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Higher-Quality Instruments, Broad Consumer Base, Concerns about CITES Fallout…:The 2017 Acoustic Guitar Market

by Christian Wissmuller • in
  • Survey
• Created: August 8, 2017

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Overall, the acoustic guitar market seems to be a relatively rosy segment for MI retailers in 2017, with nearly 75 percent of participants in this month’s survey reporting that sales are either up or level when compared to this same time last year.

“Guitars with rosewood components are becoming difficult to obtain in a timely manner,” observes Mundt Piano & Organ Co.’s (Burlington, Iowa) Timothy Dehner, who was just one of many who expressed frustration and concern with enhances CITES regulations and their impact on making, selling, and owning acoustics – probably the topic most frequently commented upon by those taking part in this poll. 

Other commonly cited trends included an increased consumer preference for smaller-bodied instruments and a noticeable uptick in the quality of acoustic guitars being produced today.

 “Customers have begun to shop new, instead of used or repair to an older instrument.”

Dan Patterson

Roger’s Music

Ft. Payne, Alabama


“Everyone owns two guitars either from Craigslist, Musician’s Friend, or Maury’s and they want the third in the set for nothing.”

John Diffley

Diffley Guitar Studio

Stewartville, Minnesota


“We are unique because last summer we had an abundance of ‘Trimmigrants’ – younger people from around the world that trim Marijuana in the hills. Due to state legalization, we have 90% less Trimmigrants this year. While the store smells much better, I am losing out on ‘green’ sales!”

Anthony Mantova

Mantova’s Two Street Music

Eureka, California


“Most of the independents in Queens have ridden off in to the sunset… It’s basically me, Ash, and GC. Survival of the fittest in the small pond.”

Dave Caldwell

Caldwell Connection

Whitestone, New York


“Acoustics are improving in quality and becoming more affordable. The offerings are also growing, with Taylor offering guitars at $499, guitar sales are just sky rocketing for us.”

Jericho Sombrio

Easy Music Center

Honolulu, Hawaii

 Describe your “typical” acoustic guitar customer.

 “20-50 years old, male. Home player, studio player.”

Wes Smedsrud

Uptown Music

Keizer, Oregon


“Male, accomplished guitar player, over 25 years old.”

Wildwood Music

Coshocton, Ohio


“18-30. A lot of beginning players or people who are just wanting a new guitar, not a particularly good guitar.”

Greg Lyons

Royal Music Co., Inc.

Bowling Green, Kentucky


“Late teens, early 20s, buying their first guitar.”

Shelly Morris

Morris Music Store & Studio

Sheridan, Wyoming


“Our ‘typical’ acoustic customer is a beginner looking for a first entry-level instrument (or the occasional broke jamoke looking for something cheap). Age and income levels of the beginners are all over the map – no real set demographic. We get some more advanced players looking at intermediate price points, but they tend to just be ‘tire-kickers’ and not buyers more often than not.”

Timothy Dehner

Mundt Piano & Organ Co.

Burlington, Iowa 

Have you been noticing any significant shifts in the acoustic guitar market – either on the supplier or consumer sides?

“Quality is getting better with broad selection of colors and body sizes. Smaller body sizes are popular.”

Wesley Edwards, Sr.

Draisen Edwards Music

Anderson, South Carolina


“Yes, because of the woods import issue [it’s] hard to get certain instruments, period.”

Donald Whalen

Swansboro Music & Pawn

Swansboro, North Carolina


“Reduced vendor SKUs and improved quality make it easier to stock wide selection of model variations vs. finish variations of the same model.”

Eric Murphy

Firehouse Guitars and Music

Decatur, Georgia


“Quality is the best ever but customers still need to be educated about humidity control.”

Bob Willcutt

Willcutt Guitars

Lexington, Kentucky

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