The pandemic spurred a legion of young shredders. 16 million people have taken up the guitar, Fender says.

Fender Play
  • According to a new study conducted by Fender and YouGov, young people are flocking to the guitar.
  • The study estimates that 16 million people have taken up the guitar in the US over the pandemic.
  • Insider spoke with Fender CEO Andy Mooney about the influx of young, tech-savvy shredders.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

While many Americans scrambled to find new hobbies at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, close to 16 million people took up the guitar, according to a new study from Fender and YouGov reviewed by Insider.

Fender and YouGov conducted the "Fender's New Guitar Player Landscape Analysis" study, analyzing who new players were and how they took up the instrument.

Some of the major takeaways are that most new players are women, two-thirds of new players are between the ages of 13 and 34, more than half of them use TikTok, and 38% of the new players identify as Latinx.

Fender and YouGov surveyed 10,644 Guitar "beginners, aspirers and appreciators," between the ages of 13-64 in the US, between May and June 2021.

"The population of beginners is about 7% of the total population. But as many as 72 million people are playing guitar now," Andy Mooney, Fender's CEO told Insider.

Mooney told Insider that the new research built on a six-year study Fender had previously conducted, which showed that half of new players were women and that younger players were eager to pick up the guitar.

But, according to Mooney, 90% of the beginners identified before the pandemic were walking away from the instrument, a trend that started to change during the pandemic.

"What we really learned from the pandemic is that, now that people have more time to invest in themselves, is that learning music, guitar in particular, it's just a fundamentally good investment of their time and self-development, or relaxation, mental health," Mooney said. "It's not just, although for some players it is, it's not about having your foot on the monitor at the front of the stage with the wind machine blowing through your long hair."

Sixty-two percent of study respondents said that they chose to pick up the guitar during the pandemic, according to Fender. And the decision to make "Fender Play," the company's guitar learning app, free for 90 days paid off handsomely.

"During the pandemic, we said, 'Let's offer Fender Play free for 90 days,' just to give something, just to give parents a tool, kids a tool. We thought maybe we'd get 50,000, 60,000 people would take us up on that offer. We got 100,000 people in the first week. Ultimately we topped out at just shy of a million," Mooney said, adding that today, there are a quarter-million paying users on the app.

And during these last two years, Fender's sales have skyrocketed as well.

Mooney told Insider that 2020 was a record year in terms of sales, and September 2021 was the biggest sales and orders month in the company's history. And if it weren't for supply chain slowdowns, the numbers may have been even higher.

"We believe there could be a guitar in every home. We didn't think that six years ago, but we see no reason now why there couldn't be," Mooney said.

TikTok has also proved a goldmine in terms of encouraging young players to play the guitar.

"Music is inextricably woven through everything that happens on TikTok," Mooney said, and 58% of the new players, according to Fender's study, frequent TikTok. Two-thirds of new players consume TikTok guitar content weekly, through channels like GuitarTok, which has a billion interactions.

And one of the biggest pools of new players is young, Latinx women. At least 38% of the new players identified as Latinx, and many reportedly sought out the guitar for the purpose of creating or performing.

Mooney said that Fender has worked with famous artists like Gabriel Garzón-Montano, as well as TikTok music influencers, and recently the company distributed 10,000 instruments to the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Fender's report also highlights a heightened interest among young players wanting to learn Hip-Hop songs on the guitar, something the company is paying close attention to as it develops new learning apps.

"We want to inspire people to get the first guitar, we want to educate them about what to get so it's the right guitar for them at the right time," Mooney said. "Then we want to convert them from a beginner to a committed player, and really nurture that journey all the way along the line."

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