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16 Million Americans Learned To Play Guitar in the Last Two Years: Why and Who Are They?
16 Million Americans Learned To Play Guitar in the Last Two Years: Why and Who Are They?
16 Million Americans Learned To Play Guitar in the Last Two Years: Why and Who Are They?

Arts & Culture

16 Million Americans Learned To Play Guitar in the Last Two Years: Why and Who Are They?

Drawing From Results of Nationwide Survey, Fender Doubles Down On Beginner Tools To Break Down Barriers, Demystify Guitar with Accessible, Self-Guided Experience

HOLLYWOOD, Calif., Oct. 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Today Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) released the results of a study, “Fender’s New Guitar Player Landscape Analysis,” commissioned alongside YouGov®, which revealed that an incredible 7% of the U.S. population ages 13-64 (approx. 16 million people)  started to learn guitar in the last two years, with 62% citing COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns as a major motivator. Anticipating the growing need for individual, healthy and positive hobbies during a time of isolation, in April of 2020 Fender offered three complimentary months of Fender Play®, their complete online learning app for guitar, bass and ukulele. This resulted in one million new signups, amidst soaring guitar sales. To continue to best support this growing community, Fender partnered with YouGov® to commission a 10,000-person survey with the goal of identifying and understanding this new community’s needs. Learning from the data gathered, Fender will today launch the Beginner’s Hub, a network of online resources which includes every tool a new player needs to start, stick with and eventually master their guitar, bass or ukulele.

Among the respondents to the survey, which was structured to ensure natural fallout of guitar beginners and related target audiences from a demographically representative sample of the age 13-64 US population, 62% of beginner guitarists said that the COVID-19 pandemic was an important, driving factor in beginning their guitar journey. 77% of those polled reported that they found themselves with additional free time during this period, which they used to play and practice. While this group viewed the pandemic as a shared experience, the survey results revealed their motivations, life experiences and levels of dedication to be exceedingly varied.

The following insights emerged from Fender’s New Guitar Player Landscape Analysis:

  • The New Face of Guitar: 72% of new players are between the ages of 13 and 34, ushering in the next generation of artists that will be transforming the guitar and music industries. These new players are not music novices, with the majority having played or attempted to play another instrument prior to guitar, with piano/keyboard and bass being the most popular.
  • GuitarTok: 58% of beginners use TikTok weekly or more frequently. Additionally 67% of beginners seek out and consume guitar content at least weekly if not daily (19% daily, 48% weekly).
  • Music’s In The Family: 33% of current beginner guitar players and 33% of aspiring guitar players (those who have not yet learned/play guitar but indicated high interest/likelihood to do so in the next 12 months), have a family member who has owned a guitar, so having the guitar in the home may be a factor for beginner players.
  • Motivations To Learn To Play Guitar Have Shifted: 67% of new players have full time careers, with the majority considering guitar as a hobby rather than a passion. Outside of guitar, video games are one of their top hobbies — indicating a growing opportunity to connect with players in virtual spaces. Other hobbies include cooking, health & wellness, reading and traveling. Research shows women, teens, adults aged 40+ and black beginning players are especially likely to classify themselves as self-improvers when it comes to their current guitar playing.
  • Genre-bending: Hip Hop is popular among today’s Beginners. However, they are less likely to associate it with guitar. Tapping into this genre may help drive interest and engagement with players.
  • Latine Guitarists: In the last two years, 38% of the 16 million new players identify as Latine, emphasizing the need for Fender and the industry at large to support and ensure players from all backgrounds have a barrier-free experience to learning guitar. Of the 38%, hispanic players are much more likely to seek out guitar for the purpose of creating music and performing.
  • Leveling Up: 53% of beginners spend 2 hours or less practicing a 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.
  • Starting is Hard: Those who aspire to play guitar list significantly more barriers than those who have already begun playing, indicating that the act of starting itself may be the hardest part of picking up guitar. Once they’ve gotten started, respondents reported that one of the greatest struggles is not learning/progressing quickly enough. So much so, that 17% of beginners attest that a reward opportunity would help them continue to learn.
  • Sticking With It: Out of the 16 million new players that emerged in the last two years, one in four have stagnated in their progress, proving that starting is hard, but continuing might be harder, so ongoing learning support is crucial to sustaining players.

Utilizing this data, Fender intends to refine its existing programs to support these 16 million new players, adapting to the ever-changing needs of the many demographics that compose this group.

“The pandemic rapidly accelerated the already healthy growth in beginner guitar players and we accelerated our investment in tools to support them,” said Andy Mooney, CEO Fender. “Our suite of Beginner Tools enables new players to enjoy the process of learning to play music they love and perhaps go on to create music we all will love.”

Recognizing both the renewed interest in guitar among young people and the lifelong benefits of youth music education, the Fender Play Foundation™ has been working with Los Angeles Unified, the 2nd largest school district in the U.S  since 2020 to expand music education programming in their schools and hopes to expand to school districts across the nation in the coming years. The younger demographic also discovers their music and hobbies digitally, requiring a more significant investment in social media. Prior to Fender joining TikTok last month, #Fender had been viewed over 157M times and “#GuitarTok” has racked up 1B+ views and counting.

