The world has been very different that what we are all used to. The last two years are catching up, and the Guitar prices going up in 2022 is the result. So what is happening? What can you do?
Why Guitar Prices Going Up: What’s The Deal?
Did you notice the recent price changes for guitars? Are you wondering what you can do about it? Did you know they will probably go up again in the Summer? This is a heavy topic today, and we are going to tackle it the simplest way possible. Perhaps we should start from the beginning?
January is always an exciting time for guitarists. It doesn’t matter if you are a bedroom beginner, or a professional on the stage every night. The Winter NAMM show usually presents a sample of all of the newest models that are going to be available from the major companies. This allows each company to showcase the cool new guitars and gear that are being released. The most awesome part of this is that the public gets to check it out-live and up close. Famous guitarists demo new guitars/gear at NAMM, since it is a trade show for everything music related.
The last two years have been a little different, though. It hasn’t exactly been a good idea to pack thousands of people in a convention center during freezing weather. If you have ever been to NAMM, then you already know about “NAMM Flu”. Everyone always comes back from NAMM with the sniffles, but lately it has been much more threatening than that. I have really missed NAMM, and the excitement that surrounds the event. I miss meeting other guitarists, and some of them are my heroes. But every other person in the music industry probably feels just like me.
With Covid 19 making it’s god-awful world tour, everything ground to a sudden halt. This includes guitar/gear manufacturers all over the world. Production had to stop at the least for a few weeks in the beginning of the pandemic, and some factories were closed for months at a time. This includes parts companies, and pickup companies as well. Import companies like Cort and World Music Instruments (WMI LLC) were just as affected as the USA-based companies.
So if you bought a new guitar in 2021, you might have waited for a little while, depending on the model you wanted to buy. Companies like Schecter had a few weeks of lead time on certain popular models. If you didn’t mind waiting for a few weeks, the guitars were being shipped as quickly as possible. This resulted in some great sales figures for most companies. However, one company saw a huge boom that has never been seen before in it’s 70 year history!
That’s right, Fender sold more guitars in 2020-2021 than any other year in the history of the company. This is probably because people started working from home, and they had more free time to learn how to play guitar as a new hobby. Fender is at the top when it comes to “brand recognition”. If you ask me, Fender might as well be the Coca-Cola of guitar brands. Everyone knows who Fender is, and everyone knows the famous Stratocaster. New players trust the brand name, and Fender’s rich history.
While my business partner Richard loves Fender and Epiphone, I am more of a Schecter and ESP guy. So it came as a surprise to see the enormous sales figures for Fender guitars during the pandemic. Fender may have had a record year, but this also means that Fender is now hurting bad for parts. In fact, back in the beginning of 2021, Fender recognized the problems it was facing for the future:
“The challenge we are currently working through is that there was an initial contraction when global lockdowns occurred, and companies had to react by either ceasing or reducing output. That was then immediately followed by a sustained spike in interest, and the two extremes were very close together, so as a result there is some catch-up that’s currently taking place industry wide,”Justin Norvell: Fender VP
I know that people were waiting on certain models to be produced by Fender and Gibson alike. I had a friend that really wanted a Stratocaster that Fender had announced at NAMM 2021. It was a blue-burst type of finish, and was part of the high end Ultra Series. He ended waiting on that guitar for over two months due to the supply problems. These companies are lagging behind and they need time to catch up, but this is only one of the many reasons we see guitar prices going up.
Guitar Prices Going Up: Parts And Labor
Wood has been in short supply, lately. However, a huge problem when it comes to guitars and production these days has a lot to do with individual parts, more so than the woods. Fender recently announced that the company will no longer use swamp ash in production guitars. But the other problem is the parts that every guitar uses. Things like knobs, switches, bridges, and even pickguards are in short supply. But why is it this so bad? What does this have to do with guitar prices going up?
One reason we see guitar prices going up may be due to the massive influx of new players. Over 16 million people picked up the guitar for the first time over the last year. That means that 7% of the American population owns and plays a guitar right now. Professionals/collectors like myself own 5 or 6 different guitars. Usually, I would say this is a good thing for the culture of guitar. I wish everyone could enjoy guitar as much as I do!
