In a recent interview with Consequence Of Sound, ROB ZOMBIE‘s John 5 pondered the future of the guitar in light of the fact that new acts rely less and less on the instrument.
“The guitar is my whole life,” he said. “I know it is one of the most important instruments and inventions, the electric guitar, to me, since television or movies or anything like that. So, it’s hard for me to even talk about people not using it as they should. I’ll watch the Grammys and think, ‘You hardly even see people playing guitar,’ and it freaks me out. In my eyes, and in my opinion, the guitar is strong and powerful and will never die. But in someone else’s eyes, maybe it’s different. In my eyes, I’m very positive and want it to live forever.”
Last year, METALLICA‘s Kirk Hammett told U.K.’s Metal Hammer magazine that he was also concerned about the future of the guitar because of troubles facing iconic brand Gibson, which had at one point filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
As more popular music has been made with computers, international guitar sales began to decline, creating a challenge for larger manufacturers and retailers like Gibson. According to the Washington Post, the other of the two biggest companies, Fender, is also in debt, and a third, PRS Guitars, had to cut staff and expand production of cheaper guitars.
Hammett said: “I don’t know what the fuck it is, but people seem to be seeing the guitar in a different light and passing them up for fucking samplers and whatnot. Maybe it’s a sign of the times.
“Like all instruments, there’s a time when it goes out of fashion.
“In the early ’80s, the guitar wasn’t as popular as it became again in the mid-’80s, so we’ll see what happens as far as enthusiasm is concerned with the actual act of making music with a guitar.
“It’s sad news to me, but I hope Gibson prevail. They have in the past.”
DEEP PURPLE‘s Steve Morse was more optimistic about the guitar’s future, telling Australian Musician: “I think [the guitar is] very close to the human voice in terms of giving people their unique signature, their unique personality [and] sound. And because of that, it’s not gonna go away. And what the big media tells us is the cool thing I don’t think matters to guitar players. People that are in the audience will like it and will enjoy it. As long as somebody is playing with heart and soul; it’ll come out through the fingers. So I think it’s always gonna be part of music.”
Last October, Gibson announced that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware had confirmed the company’s plan of reorganization. This represented the final legal step before Gibson could emerge from Chapter 11, which was expected in early November.