7 Reasons Why The Guitar Is So Popular: Statistics Included

The guitar has been an extremely popular instrument for the last few decades. It has shaped our music and even our lives. But where did it all start, and why is the guitar so popular?

The guitar is a very versatile instrument that can be used to make many types of music. It’s also a very accessible instrument that is made in huge quantities each year. Their polyphonic design and tuning arrangements allow for a dynamic experience. This is very attractive to musicians.

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

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

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

The guitar is popular because it’s versatile, polyphonic, portable, and easy to learn. And because of its popularity, new players have lots of materials to get started with.

1. They Are Accessible

It’s incredible to consider just how popular the guitar has become in the market. But with so many styles, it’s no wonder it has become such a favorite among musicians. It’s also possible to buy entire starter kits for under $200!

These kits come with the instrument, an amplifier, cables, a gig bag, strap, and picks all in one package. 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 guitar.

Even higher quality units are not super expensive. You are not forced to spend thousands of dollars just to have a good guitar. 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. This also involves figuring out how to transport it and get it into your home. Assuming you aren’t looking for an electric piano.

You can also control the noise levels 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.

why the guitar is so popular

2. They Are Versatile

When asked why is the guitar so popular, many will point out its versatility. 

The guitar is used across many genres, jazz works just as well as country music does, for instance. It’s polyphonic, it can play multiple notes at once. And in the same way, create harmonies with itself, which many other instruments cannot do.

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

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

The electric guitar’s sound is generated 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.

Guitars also come with a switch to select which combination of pickups is 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. This creates a distorted, crunchier sound, providing great rock tones. The chorus effect makes it sound like many guitars are playing the same thing, slightly out of phase. While the tremolo raises and lowers the volume in a manner that mimics motion.

Then there is a delay, reverb, wah, and many more. Many musicians create pedal boards that have their favorite effects on them. All are arranged in the particular order they find works best for them.

3. They Are Portable

When it comes to portability, the guitar is super easy to move around or take with you. An acoustic guitar is a 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. This is because when in their cases, they can be stacked thanks to their slim profile.

And while some require an amplifier, they can be moved around quite easily. With the invention of digital speaker emulation, amps have the capability to be used without cabinets.

And they are so small that a whole rig could fit in an airplane overhead, the 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. Even 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 learn 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.

After a month of dedicated practice, 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 playing guitar creates a new lifestyle pretty quickly!

5. Guitar is Easy to Learn

While there is a learning curve to the guitar, for sure, it’s also one of the easiest instruments to learn. Part of the appeal to the guitar and beginners is that a person can get quite good at it in a short period of time.

A person who is devoted and willing to invest time can move rather quickly. Right into an intermediate level of playing. It also helps that there are so many teachers, lessons, and materials available. This can help beginners get used to the guitar faster than any other instrument.

6. It’s a Great Songwriting Tool

Many musicians either know how to play guitar or have one around. This is because they make a great songwriting tool. Even if you know as little as basic beginner chords, you can write a song with a guitar.

An acoustic guitar doesn’t need anything more to produce sound with good volume. So many musicians use them for their ease of use and simplicity. Even vocalists will learn a few guitar chords or notes. This can help them find the right tune or melody for lyrics.

Even some of the greatest and most popular music ever made has used a guitar to help write songs or parts of them. Even if the guitar doesn’t even play a role in the final product. This makes the guitar one valuable songwriting tool!

Want to learn how to write a song? We have a great article for you!

7. Guitar Can be Played at low Volumes

Many instruments are very loud and cannot be played quietly. Looks at the drums, for example, to really practice effectively, a lot of noise would need to be made. The guitar can be played rather low in volume, without disturbing other people.

This is incredibly important to those who live in an apartment and wish to keep their place. Anyone who plays the trumpet wouldn’t be able to do so without getting an eviction notice. But with all the technology around the guitar, it’s possible to play without anyone knowing it.

Amplifiers with built-in speaker simulation can take advantage of headphones. All while allowing a guitar player to have a good experience. There are many ways to practice quietly, which is one of the reasons for the popularity of the guitar.

Click to learn more about how to practice guitar quietly.

Popularity Of Guitar In History

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

Whether they are a fan or not, it seems like most people have heard of Jimi Hendrix. Most people 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. They come up when fans speak of the members of their favorite band.

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

Yet, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s also used in pop, blues, jazz, and even classical, to name a few. These genres have plenty of music and the guitar is the primary instrument. Classical guitars are only one type of many and are very popular!

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

Maybe they wanted to re-create a cool riff or solo they heard. Or 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.

Boy Playing Guitar

Guitar Sale Statistics

The topic we covered helps to explain the popularity. But, the sales every year also support this. Each year, the number of sales for it continues to climb! Manufacturers have to continue to increase their production 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 years, courtesy of music trades. This is the 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 musical instrument. There is no doubt, the guitar will continue to grow!

Where Is The Guitar Most Popular?

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

Based on sales statistics, roughly 40% of all guitar sales are completed in the United States. This means it’s 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!

FAQs

Why is guitar so interesting?

The guitar is so interesting because it’s very versatile. It can make so many types of sounds on 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.

Because it’s one of the easier instruments to learn, more people can get going 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. This is primarily 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.

Is guitar losing popularity?

No, the guitar is continuing to climb in popularity each and every year. There are many publications that claim the guitar is dying off, but that simply isn’t true. In fact, in 2021 alone, sales exploded according to guitar world magazine.

Music Trades compared the increase in sales to that of the post-Beatles era. When guitars were selling in incredible volumes.

Photo of author

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!