guitar so popular?

There are many reasons, but ultimately it’s because they are accessible, versatile, and the most popular and legendary music is based on and/or around the guitar.

Perhaps you as well have been considering taking up the hobby? Or maybe you are already advanced as a player. Today we explore why the guitar is so popular and whether it will be around for a while.

why the guitar is so popular

Popularity of the Guitar

Over the last few decades, the guitar has risen in popularity quite steadily. It has become more sought after than instruments like the piano, and music schools have more students than ever.

While the piano is also quite popular, the guitar is riving it a run for the money. But why is the guitar so popular between both men and women?

They Are Accessible

It’s incredible how popular the guitar has become in the market. When it comes to a musical instrument that is affordable, and can be used with so many styles, it’s no wonder it has become such a favorite among male and female musicians. It’s possible to buy entire starter kits for under $200!

These kits come with the instrument itself, an amplifier, cables, gig bag, strap, and picks all in one package. Of course, these are not going to be top of the line models and amps, but they are certainly good enough for a beginner to get started learning how to play.

Even higher quality units are not super expensive. You are not forced to spend thousands of dollars just to have a good guitar (although you certainly can spend that much). There are plenty of good instruments well under a thousand dollars.

Guitars are also widely available both in and outside music stores. It’s rare to see a piano sitting in a pawn shop, but there is often a wall of used electrics to choose from. Not only are they easy to find, but also to transport.

Buying a piano is often more costly than a guitar, and also involves figuring out how to transport it and get it into your home (assuming you want a traditional piano of course, and not an electric keyboard). 

You can also control the noise level easily on a guitar. You can turn down the amp’s volume, or you can plug in some headphones so as not to disturb others. Furthermore, you cannot do this with a drum set, piano, saxophone, etc.

This makes it an excellent instrument for people who live in apartments or with others who would rather not have to listen to you practicing all the time.

They Are Versatile

When asking “why is the guitar so popular”, many will point out its versatility. 

The guitar is used across genres; jazz works just as well as country does, for instance. It’s polyphonic; it can play multiple notes at once and in this way create harmonies with itself, which many other instruments cannot do (another that can, for example, is the piano). 

Additionally, guitars can be used for rhythm and lead portions of a song. While some bands use two players, one for rhythm and the other for lead. It’s possible for a single person to play both parts effectively. There is the obvious acoustic and electric as well.

Letting you choose between the natural acoustics or a distorted electric guitar. However, the electric itself is where the possibilities really open up. 

Electric guitars can produce a very wide range of sounds. You can go for heavy distortion and play punk songs or a clean tone and create a slow, relaxing jazz melody, for example.

The electric guitar’s sound is picked up by the pickups, hence their name. You can get different combinations of pickups that provide distinct tones, but the primary feature is whether they are single coil or humbuckers.

Single coil pickups provide a brighter tone generally, while humbuckers are deeper and darker. There are models that have combinations of single coil and humbuckers as well. 

Within these pickup configurations, guitars come with a switch, allowing you to select which combination of pickups are being used, leading to even more variations in tones. 

If that were not enough, effects exist! There are effects processors, but usually players talk a lot about pedals.

A guitar pedal can be used to create many effects, such as distortion (often referred to as buzz, fuzz, etc.). This creates a distorted, messier tone than clean, chorus (makes it sound like multiple guitars are playing the same thing), tremolo (raises and lowers the volume in a manner that mimics motion).

Then there is delay (repeats what was played), reverb (create reverberations much like how sound bounces off walls in a concert hall, for instance), wah (often referred to as crybaby pedals, it sounds literally like the word “waah” when run through a guitar), etc.

Many musicians create their pedal boards that have their favorite pedals on them, arranged in the particular order they find works best for them.

They Are Portable

When it comes to portability, the guitar is super easy to move around or take with you. An acoustic guitar is the perfect instrument to take with you, for example.

It produces its own volume thanks to the resonant chamber, and when put in its hard case is fairly durable. People take acoustic guitars with them on business trips, even when flying.

The portability gets even better when you use a smaller acoustic or travel guitar! Some of these models will fit in an overhead. Many touring musicians will take a number of guitars with them because when in their cases, they can be stacked thanks to the slim profile. 

And while some require an amplifier, they can be moved around quite easily. Today, with the invention of digital speaker simulators, many amps have the capability to be used without bulky cabinets.

