Do Gen Z still think Guitars are cool?

submitted by FiniteBanjo edited

I notice that now, more than ever before, new upcoming artists' and alternative music is heavily pop-oriented, synthesized, and digital.

Is it just easier for them or do Gen Z not have the fondness for guitar that dominated the 1980s to the 2010s?

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No. Harpsichord is on the rise, to dominate, once again.


Harpsichord + delay always sounds dope


And waw. Don't forget the waw.


Who needs dynamic range



According to industry reports, guitar sales have decreased consistently for over a decade. Total US guitar sales dropped over 50% from 1.5 million units yearly in the 2000s down to around 600,000 as of 2020.

However, the past few years showed a leveling off of declines, and 2021 even saw a slight uptick likely driven by pandemic factors. But regardless, the market has gotten undeniably smaller since its peak.

That doesn't have a breakdown as to age of buyers, but if sales are less than half what they were two decades ago, I imagine that playing the guitar is probably less popular than it was at that point in time.


I'm not sure it's that simple - maybe they are playing their Gen X parents' guitars?


It does seem unlikely that, regardless of interest in playing the instrument, sales would’ve done anything but slumped in recent decades. Can’t really envision buying brand new guitars being a high priority for young people who are seemingly worse and worse off over time

FiniteBanjo [OP] , edited

Their data mentions the demographics of people who play guitar, not just those who buy them. (In 2022) 18-34 are about 40% of guitar players with the largest share. Boomers also still play but don't exert market influence.

That actually sounds like Gen X are the smaller guitar playing demographic, maybe? Could just be too busy with careers.


Speaking as a Gen X with a guitar... it was all about synthpop, rave and industrial. Who needed guitars in the 80s/90s anyway?



yes, things like Midwest emo are seeing a resurgence, see Origami Angel or Arcadia Grey for instance; or things that blend hyperpop with more pop/punk sensibilities like Dynastic. there's a lot of it out there, it's just not what's mainstream.


No way! Am I cool again?


you were cool the whole time


I am commenting to check this comment later so I can check out these bands.

Battle Masker

Gen Z? Yes.

Producers, advertisers, and other media big wigs that would fit in with the Ferengi Commerce Association? No


I guess I'm technically gen z, even if on the older side, but I think guitars are cool. And a sample size of one is perfect.


Guitar? You mean the controller for Guitar Hero?


I think most zoomers feel like they just don't have the time for that on top of whatever else they have going on.

I guarantee you that for every lost sale over time there's probably like 3 kids out there who have looked at an instrument and had a thought of "just maybe..." before banishing it because the time and energy costs alone to even begin sounding good at most instruments is gonna be daunting to someone who feels like their plate was already loaded.


No. Ze sin-te-sigh-zer is ze sound of ze future.


Need a click


I blame Wonderwall.


We all do...


It was supposed to be the one that saved us!!!!


it's such a solid riff tho...


Isn't the whole instagram neo-soul guitar style a gen Z thing? It seems like at least some of the generation is both fond of guitar and very good at it


There's also Polyphia and that whole movement of progressive metal with no distortion. Their technical level is stellar.


progressive metal with no distortion




I'm not much into it but I think Polyphia is a good example. I once got down a rabbit hole of related bands on YouTube, I don't remember the names but it definitely is a scene. It's hyper technical, definitely progressive, but you'll hear little if any overdrive, kind of like the latest Tool album but taking it even further.

Tim Hansen from Polyphia is like nothing I've ever heard. He even plays on nylon strings most of the time, and he just shreds the fuck out of it. Check him out on YouTube if you haven't already!

mihnt , edited need to look up, Joe Satriani, Buckethead, and Steve Vai.

That's the same vein they are taking inspiration from.

The guitar Tim Henson uses is a half-body, thin-necked, "classical" 6 string Ibanez. He only uses it for certain parts of the songs and ends up back on an electric by the end of the song most of the time. (Or Scott LePage will take over electric duty.) He also plays 7 and 8 string guitars. (I don't know if I've ever seen him with a 9.)

They use distortion plenty.

This is just progressive rock really. If you want progressive metal of the same "type", check out Animals as Leaders.

I thought you were going to mention Chon.

FiniteBanjo [OP] , edited

Never heard of it, tbh. I was just making a statement about how all the popular bands from 2 decades ago had at least one guitarist, but nowadays it feels like it's only DJs and little girls on the radio.


That's largely the radio. It doesn't play music that's actually fashionable, it plays music that's easily *marketable*.


Fair enough, I'm probably more exposed to it since I listen to and watch a bunch of guitar-related stuff anyway. There's a distinctive style of guitar playing that has emerged among a bunch of highly-proficient gen Z players, some of whom (like Ichika Nito and Seiji Igusa) have acquired petty substantial social media followings


<play wonderwall> flicks lighter


Well, the guitar is, after all, a peasants instrument.


I love guitars (I own two, though I'm an on-and-off casual player) and I have a few friends who are also into guitar-made music. Other genres like hip-hop also make use of guitars on occasion as well. They definitely aren't as popular as they once were, but they still have a fandom in Gen Z.


Guitars were a 1960s thing I believe. Here is what the in-group plays now:


I don't think guitars themselves are cool, but people who can play them? Definitely cool.


If it's something that takes longer than 10 minutes at a time to do most people are not going to do it. Musical instruments are time intensive to learn.

j4k3 , edited

Deleted by author


You can buy (or just steal) all the music you want to hear and never listen to an ad again. Also if you just pay for a streaming service you can play damn near every song and never get an ad again.


Might have an initial ad when you start a stream but its a commercial free modern rock online radio station. Can get the app on android or apple or just listen in browser.

No fucking accounts to create, or any bullshit.

The guy who created it left commercial radio and started his own station. He got tired of finding tons of amazing rock music that just doesnt get played.

Songs on the station are 36months or newer. He streams live some times, and has a ton of interviews you can check out.

(I was a subscriber before had to cut expenses and long time listener so im absolutely biased but im not shilling just happy to have this as a source for new music)


Nice share, thanks. Been struggling to find recent modern rock releases on YTM...

Jarix , edited

Some bands ive found because of it (formerly what was that radio)

In no particular order or ranking (i dont actually likr much from some of these so take these only as that i know of them not that i personally champion them)

Reign Wolf.






Velvet Two Stripes

Beddy Rays


Peach Pit


Pyschedelic Porn Crumpets


Cemetary Sun


If you purchase music you never have to hear a commercial again. I have 2100+ songs on most of my devices via CD rips, Bandcamp, etc. I also have about 550 albums on vinyl and I’m slowly starting digitizing those.


Music is on the radio. But radio is not all music there is.


Long ago I quit listening to ads to hear a few songs in an hour.

I mean, not all music is delivered in an ad-supported format.

FiniteBanjo [OP]

You don't gotta delete it, you were starting a lot of good discussion.


Pop music has been like that since the early 80’s. Traditional bands; a couple of guitarists, a bass player, a drummer and someone singing, still held some sway until the end of the grunge movement, but now most modern bands are playing some form of metal.

FiniteBanjo [OP] , edited

Bro just acts like Alternative, Rock, and Nu Metal never existed into the 2010s, which is understandable tbh.