It’s been no secret that the pandemic has had a huge effect on the guitar industry. A quick scroll through Instagram will show you tons of new players learning how to play, in all kinds of age ranges. As we see in Fender’s New Guitar Player Landscape Analysis, those 16 million new players have had a huge influence on how the industry is shifting when it comes to guitar prices going up. 16 million guitars is a big number, and it put a pretty big dent in the spare supply of guitars.
And, if recent comments made by Fender CEO Andy Mooney are anything to go by, people shouldn’t expect stock shortage issues for guitars to resolve any time soon. This also spills over to amplifiers, live sound equipment, and effects pedals. Guitar amps use all kinds of circuitry these days, especially modelers like the Mustang amp. These computer chips and capacitors are in short supply, just like the actual guitar parts.
You also have to factor in the people that make all of these products. Labor was in high demand in the USA factories and many people took time off because they tested positive for Covid 19. Some factories, like PRS, closed for a few weeks for the safety of it’s employees. This put everything behind in a major way. Just missing a week of production can have a significant impact on a guitar company. Some factories missed a week, but some missed much more than a week.
While in conversation with CNBC, Mooney spoke of the “remarkable demand” that’s currently dominating the market, and admitted he doesn’t expect things to get “significantly better” for some time. If it is impacting an industry giant like Fender, then the smaller companies are probably facing the same issues:
“I think eventually it’s going to get better. I think the question is when. We’re not optimistic at this point it’s going to get significantly better for at least two, maybe three, quarters.”Andy Mooney, Fender Guitars
That means that gear may be in short supply for the rest of 2022. If these shortages are affecting a huge company like Fender, then supplies must really be short for budget brands, and smaller luthiers. You might have taken a trip recently to your local guitar shop and noticed how sparse the selection looks. But if you are paying attention, you probably also noticed something else…the price tags.
Guitar Prices Going Up: Let’s Talk Money
A big part of my job here at Electrikjam is to be familiar with price tiers. We do reviews on all kinds of guitars, but it’s no secret that we cater to people that are just getting started. That’s exactly why we like to focus on products that are a good deal, and give you the most bang for your buck. The price of an item is a huge factor when it comes to picking items to review. I want you all to get the best deals possible, and get the best gear possible. That way you can learn unimpeded by crappy quality.
At the beginning of 2021, there was a 10% increase across the board for guitars and guitar gear. Now this is actually pretty normal practice when it comes to guitars. We usually see a price shift at the beginning of the year, and also the middle of the year during Summer NAMM. The pricing usually varies from company to company. The 10% increase from last year is pretty standard, if not a little bit higher than usual. Guitar Max (Max Carlisle), a buddy of mine, explains this really well in his most recent video:
Beyond the click-bait title (Sorry Max!), there is some serious truth in what Max is saying. Supply chain problems have hit every industry across the world. There are parts sitting on container ships just off the coast of the USA that have not been unloaded. Most of these parts are electronics that you need to make guitars. There were a ton of guitars sold last year, and now we are running on empty.
But now in 2022, if you had your eye on a guitar before Christmas, you will notice that the price has increased this month. Since the first week of January 2022, prices have spiked across the board. This price increase is most noticeable in Fender and Gibson guitars. But every company has been affected, and every company has higher prices now… than they did a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, we are not just looking at the standard 10% increase.
Some models have seen 20% increases, while brands like Fender have leaned more towards 30% increases. That means that a guitar that was sitting in the $799.00 price bracket is almost $1000.00 now after you pay tax. There are a few budget brands that did not raise the prices quite as much, such as Sire.
But why? If this seems like price gouging to you, then you are right. There is a high demand for guitars and guitar gear right now since so many people have started playing. As a business, it makes sense that guitar prices are going up. The business is selling more guitars, and as long as we are willing to pay the higher price, the company will continue to sell guitars at that price. Inflation has caused the prices to soar with companies like Fender and Gibson.
Inflation: Inflation is the loss of purchasing power of the currency that results in an increase general and sustainable prices. It must be distinguished from the increase in the cost of living. The loss in value of the money is a phenomenon that strikes the national economy as a whole.Webster’s Dictionary
Did you know that the US Dollar is worth 95% less than it was worth during World War II? Something like 40% of all of the money in circulation was printed in 2020/2021. That not only devalues the dollar massively, it also causes prices increases across the board. We are just now starting to feel the impact in the guitar community, but it is looking kind of bad. This month, prices jumped rather quickly without warning.