Guitar transcends genres and music spans all borders, demographics, and cultures. It requires internal and external investment to make the industry equally accessible to every artist, and Fender is committed to robust action to remove any barriers to entry. With tools like the Beginner’s Hub, Fender aims to eliminate the guesswork that can come from starting guitar and demystifying what can be an intimidating new hobby. But Fender has a deeper commitment to players than simply selling them the right guitar; it’s also developed robust tools to keep players committed to practicing and developing a lifelong skill. With this goal in mind, the Beginner’s Hub will provide users with access to Fender Play®, Fender’s complete online learning app for guitar, bass and ukulele. With song tabs, bite-sized lessons, trackable progress, and a song-based curriculum with video lessons straight from the songwriters themselves, Fender Play is designed to help players overcome difficulties and experience the joy that comes from mastering guitar. To inspire further dedication, Fender will tap first person insight from top artists like Brother’s Osborn, Brad Paisley, Larkin Poe and Jim Root. The legendary guitarists will walk new players through their unique “My First Fender” experiences via video, providing a fan-to-artist connection that demystifies the beginner to the recording star pipeline.  

Additionally, the Hub will take the guesswork out of starting by including the Find Your Fender quiz — which after a series of questions matches each user’s musical taste, aesthetic preferences and price range with the perfect guitar, or bass or ukulele for them. Find Your Fender also recommends the ideal amplifier to accompany an instrument, helping players have everything they need from the outset of their guitar journey. Whether a new player is looking to learn guitar as a tool for self-improvement or for creative expression, Find Your Fender can determine exactly the setup needed to fulfill the goal. Find Your Fender will make the gear selection process with a quiz and consequent personalized guitar, bass and ukulele recommendations. For those that don’t want to take the quiz, Fender also has curated bundles for electric/acoustic guitars, bass guitar and ukulele on a section of the Beginner Hub, and all are organized by level starting with Basic and then getting more premium with Beginner and Beginner+ for more familiar players. From the instrument and amps to accessories, these bundles have everything for beginners to get started, and there are kid options for younger learners, as well.

Fender also recognizes the shift in motivations to learning to play, and is adapting tools that cater to various entry points, including a brand new chatbot integrated into This bot will  help navigate beginners to the right content and recommendations, filtering them in from Articles and Tuner pages at launch and will help determine what they want to do (learn to play, learn about guitars, or buy).

High-resolution lifestyle and program images of Fender’s tools to support beginners can be accessed here. To learn more about Fender Play, visit Fender Play® is also available on-the-go with the Fender Play® app for iPhone, Android and iPad. For additional information on new Fender® products and to find a retail partner near you, visit  Join the conversation on social media by following @Fender.

YouGov® is a global data and analytics firm of consumer opinion and behavioral data collected and analyzed in real time across 55 markets. YouGov® boasts a robust online panel of over 17 million people worldwide and pioneering innovative data collection methods. As the market research pioneer of Multilevel Regression with Poststratification (MRP) for accurate predictions at a granular level, YouGov’s data consistently outperforms on accuracy, as concluded by Pew Research. Combined with advanced analytical technology, YouGov® generates the most accurate, complete, and dynamic portrait of the world.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov® Plc. Total sample size was 10,644 Guitar Beginners/Aspirers/Appreciators (the last being a “Guitar is Cool” segment) between the ages of 13-64 in the US. Fieldwork was undertaken between May 8th – June 13th, 2021. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US Guitar Beginners/Aspirers/Appreciators ages 13-64. This survey has been conducted using an online interview administered to members of the YouGov® Plc panel of individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys. YouGov® Plc make every effort to provide representative information. All results are based on a sample and are therefore subject to statistical errors normally associated with sample-based information.

Since 1946, Fender has revolutionized music and culture as one of the world’s leading musical instrument manufacturers, marketers and distributors. Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC)–whose portfolio of brands includes Fender®, Squier®, Gretsch® guitars, Jackson®, EVH® and Charvel®–follows a player-centric approach to crafting the highest-quality instruments and digital experiences across genres. Since 2015, Fender’s digital arm has introduced a new ecosystem of products and interactive experiences to accompany players at every stage of their musical journey. This includes innovative apps and learning platforms designed to complement Fender guitars, amplifiers, effects pedals, accessories and pro-audio gear and inspire players through an immersive musical experience. FMIC is dedicated to unlocking the power of musical expression for all players, from beginners to history-making legends.

FENDER® (standard and in stylized form) and FENDER PLAY are trademarks of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation and/or its affiliates, registered in the U.S. and other countries. FENDER PLAY FOUNDATION is a trademark of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation and/or its affiliates.

All other product and company names may be trademarks of their respective owners. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by or of them.   

SOURCE Fender Musical Instruments

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