Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Guitar Center in Debt

The LA Daily News reports that The Guitar Center is one billion dollars in debt! How is that even possible?
Guitar Center, the nation’s leading musical-instrument retailer, is in trouble. Changing musical tastes are partly to blame.
Ratings agency S&P Global downgraded Westlake Village-based Guitar Center Holdings Inc. for the second time last week as the troubled instrument retailer seeks to refinance and restructure more than $1 billion of debt.
“Most of what’s really selling today is rap and hip hop,” said George Gruhn, owner of the Gruhn Guitars shop in Nashville. “That’s outpacing other forms of music and they don’t use a lot of recognizable musical instruments.”
Or recognizable musical materials, for that matter, like melody and harmony.
The instrument is also facing an identity crisis. Guitar heroes – who have inspired many a player and fueled strong instrument sales – are few and far between these days, according to Gruhn.
Instead of people like Eric Clapton who could really play we have people, and I won't name them, who can really mug for the camera. Ok, yes and some of them can sing--but mostly they are singers chosen for their looks and ability to dance. When did pop music turn into a weird form of ballet?
The bigger problem, according to Concotelli, is that most aspiring players don’t want to put in the time to become proficient on the instrument.
“If they do want to learn they’ll just go to YouTube, but they’re not getting the proper instruction,” he said. “With kids these days, it’s all about instant gratification. No one wants to take six months or a year to learn. They don’t want to do the work.”
Uh, six months to a year? You think that's how long it takes? As I recall Clapton spent several years woodshedding, learning from old blues records. My estimate of how long it takes to become a really capable classical guitarist is five to ten years. That's IF you have a basic ability on the instrument.

Here's a couple of pretty fair guitarists, George Harrison and Eric Clapton and a few other folks playing George's song "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" which seems a nice eulogy for The Guitar Center.

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