The bad news, is that once prices go up, they do not go back down. This is how inflation works, unfortunately. You have probably noticed prices going up everywhere. Those expensive prices for groceries are due to inflation, and so are the guitar prices. This is the “new normal” as far as guitar pricing goes, in the foreseeable future.
Guitar Prices Going Up: What Can I Do?
As a consumer, there are a few things that you can do to counteract these price increases. The first thing you can do, is start buying things that you absolutely need right now. We have tons of great buying guides right here on our site, with up to date prices. If you were thinking that you need a new guitar or amp for the studio, now is the time to get it. Don’t hesitate to buy, because:
Prices will be going up again after Summer NAMM. Many brands have already confirmed this suspicion. While we often see a small increase in prices during the Summer NAMM event, we will probably see up to 10% added to the already higher prices. So if you need a guitar, or a piece of gear, right now is the time to buy it. We have tons of helpful reviews right here on our site that can lead you in the right direction, no matter what you are looking for.
Usually, I would tell you not to worry about it too much because the used market is always an option. To my dismay, I have seen some people price gouging guitar models that are in rare supply. We saw this happen with video game consoles last year, and it sucks to see people doing the same thing with guitars. This is late-stage capitalism, supply and demand are key.
So if you were thinking about buying anything, do it sooner rather than later. You might also keep in mind that compromise might be in order as well. Maybe you want a guitar in a particular color. Personally, I would take whatever plays well, regardless of the color if I were you. Hell, I just bought a bright pink guitar for myself! I would have preferred the green version of the Schecter Nick Johnston model, but they were sold out. Besides, the pink has really grown on me!
Now don’t go crazy and start hoarding guitars like toilet paper or anything. The situation is not that dire. All I am saying is that you should buy the things you need before Summer NAMM. The price has already gone up, and it will be rising again in July. Be smart about your purchases, and go ahead and buy what you need.
Guitar Prices Going Up: In Closing…
The world has seen a ton of changes over the last 2 years, and it is something we all are going to have to adapt to. The prices for guitars are going to keep going up, and this is something we need to be mindful of. It was really only a matter of time before this happened. I had the idea that it might happen over the Winter season, and that’s why I bought my latest guitar when I did. Now, it is $100 more than the price I paid for it…just 5 weeks ago.
So if you need gear, now is the time to buy it. Especially products like amps, and Line 6 modeling hardware. Since these use electronic components that are in short supply, you should buy them ASAP. Anything that uses processors and microchips is going to be hard to come by this next year. If you need it, then buy it now.
Hopefully by next year, everything will be back to normal and the supply chain will be better. But as I said earlier, that doesn’t mean that the prices are going to go back down. The new prices are here to stay, for better or worse.
Another tip to take with you: Check for old stock from last year that has not seen the price increase. New models may have seen a big price jump, but the older ones should still be at the original price. You can also shop local, since the mom & pop guitar shop is more inclined to give you a deal. Finally, if you have to go to the bigger stores, always ask for coupons or promotions.
Looking on the bright side: I think it is positively awesome that so many people took to guitar during the pandemic. Guitar is already the most popular instrument by a longshot. Fender released the demographics of the people that bought all of those guitars last year, and the customer’s ages were between 16 and 34. I hope that means that in the next few years we see some great new guitar-centric bands!
Please check out our review section if you are in the market for guitars/guitar gear. We test everything at our homes, offices, or at the retailer itself. We only write reviews on things we know, and feel passionately about. Now is the time to buy!
Why are guitar prices going up?
The easy answer is supply and demand. There has been a lot of new players over 2020-2021 and this affects the amount of guitars for sale. Inflation has taken it’s toll on prices as well.
Will guitar prices go back down?
probably not. Even though guitar prices going up has nothing to do with usual circumstances, once a price is raised… it is rarely brought back down. Even though the price increase is due to circumstances out of our control.
Are guitar prices going up in the Summer of 2022?
Most likely. After the Summer NAMM convention, we may see prices raised yet again. Hopefully the price increase will not be as drastic as January 2022.
Are used guitar prices going up too?
Yes. Even in the used market, we are seeing an increase on newer models due to inflation. Used models are going for 10-15% more than usual.