And they are so small that a whole rig could fit in an airplane overhead, pedal board included! This makes the guitar a very popular instrument among many musicians.

The guitar’s popularity is also based on the fact that anyone can build skills, and without lessons. Some instruments are very hard to grasp without instruction. And while the guitar is easier to get a sense of with a teacher, it’s not necessary.

A person can learn the guitar with a good, informative website or instructional book. All that is necessary after this is time and practice.

A person who commits themselves to learning can do it for free and go quite far as a guitarist. Now, the guitar is not by any means easy. But a person who focuses on their skill long term can progress easier than a lot of other instruments.

A month of dedicated practice after beginning, most people can begin to play easier songs. This is another reason why there are so many guitar players. It’s easy to stay inspired when you are able to play your favorite songs sooner.

One thing then leads to another, and before you know it, you are progressing as a player. And so this can then become a guitar playing lifestyle pretty quickly!

Popularity Of Guitar In History

Another good answer to the question: “Why is the guitar so popular” is that they are everywhere in music! Historically and today, guitars have been and continue to be used in mainstream music with great success. 

Whether they are personally a fan, it seems like most people have heard of Jimi Hendrix and know he was a legendary guitarist. B.B. King is one of the most well-known blues guitarists. If you stop and think, you might be able to come up with a list yourself.

The guitarist is a critical part of any band! Other than the vocalist, the guitar players are often the most recognized when fans speak of the members of their favorite band.

The primary image of your favorite guitarists probably brings to mind rock music. The guitar is indeed desirable for rock, as well as metal music.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that it is also used in pop, blues, jazz, even classical, to name a few. These genres have plenty of music where the guitar is the primary instrument. 

Because guitars are so visible in the music scene, it is probably not surprising, so many people gravitate toward it when they decide they want to learn an instrument. It’s likely a guitarist is the inspiration behind them wanting to learn in the first place! So why wouldn’t they go for a guitar?

Maybe they wanted to re-create a cool riff or solo they heard, or just wanted to be able to create similar sounds to those they admire so much from their favorite bands. Or perhaps to try to create their unique sound. The possibilities are seemingly endless.

Guitar Popularity Statistics

Not only do the above topics help to understand the guitar’s popularity, the sales every year also support this. Each year, the amount of sales for it continue to climb! Guitar manufacturers have to continue to increase their production efforts to keep up with demand.

Business is good for guitar brands because the instrument is so popular, and by the looks of things, this is not slowing down. Here are the volumes for the last few year’s courtesy of music trades. This is revenue for the year listed.

  • 2020 – 2,630,950
  • 2019 – 2,472,700
  • 2018 – 2,489,390
  • 2017 – 2,496,185
  • 2016 – 2,377,310
  • 2015 – 2,341,551
  • 2014 – 1,942,625
  • 2013 – 1,742,498
  • 2012 – 1,648,595

As you can see, the growth between 2012 and 2020 is over a million units. This is one popular instrument and there is no doubt, the guitar will continue to grow!

Where Is The Guitar Most Popular?

While we can see by the statistics, there are a lot of guitar sales each year. But where are these instruments being sold? With the rise of the internet and influencers, the guitar has remained popular in most countries of the world.

Based on other sales statistics, roughly 40% of all guitar sales are completed in the United States. This means it is very popular! Based on regions of the world, the guitar sales by percentage include:

  • North America – 46.4%
  • Europe – 23.9%
  • Asia – 23.5%
  • South America – 4%
  • Australia – 2.2%

As you can see, there are many years and multiple reasons why the guitar is so popular. It has shaped our music and even given us an incredible hobby. We can make music like never before because of this instrument.

As people, we have been stretched by its music and sound. We are fortunate to be able to acquire and play such an instrument so easily. If you are considering the guitar, there has never been a better time to start than now!


Why is guitar so interesting?

The guitar is so interesting because it is very versatile. It can make so many types of sounds and in different platforms. It also has a great look to it that attracts people. There is also the ability to add other accessories to it to get different sounds.

And because it is one of the easier instruments to learn, more people can get going relatively quickly.

Is the guitar the most popular instrument?

Yes, the guitar is one of the most popular instruments in the world. It has shaped our history as people in so many ways through music. Most people, who play other instruments, normally also learn the guitar because of its versatility.

This grows every year, making the guitar very popular among musicians. It fits so many styles of music that it will take the top spot for years to come.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear.I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!