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16 Million Take Up the Guitar During the Pandemic

During 2020 and 2021 there was plenty of anecdotal evidence that lots and lots of people were learning to play the guitar (and other instruments) as a pandemic activity. Our experience at the Denver Folklore Center was consistent with that pattern as our showroom was often more empty than at any other time in recent memory. 

Now there are data to tell us exactly how many people took up guitar during those years. Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, together with YouGov, conducted a study in 2021 that showed 7% of the U.S. population ages 13-64 started to learn guitar during 2020 and 2021 with 62% citing COVID and lockdowns as the reason they took it up. That’s 16 million new guitar players! 

Here are a few other highlights of the study. 

72% of the new learners are between the ages of 13 and 32 – a good sign for continued interest in the instrument among younger generations 

Of the young learners a majority have experience with at least one other instrument – with piano and bass being the two most common 

61% of players say they are just doing it for themselves and to play socially/recreationally About half of new players are women, and 25% identify as Hispanic/Latino 

One-third of the new players have a family member who has played guitar in the past 

53% of beginners spend 2 hours or less practicing each week, but on average they believe practicing 4 hours a week for 1-2 years is what it will take to "get good" at guitar 

Of the 16 million who took up guitar about 25% did not stick with it very long 

To paraphrase one of Mark Twain’s famous quotes about himself: reports of the death of the guitar have been greatly exaggerated. - Saul Rosenthal, Co-Owner Denver Folklore Center